I was so excited to see this story released as a picture book for children. I’ll be completely honest, I first came to love and appreciate this story through the movie that was released in 2017 not by reading the book (gasp…I know it’s terrible that I saw the movie BEFORE reading the book). Soon after the movie was over (maybe 20 minutes after seeing the movie – LOL), I purchased the young adult version of the book at my local Target store.
I knew this was a story that needed to be shared with our elementary age students. We even took all of our fifth graders to see the movie but ever since I have been trying to figure out teach our youngest students this story. I was delighted, in early 2018 to find that the author’s had crafted this picture book version.
So…what are the 4 reasons that you need to have this book in your classroom library?
- It’s about WOMEN in science fields! Ok, let’s face it, there are not many picture books out there about women in science fields. This story will delight and inspire the young ladies in your classrooms (even down to grade K or 1). We have to teach them young that women can excel in fields of science. At the same time your students will get a quick history of the race to explore space.
- It’s about WOMEN doing MATH in science fields! Math, as most of you know, is near and dear to my heart. Most elementary students believe that places like NASA only do “science” but in fact science and math go hand in hand. This story will help students see that math is integral to science and that we really couldn’t understand one without the other!
- It’s a story about perseverance! The Common Core State Standards has 8 mathematical practices. The first practice talks about students persevering through math. There are numerous instances in the story where these remarkable women persevere in their jobs. One of many favorite parts of the story is the line that says, “But Dorothy, Mary, Katherine, and Christine knew one thing: with hard work, perseverance, and a love of math, anything was possible.”
- It’s a story that captures the struggles of Black Americans during the Civil Rights Era. This might be the MOST IMPORTANT reason to own this book. This story very eloquently and in a simplistic way tells the history of the civil rights era which was such a difficult and important part of our U.S. history. There are many picture books out there that tell the stories of such influential people such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Ruby Bridges and Rosa Parks. This book is unique in that many young students will be able to see the civil rights era through the eyes of women they have probably not heard of before and from a different perspective; that of working black women.
It is also important to note that in addition to the wonderful story the author has included a one page biography of each of the 4 women (Dorothy Johnson Vaughan, Mary Winston Jackson, Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson, and Dr. Christine Mann Darden), a timeline of events of the space program, and a glossary of science terms. These will make for great resources for instruction!
If you have older students, middle high school, be sure to check out the young adult novel of this story as well!
On a side note….teachers at my school (you know who you are) my copy of the book will be available in our Lead Teacher room if you want to borrow it!