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Hidden Figures Young Readers' Edition

Last updated Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Author: Margot Lee Shetterly
Date of Publication: 2016
ISBN: 0062662384
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jun. 2017

Synopsis: This is the amazing true story of four African-American female mathematicians at NASA who helped achieve some of the greatest moments in our space program. Now a major motion picture starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kirsten Dunst, and Kevin Costner.

Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as "human computers" used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. This book brings to life the stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, four African-American women who lived through the civil rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the movement for gender equality, and whose work forever changed the face of NASA and the country.

Note to readers:
•  The book is long and you will not finish. Try to read to page 33 which has a photo of a sign which required African Americans (colored) passengers to ride in the rear of the bus.

Discussion topics for before reading:


steer--to direct in a specific direction; essential-extremely important; segregation--the enforced separation of different racial groups in a community, the act of setting someone apart from others; levied--imposed; analytical--using logical reasoning;
•  Have you seen the movie Hidden Figures? Do you know what NASA is? (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which is responsible for space exploration in the United States.)
•  Do you know what the book and movie are about? (the true story of African American women who were mathematicians at NASA and who helped send astronauts into space during a time of segregation.)
•  What is a mathematician? (an expert of mathematics; a person who uses math to solve problems and helped us go to the moon. average annual salary is $111,110.)

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  How hard was it for women and African Americans in the past?
•  Do you think women can be as smart as men in math and science? What about English or history?
•  Would you want to live in a segregated world?
•  Where in space would you like to explore?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a Father's Day card using numbers--1 best thing about your father, 2 things you wish to give him, 3 places you have gone with him, 4 of his favorite foods, etc...
•  Draw a picture of your home, school, or neighborhood. Write numbers on the buildings for the street numbers, how many people live in the home, how many classrooms, how many floors or windows etc..
•  Draw a desk for Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn or Mary Jackson. What would they have on their desk? What would that reveal about who they are? What they have done? What they are planning to do?
•  Check our craft ideas for June on Pinterest!

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!