21+ Children’s Books about Women Scientists

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March is Women’s History Month. To celebrate, we have gathered some children’s book biographies of remarkable women who have made significant impacts in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

The list keeps growing, so now it is 21+ books (last edited 11/2017).

 

21-books-about-women-scientists

Historically women have been under-represented in STEM fields. Reading these biographies, it becomes apparent that early females interested in STEM faced discrimination. They managed to persevere, however, and make significant discoveries. Their stories are inspiring.

Disclaimer: Just so you know, I am an affiliate with Amazon. If you make a purchase after clicking on one of the title links, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you, the proceeds of which will help maintain this website.

 

Last Name A-F

 

Greta Binford

silk-and-venom

Silk & Venom: Searching for a Dangerous Spider by Kathryn Lasky and her husband, photographer Christopher G. Knight is a middle grade biography of arachnologist, Greta Binford.

This book can work both for the spider squeamish and spider enthusiast because, although it is filled with large photographs of spiders, it isn’t a general book about spiders, but a biography. After reviewing Binford’s path to becoming a spider scientist, the story follows on her journey to the Caribbean to find a certain species of brown recluse.

Reading level: Ages 4-8 (Amazon, this is probably better for 9-12)
Hardcover: 64 pages
Publisher: Candlewick (February 22, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0763642223
ISBN-13: 978-0763642228

 

Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World by Laurie Lawlor and illustrated by Laura Beingessner

This picture book biography was written to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking book, Silent Spring.

Lexile Measure: 890L (What’s this?)
Publisher: Holiday House (February 1, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0823423700
ISBN-13: 978-0823423705

Rachel Carson: Preserving a Sense of Wonder (Images of Conservationists)by Joseph Bruchac and illustrated by Thomas Locker

Encompassing Rachel Carson’s life in a few pages, Bruchac emphasizes her love of nature in this picture book biography. The title refers to Carson’s book, A Sense of Wonder.

Age Range: 4 – 10 years
Publisher: Fulcrum Publishing (May 1, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1555916953
ISBN-13: 978-1555916954

Eugenie Clark

Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist by Jess Keating and illustrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens

Lively picture book about how Eugenie Clark became the “Shark Lady,” the scientist who studied sharks even though sharks were unpopular and scary, and women weren’t supposed to be scientists. Contains colorful and imaginative illustrations, including one of sharks swimming in a library.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (June 6, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1492642045
ISBN-13: 978-1492642046

Swimming with Sharks: The Daring Discoveries of Eugenie Clark by Heather Lang and illustrated by Jordi Solano

Eugenie Clark was an incredible zoologist/marine biologist. This biography focuses on her work on sharks which earned her the nickname “Shark Lady.”

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company (December 1, 2016)
ISBN-10: 0807521876
ISBN-13: 978-0807521878

Desert Beneath the Sea by Ann McGovern and Eugenie Clark, illustrated by Craig Phillips

This older book about ichthyologist Eugenie Clark has a personal, conversational tone that makes the reader feel like they are underwater with Eugenie. The delicate, pale illustrations by Craig Phillips are delightful. Definitely a book to share with any child interested in becoming a scientist or simply interested in learning more about oceans.

Paperback: 48 pages
Publisher: Scholastic; 1 edition (October 1991)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0590426397
ISBN-13: 978-0590426398

 

Fish Watching with Eugenie Clark (Naturalist’s Apprentice) by Michael Elsohn Ross and illustrated by Wendy Smith

Geared for older audiences than The Desert Beneath the Sea, this biography of ichthyologist Eugenie Clark is more comprehensive as well. The biographies in this series by Michael Elsohn Ross include observation tips and and related hands-on activities.

Age Range: 8 and up
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books (February 2000)
ISBN-10: 1575053845
ISBN-13: 978-1575053844

Anna Botsford Comstock

Out of School and Into Nature: The Anna Comstock Story by Suzanne Slade and illustrated by Jessica Lanan

Anna Botsford Comstock excelled at art and science, plus she encouraged others to explore and love nature. Although not as well known as some others, her works influenced many, including Rachel Carson.

Age Range: 6 – 9 years
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press (March 15, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1585369861
ISBN-13: 978-1585369867

 

Marie Curie

Marie Curie for Kids: Her Life and Scientific Discoveries, with 21 Activities and Experiments by Amy M. O’Quinn is a middle grade title that is an important resource for educators as well.

The 21 hands-on activities range from learning about Poland (Marie Curie’s birthplace) to chemistry and physics experiments, such as:

  • Build an atomic model
  • Make a compass with magnets
  • Explore Charles’s Law using soap clouds

I have to say that I love Chicago Review Press books. They combine two of my favorite elements: an in-depth biography and hands-on activities to reinforce learning. Those are a powerful combination on their own. Add that the title is about an outstanding woman scientist, and it is a must have.

Full review at Growing with Science blog

Age Range: 9 – 12 years
Publisher: Chicago Review Press (November 1, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1613733208
ISBN-13: 978-1613733202

Marie Curie: Prize-Winning Scientist (Biographies) by Lori Mortensen and illustrated by Susan Jaekel

Noted for her groundbreaking work with radioactivity, Marie Curie became the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903.

Age Range: 5 – 9 years
Grade Level: Kindergarten – 3
Library Binding: 24 pages
Publisher: Picture Window Books (January 1, 2008)
ISBN-10: 1404837310
ISBN-13: 978-1404837317

Marie Curie: Scientist Who Made Glowing Discoveries (Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Inventors & Scientists) by Mike Venezia (Author, Illustrator)

Mike Venezia, who made a name for himself with his fun and informative biographies of artists, has expanded to biographies of scientists. Children love his cartoon illustrations and humor, while learning about important historical figures. See his title about Jane Goodall, as well.

Age Range: 6 and up
Grade Level: 1 and up
Publisher: Children’s Press(CT); Reprint edition (March 1, 2009)
ISBN-10: 053122208X
ISBN-13: 978-0531222089

 

Sylvia Earle

Claire A. Nivola’s Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle is a lovely picture book biography of a pioneer of in the field of ocean studies.

Nivola has allowed her subject to tell her own story without excessive crafting. Her delicate and whimsical watercolors are lovely, and they rise to a new level in the underwater scenes, where Sylvia becomes a sea creature herself. Life in the Ocean will be a hit with children who are interested in oceans, in science, in history and/or in conservation. The incredible story of Sylvia Earle’s life is sure to inspire future explorers.

Reading level: Ages 4 and up
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (March 13, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0374380686
ISBN-13: 978-037438068

sylvia-earle-ocean-explorer

Sylvia Earle: Ocean Explorer (Women in Conservation) by Dennis Fertig

Most of us go to the beach and marvel at the the beauty of the ocean, but we rarely get even the smallest glimpse of what is happening under the waves. Sylvia Earle has logged in more than 7,000 hours underwater. Now she shares her passion and knowledge with others.

As appropriate for a children’s book, this biography starts with Earle’s childhood. Sylvia Earle spent her early years on a farm in New Jersey, where she remembers visiting the Jersey Shore at the age of three and discovering the power of the ocean. When she was twelve, Sylvia and her family moved to Dunedin, Florida. Suddenly, she had a beautiful ocean to investigate right in her own backyard. She jumped in and her life was changed forever.

Age Range: 8 – 11 years
Grade Level: 3 – 6
Publisher: Heinemann InfoSearch (July 1, 2014)
ISBN-10: 148460475X
ISBN-13: 978-1484604755

Last Name G – L

 

Jane Goodall

I am Jane Goodall by Brad Meltzer and Christopher Eliopoulos

Brad Meltzer’s picture book biographies are top notch. Add the captivating chimpanzee behavior scientist, Jane Goodall and how can you go wrong?

Age Range: 5 – 8 years
Publisher: Dial Books (September 6, 2016)
ISBN-10: 0525428496
ISBN-13: 978-0525428497

The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps by Jeanette Winter

This award-winning biography ties Jane Goodall’s childhood to her career as a ground-breaking primatologist and conservationist.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 3
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade (April 5, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0375867740
ISBN-13: 978-0375867743

Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall by Anita Silvey and foreword by Jane Goodall gives a more detailed overview of Goodall’s accomplishments. It is written for older children, and is illustrated with the high quality photographs you would expect from National Geographic.

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books; 1 edition (June 9, 2015)
ISBN-10: 142631518X
ISBN-13: 978-1426315183

 

Heidi Hammel

 

Beyond Jupiter: The Story of Planetary Astronomer Heidi Hammel (Women’s Adventures in Science (Joseph Henry Press)) by Fred Bortz

Heidi Hammel is an astronomer who specializes in studying the planets Neptune and Uranus. Bortz fills in some of the details of her childhood, as well as discussing her scientific accomplishments. The strength of this series is that it covers more contemporary women whose stories have not been told for young people.

Age Range: 11 and up
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Joseph Henry Press (December 31, 2006)
ISBN-10: 0309095522
ISBN-13: 978-0309095525

Caroline Herschel

Caroline’s Comets: A True Story by Emily Arnold McCully

This picture book biography explores the life of a famous woman astronomer who lived from 1750 to 1848. Caroline Herschel discovered galaxies, nebulae and was the first woman to discover a comet. Her other claim to fame was that she was the first woman scientist who was paid for her work.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Holiday House (February 28, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0823436640
ISBN-13: 978-0823436644

 

Hypatia

Of Numbers and Stars: The Story of Hypatia by D. Anne Love and illustrated by Pamela Paparone

Hypatia, the daughter of a mathematician and philosopher named Theon, studied mathematics, astronomy, and philosophy at a time when few women received an education. She became a scholar and teacher.

 

Henrietta Leavitt

Look-up

Look Up!: Henrietta Leavitt, Pioneering Woman Astronomer by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Raúl Colón (February 19, 2013), is a picture book biography of the woman who discovered how the brightness of stars had fixed patterns, information that would later be used to measure distances through space. Amazingly, at the time she did her work women weren’t even allowed to use telescopes; she made her observations from photographs.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books (February 19, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1416958193
ISBN-13: 978-1416958192

Ada Byron Lovelace

Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark and illustrated by April Chu, which is the story of a unique and fascinating woman who was years ahead of her time.

Adults may have heard of the British poet Lord Byron, but likely they have missed the story of his inventive math whiz of a daughter, Ada Byron Lovelace. Lovelace overcame a severe childhood illness to write the first computer program. Who knows what she might have achieved if she hadn’t died at a relatively young age and if her collaborator, Charles Babbage, had actually built the analytical machine he had planned.

Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine is likely to resonate with kids interested in computers, math, and engineering and inspire some who haven’t yet found their passions. History buffs, particularly those interested in women’s history, will also want to check it out.

Age Range: 5 and up
Publisher: Creston Books (October 13, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1939547202
ISBN-13: 978-1939547200

 

Last Name M – Q

 

 

Wangari Maathai

 

Seeds-of-Change

Seeds of Change: Planting a Path to Peace by Jen Cullerton and illustrated by Sonia Lynn Sadler is a picture book about the life of Wangari Maathai, a woman whose story is both uplifting and complex.

When she is a child, Wangari’s mother shows her the mugumo, the wild fig tree, and explains its importance. Later, when her brother tells her of the things he learns at school, Wangari decides she would like to go, too. Although it is unusual for a girl to receive an education, Wangari does go to school. In fact, she goes all the way to study in the United States and becomes a scientist.

When Wangari returns to Kenya, she find many things have changed. She finds the trees have all been cut down and the resulting environmental damage means that people can no longer grow food for themselves. In a move that is in one hand simple, and in the other incredibly insightful, she encourages the women to re-plant the trees. Her tree-planting movement grew and flourished as did the trees themselves, but not completely without hardship. Wangari had to overcome harsh political resistance and was even briefly imprisoned. She was released, however, and in 2004 Wangari became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Publisher: Lee & Low Books (June 30, 2010)
ISBN-10: 160060367X
ISBN-13: 978-1600603679

 

Barbara McClintock

Barbara McClintock: Nobel Prize Geneticist (Spotlight Biography)by Edith Hope Fine

Edith Hope Fine has turned her considerable writing ability to chronicle the life of a truly creative, brilliant and persistent scientist. Barbara McClintock discovered the existence of jumping genes, something that few other scientists understood or believed for many years.

This title is only available as an e-book.
For ages 9+
File Size: 1281 KB
Print Length: 104 pages
Publisher: eFrog Press (April 12, 2012)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
ASIN: B007TRDLJY

Barbara McClintock (Women in Science)by J. Heather Cullen, with an introduction by Jill Sideman

Barbara McClintock noticed something odd about the genetics of the corn she was working with. With persistence and creativity, she discovered jumping genes. She was awarded the Nobel prize in 1983.

Age Range: 10 and up
Grade Level: 5 and up
Series: Women in Science
Paperback: 112 pages
Publisher: Chelsea House Publications (January 2003)
ISBN-10: 0791075222
ISBN-13: 978-0791075227

Barbara McClintock: Genius of Genetics (Great Minds of Science) by Naomi E. Pasachoff

Age Range: 9 and up
Grade Level: 4 and up
Publisher: Enslow Publishers (April 1, 2006)
ISBN-10: 0766025055
ISBN-13: 978-0766025059

 

Barbara McClintock: Pioneering Geneticist (Makers of Modern Science) by Ray Spangenburg and Diane Kit Moser

Hardcover: 136 pages
Publisher: Chelsea House Pub (L) (March 2008)
ISBN-10: 0816061726
ISBN-13: 978-0816061723


Barbara McClintock: Pioneering Geneticist (Unlocking the Secrets of Science) by Kathleen Tracy

Age Range: 9 and up
Publisher: Mitchell Lane Pub Inc (October 1, 2001)
ISBN-10: 1584151110
ISBN-13: 978-1584151111

 

 Maria Sibylla Merian

 

Summer Birds: The Butterflies of Maria Merianby Margarita Engle and illustrated by Julie Paschkis explores the life of a woman who investigates the mysteries of insect metamorphosis during the 1600s. Known for her brilliant paintings, Merian was also a careful, patient observer and scientist.

Age Range: 5 – 8 years
Grade Level: Kindergarten – 3
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); 1 edition (April 27, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0805089373
ISBN-13: 978-0805089370

 

Maria Mitchell

Maria Mitchell (Great Women in History) by Anna Butzer

Starting beginning readers out well, this small book distills Maria Mitchell’s life into the important details. It would be a great title for teaching timelines because it has ever expanding timeline at the bottom of every two-page spread.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Grade Level: Kindergarten – 1
Publisher: Pebble Books (July 1, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1491405422
ISBN-13: 978-1491405420

 

 

Maria’s Comet by Deborah Hopkinson and illustrated Deborah Lanino

Having a picture book format and poetic text, Maria’s Comet fills in details of Maria’s childhood and family.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Aladdin; Reprint edition (February 1, 2003)
ISBN-10: 0689856784
ISBN-13: 978-0689856785

 

 

Margaret Morse Nice

 

Bird Watching with Margaret Morse Nice (Naturalist’s Apprentice)
by Michael Elsohn Ross and illustrated by Laurie A. Caple

Margaret Morse Nice was an ornithologist who studied birds for more than eighty years. Ross does an excellent job of writing about lesser-known women who gave a great deal to their chosen field. Includes suggestions for activities.

Age Range: 8 and up
Lexile Measure: 980L (What’s this?)
Series: Naturalist’s Apprentice
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books (December 1997)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1575050021
ISBN-13: 978-1575050027

 

Ellen Ochoa

Ellen-Ochoa-Romero

Ellen Ochoa: The First Hispanic Woman Astronaut (Great Hispanics of Our Time) by Maritza Romero

After becoming a pioneer in the field and inventing optical devices used in recognizing images, Ellen Ochoa went to work for NASA where she became the first female Hispanic astronaut in July 1991. Participating in four space flights, Dr. Ochoa was in space over 978 hours. She currently serves as Deputy Director at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. What an inspiring woman!

Lexile Measure: 860L (What’s this?)
Library Binding: 24 pages
Publisher: PowerKids Press; 1st edition (January 31, 2001)
ISBN-10: 0823950875
ISBN-13: 978-0823950874

 

Caitlin O’Connell

The Elephant Scientist (Scientists in the Field Series)by Caitlin O’Connell and Donna M. Jackson with photographs by the first author and her husband, Timothy Rodwell

The Elephant Scientist is a part of the award-winning Scientists in the Field series. Not a biography, this book follows author Dr. Caitlin O’Connell as she studies elephant social life and communication and at the same time works on ways to prevent elephants from ruining crops planted by local people. She discovers that elephants communicate to one another by detecting vibrations in the ground with their feet and trunks. What better way to learn about what a scientist does than in the scientists own words?
Age Range: 10 and up
Grade Level: 5 – 9
Lexile Measure: 1260L (What’s this?)
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (July 11, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0547053444
ISBN-13: 978-0547053448

Last Name R – Z

 

Kate Sessions

The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever by H. Joseph Hopkins and illustrated by Jill McElmurry is a lovely picture book biography about Kate Sessions, the woman who is considered to be the Mother of Balboa Park in San Diego.

Kate Sessions came to San Diego to become a teacher, but went on to almost single-handedly transform the city from a barren desert to a tree-filled paradise using her interest in horticulture/botany.

 

Age Range: 5 – 10 years
Grade Level: Kindergarten – 5
Publisher: Beach Lane Books (September 17, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1442414022
ISBN-13: 978-1442414020

 

Amy Vedder

 

Gorilla Mountain: The Story of Wildlife Biologist Amy Vedder (Women’s Adventures in Science (Joseph Henry Press))
by Rene Ebersole (Author)

Following in the footsteps of Dian Fossey, Amy Vedder not only studies gorillas, but must fight to save them. The strength of this series is that it covers more contemporary women whose stories have not been told for young people.

Age Range: 11 and up
Grade Level: 6 and up
Series: Women’s Adventures in Science (Joseph Henry Press)
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Joseph Henry Press (December 31, 2006)
ISBN-10: 0309095514
ISBN-13: 978-0309095518

 

Collections of Biographies

Magnificent Minds: 16 Pioneering Women in Science and Medicine by Pendred E. Noyce.

This book is a collection of biographies chronicling the lives of women who made a name for themselves in the areas of STEM and health care, complete with timelines for each woman.

Age Range: 12 and up
Grade Level: 7 and up
Hardcover: 180 pages
Publisher: Tumblehome Learning, Inc. (March 1, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0989792471
ISBN-13: 978-0989792479

 

Super Women In Science (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) (Women’s Hall of Fame) by Kelly DiDomenico

Age Range: 9 and up
Grade Level: 4 and up
Series: Women’s Hall of Fame
School & Library Binding: 102 pages
Publisher: Turtleback (January 1, 2003)
ISBN-10: 0613804333
ISBN-13: 978-0613804332

girls-research

Girls Research!: Amazing Tales of Female Scientists (Girls Rock!) by Jennifer Phillips

This book gives a brief overview of the lives of 56 women scientists and researchers.

Age Range: 9 – 13 years
Library Binding: 64 pages
Publisher: Savvy (January 1, 2014)
ISBN-10: 147654056X
ISBN-13: 978-1476540566

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World written and illustrated by Rachel Ignotofsky

The illustrations in this book are very modern. Check out Rachel Ignotofsky’s website for examples.

Ages 10 & up
Hardcover: 128 pages
Publisher: Ten Speed Press; Gift edition (July 26, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1607749769
ISBN-13: 978-1607749769

 

Other lists of children’s books about women in STEM:

Women in Science – Trailblazers Before the 20th Century at Kidlit Celebrates Women’s History Month 2012

Women in Science – Trailblazers of the 20th Century at Miss Rumphius Effect

Biographies of Women Scientists: For Girls and Young Women at Library of Congress

Looking for subject ideas for a biography about a woman in STEM? Try this list of Women in STEM from the National Women’s History Project.

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Comments

21+ Children’s Books about Women Scientists — 6 Comments

  1. Pingback: Girls Research! Women Scientists for Women’s History Month | Nonfiction Monday

    • It is great to hear about the website. It is nice these books are for older girls and are about contemporary scientists with more modern appeal.

  2. Pingback: Girl Power! | Fabula Teacher

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