A few years ago, I thought I would help out the parents of my gifted and talented students by writing about some games, toys, or books that I thought might make good purchases during the holiday season. I called the series of posts, “Gifts for the Gifted,” and I have continued to do it annually on every Friday in November and December. These gifts are suggestions for any child – not just those who qualify for a GT program. Sometimes I receive a free product for review, but I am not paid for these posts, and I never recommend a product that I wouldn’t buy for my own child. For past “Gifts for the Gifted” posts, you can visit this page.
For this post I am going to recommend two books. One is fiction and the other is not. Both have amazing illustrations. Both champion scientific discovery. And both feature strong females who are curious, persistent, and determined to pursue their interests despite costs and sacrifices.
I saw a comment about one of these books where the writer said, “If I had a daughter, I would give her this book.” That’s fine – but there’s no reason a son shouldn’t receive either of these as a gift. Yes, we need to increase the number of women in scientific fields. But that doesn’t mean that we need to exclude males from them. And, if our belief is that stereotypes should be eradicated, won’t this be helped even more by young men learning about inspiring females and males?
Ada Twist, Scientist is a delightful book by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts about a young girl who exasperates and amazes the adults in her life with her quests to find the right answer. This picture book is one that I reviewed a few months ago here, and part of a series of brilliant stories about children who refuse to allow life to just happen to them.
Women in Science, written and illustrated by Rachel Ignotofsky, has caught my eye on so many “Best Of…” lists that I finally had to order it. It says quite a bit about my education (and my memory) that I only recognize the names of 4 of the 50 female scientists described in this book. To be read independently, this book would be best for ages 8 and up. As a read-aloud, however, I don’t see any reason that parents or teachers couldn’t start earlier – maybe choosing one scientist a day to study. The graphics, colors, and font of this book separate it from the stodgy biographies that would immediately elicit yawns, and Ignotofsky has done a wonderful job of succinctly describing each scientists contributions in laymen’s terms.
With the upcoming Hidden Figures film and books like these, women in STEM careers are finally receiving real recognition. None of this negates the amazing feats of men in these fields. Instead, we are getting a richer picture of our history and more motivation to play significant roles in the future.