Are you looking to add some diversity to your book collection? Check out these African-American Inventors and Scientists. Where would we be without these amazing individuals?
I will update this list as I find more books! Follow me on Instagram to get updates and ideas for other picture books! If there’s a book you think I should add, comment below!
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First of all, Don Tate is one of my favorite illustrators, so this book had to make the list lol. Check out his work when you get a chance. Okay Now to Ron McNair! Before Ron McNair (1950-1986) became a physicist and astronaut, he was just a kid who loved to read. This story is about when Ron had enough of the discriminatory laws and did what he had to do.
If you don’t know Lonnie Johnson, I KNOW you’ve played with his invention, the Super Soaker. Lonnie Johnson (1949-) is a former NASA engineer and inventor who has over 120 patents! This book is about how he followed his passions and ended up creating one of the most popular toys to this day! Check out the illustrator!
Vivien Thomas (1910-1985) was a medical researcher during the Great Depression that had dreams of going to medical school. He worked hard to save money to go to school but lost all his savings during the Great Depression. This book takes us through his journey of becoming a medical pioneer. With his research and inventions, 1944 he assisted in the first open-heart surgery of a child. Babies today still benefit from Vivien Thomas’ medical efforts. If you’ve never seen the movie about him, it’s called Something the Lord Made, check it out!
Dr. Patricia Bath (1942-2019) loved science as a girl and turned her passion into a career. After attending medical school at Howard University, she intervened at Harlem Hospital Center, where she found that African-Americans were two times more likely to be blind than whites. She performed eye surgeries for free to members of this community to help them regain their sight. Dr. Bath studied overseas, where she learned more about laser cataract surgery and eventually invented the laser phaco probe. Later in her career, she became the first woman ophthalmologist at UCLA and became the chief of their residency program.
I love the Amazing Scientists Series because they feature some amazing women that are unknown to most of us. This book is all about the engineer, Raye Montague (1935-2018). After seeing her first boat, Raye knew she wanted to become an engineer. Of course, at that time, African-Americans becoming engineers was unheard of and almost impossible. She would eventually go on to work for the Navy and become a naval ship designer.
Neil deGrasse Tyson (1958-) is an astrophysicist, an author, and director of a planetarium in New York City. Starstruck takes you back to his childhood to show where his love for astronomy began.
Unless you’ve been under a rock the past several years, you’ve heard of these women. I mean, they made a movie about them! In this book, we learn a little about Dorothy Vaughan (1910-2008), Mary Jackson (1921-2005), Katherine Johnson(1918-), and Christine Darden(1942-). These are the human computers that helped NASA launch men to space.
These books are about Katherine Johnson’s journey to become the mathematician that helped the United States win the space race and saved Apollo 13. You can’t go wrong with either book, they both present very similar information.
Junius G. Groves (1859-1925) was what we would consider an agricultural scientist who in one year grew around twelve million potatoes. His success in farming would make him one of the wealthiest African Americans in the 19th century.
Mae Jemison (1956-) is an engineer, a physicist, and is the first African-American woman to travel to space. This book tells a story about how her dream of becoming an astronaut began as a little girl. Although her parents are supportive, her teacher and classmates are not. She sure did prove them wrong!
Sarah Breedlove (1867-1919), more commonly known as Madam C.J. Walker invented hair care products for African Americans. She was also an advocate for African American’s rights. During this time, Madam C.J. Walker was the wealthiest African American woman.
Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson (1875-1950) was an inventor, unlike any other on this list. He was a historian that dug for the facts. He collected information so that he could share African and African-American history with the world. Dr. Woodson eventually created Negro History Week, which would ultimately become Black History Month. This book gives us a glimpse of his life and work. The illustrations are done by my favorite illustrator, Don Tate.