Nine powerful books that celebrate black history by showcasing black history figures and heroes; black history facts; black leaders in the STEM fields.
While many choose to align their teaching of Black History to October or February, we encourage families and schools to embed black history into all teaching.
These 9 powerful books are a great way to introduce powerful individuals, teach black history, and make connections to Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.
9 Powerful books that connect to STEM
Another powerful tool to help bring Black History to life in the classroom is story.
Further, I would strongly encourage these books to live on your shelf throughout the year and not solely during Black History month in October.
Whether the children you are educating are old or young, the power of reading out loud and showing pictures is remarkably powerful.
Here are 10 of my favourite books that are great at introducing a new STEM project.
- Tiny Stitches: The life of medical pioneer Vivien Thomas by Gwendolyn Hooks
An incredible story depicting the trials and tribulations of a medical pioneer many of us have never heard of: Vivien Thomas. Thomas invented a surgical technique that allowed for the first successful open heart surgeries on children. It took more than 26 years before the medical community recognised his groundbreaking work.
See a teacher’s lesson plan here: STEM CONNECTIONS AND THE HUMAN HEART: TINY STITCHES TEACHER’S GUIDE
- What Color is My World: The Lost History of African-American Inventors by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld
Is a tribute to the little known African American inventors. It includes profiles of each inventor encompassed by a story of two fiesty twins. Because this book has many Science, Engineering, Technology and Math connections, it can spark great conversations within any classroom.
See some extension activities here: Extension Activities for Educators
- Black Pioneers of Science and Invention by Louis Haber
A perceptive account of 14 inventor’s lives that all students and teachers should know about. This book is another great introduction to STEM activities and can be used as the basis for literacy links to biography writing as well as Science links to scientific method and investigation skills.
See a 5 day KS2/KS3 lesson plan: African-American Inventors
- Sweet Dreams, Sarah by Vivian Kirkfield
This book is beautifully written to encapsulate a long forgotten inventor, Sarah E Goode. Sarah used her tenacity and her ingenuity to not only create a cupboard bed but to build a life that gave her freedom. This book can have great connections to Women’s history, English Literacy, DT and STEM.
- A Computer Called Katherine by Suzanne Slade
This is an inspiring true story of Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who worked her to NASA. She was an integral part to helping put a man on the Moon. As such, this book would be a great connection as to why Math is important and applicable to life beyond the classroom. Additionally, can be a great introduction to a space theme.
- Starstruck: The Cosmic Journey of Neil deGrasse Tyson by Krull, Kathleen, Brewer, Paul, Morrison, Frank
A book that will captivate you with its wonder and adventure. This is a great book for students who are curious – especially about Space. It will have obvious STEM connections, but I believe it can be a great introduction to hero stories.
See more NASA games for children: NASA Kid’s Club
- Black Women in Science: A Black History Book for Kids by Kimberly Brown Pellum
This books shares the lives and triumphs of 15 remarkable women who advanced the technology within their sector. Not only will these women act as great role models, but it can also connect to STEM, English, History and Drama.
- Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed
This is a picture book of Mae Jemison’s story of being the first African American female astronaut. It follows her passionate pursuit to fly in space, despite facing much adversity. This is an empowering and uplifting tale that can help build resilience and growth mindset within the classroom.
See connection activities: Maistory book library
- The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes: The Story of Dr. Patricia Bath by Julia Finley Mosca
This is a picture book that follows the life of Dr. Patricia Bath, an optometrist. The story is captivating with beautiful pictures and is easy to read. The connections can be made within the STEM curriculum, with a focus on Biology. As well as with Geography curriculae.
See more connections to the curriculum: Books 4 Learning
If I could leave you with a final thought it would be this:
It is so important that children feel represented within the classroom and see themselves in the world at large. Make a conscious effort to bring diversity to how you introduce topics by incorporating these nine powerful books that celebrate black history.