My sister Molly likes to buy my children books that teach. Books about nature and space, biographies of interesting people and ones that teach about languages, numbers, and art. Over the last five and a half years, we have collected quite a variety of books from Aunt Molly. She gets many of my daughter’s selections from a site called “A Mighty Girl.” If you haven’t heard of it, definitely check them out @amightygirl on Facebook or www.amightygirl.com. As their website says, they are “The world’s largest collection of books and movies for smart, confident, and courageous girls.” It’s not a surprise that their recommendations have resulted in teachable moments and interesting story hours.
So I would like to dedicate one blog post a month to recognizing some of the great authors and stories we have been introduced to over the last five years. Nothing is better than sharing a great book with another reader! After pouring over my children’s library, I decided all of the books shared had to meet two standards. They need to be about a strong woman and written/illustrated by women. Given Minna’s science background, I have chosen to start with biographies of women who she did admire or would have if given the chance. We’ll begin with a biography of a woman who mentored Minna and set her on her life’s path.
Out of School and Into Nature: The Anna Comstock Story
Out of School and Into Nature: The Anna Comstock Story is written by Suzanne Slade and illustrated by Jessica Lanan. I love this book for many reasons. It is a well-written book about a woman in science who had a direct influence on Minna’s life. Anna Comstock is from New York State and attended Cornell University. She was the first female professor at Cornell University. In addition to being an accomplished professor, Professor Comstock’s book was highly successful. The Handbook of Nature Study became a standard textbook for public school teachers during her day. Fortunately for our main character, Anna Comstock traveled to the Thousand Islands in the summer to teach. During one of those summers, Professor Comstock met Minna Anthony Common and forever changed her life.
Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World
Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World by Laurie Lawlor and illustrated by Laura Beingessner is the second book of the month. Rachel Carson is a rock star. You can thank Rachel Carson for the DDT-free bug spray you use in the summer. Her book Silent Spring (1962) revealed the harmful effects chemical pesticides were having on all aspects of the environment. Although she was vilified by the chemical industry, she defended her research her entire life. In retrospect, Silent Spring was the spark that lit the beginning of the modern environmentalist movement.
Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist
For the last book, we take to the ocean. In Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist by Jess Keating and illustrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens. We meet Eugenie Clark, otherwise known as “The Shark Lady.” She was gutsy. Dr. Clark spent two weeks underwater deep in the ocean and became a pioneer in the field of scuba diving for research. You can learn more about her work at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Check it out!
If you know of a great children’s book about science, leave the title in the comments below so that we can all enjoy it!
Until next time, happy reading!