In this new monthly STEAM series, I will highlight some wonderful picture books that fall under a STEAM category: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics. In celebrating Women’s History Month we will review some wonderful math books, including biographies of mathematicians, picture and board books. These books can be found in our print collection at The Trove and on OverDrive. At the end of the post, you'll also find some fun and educational websites for kids.
Nothing Stopped Sophie by Cheryl Bardoe and Barbara McClintock
Sophie Germaine was unstoppable. During the French Revolution, when nothing seemed to be orderly, there was math. Math was clear, had a strong sense of order and kept the world in balance. Math became Sophie’s escape. She did the homework for classes that she did not attend, kept up her studies even though it seemed absurd to others, and she even sent an entry to solve an eloquent equation. Nothing Stopped Sophie is a rich and colorful book that depicts the struggles of women, the French revolution, and the determination of one woman to follow her path. A wonderful read.
Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty
Ada had a lot of questions about the world around her. She asked her parents so many questions that they worked to help Ada develop her brilliant mind. Even her teacher encouraged Ada to make a mess as she experimented… she was a young chemist!
Changing the Equation: 50+ US Black Women in STEM by Tonya Bolden
Has the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics become more welcoming to women? In Changing the Equation, Tonya Bolden examines noteworthy women in the field of STEM. For a long time black women (and men) were denied the right to vote, citizenship and even college admission. Tonya Bolden examines over fifty women who dreamed big and still inspire us today. Each woman has a unique story; for example, Donna Auguste (electric engineer/computer scientist) became the first black woman to conduct research toward a PhD in computer science at Carnegie Mellon University. Each chapter includes a glossary and inspiring quotes.
One Grain of Rice by Demi
Long ago, in ancient India, a Raja (or king), decided that he wouldn't share his rice, even during a famine. Rani, a brave village girl, came up with an idea to save the kingdom. Rani saw rice falling from the servant’s basket and began to catch them in her skirt. She then entered the palace and returned the rice to the Raja. As a reward, the wise Rani asks for one grain of rice, doubled each day for thirty days. The doubling of the rice grows and Raja begins to realize that Rani is clever and learns from her wise ways. An enchanting book that uses traditional Indian miniature paintings to portray wisdom, kindness, and mathematical calculations.
You Should Meet Katherine Johnson by Thea Feldman
It has been an exciting time for NASA as the Perseverance rover safely landed on Mars after its 292.5 million mile journey from Earth! CNN reported this amazing news on Thursday, February 18th. It’s also exciting to look back to history and learn about the amazing men and women that have made it possible for scientists to launch spacecraft into space. Katherine Johnson was a brilliant mathematician who was able to figure out the math that was necessary to send a rocket to the moon. Katherine worked for NASA at a time when acceptable careers for women, and especially African Americans, were limited to a few options, like teaching or nursing. The book also includes a glossary, history of star power and careers in math. I also highly recommend A Computer Called Katherine by Suzanne Slade.
Of Numbers and Stars: The Story of Hypatia by D. Anne Love and Pam Paparone
I first learned about Hypatia from one of my ultimate favorite shows, the philosophical and hysterical show The Good Place. Ever since then I have been captivated by Hypatia of Alexandria. At a time where women weren’t allowed to read or have an education, Hypatia was taught by her father, a mathematician, who didn’t think being a woman disqualified Hypatia from learning. The book is beautifully written and the illustrations are superb. There are pictures of constellations, mixed with birds in flight, to show what Hypatia was able to comprehend intuitively. The pages are rich in ancient text as they depict the great minds of Socrates, Plato and Buddha, along with Hypatia.
Bathtime Mathtime by Danica McKellar
This adorable board book introduces children to simple mathematical concepts. As the baby takes a bath, mommy counts feet, three little puppies jump into the bath water, and four duckies join baby and the puppies. Try reading this book before bath. The illustrations are fun and the wonderful rhymes will assist children in counting splashes and bubbles with the baby. At the end, there is a mathematical chart listing toes, puppies and the duckies.
I also recommend Do Not Open This Math Book by Danica McKellar, for older children who are learning how to add or subtract bigger numbers. The book is not a boring textbook. On the contrary, Do Not Open this Math Book is illustrated like a graphic novel and breaks down values and shows tricks you can use to understand mathematical concepts.
Bird Count by Susan Edward Richmond and illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman
Ava is excited to count birds for the Christmas bird counting party. She counts birds with her team. At the end of each day, the members meet so that they can combine their totals. This book is a wonderful treat for caregivers who want to practice counting with their children. Young patrons will also learn about chickadees, the great horned owl, mallards and Canadian geese. The book includes notes about Ava’s discovery, including her total bird count, along with a glossary of the birds featured in Bird Count.
Twinderella: A Fractioned Fairy Tale by Corey Rosen Scwartz and Deborah Marcero
I find fractured fairy tales a lot of fun and was excited to read this one. Meet Cinderella and her twin, Twinderella! The twins have to share everything, including bracelets, blushes, trinkets, bows and brushes. But with Twinderella in the picture… who will Prince Charming marry? This dilemma made Cinderella’s fairy godmother’s work a bit difficult: you can't divide a prince in half… but can you make a double? Filled with rhyme and whimsical illustrations, this modern fairy tale is a perfect book for practicing mathematical skills and having fun along the way. A treat for those who enjoy fairy tales!
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Library Catalog: Print and Film
OverDrive: eBook and Audiobook
Hidden Figures is the incredible story of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden. These gifted African American women were able to do profound work in the field of science and mathematics. Through the political upheaval of the civil rights movement to the space race, these women led incredible lives. Their story is vividly portrayed through significant historical events, such as the Cold War and the tragedy of Apollo 1. The book also includes wonderful pictures of the women who shaped the world of mathematics and science, along with historical notes and a glossary.
Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed
Four Feet, Two Sandals is a wonderful book that illustrates friendship, sharing, and the plight of the refugees. Lina, a ten year old refugee, finds a sandal that matches her foot perfectly. However, another girl has the matching sandal in the pair. Soon the girls become friends and share the pair of sandals. The book also is a creative way to teach problem solving and counting. For example, you can ask your child: how many toes would fit in two sandals?
- Women in Mathematics
- Math in Art
- National Museum of Mathematics
- Spacecraft Named in Honor of Katherine Johnson
- 20 Amazing Women in Mathematics and Science
- Top Math and Science Museums in the US