The best picture book biographies of women in STEM

The Books I Picked & Why

Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom

By Teresa Robeson, Rebecca Huang

Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom

Why this book?

Yes, this book tells the story of a pioneering physicist, but it’s also an immigration story. Wu Chien Shiung, who was born in China, moved to the United States in order to follow her passion: the study of atoms. Once there, she had to overcome prejudice against an Asian woman in physics. This is an informative and inspiring read.


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Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles

By Patricia Valdez, Felicita Sala

Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles

Why this book?

Doesn’t everyone have a komodo dragon as a guest of honor at a tea party? Even as a young child, Joan preferred her scaly, slithery, reptile friends. She even brought a crocodile to school one day! Kids will love learning about reptiles along with this real-life woman who championed them.


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Emmy Noether: The Most Important Mathematician You've Never Heard of

By Helaine Becker, Kari Rust

Emmy Noether: The Most Important Mathematician You've Never Heard of

Why this book?

Math has been my passion ever since I was a girl. Because of this, I’m always looking for books about mathematicians, especially women. In addition to describing Emmy’s math contributions, this book does more. It gives readers a look into a time when women couldn’t enroll in higher education and often, like Emmy, weren’t always paid for their work.


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Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer

By Traci Sorell, Natasha Donovan

Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer

Why this book?

What do you think of when you picture an aerospace engineer? It’s probably some white guy in a white shirt. A native woman certainly doesn’t fit that stereotype, but that didn’t matter to Mary Gold Ross. It’s so rare to see books biographies about people who are Native working in STEM, yet representation matters.


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Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents an Airplane

By Kirsten Larson, Tracy Subisak

Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents an Airplane

Why this book?

The early days of flight didn’t end with the Wright Brothers. This is the fascinating story of the first woman to design a working flying machine. Some kids think that if an invention doesn’t work, then it and they are failures. That couldn’t be farther from the truth as this book shows. Reading Emma’s story of inventing an airplane, even though she had no formal engineering training, may be just the inspiration and encouragement children need to try inventing.


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