Ignite Their Curiosity: STEM Books Featuring African American Girls
Girls love Science, Technology, Engineering and Math…and they’re good at it too. Stereotypes that send the message that girls aren’t good at STEM can be discouraging. Children’s books like these are great for showing boys and girls that girls can … and do thrive in the STEM field. These books are also a great way to spark a child’s curiosity in STEM fields.
Representation matters! We love that many of these books are written by African American authors who are either working in STEM fields or who are passionate about encouraging African American girls to learn about STEM.
Helping Kids Rise believes all children deserve access to books that educate, empower and inspire and all of these books fit that mission!
Olivia’s Doctor Adventures by Dr. Ashley Denmark, Illustrated by Mike Motz: Olivia’s Doctor Adventures allows children to explore the world of medicine by learning about different types of doctors through the eyes of a child. Take a journey with Olivia as she dives in and learns about surgeons, pediatricians, cardiologist and so much more! This is a great STEM book for children for all ages and will plant the seeds of possibility in their minds that they too can become doctors! (Ages 4–8)
Flying Free: How Bessie Coleman’s Dreams Took Flight by Karyn Parsons, illustrated by: R. Gregory Christie: Based on Karyn Parson’s critically acclaimed Sweet Blackberry video series comes the story of Bessie Coleman, the first African American female to earn her pilot’s license.
Before Bessie Coleman blazed a high trail with her plane . . . Before she performed in death-defying flying shows that would earn her fame as Queen Bess . . . Before she traveled the country speaking out against discrimination, Bessie was a little girl with a big imagination that took her to the sky, through the clouds, and past the birds.
Knocking down barriers one by one, Bessie endured racism and grueling training to become the first black female pilot and an inspiration to Mae Jemison, Josephine Baker, and many more influential people of color for years to come. (Ages 4–8 yrs)
Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed, Illustrated by Stasia Burrington: A beautiful picture book for sharing and marking special occasions such as graduation, inspired by the life of the first African American woman to travel in space, Mae Jemison. An Amazon Best Book of the Month!
A great classroom and bedtime read-aloud, Mae Among the Stars is the perfect book for young readers who have big dreams and even bigger hearts.
When Little Mae was a child, she dreamed of dancing in space. She imagined herself surrounded by billions of stars, floating, gliding, and discovering.
She wanted to be an astronaut.
Her mom told her, “If you believe it, and work hard for it, anything is possible.”
Little Mae’s curiosity, intelligence, and determination, matched with her parents’ encouraging words, paved the way for her incredible success at NASA as the first African American woman to travel in space.
This book will inspire other young girls to reach for the stars, to aspire for the impossible, and to persist with childlike imagination. (Ages 2–6)
Sasha Savvy Loves to Code by Sasha Ariel Alston, Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton: Sasha Savvy, is a super smart 10-year old African-American girl, who lives in Washington, DC. Sasha must choose which class to take for summer camp. Her mom discovers that the camp is offering a new class for girls on how to code. Sasha thinks this will be boring and doesn’t believe that she is good at computer stuff. Despite this, she decides to give it a chance and convinces her best friends Gabby Reyes and Ashley Webster, to attend the coding camp with her. Sasha’s mom, a Software Developer, gives her a unique formula to help her remember how to code but will it be enough to get her through a challenging first day of camp with bugs everywhere, computing errors, that is. (Ages 7–10)
Abby Invents Unbreakable Crayons by Dr. Arlyne Simon, Illustrated by Diana Necsulescu: Tired of coloring with broken crayons, Abby invents the world’s first UNBREAKABLE CRAYONS. She even gets a patent to prove it! Through Abby’s failures and eventual success, she playfully introduces young readers to the scientific method. This book also contains a fun activity page, encouraging young readers to create their own unbreakable crayons. (Ages 5–8)
Counting the Stars: The Story of Katherine Johnson Nasa Mathematician by Lesa Cline-Ransome, Illustrated by Raul Colon: From award-winning author Lesa Cline-Ransome and acclaimed illustrator Raúl Colón comes the sensitive, informative, and inspiring picture book biography of the remarkable mathematician Katherine Johnson, one of the NASA “human computers” whose work was critical to the first US space launch.
Before John Glenn orbited the Earth or astronauts walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used their knowledge, pencils, adding machines, and writing paper to calculate the orbital mechanics needed to launch spacecraft. Katherine Johnson was one of these mathematicians who used trajectories and complex equations to chart the space program. Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws were in place in the early 1950s, Katherine worked analyzing data at the NACA (later NASA) Langley laboratory.
In 1962, as NASA prepared for the orbital mission of John Glenn, Katherine Johnson was called upon and John Glenn said “get the girl” (Katherine Johnson) to run the numbers by hand to chart the complexity of the orbital flight. He knew that his flight couldn’t work without her unique skills.
President Barack Obama awarded Katherine Johnson the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 and her incredible life inspired the Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures. Get to know this incredible and inspirational woman with this beautifully illustrated picture book from an award-winning duo. (Ages 4–8)
Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly, Illustrated by Laura Freeman: Based on the New York Times bestselling book and the Academy Award-nominated movie, author Margot Lee Shetterly and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Award winner Laura Freeman bring the incredibly inspiring true story of four black women who helped NASA launch men into space to picture book readers!
Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden were good at math…really good.
They participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes, like providing the calculations for America’s first journeys into space. And they did so during a time when being black and a woman limited what they could do. But they worked hard. They persisted. And they used their genius minds to change the world.
In this beautifully illustrated picture book edition, we explore the story of four female African American mathematicians at NASA, known as “colored computers,” and how they overcame gender and racial barriers to succeed in a highly challenging STEM-based career. (Ages 6–10)
Doc Like Mommy by Dr. Crystal Bowe, Illustrated by Mike Motz: A beautiful story that teaches you that you can be anything you want to be. (Grades 1–2)
Jada Jones: Sleepover Scientist by Kelly Starling Lyons, Illustrated by Nneka Myers and Vanessa Brantley-Newton: Jada is hosting her first sleepover, and she has lots of cool scientific activities planned: kitchen chemistry, creating invisible ink, and even making slime! But when her friends get tired of the lessons and just want to hang out, can Jada figure out the formula for fun and save the sleepover? (Ages 6–8)
All About Plants: Ada Twist Scientist: The Why Files Series Sage Carrington Eighth Grade Science Sleuth by Andrea Beaty and Dr. Theanne Griffith: A new addition to the Questioneers series, a non-fiction early reader series based on the Ada Twist, Scientist Netflix show!
What do plants eat? Why do some plants have flowers and others don’t? And what’s the tallest plant out there?
Ada Twist, Scientist: The Why Files is the perfect nonfiction resource for all these questions and more. Based on the bestselling series and the new Netflix show, this new nonfiction series is perfect for the youngest scientists of tomorrow, as they learn along with Ada. Designed in a scrapbook format, these books combine art from the show, illustrations, and photography to bring simple science concepts to life.. (Ages 8–12)
You can find more Diverse STEM children’s books in our online bookstore. Disclosure: We earn a small fee for any purchases made through our online bookstore. There is no additional cost to you.
Helping Kids Rise is on a mission to improve the lives of children and the people who love them through literacy, education, and social justice awareness. We do this by highlighting diverse and inclusive children’s books and resources that promote education, literacy, and social justice awareness. We also partner with schools, families, and children’s advocacy organizations to promote access to children’s books for under-served and underrepresented communities. To learn more or to partner with us, connect with us on Instagram and Facebook, and our website: www.helpingkidsrise.org.