Welcome to STEMinism Sunday! As a former woman in science, I have a deep and enduring interest in the experiences and representation of women in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math). This series will be an opportunity for me – and you – to get to know some of these intellectual badasses.
In honour of the recent, first-ever, all-female spacewalk, I thought I’d share three recent, amazing Canadian kids’ books united by the theme of women in space.
The first book authored by award-winning illustrator, Josée Bisaillon, Come Back to Earth, Esther! celebrates a child’s limitless imagination… and shows how much kids can accomplish when their imaginations are combined with determination. Bisaillon’s illustrations are lush and exuberant and full of details that kids will enjoy hunting through, discovering new things each time – much like Esther!
This book also gave me an intense Calvin and Hobbes vibe, which was an added bonus. Available in both English and French editions.
Next, we have Small World, by Ishta Mercurio. Small World was illustrated by Jen Corace, in a very different, but equally compelling style. I loved the way the texture and patterns in the pictures added depth and resonance to Mercurio’s spare, lyrical text. This is a book about that’s about comfort and home as much as exploration and limitless horizons. Kids will fall in love with it when young, and return to it over and over again as they grow. It’s also a perfect graduation gift for those who just can’t stand one more book by Dr. Seuss.
You can read the guest post Mercurio wrote for this blog, here.
And last but not least, Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13, by Helaine Becker, illustrated by Dow Phumiruk. This picture book biography has won…. well, pretty much ALL of the awards it’s eligible for. It’s really that good, and will satisfy kids who want their stories to be true, as well as inspiring. Becker did extensive interviews with Johnson and her family while researching this book, which is both accurate and uplifting and will make you want to yell “GIRL POWER!” at the stars. Johnson is brilliant and fierce and, with this book, even the youngest readers can appreciate her pivotal role in the space race.
Bonus: all three of these books feature protagonists who are girls of colour. Because girls of all backgrounds can be STEMinists!