It’s heartening to hear so much praise for Hidden Figures, the movie (based on the book) about the important, but long-overlooked, role of Black women the Space Race. Keeping to my basic life rule, I’m trying to finish the book before I see the movie. That said, Joanne Manaster of Read Science has assured me that Hidden Figures is the rare movie that may actually make the book a more exciting read. Regardless, if you or your kids loved the movie, I have a few other books that may pique your interest.
This post contains affiliate links.
Books about Women in Space
First we have a few for adults and advanced young readers:
Of course, there’s the one everybody is talking about: Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race (see the kids’ list below for a young readers’ edition). I’m about 30% through it according to my Kindle (I started with the library book and switched over). It’s an intriguing and informative story so far. It’s painful to read about how these women were treated, both because they were women and, even more so because of the color of their skin. There’s a lot to dissect. This or the junior edition would make a great read for a mother-daughter book club.
A couple of years ago I read Rocket Girl: The Story of Mary Sherman Morgan, America’s First Female Rocket Scientist. More than the details of the story, I recall feeling sad for this woman who fought her way through a troubled upbringing to college and into a man’s world, pretty much on her own, only to fade into obscurity. I’m not even sure if her son (the book’s author) realized her role in helping develop the propellants that made the first satellite launch possible until after her death.
Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took Measure of the Stars is a pick from Amazon.
Do you see a theme emerging? Women have in STEM is not a new thing. It just feels novel because we haven’t read or heard the stories or seen the pictures. We haven’t seen the movies either, because Hollywood didn’t think the public cared. This makes it all the more important see the movie in a theater and prove that there is an audience for stories like Hidden Figures. In fact, enough people opened up their wallets for Hidden Figures to knock Rogue One from the number one spot last week.
Iit’s important for our sons and daughters, for children of all backgrounds to learn at a young age that women and minorities have played important roles in developing advancements in science and technology.
Along those lines, here’s a colorful book that can provide 50 wonderful nighttime stories in the form of biographical sketches, Women in Science: 50 Pioneers Who Changed the World. Look familiar? For the last couple of years I’ve been pointing out author/illustrator Rachel Ignotofsky‘s Etsy shop as a wonderful source of indie science prints, posters and t-shirts. Her new book takes the work a step further. I love that this book features women from many ethnic backgrounds. It’s makes a great gift for the young intersectional feminist* in your life.
Books for Kids about Women in Space
Hidden Figures, Young Readers Edition is designed for kids in grades 3-7.
There are several books about Sally Ride, the first American woman in space.
Here a few books about the first Black woman in space, Mae Jemison:
- The Girl Who Could Dance in Outerspace: An Inspirational Tale About Mae Jemison
- Mae Jemison (Rookie biography)
- Mae Jemison (You Should Meet) for 6-8 year-olds
You’ll have to stick with the internet to read about Jeanette Epps, the first Black woman to live in the International Space Station. She’s still on Earth, but is scheduled to head to the ISS in May 2018. That’s a long time from now. Follow along on her training and preparation via Twitter, where she’s Astro_Jeanette.
*Intersectional feminism places a high priority on inclusion and calls consideration of factors like race, ethnicity, class and ability.