Empowering STEM Books for Girls

Empowering STEM Books for Girls

The reason I started GoldieBlox was because I wanted to share a new role model with girls that I didn’t have growing up – the female engineer. I couldn’t believe there hadn’t been a kid’s brand built around a character like this, when boys had Handy Manny, Lego Man, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (to name a few).

When I first started researching girls and their play patterns, I came upon an important insight that has been guiding me for the past 6 years. When I asked an 8-year-old girl what her favorite toy was, I got a funny response…. it was not a toy at all… it was a book! Books provide a level of depth, story, and character development that can really spark readers’ imaginations.

But what are we teaching our children when so many of the books they’re reading lack strong female role models? On TIME’s list of 100 Best Children’s Books, only 53 included female characters who spoke, and even less had female characters who weren’t princesses or girls waiting on their prince.

Since launching GoldieBlox in 2012, there have been many other empowering girl STEM stories and characters that have emerged and I have been enthusiastically collecting them all! If the saying is true, “you are what you read,” then make sure to put these books on your kid’s reading list this summer.

Recommended for grades K and up

Ada Lovelace is the poet Lord Byron’s daughter, but that isn’t even her biggest claim to fame. She’s the mother of modern programming, and the STEM world just celebrated her 200th birthday on December 9th. In this short non-fiction book, readers learn about Ada’s love of all things math and science as well as her first encounter with early computing technology.

Recommended for grades K – 2

We all have to learn from our mistakes, and some mistakes are bigger than others. When the main character in this story builds a robot, she wins first place in her science fair… and then has to stop her creation from destroying her city. Lessons in humility and problem solving are abound in this story, and the comic book-esque illustrations make it a really fun, action-packed read!

Recommended for grades K – 2

Rosie Revere is a curious little girl who loves to build, but she’s really more than that: to little girls hearing her story, she’s a superhero! Discouraged over and over by small failures, Rosie is given a big boost of confidence when her Aunt Rose tells her that the only true failure is giving up. She’s faced with her hardest challenge yet: constructing a flying machine, and boy does Rosie soar!

Recommended for grades K – 2

Elizabeth Blackwell never ever ever let someone tell her no. Never. After being rejected or simply ignored by 29 medical colleges, she was accepted into a program in upstate New York, where she would later graduate at the head of her class. This picture book touches upon the roles of women in the time (the mid-19th century), and positions Elizabeth as exactly what she was: a pioneer, and a believer in true equality.

Recommended for grades K – 2 or 3

Who doesn’t love bubble gum? Everyone from the ancient Greeks to Native Americans have chewed something like gum – but it wasn’t always the sweet and sticky mess it is today. The version we know and love was invented in Philadelphia in 1928. This picture book reveals how bubblegum’s inventor, Walter Diemer, persevered through hundreds of taste tests and failures before crafting just the right concoction.

Recommended for grades 3 – 5

We know a little something about Rube Goldberg machines, so this book really tickles our fancy. Young Ruby Goldberg takes on a Rube Goldberg machine of her own, hoping to cheer up her Grandpa with her silly contraption. But when she spends all her time gunning for that first prize in the science fair… will she lose sight of the other important things in life, like her friends and family? This story features a relatable character with problems that kids face every day, and Ruby’s ability to see past herself and into the hearts of others creates an imaginative world where science, school, and family come together.

Recommended for grades 5–7

Inventors: they’re just like us! This book features female inventors who have built the world that we know today. From the chocolate chip cookie to the windshield wiper blade, these stories of invention and innovation gives girls access to what can feel “too hard” or “really complicated.” Toward the end, young female inventors are introduced, inspiring young readers to do the same!

8. GoldieBlox and the Best! Pet! Ever!

Recommended for ages 6-9

This list wouldn’t be complete without a nod to our very own GoldieBlox chapter book series with Random House, written by award-winning children’s book author, Stacy McAnulty, who is an engineer herself! Although I love all the books in the series, this one is my personal favorite. Packed with cute pets, robots and engineering mishaps, this one makes you laugh out loud while also teaching an important life lesson that you can’t always buy your way to the top.

Whoa! Is your little one a speed reader? Check out these crowdsourced lists of awesome books for kiddos, young and old!

Picture Books Biographies of Scientists on Goodreads

Women in Science on Goodreads

What’s your little engineer reading right now? Leave us a comment so we can add it to our next list!

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