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Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly (Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden)

by | Mar 28, 2022 | Biographies, Women in STEM | 1 comment

Hidden Figures: Brave Women in STEM

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margo Lee Shetterly is a great kids’ version of the 2016 hit movie Hidden Figures. My kids really don’t appreciate movies that aren’t Marvel or comedy yet, so even though the movie is rated PG, they still haven’t seen it. I’ll have them watch it when they are older and can appreciate it better, but for now, this book was a wonderful introduction to the stories of four Black women and how their perseverance and love of math helped the United States put Neil Armstrong on the moon and expand the boundaries of what is possible in space exploration. 

Eventually I plan on taking them to the Kennedy Space Station and meet up with my friend who works for NASA, and it will be so exciting to remember learning about these groundbreaking women and their place in NASA history. 

Themes 

The Limit Does Not Exist

These women faced huge obstacles in their pursuit of their dream jobs because of their gender and their skin color. They obviously could not control either one of those things, so they took on what they could control – their love of math and strong determination that they could and would be the best at their jobs.  

Pave The Way

I loved how the author wove in how these women helped pave the way for each other. On the page about Christine Darden, the author wrote “Christine wanted to become an engineer, and thanks to Dorothy, Mary, and Katherine, she knew it was possible.” Each woman’s strength and grit to forge their own way created a path for the others to follow. 

Conversations

As a single mom, instilling a respect for the abilities and qualifications of women is super important to me as I raise my sons. This book was a great conversation starter about how women can hold important roles in projects – especially when astronaut John Glenn refused to take off until Katherine Johnson specifically had reviewed all the math equations for his launch (which is also one of my favorite parts of the movie). 

We all collectively thought the idea that the women could send people to the moon but not use the same bathroom as their white counterparts was absurd. 

My oldest is good at math but easily bored with it, and he thought it was cool to learn that math sent people to the moon.  

Age Level

It’s written for elementary age, but my preschooler loves this book as well. 

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