Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly
If you haven’t had a chance to check out the now Academy Award-nominated film, Shetterly’s best-selling book tells the true story of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, the four African American mathematicians who were responsible for some of NASA’s biggest accomplishments — including helping astronaut John Glenn safely orbit the Earth. If you have had a chance to make it into a sold-out screening and can’t get enough of the women working in the space program, here are some other books to check out. Order Hidden Figures here.
Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, From Missiles to the Moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt
Get to know more women behind NASA’s success in space. Holt’s bestseller doesn’t just introduce some of the women who served as “human computers” in the ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s, but it also goes a step further into their lives as it features their favorite fashions and personal relationships — while framing their stories against developments in U.S. history, including feminism, civil rights, and the rising technology of the space race. Order it here.
Sally Ride: America’s First Woman in Space by Lynn Sherr
While people may know Sally Ride as the first American woman in space, Sherr’s richly detailed biography introduces readers to the person she was. With the help of Ride’s personal diary, as well as her files and letters, plus access to Ride’s partner Tam O’Shaughnessy, ex-husband (and fellow astronaut) Steve Hawley, and other friends and family, Sherr brings to life the woman who didn’t just inspire other women to aim for the stars, but devoted the rest of her life to making sure they had the opportunities to do so. Order it here.
Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone
Years before women were let into the space program, 13 women known as the “Mercury 13” fought for their right to qualify to become astronauts. Stone’s book details not only the women’s journey to prove themselves, but also the sexism they faced while doing it. And while they may not have been ultimately successful, they did pave the way for the women who followed their legacy. Order it here.
Women in Space: 23 Stories of First Flights, Scientific Missions, and Gravity-Breaking Adventures by Karen Bush Gibson
Before Sally Ride made it into space, Russia sent Valentina Tereshkova and Svetlana Savitskaya to the stars. But they aren’t the only women who’ve made it up there. Gibson profiles 23 pioneers who’ve paved the way for women in space, including the Mercury 13, Mae Jemison (the first African-American woman in space), and astronauts from Japan, Canada, Italy, South Korea, and France — among others. Order it here.
The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars by Dava Sobel
Turns out women aiding space exploration as “human computers” is nothing new: Harvard College Observatory hired a group of women in the mid-1800s to interpret the observations male astronomers made with their telescope. Thanks to the advent of photographic technology, these women were able to not just figure out what stars were made of, but also how to categorize them for further research. Sobel’s book shines a light on these women’s stories and how their accomplishments changed the field of astronomy forever. Order it here.
Look Up!; Henrietta Leavitt, Pioneering Woman Astronomer by Robert Burleigh and Raul Colon
Burleigh tells the story of Henrietta Leavitt, a member of the human computers working at the Harvard College Observatory and the woman who discovered the scientific importance of a star’s brightness, while artist Raul Colon’s lush illustrations bring her and her impressive achievements to life. Perfect for burgeoning astronomers. Order it here.
Right Stuff, Wrong Sex: America's First Women in Space Program by Margaret A. Weitekamp
Weitekamp’s book focuses on the “Woman in Space” program and how it was affected by the Cold War and sexism of the ‘50s, despite the thriving women’s aviation culture of the time. What’s more, Weitekamp serves as the Curator of the Social and Cultural History of Spaceflight at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. Order it here.
Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky
With the help of eye-catching artwork, Ignotofsky celebrates not just astronauts, but also the engineers, biologists, mathematicians, and physicists who’ve blazed a trail for women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields from the ancient to modern world. The book elevates this information with beautiful and instructive infographics that delve into topics like the number of women currently working in STEM fields. Order it here.
Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science—and the World by Rachel Swaby
Modeling her work after the 52-week calendar, Swaby designed a book that would allow readers to read about a different woman who’s innovated in science each week. With brief profiles of each woman, the book spans various scientific fields, including space, chemistry, genetics, and physics. Order it here.
Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History by Sam Maggs
Rejected Princesses: Tales of History’s Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics by Jason Porath
Porath doesn’t just feature real women who’ve made a mark on the world, but he also includes fictional women at the center of different cultures’ myths and fables — all while embracing the unvarnished truth of history. Order it here.
Cosmos by Carl Sagan
Sagan’s history of the cosmos is necessary reading for any space buff. Order it here.
StarTalk: Everything You Ever Need to Know About Space Travel, Sci-Fi, the Human Race, the Universe, and Beyond by Neil deGrasse Tyson
Noted astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson answers all your questions about space in this illustrated companion to his popular National Geographic TV show. Order it here.