STEM Girls – Ten Books Featuring Girls Rocking Science by Nancy Castaldo
Yes, I was a science geek. I was a girl who looked under rocks, couldn’t wait for dissections in biology class, and was the president of my college science club. That didn’t mean I didn’t love to read, like most girls. I did. In fact, I entered college as a duel Bio/English major. It wasn’t until sophomore year I changed to Bio/Chem.
The fact is that many girls love to read and, traditionally, have been encouraged to head into the humanities. The majority of boys love to take things apart and do science experiments. Both are fine, but here are ten books that feature girls rocking science. We need more books that challenge stereotypes and we need to encourage girls to enter STEM fields. And even if they don’t, they need to see that they can!
These are titles boys will enjoy too. These books are for any curious kid or budding scientist.
Check out these titles for your curious kid!
Jeannine Atkins is the author of one of my favorite STEM titles – Girls Who Looked Under Rocks. In this award winning book, Atkins focuses on the lives of six female naturalists, including Jane Goodall, Rachel Carson, and Maria Sibylla Merian. It is a must for any natural history library collection. Now she has written another STEM gem, Finding Wonders. In this new title, Atkins beautifully uses free verse to introduce readers to three girls who grew up to become groundbreaking scientists. Look for it in September!
I was hooked on reading biographies of Marie Curie as a kid. This is one I would have loved. It features her daughter, Irene, and is titled Radioactive!: How Irene Curie and Lise Meitner Revolutionized Science and Changed the World. Author Winifred Conkling presents the story of these two revolutionary scientists in the format of a middle grade narrative thriller. A must read for kids and adults who enjoy suspense and science!
Anita Silvey’s thorough biography of Jane Goodall, Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall, is a definitive work on a world-renowned naturalist. It is chock full of photos of Dame Goodall’s ground-breaking experiences at Gombe with chimpanzees. This National Geographic title is an informative read for budding middle grade naturalists, while younger readers will enjoy Patrick McDonnell’s picture book, Me…Jane. McDonnell’s picture book is engaging and introduces younger readers to the early life of Jane Goodall. They make a perfect pair for your library.
Catherine Thimmesh’s Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women might just inspire the next invention that will change our world! Stories of inventions we take for granted, like wind shield wipers and yummy chocolate chip cookies, are discussed. More importantly, readers will discover how ideas become reality. Add this title to your classroom/school makerspace.
The story of the invention of the computer doesn’t just involve the celebrity brains, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Readers of the picture book Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark will discover that the first computer program was written many years before – by a woman, who just happened to be the daughter of a poet. Another book is on the horizon from author Diane Stanley. Check out her Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science this fall.
Another book focusing on a female inventor is Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became an Inventor, by Emily Arnold McCully. This picture book focuses on the inventor of the square-bottomed paper bags we all use today and the struggles she faced as a female inventor. McCully has several award winning picture book biographies featuring strong women. Check out her other titles featuring journalists, sailors, and baseball players.
Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell by Tanya Lee Stone explores the days when women were supposed to be wives and mothers, not doctors. Stone introduces picture book readers to a curious girl named Elizabeth Blackwell who refused to accept that belief. A wonderful story of persistence and courage for all readers.
Robert Burleigh’s Solving The Puzzle Under The Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor, tells the story of the first person to ever successfully map the ocean floor. As a girl who was taught to think big, Marie’s story will inspire all readers to reach beyond the possible and imagine what could be. This is a terrific and beautiful book, with illustrations by Raul Colon.
These are just ten titles that are sure to intrigue and inspire young (and older) readers, no matter their gender!
Nancy Castaldo is the author of many award winning nonfiction titles, including Sniffer Dogs: How Dogs (and Their Noses) Save the World, The Story of Seeds: From Mendel’s Garden to Your Plate, and How There’s More of Less to Eat Around The World, and the upcoming Beastly Brains. All feature a host of dedicated female scientists, activists, and dog handlers! She is also a Regional Advisor for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Learn more about her work at nancycastaldo.com