Hidden Figures sparked a lot of thought about women and space. The movie really got a lot of people thinking and talking about how women were treated differently in the quest to get to the moon, but also how vital they were.
Margaret and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing, by Dean Robbins, is an excellent and accessible picture book biography about Margaret Hamilton and the early world of computer science.
Hamilton grew up in a time when girls were definitely treated differently from boys. Her father was a philosopher and willing to talk to her about a wide array of topics, and, as the Author’s Note mentions, “made her believe she could be anything she wanted,” something highly unusual in those days.
Margaret Hamilton loved math. She loved problem solving. The she discovered computers and became a software engineer, asking the computer to help her solve the questions that she had.
She had a drive and determination that allowed to her to go after the things that she wanted. She convinced NASA to let her work on the moon launch and contemplated everything that could go right or wrong on the trip and wrote code for it. It was her code that saved the day after an error on the astronauts’ checklist left a switch in the wrong position.
Few people knew the role that she played, but we know now and books like this and ones about Grace Hopper, Mae Jamison, Katherine Johnson and others can help our girls see how important math, science, and the mind of a woman can be.
This book was very well done. As someone who loved math, I keep hoping that as my daughters get into more interesting math (algebra might have been my favorite), that they will find their strength with numbers. At the moment, we are just fighting against mental math. The illustrations help move the story along and as a whole, the book feels like an inspiration. A great book for young readers!
I challenge myself to review a nonfiction picture book every week as part of the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge, hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy. Check out Alyson’s site for a link-up of amazing nonfiction books!