Reading List: Children’s Books About STEM

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Children’s books are great resources for STEM education: they’re written at a level that a child can understand, and books about science, technology, engineering, and math for children are increasingly published. The library’s Family Room houses books on these subjects as well as fiction and middle-grade books. If you’re a student teacher or a parent, you can use this reading list to pick up educational children’s STEM books from the library.

*Book descriptions provided by the publishers, c/o the library catalog

 

The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind by William Kamkwamba

When 14-year-old William Kamkwamba’s Malawi village was hit by a drought in 2001, everyone’s crops began to fail. His family didn’t have enough money for food, let alone school, so William spent his days in the library. He came across a book on windmills and figured out how to build a windmill that could bring electricity to his village. Everyone thought he was crazy but William persevered and managed to create a functioning windmill out of junkyard scraps. Several years later he figured out how to use the windmill for irrigation purposes.

 

Hey, Water! by Antoinette Pointis

Splash along with a spunky little girl who realizes that water is everywhere. But water doesn’t always look the same, it doesn’t always feel the same, and it shows up in lots of different shapes. And so the girl launches into a spirited game of hide-and-seek with water, discovering it in nature, in weather, and even in herself.

 

Little Leonardo’s Fascinating World of Science by Bob Cooper

Introduces kids to the vast and varied areas of science and the different types of scientists they can aspire to become. Whether it’s ancient dinosaur bones unearthed by paleontologists, anthropologists studying different cultures around the globe, or new planets discovered by astronomers, there’s bound to be something here any child will find fascinating and appealing.

 

The Girl With A Mind For Math by Julia Finley Mosca

This is a rhyming-text picture book about Raye Montague. After touring a German submarine in the early 1940s, young Raye set her sights on becoming an engineer. Little did she know sexism and racial inequality would challenge that dream every step of the way, even keeping her greatest career accomplishment a secret for decades. Through it all, the gifted mathematician persisted, finally gaining her well-deserved title in history: a pioneer who changed the course of ship design forever.

 

The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rainforest by Lynne Cherry

The many different animals that live in a great Kapok tree in the Brazilian rainforest try to convince a man with an ax of the importance of not cutting down their home.

 

The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield

Chris loves rockets and planets and pretending he’s a brave astronaut, exploring the universe. Only one problem: at night, Chris doesn’t feel so brave. He’s afraid of the dark. But when he watches the groundbreaking moon landing on TV, he realizes that space is the darkest dark there is, and the dark is beautiful and exciting, especially when you have big dreams to keep you company. (Inspired by the childhood of real-life astronaut Chris Hadfield.)

 

Even An Octopus Needs A Home by Irene Kelly

Shows how animals solve the problem of locating safe places in which to live and raise families.

 

The Brooklyn Bridge: A Wonders of the World Book by Elizabeth Mann

Describes the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, from its conception by John Roebling in 1852 through, after many setbacks, its final completion under the direction of his son, Washington, in 1883.

 

Are You A Beetle? by Judy Allen

This colorful first nature book introduces preschoolers to the world of the beetle. Ideal for reading aloud or as a first reader, the witty text and detailed illustrations bring this familiar creature to life. Young children will be fascinated by this tiny living thing found right in their own backyard.

 

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca

Here is the story of the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon: a story of leaving and returning during the summer of 1969, and a story of home, seen whole, from far away by steady astronauts in their great machines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading List: Summer

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There’s something special about reading in the summer. Maybe it’s because you finally have more time to read because of summer break, or because the evening weather invites you to read outside. Either way, summer reading lists are popular among schools and libraries across the country.

After looking over reading lists for the Jackson Madison County school system and several local private schools, I’ve compiled a list of classic library books that are often used for summer reading. Whether you need to read for school or not, you can read these books along with students in our area this summer.

*Book descriptions are provided by the publishers, c/o the library catalog. Click the link to see where each book is located in the library and to check availability. If you are not a Union student or employee, your Union library access may be limited; please refer to our guest policies or visit your local public library if needed. The Union library does not provide a summer reading program for children or current summer reading lists for local schools; these are merely a compilation of books that have often been used for “summer reading” in general for those interested in reading along or catching up on classics that they missed.

 

Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall & Denver Moore

The co-author relates how he was held under plantation-style slavery until he fled in the 1960s and suffered homelessness for an additional eighteen years before the wife of the other co-author, an art dealer accustomed to privilege, intervened.

 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

On Long Island in the early 1920s the mysterious Jay Gatsby tries to rekindle his romance with Daisy, a young woman who has married another man, the wealthy and cruel Tom Buchanan.

 

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

A traumatic event near the end of the summer has a devastating effect on Melinda’s freshman year in high school.

 

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

In a future totalitarian state where books are banned and destroyed by the government, Guy Montag, a fireman in charge of burning books, meets a revolutionary schoolteacher who dares to read and a girl who tells him of a past when people did not live in fear.

 

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

The Darling children begin the adventure of a lifetime when Peter Pan flies into their window one night.

 

The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman

A bratty prince and his whipping boy have many adventures when they inadvertently trade places after becoming involved with dangerous outlaws.

 

Educated by Tara Westover

Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills bag.” In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father’s junkyard. Her father distrusted the medical establishment, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when an older brother became violent. When another brother got himself into college and came back with news of the world beyond the mountain, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Read our review here.

 

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

The struggle of three brothers to stay together after their parent’s death and their quest for identity among the conflicting values of their adolescent society.

 

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

The Tuck family is confronted with an agonizing situation when they discover that a ten-year-old girl and a malicious stranger now share their secret about a spring whose water prevents one from ever growing any older.

 

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The adventures of the well-to-do hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, who lived happily in his comfortable home until a wandering wizard granted his wish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Novels About College Students

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Long nights spent studying, laughing with friends over lunch in the cafeteria, fighting your roommate for the remote control, writing papers in the library: these are some typical college experiences. For most people, college is a short but profoundly impactful time in their lives. Whether you’re in college now or not, reading about college students and their adventures can be a fun pastime.  Take a look at these 5 books that capture different and intriguing college stories.

*Book descriptions are by the publishers c/o the library website.

 

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality, their lives are changed profoundly and forever, and they discover how hard it can be to truly live and how easy it is to kill. Read Olivia Chin’s review here.

 

Nada by Carmen Laforet

In Barcelona, in the wake of the Spanish Civil War, Andrea, a young university student, moves into a strange, gothic house inhabited by a volatile array of aunts and uncles in order to attend college.

 

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life–and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, immersed themselves in the series when they were kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Her sister has grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told her she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone, and can’t stop worrying about her dad. Can she do this? Read Olivia Chin’s review here.

 

Normal People by Sally Rooney

At school Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He’s popular and well-adjusted, star of the school football team, while she is lonely, proud, and intensely private. But when Connell comes to pick his mother up from her job at Marianne’s house, a strange and indelible connection grows between the two teenagers–one they are determined to conceal. A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years at university, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. And as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.

 

This Side Of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This Side Of Paradise recounts the story of Amory Blaine as he grows from pampered childhood to young adulthood and learns to know himself better. At Princeton he becomes a literary aesthete and makes friends with other aspiring writers. As he moves out into the world and tries to find his true direction, he falls in love with a succession of beautiful young women. Youthful exuberance and immaturity give way to disillusion and disappointment as Amory confronts the realities of life.

 

 

 

 

 

Reading List: Famous Plays

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While plays are ultimately meant to be acted out, you do have to read them first! The library has a broad collection of famous plays throughout history. Click on the links to see where each play is located in the library.

*Some of these play descriptions are provided by the publishers via the library website.

 

The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams

The embattled Wingfield family: Amanda, a faded southern belle, abandoned wife, dominating mother, who hopes to match her daughter with an eligible “gentleman caller;” Laura, a lame and painfully shy, she evades her mother’s schemes and reality by retreating to a world of make-believe; Tom’s sole support of the family, he eventually leaves home to become a writer but is forever haunted by the memory of Laura.

 

Hamlet by William Shakespeare

A troubled young prince of Denmark comes to terms with his father’s murder and his mother’s new husband.

 

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

A three-act play concerned with the tensions in a black middle-class family in Chicago

 

The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe

In this foundational classic play, Christopher Marlowe beautifully retells the legend of Doctor Faustus in a masterful combination of verse and prose.

 

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

Pulitzer Prize-winning play about a middle-aged man’s emotional turmoil due to being past his prime and failing to reach success.

 

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Toys in the Attic by Lillian Hellman

A study of the moral effects of wealth. The setting of the play is New Orleans.

 

Fences by August Wilson

Follows an African American man’s goals, family, and struggles in the 1950s.

 

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard

“Hamlet” as told from the worm’s-eye view of the bewildered Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two minor characters in Shakespeare’s play.

 

Trifles by Susan Glaspell

The dark secrets of a married couple come to light as a murder is investigated.

 

A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen

Ibsen’s seminal play, which changed modern drama, is a searing view of a male-dominated and authoritarian society, presented with a realism that elevates theatre to a level above mere entertainment. The reverberations of Nora’s slamming the door as she leaves Torvald continue to the present day.

 

 

 

 

Reading List: Poetry

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Most poems can be read in one sitting, but their meaning may stay way with you forever. If you’re a fan of poetry, check out the poetry collections below. Some are eBooks that you can read from home, and others are print books that are available at the library.

 

Questions About Angels by Billy Collins (eBook)

Billy Collins – winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship, veteran of a one-hour Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross, and a guest on Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion – arrives at Random House with the poetic equivalent of a Greatest Hits album, seasoned with some wonderful new numbers. Read our review here.

 

American Primitive by Mary Oliver

50 lyrical poems by the author express renewal of humanity in love and oneness with the natural.

 

Selected Poems of Langston Hughes by Langston Hughes

The poems Hughes wrote celebrated the experience of invisible men and women: of slaves who “rushed the boots of Washington”; of musicians on Lenox Avenue; of the poor and the lovesick; of losers in “the raffle of night.” They conveyed that experience in a voice that blended the spoken with the sung, that turned poetic lines into the phrases of jazz and blues, and that ripped through the curtain separating high from popular culture.

 

The Collected Poems by Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes

Contains in sequence all the poetry written by the author from 1956 until her suicide in 1963, together with fifty selections from her pre-1956 work.

 

New Poets of Native Nations edited by Heid E. Erdich

This anthology gathers poets of diverse ages, styles, languages, and tribal affiliations to present the extraordinary range and power of new Native poetry.

 

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The Varorium Edition of the Poems of W.B. Yeats by W.B. Yeats

This book contains the complete poems of Irish author and activist W.B. Yeats. Yeats’ poetry speaks of love, nature, politics, and myths.

 

Selected Poetry by Victor Hugo and Steven Monte (eBook, includes poems in French and English)

This generous, varied selection of poems by one of France’s best-loved and most reviled poets is presented with facing originals, detailed notes, and a lively introduction to the author’s life and work. Steven Monte presents more than eighty poems in translation and in the original French, taken from the earliest poetic publications of the 1820’s, through collections published during exile, to works published in the years following Hugo’s death in 1883.

 

The Woman I Kept To Myself: Poems by Julia Alvarez

The Dominican-American writer presents a collection of autobiographical poems, each comprising three 10-line stanzas.

 

The Complete Poems: 1927-1979 by Elizabeth Bishop

A collection of 149 poems by the author.

 

Selected Poetry, 1937-1990 by João Cabral de Melo Neto (eBook, includes poems in Portuguese and English)

Brings together a representative selection of the work of one of Brazil’s most respected poets, including many poems published in English for the first time.

Reading List: Literary Classics

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Literature can be a broad genre, full of well-written tomes of years past and present. We’ve made a reading list of popular and diverse literary classics that are available at the library. For more books like these, search the subject tag “fiction” on our library catalog, or browse shelves PN-PS on the library’s second floor.

*book descriptions are from the library website and/or the publishers.

For classics in eBook form, click here.

 

Love In The Time Of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

Set on the Caribbean coast of South America, this love story brings together Fermina Daza, her distinguished husband, and a man who has secretly loved her for more than fifty years.

 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Jay Gatsby had once loved beautiful, spoiled Daisy Buchanan, then lost her to a rich boy. Now, mysteriously wealthy, he is ready to risk everything to woo her back.

 

To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

Psychological description of the Ramsay family at their summer home on the Scottish coast.

 

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Two overlapping, intertwining stories, both of which center around Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria.

 

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Discovered on the streets of Liverpool, Heathcliff is rescued by Mr. Earnshaw and taken to the remote Yorkshire farmhouse of Wuthering Heights. Earnshaw’s daughter Catherine rapidly forms an attachment to him, but when Catherine’s brother takes over the Heights, Heathcliff is lowered to the position of a barely-tolerated farmhand.

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The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The lives of two sisters–Nettie, a missionary in Africa, and Celie, a southern woman married to a man she hates–are revealed in a series of letters exchanged over thirty years.

 

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

A young girl growing up in an Alabama town in the 1930s learns of injustice and violence when her father, a lawyer, defends a black man accused of raping a white girl.

 

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

The story of flamboyant Lady Brett Ashely and the hapless Jake Barnes in an age of moral bankruptcy, spiritual dissolution, unrealized love, and vanishing illusions.

 

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Part ghost story, part history lesson, part folk tale, Beloved finds beauty in the unbearable and lets us all see the enduring promise of hope that lies in anyone’s future.

 

Crime And Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Determined to overreach his humanity and assert his untrammeled individual will, Raskolnikov, an impoverished student living in the St. Petersburg of the Tsars, commits an act of murder and theft and sets a story into motion.

 

Top 5 Fiction eBooks To Read At Home

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You’re at home, practicing social distancing, and you really need something new to read. Maybe you’ve read all of the books on your shelf, or maybe you just want to read something on a screen. Have no fear: the library has thousands of eBooks for Union students and employees to access while at home. Here are just a few of our fiction eBooks for you to start reading!

 

*book descriptions are from the publishers c/o the library website

 

Chronicles of Avolea by L.M. Montgomery

Twelve tales of some very special people living on Prince Edward Island in the early days of the 20th century.

 

Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

After climbing through a mirror, Alice enters a world similar to a chess board, where she experiences many curious adventures with its fantastic inhabitants.

 

Emma by Jane Austen

Handsome, clever, and rich, Emma Woodhouse seems blessed with every gift that kind fortune can bestow on a proper young Englishwoman. But at one-and-twenty, Emma still has lessons to learn about human nature and the mysteries of the heart. Jane Austen’s masterpiece paints a charming portrait of English village society and of a heroine as delightful as she is infuriating.

 

The Handsome Monk And Other Stories by Tsering Döndrup

Tsering Döndrup is one of the most popular and critically acclaimed authors writing in Tibetan today. The Handsome Monk and Other Stories brings together short stories from across Tsering Döndrup’s career to create a panorama of Tibetan society.

 

Freeman: A Novel by Leonard Pitts

A compelling, important, page-turning historical novel set at the end of the Civil War, in which an escaped slave first returns to his old plantation and then walks across the ravaged South in search of his lost wife.

 

Top 5 Beach Reads For Spring Break

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With spring break comes much-needed time away from school and (hopefully) some beautiful weather! If you find yourself with some free time this spring break, you may want to pick back up the tried-and-true habit of “reading for fun.” We’ve compiled a list of the best “beach read” books in the library so that you can read by the water this break (or travel to fun places through the world of literacy, even if you’re still in your dorm)!

 

Out Of Africa by Isak Dineson

Author Isak Dinesen, whose real name is Karen Blixen, tells her story of the 17 years she ran a coffee farm in Kenya, Africa. This book is a well-written classic that will take you to new places.

 

Into The Water by Paula Hawkins

From the author of the bestseller The Girl On The Train, Into The Water is a tale of suspense and mystery. When two people turn up dead in the local river, who will discover their stories?

 

The Paris Wife by Paul McLain

What would it be like to be married to a struggling author in a new city? Historical fiction fans may enjoy this novel’s fictionalized look at the life of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson, with a focus on their time in Paris.

 

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin Craig

On a remote island estate, Annaleigh Thaumas, the sixth-born of twelve sisters, enlists the aid of an alluring stranger to unravel the family curse before it claims her life. This retelling of a Grimm Brothers tale is hauntingly interesting.

 

Collected Stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Dive into the world of magical realism with Marquez’s unique storytelling. These short stories will keep you interested without taking up all of your vacation time.

Reading List: Science Fiction

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Space, experiments, artificial intelligence, aliens, genetics: science fiction is a fascinating genre where almost anything can happen. We have both science fiction classics (like Jurassic Park) and new science fiction (like The Martian) available at the library. Skim through this list to find your next sci-fi read!

*book descriptions are from the library website and/or the publishers

 

2001, A Space Odyssey by Arthur Clarke

This allegory about humanity’s exploration of the universe and the universe’s reaction to humanity was the basis for director Stanley Kubrick’s immortal film, and lives on as a landmark achievement in storytelling.

 

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Through journal entries, sixteen-year-old Miranda describes her family’s struggle to survive after a meteor hits the moon, causing worldwide tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.

 

Foundation by Isaac Asimov

For twelve thousand years, the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. But only Hari Sheldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future–to a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare that will last thirty thousand years.

 

Contact by Carl Sagan

Astrophysicist Rebecca Blake deciphers long-awaited signals from space, persuades world leaders to construct a machine that many consider a Trojan Horse, and journeys into space for an epochal encounter.

 

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Timeline by Michael Crichton

A Yale history professor travels back in time to 15th century France and gets stuck, unable to return to the present. His colleagues organize a rescue and upon landing in France become involved in the Hundred Years War.

 

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South.

 

Double Helix by Nancy Werlin

Eighteen-year-old Eli discovers a shocking secret about his life and his family while working for a Nobel Prize-winning scientist whose specialty is genetic engineering.

 

Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Charlie, realizing his intelligence is not what it should be, ponders over the possibility of an operation, similar to one making a mouse into a genius.

 

Birthmarked by Caragh O’Brien

In a future world baked dry by the sun and divided into those who live inside the wall and those who live outside it, sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone is forced into a difficult choice when her parents are arrested and taken into the city.

 

To find more science fiction books and movies, explore the “science fiction” subject through our library catalog.

Reading List: Children’s Books About Women In History

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Did you know that March is Women’s History Month? The library has many excellent books on this subject; in particular, we’d like to highlight some of our children’s books about women in history. Adults and kids alike will enjoy these beautifully illustrated and thoughtfully written stories about women who changed the world.

 

Reading List:

Girls Think Of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions By Women by Catherine Thimmesh

Expanded and revised, this new edition of the best-selling book celebrates the ingenious inventions of women throughout time. As inspiring as they are fascinating, these stories empower readers to imagine, to question, to experiment, and then to go forth and invent!

 

Who Was Sacagawea? by Judith Bloom Fradin

Learn all about the life and times of Sacagawea, the Shoshoni woman who helped explorers Lewis and Clark find their way. This book begins with the story of how Sacagawea came to be depicted on the dollar coin and continues with Sacagawea’s life story.

 

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People To Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford

Follow both the physical and spiritual journey of Harriet Tubman as she escapes slavery and then helps others to find freedom, too. Moses is a great book for learning about antebellum life in the U.S and African American history.

 

I Could Do That! Esther Morris Gets Women The Vote by Linda White

In 1869, a woman whose “can-do” attitude had shaped her life was instrumental in making Wyoming the first state to allow women to vote, then became the first woman to hold public office in the United States. The story of Esther Morris is inspiring and told in a fun way by I Could Do That!

 

Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story by Caren Stelson

Sachiko is the story of a young girl who lived through the bombing of Nagasaki in World War II. While this book is geared more toward middle grade and early high school kids, it’s an emotional, moving look at a tragic event in history.

 

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

This version of the bestselling Hidden Figures is perfect for children to understand. You’ll learn all about NASA, space, science, and the African American women mathematicians who greatly contributed to NASA’s programs in spite of Jim Crow laws.

 

Rosa by Nikki Giovanni

This striking picture book depicts Rosa Parks’ famous stand for Civil Rights, as well as the events that followed. Illustrator Bryan Collier’s cut-paper images make the story leap off the page for young readers.

 

Amelia And Eleanor Go For A Ride by Pam Munoz Ryan

Two famous women in history in one book? Sign us up! This fictionalized account of the night that Amelia Earhart flew Eleanor Roosevelt over Washington, D.C. is charming and fun.

 

The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Meran’s Art Changed Science by Joyce Sidman

Beautifully illustrated, The Girl Who Drew Butterflies tells the story of Maria Meran and how she figured out the process of metamorphosis. Some of Meran’s own artwork is featured in this book!

 

These books are available for check out in the library’s Family Room!