September 10, 2018
Counting on Catherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13
by Helaine Becker
Blurb: From Katherine‘s early beginnings as a gifted student to her heroic accomplishments as a prominent mathematician at NASA, this is the story of an American icon who not only calculated the course of moon landings but, in turn, saved lives.
Want to make a case about precise computing? Read an excerpt of this book to your students about the importance of Katherine’s math being precise or people would die in space!
This harrowing biography of how Katherine Johnson, an unsung hero, helped the Americans in the Space Race shows just how important minorities were to the effort.
My favorite quote, from Katherine Johnson herself, comes from the back papers: “Despite her many achievements, Katherine never liked to take any credit. Her reason? ‘Because we always work as a team,’ she says. ‘ it was never just one person.'”
This book is for:
- space enthusiasts
- biographies highlighting otherwise unsung people of history
- February — Black History month
- Women’s History month
- Context Clues: use the page about “all of the computers were women” to have students figure out what the author means by “computers” (people, not machines)
- goal setting
- reaching one’s potential, despite setbacks
Check it out at your local library! ISBN 9781250137524
September 27, 2017
by Laurie Wallmark
illustrated by Katy Wu
Grace was a curious girl, exploring how clocks work by taking them apart and putting them back together again. That curiosity and tensity continued into college where she took courses in physics and math while other women were taking courses called “Husbands and Wives” and “Motherhood.” She continued to persevere until she convinced the Navy to enlist her even though she didn’t meet the age and weight requirements at the time. Good thing they did, too! Grace went on to write computer code that no one else had done, and fix problems that no one could seem to solve.
BUG! This term is known in the computer science world for a mistake in the program’s code. In this book, the author shows how Grace Hopper and her colleagues actually found a bug inside their computer which cause a switch to malfunction. Even since then, computer glitches have been called bugs!
At one point in the book Grace needs to pass Latin (she had a failing grade) in order to go to college. Briefly, this book shows the hard work she does in order to accomplish something she didn’t like to get to her dream of going to college.
Check out this PDF for some discussion questions and extension activities to do with this book.
*Timeline activity in the PDF link above.
September 11, 2017
The Girl Who Ran: Bobbi Gibb, The First Woman to Run the Boston Marathon
by Frances Poletti and Kristina Yee
Illustrated by Susanna Chapman
Do you want a book about NEVER GIVING UP? This is for you! Bobbi Gibb is a girl in the 1960s. All she wants to do is run. But others try to stop her, her father even says “Girls don’t run!” That doesn’t stop Bobbi. For her first race, she disguises herself as a boy, wearing boy tennis shoes and covering her hair with a hooded sweatshirt. Midway through the race, she had been spotted and the men running the race replied “We won’t let anyone throw you out; it’s a free road.” So Bobbi took off her sweatshirt and finished the race!
An inspiring biography of one person who wanted to change the world, who wanted to follow her heart.
Use this at the beginning of the school year as you build community and discuss hopes and dreams! Bobbi Gibb will definitely inspire your students to never give up and to follow their dreams!
March 14, 2016
A Boy and a Jaguar
by Alan Rabinowitz
Book blurb from the catalog: Presents a picture book featuring the true story of Alan Rabinowitz, who loved the animals at the zoo and hated that they were kept in cages. Wanting to speak out, Alan found he couldn’t keep himself from stuttering, except when talking to animals–a fact he used to his advantage in championing animal rights.
This book would be great to help teach:
- Empathy (understanding Alan’s stuttering)
- Building Classroom Community (how do we treat others who are different than ourselves)
- Biographies (and even a unit on writing autobiographies — picking out a watermelon seed moment instead of one’s entire life)
- Setting goals (Alan says that if he ever gets “his voice” he will speak for the animals, who cannot speak for themselves. This is a lofty goal for a stutterer, but once he does get his voice he follows through with his promise.)
- Research famous people who stutter
This book has a website!