By Women in STEM

Introduce kids to some of the heroes of Women’s History Month with these colorful picture book biographies! 

Caroline’s Comets by Emily Arnold McCully 

Born in Germany, Caroline Herschel accompanied her brother when he left for England. The siblings shared a passion for stars, and together they built the greatest telescope of their age, working tirelessly on star charts. Using their telescope, Caroline discovered fourteen nebulae and two galaxies and became the first woman officially employed as a scientist. The information from the Herschels’ star catalog is still used today!

Dinosaur Lady: The Daring Discoveries of Mary Anning, the First Paleontologist by Linda Skeers 

Mary Anning loved scouring the beach for shells and fossils. She fearlessly climbed over cliffs and peaks, searching for new specimens—including dinosaur bones! Mary’s discoveries rocked the world of science and helped create a brand-new field of study: paleontology. Despite a lack of credit, Mary kept making discoveries that reshaped scientific beliefs about the natural world.

The World is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid by Jeanette Winter

Zaha Hadid grew up in Iraq and dreamed of designing her own cities. After studying architecture in London, she opened her own studio and started designing buildings. But as a Muslim woman, Hadid faced many obstacles. Determined to succeed, she worked hard for many years, and achieved her goals—and now you can see her buildings all over the world. 

Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell by Tanya Lee Stone

In the 1830s, women had few career options and becoming a doctor was out of the question. But Elizabeth refused to accept this. Although she faced much opposition, she graduated from medical school and went on to have a brilliant career, proving her detractors wrong.

The Bluest of Blues: Anna Atkins and the First Book of Photographs by Fiona Robinson

Anna Atkins’ father gave her an unusually scientific education. Fascinated with the plant life around her, Anna became a botanist and recorded all her findings in detailed illustrations. With the invention of cyanotype photography in 1842, Anna cataloged hundreds of plant specimens and published the first book of photographs ever published.

Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees by Franck Prévot

In 2004, Wangari Maathai received the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to lead women in a nonviolent struggle to bring peace and democracy to Africa through its reforestation. Her organization planted over thirty million trees in thirty years. 

Ada Lovelace, The Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer by Diane Stanley

Two hundred years ago, a daughter was born to the famous poet, Lord Byron, and his brilliant wife. Like her father, Ada had a vivid imagination. Like her mother, she had a passion for science, math, and machines. Far before the dawn of the digital age, Ada envisioned the computer-driven world we know today. And in demonstrating how the machine would be coded, she wrote the first ever computer program.

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

When Wu Chien Shiung was born in China, most girls did not attend school, but her parents encouraged her love of learning and science. Through her career, she battled sexism and racism to earn the nickname “Queen of Physics” for her work on beta decay. She also became the first woman hired as an instructor by Princeton University, the first woman elected President of the American Physical Society, and many other honors. 

Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles by Patricia Valdez

Joan Procter loved reptiles as a child and once she grew up, she became the Curator of Reptiles at the British Museum. She went on to design the Reptile House at the London Zoo, including a home for the komodo dragons. There, Joan hosted children’s tea parties–with her komodo dragon as the guest of honor! 

Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents an Airplane by Kirsten W. Larson

In the early 1900s, Emma Lilian Todd tinkered with all sorts of objects, turning dreams into useful inventions. Typing up patents at the U.S. Patent Office, she built the inventions in her mind and noticed many impractical designs for flying machines. Taking inspiration from nature and numerous failures, she drove herself to perfect the design that would successfully fly.

Counting the Stars: The Story of Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician by Lesa Cline-Ransome

Before astronauts walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used their knowledge, pencils, and writing paper to calculate the orbital mechanics needed to launch spacecraft. Katherine Johnson was one of these mathematicians who used trajectories and complex equations to chart the space program. Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws were in place in the early 1950s, Katherine analyzed data and eventually charted the famous orbital mission in 1962.

Swimming with Sharks: The Daring Discoveries of Eugenie Clark by Heather Lang

Before Eugenie Clark’s groundbreaking research, most people thought sharks were blood-thirsty killers. From the first time she saw a shark in an aquarium, Japanese-American Eugenie was enthralled. Instead of frightening eating machines, she saw sleek, graceful fish gliding through the water. After she became an ichthyologist, she began taking research dives and training sharks, earning her the nickname “The Shark Lady.” 

Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life: Hollywood Legend and Brilliant Inventor by Laurie Wallmark

To her adoring public, Hedy Lamarr was a glamorous movie star, widely considered the most beautiful woman in the world. But in private, she was something more: a brilliant inventor. For many years only her closest friends knew her secret, but during WWII, she developed a groundbreaking communications system that still remains essential to the security of today’s technology! 

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin by Julia Finley Mosca

When young Temple was diagnosed with autism, no one expected her to talk, let alone become one of the most powerful voices in modern science. Yet, the determined visual thinker did just that. Her unique mind allowed her to connect with animals in a special way, helping her invent groundbreaking improvements for farms around the globe! 

The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes: The Story of Dr. Patricia Bath by Julia Finley Mosca

As a girl coming of age during the Civil Rights Movement, Patricia Bath made it her mission to become a doctor. When obstacles like racism, poverty, and sexism threatened this goal, she persevered—brightening the world with a game-changing treatment for blindness! 

Ocean Speaks: Marie Tharp and the Map That Moved the Earth by Jess Keating

In the mid-20th century, women were not welcome in the sciences, but Marie was tenacious. She got a job in a laboratory at Cambridge University, but then faced another barrier: women were not allowed on the research ships. Onshore, Marie dove into the data her colleagues recorded. She mapped point after point and slowly revealed a deep valley in the ocean floor. Although the scientific community refused to believe her initially, her evidence was irrefutable: the ridge that she discovered is the single largest geographic feature on the planet!   


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