What is mathematics and why is it important? Let’s explore the lives of women who love math (and computers).

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Let us know if you have any suggestions for this list.

# Last Name A – G

#### Elizabeth Friedman

*Code Breaker, Spy Hunter: How Elizebeth Friedman Changed the Course of Two World Wars* by Laurie Wallmark and illustrated by Brooke Smart

Elizebeth Friedman was brilliant at cracking codes, but her story has been unknown for years because her work was classified. When her papers were declassified in 2015, the general public learned that during the years around World Wars I and II she uncovered spy rings, took down smugglers, and created the first cryptology unit for the CIA (at the time called the OSS).

Review and more information at Growing with Science blog

Reading age : 7 – 11 years

Publisher : Harry N Abrams Inc; Illustrated edition (March 2, 2021)

ISBN-10 : 1419739638

ISBN-13 : 978-1419739637

#### Sophie Germian

*Nothing Stopped Sophie: The Story of Unshakable Mathematician Sophie Germain* by Cheryl Bardoe and illustrated by Barbara McClintock

Nothing would stop Sophie Germian, not her parents taking away her candles so she couldn’t study math at night, not the professor who discovered that the homework that he thought was from a man came from a woman, and not when she tackled a math problem that everyone said would be impossible to solve.

Age Range: 6 – 9 years

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (June 12, 2018)

ISBN-10: 0316278203

ISBN-13: 978-0316278201

# Last Name H – L

#### Grace Hopper

*Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code* (People Who Shaped Our World) by Laurie Wallmark and illustrated by Katy Wu

Grace Hopper enlisted in the Navy during World War II and discovered a love for computers. She rose to the rank of Rear Admiral before her retirement. Among her many accomplishments she is probably best known for naming the “computer bug.”

Age Range: 5 and up

Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books (May 16, 2017)

ISBN-10: 1454920009

ISBN-13: 978-1454920007

#### Hypatia

Of Numbers and Stars: The Story of Hypatia by D. Anne Love and illustrated by Pamela Paparone

Hypatia, the daughter of a mathematician and philosopher named Theon, studied mathematics, astronomy, and philosophy at a time when few women received an education. She became a scholar and teacher.

#### Katherine Johnson

*Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13* by Helaine Becker and illustrated by Dow Phumiruk

Katherine Johnson was a gifted mathematician who was denied a high school education where she lived because of her skin color. Her father decided to move the family to another town where there was a school she could attend. Through persistence and hard work Katherine ended up working for NASA, where she performed the many complicated calculations needed for successful space flight.

This is the kind of biography that makes you want to stand up and cheer at the end. Helaine Becker does a wonderful job of summarizing Katherine Johnson’s life, distilling it to the essentials needed for a picture book. It’s delightful how she plays with Katherine’s love of counting by repetition of the phrase “count on me” through the text.

Age Range: 5 – 9 years

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (June 19, 2018)

ISBN-10: 9781250137524

ISBN-13: 978-1250137524

ASIN: 1250137527

#### Sophie Kowalevski

*Numbers in Motion: Sophie Kowalevski, Queen of Mathematics* by Laurie Wallmark and illustrated by Yevgenia Nayberg

Sophie Kowalevski grew up observing the pages of calculus problems her father had used to paper her bedroom walls. The desire to understand the intriguing symbols propelled her to study advanced math. Later she became a prominent mathematician — the first to earn a doctorate at an European university — and professor in a time when women weren’t even allowed to enter many college campuses. Sophie broke down barriers for women who came after her.

*Numbers in Motion* will inspire budding mathematicians and historians alike. Readers will likely end up wanting to learn more about this remarkable woman. Investigate a copy today.

Age Range: 8 – 12 years

Publisher: Creston Books (March 3, 2020)

ISBN-10: 1939547636

ISBN-13: 978-1939547637

#### Ada Byron Lovelace

*Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine* by Laurie Wallmark and illustrated by April Chu, which is the story of a unique and fascinating woman who was years ahead of her time.

Adults may have heard of the British poet Lord Byron, but likely they have missed the story of his inventive math whiz of a daughter, Ada Byron Lovelace. Lovelace overcame a severe childhood illness to write the first computer program. Who knows what she might have achieved if she hadn’t died at a relatively young age and if her collaborator, Charles Babbage, had actually built the analytical machine he had planned.

*Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine* is likely to resonate with kids interested in computers, math, and engineering and inspire some who haven’t yet found their passions. History buffs, particularly those interested in women’s history, will also want to check it out.

Age Range: 5 and up

Publisher: Creston Books (October 13, 2015)

ISBN-10: 1939547202

ISBN-13: 978-1939547200

# Last Name M – Q

#### Danica McKellar

Not only do we have books about women mathematicians, we also have some children’s books by a woman. Danica McKellar, who best known as the actress on *The Wonder Years*, is not just another celebrity using their fame to hawk children’s books. She is a serious mathematician whose goal is to get kids excited about math through books and videos.

*Goodnight, Numbers* by Danica McKellar and illustrated by Alicia Padron is for children who are learning their numbers.

Age Range: 2 – 5 years

Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers (March 7, 2017)

ISBN-10: 110193378X

ISBN-13: 978-1101933787

*Hot X: Algebra Exposed!* by Danica McKellar

Don’t let the suggestive title fool you, this is a serious guide to algebra and more. It’s also a call for young people to work hard, particularly at math, in order to attain their dreams. McKellar wants her readers to feel smart and confident, and develop the skills to be successful. It is a very positive message repeated throughout the book.

Although clearly written as a resource to supplement a math course, the tips and exercises could be a useful for instructors or for tutors looking for yet another way to get a point across. There are are additional solutions to problems on McKellar’s Hot X website.

The bottom line is that *Hot X* is much more than just a pretty face and a clever title. If you are studying or teaching algebra, you should take a look at it.

Hardcover: 876 pages

Publisher: W. H. Freeman (1979)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0716710471

ISBN-13: 978-0716710479

*Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape* by Danica McKellar

Once again, the cover may give a suggestive message, but it is only designed to get reluctant mathematicians to look inside. There they’ll find ways to master the core concepts of high school geometry, including congruent triangles, quadrilaterals, circles, proofs, theorems, etc.

Paperback: 432 pages

Publisher: Plume; 6.2.2013 edition (July 2, 2013)

ISBN-10: 0452298741

ISBN-13: 978-0452298743

*Maryam’s Magic: The Story of Mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani* by Megan Reid and illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel

When she was a child, Iranian mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani loved to tell stories. She wanted to become a writer. She struggled with math. Once she began to study geometry, however, she could understand it and it excited her. Soon she was using her storytelling to help her solve difficult mathematical problems.

In 2014, Maryam Mirzakhani became the first woman and also the first Iranian to win the prestigous Fields Medal in mathematics. Sadly, she passed away shortly afterwards of breast cancer (a fact that is mentioned in the text).

Educators should read Megan Reid’s lovely “Author’s Note” in the back matter.

Reading age : 4 – 8 years

Publisher : Balzer + Bray (January 19, 2021)

ISBN-10 : 0062915967

ISBN-13 : 978-0062915962

#### Raye Montague

*The Girl With a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague* (Amazing Scientists) by Julia Finley Mosca and illustrated by Daniel Rieley

Raye Montague wanted to design ships, but the college she went to wouldn’t allow women into the engineering program. After studying business instead, she landed a job typing for the Navy. Working hard, she learned about computers and devised a program that could design a ship in much less time. Eventually she became an official engineer and took over as head of the department where she had started as a typist.

The rhyming text is supported with eight pages of back matter. An awesome book!

Age Range: 5 – 10 years

Publisher: The Innovation Press (September 4, 2018)

ISBN-10: 1943147426

ISBN-13: 978-1943147427

*Emmy Noether: The Most Important Mathematician You’ve Never Heard Of* by Helaine Becker and illustrated by Kari Rust

Emmy Noether is a genius at math, but she is born at a time when women are expected to marry and take care of the house. Her passion for math leads her to study math at a university, but she’s only allowed to audit (sit in). Eventually, the professors recognize her talent and allow her to stay. Later she teaches — without pay — and manages to do her own research into some of the most pressing math and physics problems of the day, including helping Einstein with his theory of relativity. Being forced to flee Germany, her work was largely forgotten for many decades.

The back matter has suggestions for further reading.

Reading age : 6 – 9 years

Publisher : Kids Can Press; Illustrated edition (October 6, 2020)

ISBN-10 : 1525300598

ISBN-13 : 978-1525300592

# Last Name R – Z

*Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer* by Traci Sorrell and illustrated by Natasha Donovan

Important Note: Mary Golda Ross was a member of the Cherokee Nation and author Traci Sorrell is also from the Cherokee Nation.

After getting a degree in math and teaching high school, Mary Ross joined the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation. Later she was promoted to become their first female engineer. She helped design state-of-the-art airplanes and spacecraft, which means much of her work is still classified (as the title suggests).

Mary Ross’s story will inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists. Share a copy today!

Reading age : 7 – 11 years

Publisher : Millbrook Press ™ (March 2, 2021)

ISBN-10 : 1541579143

ISBN-13 : 978-1541579149

# Collections

*Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race* by Margot Lee Shetterly and illustrated by Laura Freeman

Author Margot Lee Shetterly wrote the original bestselling book, *Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race*, for adults. In this picture book for children, she gives a brief summary of each woman’s career, interweaving their stories and at the same time emphasizing their similar struggles as human computers for NASA.

*Hidden Figures *is a good introduction to these amazing women. It would be a great book to have on hand for both Black History Month and Women’s History Month.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years

Publisher: HarperCollins (January 16, 2018)

ISBN-10: 0062742469

ISBN-13: 978-0062742469