Now that we have safely (and thankfully quickly) navigated the princess phase at our house, it looks like Kid #1 has a hankering for science. So I’ve been trying to very gently encourage her interest by introducing her to some awesome female scientists. My only problem? Until recently, the only female scientists I could name off the top of my head were Marie Curie, Rachel Carson, and Rosalind Franklin. Enter two wonderful books that have remedied my handicap: Rachel Swaby’s Headstrong and Catherine Thimmesh’s Girls Think of Everything.
Swaby’s book is made up of biographies of 52 scientists in the fields of medicine, biology/environment, genetics/development, physics, astronomy, mathematics, and invention. The introduction suggests reading one profile a week, thus taking one year to finish the book. That would make the book very easy to digest, but it would take far too long to find out about some amazing people who deserve to be much better and much wider known than they currently are. The women in this book are all great role models and show what determination and perseverance can get you. If there were no research positions available for women in their field, they pushed and prodded until someone relented and gave them a job. If the equipment they needed for their research didn’t exist, they invented it. If someone tried to talk over them, they simply talked louder and faster.
While it is true that the profiles are rather short, it is easy enough to look up those scientists who peak your interest. I found this book very entertaining and very inspiring.
Girls Think of Everything is an accessible and wonderfully illustrated book about women inventors. The women and inventions discussed are perfect to hold a young reader’s attention. I didn’t know that a woman “invented” the chocolate chip cookie. (Although that figures, doesn’t it?) But women also invented the windshield wiper and Scotchguard. It was great to read this book together with my child and discuss how the inventions came about. Kid #1 certainly felt inspired when she read that Becky Schroeder was only 12 years old when she became the youngest patent-holder in the United States. (She invented “glow paper.”)
This time around, I read the books with my daughter—hence the title of this post. But really, these books can and should be read by anyone and to anyone. I’ve prodded my husband with enough “did-you-know”s for him to pick up Headstrong, and Kid #3 will certainly learn about the “girls who think of everything” when he’s just a bit older.
*I received a copy of Headstrong from the publisher.