It is important to show the Rebel Girls of the world (and all children!) that there is a place for them in the science, technology, engineering, and math (or STEM) professions—fields that are heavily male and white. However, it’s not always easy to find books that educate, entertain, and empower kids.

When I was a girl, I wanted to be a veterinarian or a marine biologist just like Eugenie Clark (who you will read about below), but I never pursued those careers. Learning about the achievements of genius scientific pioneers like Mae Jemison, Katia Krafft, Alice Ball, Mary Anning, and Katherine Johnson would have encouraged me to explore all fields despite the education system communicating that science, math, tech, and engineering weren’t “for me,” a woman of color.

I have compiled this list of my favorite books about STEM. I hope your kids enjoy these books as much as I did! It was a little difficult to find books in all areas of STEM with diverse characters, so please share your favorites in the comments!

As an Editor at Rebel Girls, I hope that we’ll bring more amazing titles like these in the future!

BOARD BOOKS (ages 0-3)

Baby Loves Science series

The Baby Loves Science series by Ruth Spiro breaks down simple scientific concepts for the youngest children, making subjects like quarks, aerospace engineering, thermodynamics, physics, gravity, coding, and green energy more relatable. The series is fairly diverse, with children from all races represented in their own volumes, making this set perfect for a caregiver or gift-giver looking for diverse representation. 

Little Scientist box set

This adorable box set contains four volumes with short text descriptions of physicists, chemists, natural scientists, and astronomers. These four books seem nearly indestructible, with thick pages and rounded corners. I recommend these for the youngest children because the text is so limited, but they are a good introduction to famous scientists from all eras. A tiny George Washington Carver with his giant peanut and astronomer Carolyn Porco holding a baby Saturn were my favorite illustrations.

PICTURE BOOKS (ages 3-6)

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

Visit the beautiful underwater world of Eugenie Clark,  one of the first female marine biologists fondly known as “The Shark Lady.” Author Jess Keating documents Eugenie’s love of the sea and the creatures inside it, alongside the gorgeous illustrations of Marta Álvarez Miguéns. Within this book, children will encounter a scientist on a mission to prove that sharks are not the mindless killers people make them out to be, and learn that all ocean life deserves to be protected and respected. The end of the book includes “Shark Bites” (interesting facts about sharks), a beautifully illustrated timeline of Eugenie’s life, and a note from the author about why Eugenie’s story is so important. “Eugenie lived an incredible life full of hard work, passion, and unyielding curiosity. Through her legacy, she stood up for sharks, and in the process, stood up for herself…[her] life emphasizes how we must never let the world tell us what we can and can’t do,” Keating says. This is an important message that every child should hear.

How to Build a Hug: Temple Grandin and her Amazing Squeeze Machine by Amy Gugliemo and Jacqueline Tourville

When she was a kid, Temple really didn’t like hugs. She preferred animals and objects to people and physical touch, and she was easily overwhelmed by overpowering smells and sounds. In a time when no one really understood autism spectrum disorders, Temple made her way cautiously through the world. When Temple grows up, she becomes inspired by a squeeze chute used to calm cattle during vet visits. She invents her very own “Hug Machine” for people, which soothes Temple when her senses are overwhelmed. Illustrations and text work together to create a vivid story that children can relate to, whether they like hugs or not. Not everyone likes hugs or physical touch, and this simple story demonstrates that idea in an organic way.

The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes: The Story of Patricia Bath by Julia Finley Mosca

Follow the story of optometrist Patricia Bath, the woman who invented a laser probe that could cure blindness by safely removing cataracts. She was also the first Black doctor to patent a medical device and was heavily involved in the publishing process for this book because the author got the information straight from the source! This upbeat, cheerful book has a rhythm and poetry to it that will be a delight to read aloud in a classroom or at bedtime. The end of the book includes fun facts, a timeline of Dr. Bath’s life, a longer biography for older readers, and a list of video and print sources for further discovery. Innovation Press, which released The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes, has a series of books like this in its Amazing Scientists series, including The Girl Who Thought in Pictures (also about Temple Grandin) and The Girl with a Mind for Math (about mathematician Raye Montegue).

There are far too many subjects in science to cover in this short list, so I have included an 

additional list of picture book titles that your little ones might enjoy:

 

YOUNG READER CHAPTER BOOKS (ages 6-9)

The Questioneers series by Andrea Beaty

Each of Andrea Beaty’s brilliant children’s books have been turned into chapter books for young readers, following the stories of each character from the original books: Ada Twist, Rosie Revere, and Iggy Peck. These books are perfect for kids who are ready to leave picture books behind and try reading on their own. The simple language gently encourages kids to test out engineering like Rosie, become a curious scientist like Ada, and an ingenious architect like Iggy. Interspersed among hilarious bits of the story are scribbled notebook pages from each child’s imagination, as well as ways for readers to get involved in architecture, engineering, and science in their communities. For example, Ada Twist joins the citizen science initiative “The Great Backyard Bird Count” and tells readers how to get involved.

Ada Lace series by Emily Calandrelli

This series follows the quirky life of Ada Lace as she tinkers with her robot and other mechanical devices. Each story follows Ada as she solves a problem that requires a scientific solution. Uniquely positioned to tell these stories, author Calandrelli is the producer and host of the television series Xploration Outer Space and a correspondent on Bill Nye Saves the World. Other books in this series include Ada Lace on the Case, Ada Lace Sees Red, Ada Lace and the Suspicious Artist, Ada Lace, Take Me to Your Leader, and Ada Lace and the Impossible Mission. Like the Questioneers series, extra pages at the end of these books detail the tech and science contained in each book. Ada Lace, Take Me to Your Leader, for example, discusses ham radios, how radio waves work, and the mysteries of satellites.

Ada Lovelace Cracks the Code by Rebel Girls

I may be a little biased, but our upcoming book Ada Lovelace Cracks the Code is a gorgeous, full-color children’s chapter book that young readers will just adore. In Ada Lovelace Cracks the Code, Ada uses her incredible imagination to dream up technology that could have jump-started the digital age nearly 200 ago. In fact, she writes what will become the world’s first programming language. This is the story of a pioneer in the computer sciences, which is now a multibillion-dollar industry, but it’s also proof that women make invaluable contributions to the science, technology, engineering, and math fields. 

MIDDLE GRADE BOOKS (ages 10-14)

Hidden Figures: Young Readers by Margot Lee Shetterly

In this abbreviated young readers edition, follow the lives of four female pioneers who participated in the NASA Space Race and fought for women of color to receive equal pay and recognition in math and science. If your children enjoyed learning about Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson in Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, this book will allow them the opportunity to learn more about the incredible lives of these women, as well as Christina Darden—an engineer and analyst who joined NASA a few years after the initial hype of the space race. 

While Christine didn’t make it into the movie or our books (yet!), she is equally as important as the other “colored computers” who wrote code and crunched numbers for NASA. This book contains all sorts of tidbits about the political culture of the time, including the Civil Rights Movement, the fear of communism, and the feminist fight for equal rights.

Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science by Jeannine Atkins

Follow the lives of three trailblazing women who changed the face of science in this novel-in-verse by Jeannine Atkins. Mary Anning (anthropologist), Maria Sibylla Merian (naturalist), and Maria Mitchell (astronomer) may work in different fields, but their stories are interconnected because they are all interested in “finding what’s hidden.” In an author’s note, Atkins writes, “Most jobs, colleges, and scientific associations were then closed to women, but [they] fought or found ways around discrimination. Part of their lasting strength came from their fathers’ encouragement to trust their own eyes.” So hand this book to your curious children who seem fascinated with the world around them—they might just discover something hidden, like a new comet, a unique species of butterfly, or a fossil lost to time!

Each Tiny Spark by Pablo Cartaya

Meet Emilia Torres, a girl with ADHD who struggles in school (especially in math and science) because of her disability. But when she reconnects with her father, who has just returned from being deployed overseas, she ends up involved in a project she never expected: fixing up an old car. Suddenly, Emilia finds herself obsessed with welding and mechanics while repairing her relationship with her father. Though the book is a work of fiction, it feels very real. The conflicts in the story are based on complex subjects such as learning disabilities, veterans returning with PTSD, family and cultural ties, immigrant experiences, and intersecting communities. Cartaya is the decorated author of The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora and Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish. 

Here are a couple of extra titles for 10+ readers:

YOUNG ADULT (Ages 14 and up)

Screen Queens by Lori Goldstein

ValleyStart is the most prestigious high school tech incubator competition in the country, and Lucy Katz, Maddie Li, and Delia Meyer have secured their spots. The three girls couldn’t be more different, but they all have one thing in common: they’ve come to win. Although their differences initially pit the girls against each other, they quickly realize that if they put their talents together, they might just have what it takes to be victorious. When the five-week competition kicks off, Lucy, Maddie, and Delia realize just how challenging it will be. As if there wasn’t enough pressure already, the girls learn that they would be the only all-female team to ever win ValleyStart.


Jestine Ware is the children’s book editor at Rebel Girls. She has worked on products such as I Am A Rebel Girl: A Journal to Start Revolutions, the Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls podcast, Ada Lovelace Cracks the Code, and Madam C. J. Walker Builds a Business. She lives in Los Angeles and spends her days writing, fixing text mistakes, chatting with authors, and speaking sternly to her pet parrots, Owl and Sunny. You can find her on jestineware.com, goodreads.com/jware27, and on Instagram @jestine.ware.

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