[Nonfiction Wednesday] A Series Of Katherine Johnson Biographies – Part 3 of 3

Myra here.

We are delighted to dedicate our Wednesdays to featuring nonfiction titles, as per usual. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.

typorama 13

Our reading theme for July-September is Binge-Read: Book Series Marathon. We are expanding the range of this theme to include books that fit the following deliberately-nebulous criteria:

  1. Books that are part of an ongoing series
  2. Themed stories: books that are technically not part of a series, but fit a specific theme – e.g. intergenerational stories, nature-themed stories
  3. Short story collections
  4. Narratives of a similar genre
  5. Stories written by same author

I am thrilled to feature a series of picturebook biographies done on Katherine Johnson’s life. This is Part 3 of 3. See here for Part 1 and Part 2.


A Computer Called Katherine (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Suzanne Slade Illustrated by Veronica Miller Jamison
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers (2019)
ISBN: 9780316435178 (ISBN10: 0316435171) Borrowed via Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

This is the final book in the series of Katherine Johnson picturebook biographies that I have featured over the past several weeks. In this version, Katherine’s love for counting things was once again highlighted from the very beginning of the story, her family’s support for her astounding skills, and the fact that her school rapidly accelerated her at a very young age, allowing her to enter college at the age of fifteen.

Screenshot 2021-06-28 at 2.01.08 PM

I also like the fact that this version did not shy away from depicting the racism she and her family encountered, as they tried to find a school that will provide Katherine the academic support that she needs, given her remarkable proficiency in mathematics. The book creators managed to render a light-heartedness to the narrative, by adding equations to infuriating situations thereby demonstrating its illogicality, such as what is found above:

Their arguments seemed wrong to Katherine – as wrong as 5 + 5 = 12. She believed everyone should be treated the same.

Screenshot 2021-06-28 at 2.01.56 PM

Things only improved ever so slightly when Katherine started working in NASA. However, conditions remained deplorable, yet she persisted nonetheless, and as can be seen above, she asked lots of questions, and insisted on a seat at the table, which she eventually received.

Screenshot 2021-06-28 at 2.03.04 PM

The fact that she has only received the recognition she deserved fairly recently – and her story came to be known to more people around the world, owing in great part to the movie, Hidden Figures – is something that should give us pause as educators. Evidently, we need to advocate more for gifted female of color, not just in STEM professions, but across all fields and disciplines.

#SurvivalStories2021 Update: 76 out of target 100

July 21, 2021 at 06:30AM Myra Garces-Bacsal