Encouraging girls to participate in STEM activities might seem daunting, but it can easily be done simply by reading books. Reading STEM books introduces girls to unique aspects of the STEM community and could encourage them to try STEM activities themselves. Whether reading to students after recess or reading to your daughter before bedtime, books are an ideal way to help promote STEM activities to girls.
1. “Mae Among the Stars” by Roda Ahmed
In “Mae Among the Stars,” readers will learn about pursuing their dreams even when others don’t agree. This book tells the story of Dr. Mae C. Jemison, the first African American female to travel in space. Young Mae is fascinated with space, but discovers her teacher and classmates don’t think she can become an astronaut. With her parent’s support, Mae becomes a doctor, engineer, and astronaut and achieves her childhood dream.
2. “How to Code a Rollercoaster” by Josh Funk
For fans of “How to Code a Sandcastle,” Pearl and Pascal are back and learning more about how coding works. But this time, they’re at an amusement park. As they enjoy the amusement park, Pearl and Pascal use coding to track their tokens and the amount of time they spend standing in line for rides. “How to Code a Rollercoaster” is a great introduction to the world of coding and teaches basic coding fundamentals and principles.
3. “Secret Engineer: How Emily Roebling Built the Brooklyn Bridge” by Rachel Dougherty
Girls will discover the engineering story behind the Brooklyn Bridge in this interesting read. As a young girl, Emily studied science and math and continued building her skills as she grew, even though many didn’t understand why. After her father-in-law died and her husband was injured after starting the planning and construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, Emily’s skills were put to good use when she completed this project which became one of the world’s most iconic bridges.
4. “The Girl With a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague” by Julia Finley Mosca
As part of the Amazing Scientists series, “The Girl With a Mind for Math” presents the story of Raye Montague. She was the creator of the first computer-generated draft of a U.S. naval ship and the Navy’s first female program manager of ships. Young Raye’s interest was sparked by visiting a submarine with her grandfather. Despite having to overcome both racial and gender discrimination, she became one of the Navy’s most-celebrated civilian employees.
5. “Boxitects” by Kim Smith
Not only does “Boxitects” introduce readers to architecture, but it also teaches the importance of teamwork. Meg is a “boxitect” who loves building and creating structures out of boxes. Her creations are always the best until a new student and fellow boxitect arrives at school. Meg and her new classmate must find a way to work together and use their architectural talents to win the contest.
6. “Dinosaur Lady: The Daring Discoveries of Mary Anning, the First Paleontologist” by Linda Skeers
“Dinosaur Lady” tells the story of Mary Anning who discovered dinosaur bones on an English beach and became the first paleontologist. Mary made many fossil discoveries throughout her career, and some of her discoveries were housed in places that she couldn’t access simply because she was a girl. Mary persevered and continued her paleontology journey even when most didn’t believe females should be members of the science community.
7. “The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid” by Jeanette Winter
After reading “The World Is Not a Rectangle,” girls will know the story of esteemed architect Zaha Hadid. Born in Iraq, young Zaha discovers a love for math and engineering, and after studying in London, she becomes an architect. Soon, people all over the world wanted her to design a structure for their city. Readers will follow Zaha’s life as she builds upon her love for math and engineering by designing renowned structures around the world.
8. “Hello Ruby: Journey Inside the Computer” by Linda Liukas
As part of the Hello Ruby series, “Journey Inside the Computer” teaches readers about the different components of a computer and how they operate. Ruby and Mouse discover the computer isn’t working, so they go inside it to find the missing Cursor. As they search for Cursor, they encounter other computer elements that help Ruby and Mouse learn how a computer works.
By reading books, girls are introduced to countless inspiring female STEM leaders as well as different aspects of STEM. Today, it might seem like just reading a book, but it could be the spark that ignites the interest of one of the next great female leaders in STEM.
Valerie Cox is a contributing writer for LOC Scientific. She is passionate about helping children learn more about the science community and has written a number of articles on involving children more in STEM activities. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling, and volunteering in her local community.