Hi there! I’m Jillian from The Starr Spangled Planner! I so happy to be stopping by Jen’s blog today. When she asked me to join her and share about my favorite science read alouds, my mind wandered to a recent letter from a male engineering students to his female peers.
His viral post about the challenges that women face in the field of science left me thinking about all of the young girls in my classroom. How many of them will want to join the world of engineering, biology, astronomy, chemistry, oceanography or other scientific field of study? And then the real question hit me- What am I doing to help these girls see the scientist in themselves and encourage them to pursue their interests?
I immediately went to our school library and started searching for great read alouds that highlight women in science. I wanted to share some of my favorite finds with you today!
The first (and possibly my favorite) is Marvelous Mattie by Emily Arnold McCully. This book tells the story of Margaret E. Knight, the first first woman to receive a U.S. patent. As a child, Mattie was always sketching her ideas for new inventions and ways to tackle challenges around her. At the age of 12 she designed a safer loom that protected her textile mill co-workers from serious injury.
She continued to pursue her love of engineering, and continued to sketch her inventions. She designed a machine to create the square-bottom paper bags that we still use today. However, her idea was stolen by a man whose defense was that a girl could not possibly understand the mechanics behind such a complex machine. Mattie proved him wrong, wins her case, and earns her patent. She went on to earn multiple patents for her inventions, and is often referred to as “Lady Edison.”
Look Up is the story of Henietta Leavitt is another inspiring story about an amazing scientist who didn’t let others define her. Henrietta changed the world of astronomy when she was just twenty-five years old. Even though she went to Harvard, she was not seen as a scientist because she was a woman. She was given a job to measure, do calculations, and record data that was collected by her male co-workers. However, Henrietta couldn’t help but observe the stars, ask questions, and seek answers. Her close observations led her to discover small changes in the brightness of stars over time, which led to how we now calculate a star’s distance from earth! She is considered “one of the most important women to ever touch astronomy.”
Who doesn’t love the story of Jane Goodall? The Watcher beautifully captures Jane’s journey from her childhood in London to the forests of Gombe, Tanzania. It highlights her work as a scientist and researcher, as well as her work as an activist to preserve their habitat and keep them from extinction. There are a few Jane Goodall biographies out there, but this one is definitely my favorite!
I wanted to find another area science that could tap into the interests of my students. Like many of my students, Sylvia Earle loved the ocean. With the Gulf of Mexico in her back yard, from a young age she was committed to discovering “the blue heart of the planet.” Her observations and explorations of the ocean led her to become a leading advocate for preserving our oceans. Life in the Ocean has GORGEOUS pictures and it really tapped into the little environmentalists in my class.
Although this book is not a biography, it is still a MUST! My students absolutely adore Rosie and really connected with her and her story. Rosie is a young girl who may seem like a regular kid, but she is actually a fierce inventor with great dreams about becoming an engineer. Like all engineers, Rosie runs into problems when one of her inventions doesn’t work. Students sympathize as Rosie struggles with the idea of failure, and what it means about her abilities as an inventor. Thankfully, Rosie’s aunt helps Rosie see the potential in her work and shares the powerful message, “You can only truly fail if you quit!”
(I also just LOVE the connection between Rosie Revere and Rosie the Riviter! It’s simply PERFECTION!)
Thank you for letting me share some of my favorite read alouds with you! What books do you use to encourage the budding scientists in your classroom?
Hop on over to Courtney at Ramona Recommends to check out MORE science read alouds!