Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Women Computers - 11.06.19

Wednesdays I join Alyson Beecher from kidlitfrenzy and other
#kidlit bloggers to share wonderful nonfiction picture books.
The intention of today's blog post is to give professionals that work in the
education field new nonfiction reading material and ideas to use 
with students to promote a love of reading nonfiction materials.

With the success of the movie Hidden Figures, there has been a large number of kidlit about these famous human computers.  Whether you read about the women that were featured in the film, the women as individuals, or other women who were computers and known in their own right, their stories are powerful to tell young children today!
Here are some new picture book biographies about computer Katherine Johnson!

Counting the Stars by Lesa Cline-Ransome
Counting the Stars: The Story of Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician
written by Lesa Cline-Ransome
illustrated by Raúl Colón

A Computer Called Katherine by Suzanne Slade
A Computer Called Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Helped Put America on the Moon
written by Suzanne Slade
illustrated by Veronica Miller Jamison

Both of these picture book biographies tell the story of Katherine Johnson, starting with her childhood and impressive mind for learning.  Skipping multiple grade levels, Katherine started high school and college at a very young age.  However, that was not without its own set of problems.  The high school where Katherine lived wouldn't allow black students to attend so her parents moved the family 120 miles away in order for her to learn.  And learn she did - finishing college and then Katherine became a math teacher.  But then she learned about a research center that was hiring women computers to help with equations.  Little did she know that eventually she would be solving equations that landed a man on the moon!

Both picture books tell similar information with each giving additional details that were just a little different from its counterpart.  Both books have a place in read alouds because it's important for readers to learn how to not only get new information from sources, but to also compare information and fact check validity.

Both books contain additional information from the author in the backmatter.  Slade's book also has an illustrator's note as well as some sources and credits.

Looking for something longer?  Don't miss Katherine Johnson's autobiography for young readers!

Reaching for the Moon: The Autobiography of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson
Reaching for the Moon: The Autobiography of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson
This narrative biography is a gripping tale of Katherine's life.  I devoured the story, even after knowing a lot of the information from other picture books and the movie.  Katherine speaks to the reader and weaves her story of hard work and patience.  It's a great autobiography for readers who are looking for more information than a picture book holds.

Katherine Johnson truly is an amazing and remarkable woman.  I'm so glad her story is reaching readers of all ages!


  1. I hadn't seen Counting the Stars! What a great text set to look at authorial intent. And learn about an amazing woman!

  2. It's wonderful to see the number of books being published about Katherine Johnson. I'm excited to see the one by Lesa Cline-Ransome and hope we'll purchase one for our library very soon.

  3. I loved the long book about all of them, and the movie, too. I haven't read these, so will look for them. It is wonderful that they've been written. Thanks, Michele.

  4. Love Lesa's books. Will look forward to this one!