Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race

Freeman, Laura (Illustrator)
HarperCollins 2018. 40 pages
First published: 2018
ISBN: 9780062742469 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Dewey: 920
Book type: Non-Fiction
Book genre: Biography

Text Elements:

character, setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

“[They] were good at math. Really good.” With its catchy introduction and refrain, this creative non-fiction story introduces readers to four women in math and science playing key roles at NASA in space flight and the moon landing, while successfully fighting and breaking colour and gender barriers in America.

Clear language relates the work of each mathematician: “Dorothy learned how to program the machines so that they got the right answers;” Christine “became an engineer for supersonic airplanes.” Interwoven are the facts of segregation law (“Mary needed to take high-level math classes, but she wasn’t allowed to go inside the white school where classes were taught”), the Civil Rights movement and the fight against gender-bias in the workplace: “Katherine knew she was as good at math as anyone else—maybe better. So she asked him again. And again. And again … he finally invited her to the meetings.”

Illustrations use simple forms and warm, subtly textured colour fills to create stylish compositions that hover between realistic and artful. One double-page spread depicts a line of freedom riders, arms linked. Shadowy portraits of Civil Rights leaders tint the windows of the school bus behind them. The final image presents a heroic-style group portrait of the four women, eyes fixed skyward, against a backdrop of celestial bodies: “Dorothy, Mary, Katherine, and Christine knew one thing. With hard work, perseverance, and a love of math, anything was possible.” Back material includes an illustrated timeline and brief biographies of the mathematicians.

  •  Discuss what you know about the role of black women in the space race and consider the challenges they faced.
  •  Make a list of the personal qualities the characters needed to overcome the obstacles they faced.
  •  

    How do you think opportunities for women in STEM have changed since the 1960s?

  •  In small groups, write a script to prepare for a panel discussion featuring the women highlighted in this text.
  •  Discuss what you know about the role of black women in the space race and consider the challenges they faced.
  •  

    In small teams, create a book trailer for this story. Present it in the form of a video, or perform live in front of your classmates. Be creative.

  •  

    Write the dialogue for an interview with the author or with one of the four women. Compose pertinent, open-ended questions. Provide thoughtful and researched responses.

  •  

    These women were great mathematicians. What are you good at? What are you willing to fight for? Write a journal entry.

  • To adopt effective work methods
  • To construct his/her identity
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Personal and Career Planning
  • Geography, History and Citizenship
  • Mathematics
  • Science and Technology