Our world has been shaped by the contributions of many great scientists over the centuries, both male and female. However, because of cultural biases, the contributions of women have not always been recognized or celebrated. Thankfully, women in science are being recognized more and more, and more young girls are being encouraged to pursue careers in science. We still have a long way to go, which is why I am so happy books like the ones on this list exist.
You may also like these 30 Books About World-Changing Women!
Now, time to get on my soapbox for a minute:
I often hear people encouraging parents to read these books with their daughters — AND I 100% AGREE WITH THEM. However, boy moms, we are not off the hook. We should also be reading these books with our sons. We need to raise our boys to be men who see women as their peers, personally and professionally. Both little boys and little girls need to know the hardships women have faced in the past, and the opportunities that await them now.
Diversity in books benefits everyone.
/end soapbox rant
I hope your children enjoy these awesome books about female scientists as much as our family did!
29 Children’s Books About Female Scientists
Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky
This book is best suited for tweens and teens, and it highlights amazing women throughout history, both well-recognized and lesser known. It’s also got gorgeous illustrations that I absolutely love.
Even if your kiddos are a little young for the content, I recommend adding this book to your library now, because the visuals are as compelling as the content!
I am Jane Goodall by Brad Meltzer
I have been really impressed with Meltzer’s Ordinary People Change the World series, and this edition is no exception. This book is a great introduction to Goodall’s important work, written in a way that is easy for young children to understand. After I first read this aloud to my boys, they went back to it again and again on their own.
This book is excellent for children ages 4 and up.
Ada Lovelace: Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer by Diane Stanley
Before reading this book, I knew nothing of Ada Lovelace, daughter of the famous poet Lord Byron. Lovelace was a visionary, and her work with Charles Babbage became the foundation of computer programming. This book left me wanting to know more about Ada Lovelace, and my kids enjoyed learning about her as well.
I recommend reading this book with kids ages 5 and up.
Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World by Laurie Lawlor
Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring forever changed the way we look at the environment. This biography tells the story of her life, and how her important book came to be. This book is a great read any time of year, but is particularly suited to Earth Day discussions or lesson plans that revolve around nature.
I recommend sharing this book with kids ages 6 and up.
Look Up! Henrietta Leavitt, Pioneering Woman Astronomer by Robert Burleigh
In a time when women were considered unfit for careers in science, Henrietta Leavitt was working at the Harvard Observatory, measuring star positions and sizes. She discovered patterns in the measurements, which were key in allowing astronomers to measure further and further away from Earth.
This is a fantastic book that also provides a wealth of further information for those interested in astronomy. I recommend it for children ages 4 and up.
Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by Catherine Thimmesh
Do you know how many things you use every day were invented by women? This book takes a deep dive into things made by female inventors, including many things you and your children probably use on a daily basis. There are even some kid inventors featured!
This book is best suited as a solo read for ages 10 and up, and as a read-aloud for younger elementary kids.
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
We absolutely LOVED this book and still read it together regularly! It’s a picture book adaptation of the Hidden Figures story, and invites readers into the lives and struggles of Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Christine Darden as they worked to help NASA accomplish some amazing firsts. This book inspired my kids to do a lot of additional research on these women, and we gifted copies to their teachers this year.
This book should be in every child’s library and is perfect for kids ages 4 and up. This book is also featured in our list of books about black scientists.
To the Stars! The First American Woman to Walk in Space by Camilla Van Vleet and Dr. Kathy Sullivan
Kathy Sullivan always wanted to have a life full of adventure and exploration, but she lived in a time where she was told that only men had jobs like that. Nevertheless, she persisted, and became an astronaut and the first woman to walk in space.
This book is great as a read-aloud to early elementary children.
Marie Curie (Little People, Big Dreams) by Isabel Sanchez Vergara
Marie Curie may be one of the most well-known female scientists, but there is still much to be learned in this book about her life. This book explores the achievements of an amazing woman who wasn’t allowed to go to college, but became a world-renowned scientist.
This picture book is a great introduction to her discoveries, and is perfect for reading with older preschool and younger elementary kids.
Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist by Jess Keating
A visit to an aquarium as a child left Eugenie Clark with a passion for sharks. She devoted her life to studying them, and not only changed the perception of women in her field, but also challenged many myths about sharks and their behavior.
The engaging story and bright illustrations make this book truly enjoyable. I recommend sharing it with kids ages 4 and up.
The Doctor With An Eye for Eyes: The Story of Dr. Patricia Bath by Julia Finley Mosca
Dr. Patricia Bath grew up in the age of the Civil Rights Movement,and fought racism, sexism, and economic hardship to become a renowned doctor. This book explores her life and how she went from a girl with a dream to a celebrated medical trailblazer. There’s even a note from Dr. Bath at the end of the book!
I recommend this rhyming biography for readers ages 5 and up.
Caroline’s Comets: A True Story by Emily Arnold McCully
Caroline Herschel was a great astronomer at a time when female scientists were extremely rare. She is also the first woman to be paid for her work in the field of science! Herschel overcame many hardships as a child, and went on to make some truly amazing scientific discoveries.
We loved this fascinating biography and its gorgeous illustrations! I recommend it for children ages 6 and up.
Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code by Laurie Wallmark
“Amazing Grace” Hopper was never afraid to face a challenge head on, and for that reason she was able to make huge strides in the world of coding, doing much to give us the computers we have today. I absolutely adore both the style and the story of this book!
This book is great for any child with an interest in coding, particularly those ages 5 and up.
Margaret and the Moon by Dean Robbins
Margaret Hamilton always loved math and numbers. That love of numbers led her to work for NASA, where she hand wrote the computer code that was used on the Apollo missions. This book tells her story of dedication and persistence.
I recommend sharing this book with children ages 4 and up.
The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: the Story of Dr. Temple Grandin by Julia Finley Mosca
Dr. Temple Grandin is not only an amazing woman in science, she is also a person who has autism. What many people viewed as a setback allowed her to see things in a different way and create innovations that have improved agriculture and farming all over the world.
This book is great for sharing with kids ages 5 and up.
The Girl With A Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague by Julia Finley Mosca
This rhyming book tells the story of a young girl who toured a submarine and from there dreamed of being an engineer. She faced many challenges over the course of her career, because she was a black woman trying to make her mark in a field dominated by men. Through it all, Raye didn’t give up, and she changed the world of naval design forever.
This engaging picture is great for kids ages 5 and up.
Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 by Helaine Becker
Katherine Johnson always loved numbers and math. When she was a girl, she would count everything, and she was such a good student that she skipped three whole grades! Despite many challenges, she never stopped pursuing her love of math and science, and she was able to use that passion to help save the Apollo 13 after its historic moon landing.
This book will inspire children to follow their dreams, and it’s great for kids ages 3 and up.
Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed
From a young age, Mae Jemison was a dreamer. She dreamed of seeing the earth from space one day, so her family encouraged her to follow her passion and become an astronaut. That encouragement and her love of learning led Mae to become the first black woman to travel in space.
This gorgeous picture book is perfect for sharing with little dreamers ages 4 and up.
Computer Decoder: Dorothy Vaughan, Computer Scientist by Andi Diehn
This is another inspiring picture book about how a love of math and numbers led to an amazing career in science! Dorothy Vaughn loved the way numbers made sense. She could solve number problems quickly and easily, and she wanted to make working with numbers her career. Dorothy went from math teacher to human computer to becoming the first black supervisor in her company’s history. Her intelligence and persistence helped her to keep going and overcome when challenges came her way.
This bright and bold picture book is recommended for kids ages 5 and up.
Human Computer: Mary Jackson, Engineer by Andi Diehn
As a child, Mary Jackson thought she could never been an engineer. She was excellent at math and science, but when she was a child, girls didn’t become engineers…and black girls definitely didn’t become engineers. However, Mary worked hard, overcame the limitations others tried to place on her, and became the first black woman to be an engineer at NASA! This picture book tells her story.
This is a great book for sharing with children ages 5 and up.
Sweet Dreams, Sarah by Vivian Kirkfield
Sarah Goode saw a need, and when she couldn’t find what she needed to fill that need, she invented it. Sarah’s invention of the Cupboard Bed led her to become one of the first African-American women to receive a U.S. Patent. Her invention also allowed her to build a life for herself in the years after slavery was abolished, and become independent at a time where her race and gender made it difficult to do so.
This inspiring story is perfect for kids ages 7 and up.
Born Curious by Martha Freeman
This beautiful book follows 20 women and their evolution from curious girls to revolutionary women. Though they all came from different backgrounds and had different interests, they all shared a love of learning and a willingness to ask questions about the world around them.
This book profiles women like Sylvia Earle, Rosalind Franklin, and Adrian Ocampo and is perfect for kids ages 7 and up.
The Tornado Scientist by Mary Kay Carson
Robin Tanamachi always loved exploring severe weather, and she turned her passion into a career. Today Robin tornadogenisis and works to better understand these powerful forces, in the hopes of keeping people safe by predicting tornado activity.
This book follows Robin’s important work, and I recommend it for kids ages 8 and up.
The Lizard Lady by Jennifer Keats Curtis and Dr. Nicole F. Angeli
Dr. Nicole Angeli is exploring the dense Caribbean forests in search of the St. Croix ground lizard, an endangered species. This book profiles a day in Dr. Angeli’s life, and shows how the life of a scientist is both exciting and challenging.
This book is perfect for sharing with kids ages 5 and up.
Instructions Not Included: How a Team of Women Coded the Future by Tami Lewis Brown
During World War II, a computer called the ENIAC made its debut, with hopes that it could help with the war effort. However, in a time when computers were brand new, it was unknown exactly how the computer even worked. It was up to three women, Betty Snyder, Jean Jennings, and Kay McNulty, to figure it out. Using their knowledge of math and their individual strengths, the trio was able to decode this new device and change technology forever.
This fascinating story is excellent for reading with kids ages 5 and up.
The Astronaut With a Song for the Stars by Julia Finley Mosca
Growing up, Ellen Ochoa didn’t dream of becoming a scientist; she dreamed of being a musician. Her world changed when she discovered engineering as a college student. She was discouraged from pursuing a career in science because it “wasn’t for girls,” but Ellen persisted and became an astronaut.
This book includes a note from Dr. Ochoa, and it’s perfect for children ages 5 and up.
Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist by Sylvia Acevedo
Tragedy struck the life of the Acevedo like early, but young Sylvia Acevedo was able to find an outlet when she joined the local Brownie troop. Being a Girl Scout empowered Sylvia to to pursue her love of math, which she eventually turned into a career as a rocket scientist.
This powerful memoir is great for kids ages 9 and up.
In a time when insects were considered “beasts of the devil,” Maria dove into studying them and documenting them through her art. Maria was one of the first naturalists to document the change of a caterpillar into a butterfly, and her art was both beautiful and educational. In a time when women were not expected to pursue the sciences, Maria Merian ignored convention and did what she loved.
This biography is absolutely gorgeous and excellent for kids ages 8 and up.
Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor by Robert Burleigh
Marie Tharp was the daughter of a cartographer who was fascinated by the ocean. With her father’s encouragement to think big, she pursued her dream of mapping the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. There were some times when Marie was not even let onto ships to do research because she was a woman, but despite this and other challenges, she was able to create the first chart of the ocean floor.
This inspiring book is recommended for kids ages 4 and up.
Mary Wears What She Wants by Keith Negly
When Mary Edwards Walker was young, girls wore dress and boys wore pants. That’s just the way it was. But Mary preferred to wear pants, so that’s exactly what she did.
During her life, Mary was arrested for wearing pants in pubic more than once. She also went on to do some other things that women weren’t “supposed” to do, like go to medical school and become a doctor in the Union Army during the Civil War. Mary’s determination to do what she wanted led her to great success and allowed her to help others.
I recommend sharing this fantastic book with children ages 3 and up.
Because Sophie Germain was a woman in the eighteenth-century, she was forced to study math in secret. But she loved math, and she kept learning more even when others tried to stop her. She eventually became the first woman to win a grand prize from France’s Academy of Sciences. Sophie’s groundbreaking work laid the foundation for the modern architecture we see today.
I loved learning more about this little-known hero, and recommend this book for ages 4 and up.
Julia Morgan Built a Castle by Celeste Davidson Mannis
Julia Morgan was always fascinated by how things were put together. She was inspired by her family’s trips to San Francisco, where she would marvel at the buildings under construction and wonder how the builders went from an idea to a building. Julia longed to be an architect, and she didn’t let the limitations of the late nineteenth-century stop her. She attended the all-male École des Beaux Arts, in Paris, and later became the first female licensed architect in California.
This book can be hard to track down, but it’s well worth the search. I recommend it for children ages 6 and up.
Of Numbers and Stars: The Story of Hypatia by D. Anne Love
In fourth-century Egypt, the mathematician Theon made a radical decision; he decided to educate his daughter, Hypatia, in the same way he would educate a son. Hypatia learned many things, but she excelled in mathematics and philosophy, and she became well-known as a teacher and scholar.
I recommend reading this book with children ages 5 and up.
Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell by Tanya Lee Stone
When Elizabeth Blackwell was a little girl, there were few career options available for women, and becoming a doctor was definitely not on the list. However, Elizabeth ignored the common belief that girls weren’t smart enough to become doctors, and she followed her dreams. She pushed forward and broke down barriers, becoming a doctor and paving the way for women after her.
This gorgeous picture book is perfect for children ages 5 and up.
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