These books introduce scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and inventors who are largely overlooked. And too often, because of their race or gender, even their residency status, they don’t even get credit for their work.
Scientists Who Changed History by DK
Using a fun set-up beginning with a quotation and list of milestones and including intriguing spot and profile illustrations, an insert about a competitor or subsequent scientist, and a big, bold sidebar of accomplishments, this book examines 86 scientists from the astronomer and mathematician Thales of Milatues (624-546 B.C.E) to computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee (present). Broken into seven time periods, each section also includes a “directory” and brief bios of 13 other scientists from that time. A wonderful examination through time and across the globe of both well-known and forgotten scientists.
Stolen Science: Thirteen Stories of Scientists and Inventors almost Written Out of History by Ella Schwartz
This book presents biographies of scientists and inventors whose stories have been forgotten or outright ignored by history. Too often, due to their race, gender, even residency status, credit for their discoveries were given to other people. Sidebars offer deep dives into the science and technology.
The Secret Lives of Scientists, Engineers, and Doctors. Volume 1&2 by Faisal Hossain
Brief introductions to current STEM professionals, many written in first person, about the inspiration or experiences that spurred them into their research and careers. Includes a note of where they are working or researching.
Inspiring African-American Inventors: 9 Extraordinary Lives by Jeff C.Young
Spanning from 1848 to 2008, each of the biographies contains a “Lifeline” with key moments, discoveries, and for some posthumous awards. Portraits, invention diagrams, and period ads help round out an honest evaluation of their lives, creativity, and societal struggles. A list of “report links,” detailed chapter notes, and further reading make this a great place to begin research.
Brilliant African-American Scientists:9 Exceptional Lives by Jeff C. Young
Following a similar format, this book examines scientists from the 18th to 20th centuries who influenced astronomy, space telescopes, blood & plasma storage, biology, physics, developing computer science, and chemotherapy. It is also a straightforward presentation that could encourage further research.
What Color Is My World? The Lost History of African-American Inventors by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Set within the framework of a fictional story of two twins, eleven fold-out flaps contain brief facts about inventors, their creations, and their influence on today’s society. Additionally, the book takes a more in-depth look at the life and discoveries of Lewis Howard Latimer, James E. West, Frederick McKinley Jones, Dr. Percy Lavon Julian, and Garrett Morgan. Sources and further information round out this fun exploration of important history.
A Native American Thought of It: Amazing Inventions and Innovations by Rocky Landon
Opening with a map of Traditional Native American territories, this informative, photo-illustrated book examines the shelters, modes of hunting & fishing, preparing food & clothing, medicine, transportation, communication, and games created by the various tribes many of which have continued or inspired current actions or inventions. It includes a brief look at Native Americans today, native languages, and further readings.
1001 Inventions and Awesome Facts from Muslim Civilization: Official Children’s Companion to the 1001 Inventions Exhibition (National Geographic Kids)
A cursory, but extensive, examination, from the 7th century into the 20th century, of the astrological, mathematical scientific and medical discoveries, as well as the musical, farming, games, and school creations that have been made by Muslim scientists and individuals. A fun map of highlights functions as a great “table of contents” and the section formats are highly visual and snippet oriented. A wonderful collection of facts and individuals.
Benjamin Banneker by Heather Lehr Wagner
Born in 1731, Banneker was a free Black man who worked his own farm. A curious child, he studied nature and wildlife and was fascinated by mechanics. He built a clock after taking a pocket watch apart. Later, he helped survey land that would become District of Columbia. This biography does not sidestep issues of race and forced labor.
Who was George Washington Carver? by Jim Gigliotti
Carver was born to enslaved parents near the end of the Civil War. He was curious and hungry for education, which he achieved despite racism and Jim Crow laws. He taught at Tuskegee College, where he developed products that used peanuts (glue, dye, plastic) – but not peanut butter!
Daniel Hale Williams: Surgeon Who Opened Hearts and Minds written and illustrated by Mike Venezia
Williams, known for ground-breaking heart surgery, began his medical career as a doctor’s assistant – a tough job in the later 1800s. After graduating from medical college, he discovered no hospital would accept a black doctor. When local hospitals refused to take his patients, he started his own hospital, a non-segregated institution that also provided training for black nurses and doctors.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Young Readers Edition by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer
William Kamkwamba opens with life in Malawi: a mix of magic and science. His curiosity led him to fixing radios, a library, and eventually books about generating energy. As draught brings famine and death to the area, he builds a windmill to pump water for crops and produce electricity. A fun and inspiring read for kids (and adults).
Al-Khwarizmi : the inventor of algebra by Corona Brezina
This book shows Al-Khwarizmi the scholar: an astronomer, mathematician, geographer. His purpose was to help people solve math dilemmas in their everyday lives. In addition to developing algebra, he helped chart the course of planets, mapped the earth, and introduced the system of numbers we use today.
– “Asian American scientists in STEM classrooms: increasing inclusion and visibility” – https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/asian-american-scientists-stem-classrooms-increasing-inclusion-and-visibility/
– “The Secret Lives of Scientists and Engineers” – https://ny.pbslearningmedia.org/collection/secret-life-of-scientists-and-engineers-diversity-in-stem/
STEM Tuesday book list prepared by:
Sue Heavenrich writes about science for children and their families, from space to backyard ecology. Bees, flies, squirrel behavior—things she observes in her neighborhood and around her home—inspire her writing. Visit her at www.sueheavenrich.com
Maria Marshall is a children’s author, blogger, and poet passionate about making nature and reading fun for children. When not writing, critiquing, or reading, she bird watches, travels the world, bakes, and hikes. Visit her at www.mariacmarshall.com