A Mighty Girl's top picks of picture books starring math-loving girls!
Kids are natural mathematicians: they count, they categorize, they figure out patterns and they explore shapes and geometry. Even though many people think of math as simply numbers and equations, the truth is that math is everywhere in the world and in everything we do, from pouring a drink to building a block tower to saving allowance money for a special treat! And when we share stories with our kids that celebrate both the practicalities and the wonders of math, we can give them a strong foundation for becoming life-long math lovers — a trait that will suit them well whatever their future holds.
In this blog post, we've featured our favorite picture books about math-loving Mighty Girls. These books show how math can be used to solve problems; how a knowledge of math can help you achieve goals; and how the deeper mysteries of math can be just as intriguing as any other scientific marvel! We've also included several picture books about real-life female mathematicians with history-making careers. These titles are sure to inspire reluctant students to open their minds to math's possibilities, and young math lovers to explore their favorite subject even further!
For a wide range of books for all ages starring science, math, and technology-loving girls, visit our Science & Tech Book Collection.
Picture Books Starring Girls and Women Who Love Math
Peg and Cat, stars of the animated TV series, are ready for a high-speed, math-themed adventure! They've built an awesome car out of stuff they found in the junkyard, and they hope to win the Tallapegga Twenty race... but first they have to get their car, which they named Hot Buttered Lightning, ready to roll! Fortunately, Peg can use her math skills to figure out the best shape for the wheels and count the laps (and Cat can help her calm down when she's getting stressed out!) Fans of Peg + Cat can find more math-themed books starring their favorite characters in the full line of Peg + Cat books.
The ten flower friends in this book wish that they could fly — and a passing fairy, despite being puzzled by their request, agrees to transform them one at a time. As each flower becomes a butterfly and soars into the sky, though, there is always a total of ten! And when the flowers miss their old selves, and realize that they like themselves as they were, they count back down until all ten are flowers again. This clever picture book teaches the essential math skill of grouping numbers to ten, while also celebrating self-acceptance! Math whiz Danica McKellar is also the author of two more math-themed picture books, Goodnight, Numbers and Bathtime Mathtime, and math books aimed at elementary learners and middle school girls.
Zero is just a big, round nothing — all the other numbers have value, but she doesn't add anything to the equation. So she tries to stretch and bend and twist herself into a number that counts, without success. Then, one day, Zero realizes that she has incredible power: with her, 1 becomes 10, then 100, then 1000! Soon all the numbers are combining instead of adding, and discovering that Zero help other numbers "count even more." In addition to introducing math concepts, there's a subtle body-positive message in this book that parents will love.
Everyone around this little girl has a passion: painting, science, music... So she decides it's time to find her own. And it turns out that her passion is math! When she looks around, she sees how math plays a role in everything, from geometric shapes on a playground to paper airplane trajectories to real-life division at the dinner table. As she notes all the concepts she discovers in her journal (many of which, like fractals and curves, will be new to young readers) she realizes that math is an amazing way to see the world! With gorgeous watercolor illustrations, rich math-themed vocabulary, and detailed back matter, this picture book will inspire kids with new curiosity about math.
What if Cinderella had a twin sister? Maybe together they would have gotten clever about dividing up the work! Cinderella's math-loving sister Tinderella divides everything in half, from their stepmother's chore list to tending their mean step-sisters, and even the bed they share — that way, everything is fair. When the Prince calls a ball and their fairy godmother appears, Tinderella can even figure out how to split everything in half... except for the prince! Fortunately, Tinderella realizes that there's a flip side to division.... This clever fractured (and fractioned) fairy tale from the author of The Three Ninja Pigs and Ninja Red Riding Hood is full of hilarious puns and entertaining math concepts.
Clever Rani in this story shows that, with a solid understanding of math, it's easy to outsmart a selfish raja! Rani's village is starving, and the raja has more than enough rice to feed them all — but in his greed, he hoards it. When Rani does him a good deed and he offers to let her pick a reward in return, however, she asks for a seemingly humble amount: one grain of rice, doubled every day for thirty days. It doesn't seem like much... until you add it up. Kids will love the procession of animals that bring Rani's reward, from one grain in the beak of a bird to 256 elephants carrying enough rice to feed everyone. The vivid illustrations and poetic language make this a stand-out telling of this traditional tale.
Uma feels so small when she looks up at the night sky. How can she ever possibly imagine infinity? But as she wonders, she starts thinking of different ways to think about this enormous concept. Is infinity an endless racetrack? A number that grows forever? An ever-growing family tree? Can infinity even appear in an ice cream cone? This contemplative picture book takes a big idea and makes it accessible to budding young philosophers who, even though they're small, are already starting to think about things that never end.
Growing up in Iran, Maryam Mirzakhani loved reading — math was so boring compared to the exciting characters and stories on the pages of a book! But then she discovered geometry, where the numbers became shapes, and "every number held a story." Soon, the math prodigy was studying mathematics at Harvard, then teaching others to love math as a professor. And her innovative research solving some of math's trickiest puzzles won her the Fields Medal, mathematics' highest award — the first time that a woman had won. This gorgeous picture book, imbued with Mirzakhani's love of math and passion for storytelling, is a vibrant celebration of a pioneering woman in STEM.
As a 7-year-old during WWII, Raye Montague toured a captured German submarine and immediately set her sights on becoming an engineer. Little did she know that sexism and racism would challenge her dream every step of the way. Raye ended up working at the US Navy as a typist, studying engineering at night. One day, when all the engineers were sick with the flu, she astonished everyone by completing all of their work. She went on to become the first person to design a ship on a computer and the Navy's first female ship designer. This inspiring picture book from the Amazing Scientists series celebrates a pioneer who changed ship design forever.
Katherine Johnson loved to count, and despite the prejudices against both women and African Americans, she was determined to find a way to make her love of math into a career. As one of NASA's "human computers," Johnson hand calculated elaborate equations... including the trajectories that helped launch the Apollo 13 mission to the moon. When disaster befell the Apollo 13 mission, it was Johnson's flight-path calculations that brought the astronauts safely home. This inspiring biography of the mathematician catapulted to fame by Hidden Figures celebrates a love of math and encourages kids to follow their passions. For another picture book about Johnson and her colleagues, check out Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race.
Emmy Noether was born in 1882, at a time when a good German girl was supposed to focus on home and marriage — but instead, the clever girl was determined to learn more about math! The gifted mathematician subsisted on a small inheritance as she got permission to audit math courses at a university, although she wasn't allowed to enroll, and did her own research into the most difficult math and physics question of her time. Even when she had to flee the rise of the Nazi party, she remained determined to succeed — and today, she is finally getting her due as one of the most influential mathematicians of the 20th century. Best-selling author Helaine Becker celebrates Noether's intelligence and drive in this book that's sure to inspire math-loving kids.
One day at school, this girl's teacher says, "You know, you can think of almost everything as a math problem" – and the next day, when she wakes up, everything is! She has ten things to do and thirty minutes before the bus arrives... is there enough time? How many pints are in a gallon? Then the problems become a little wackier: does tunafish + tunafish = fournafish? How many M&Ms would it take to measure the length of the Mississippi River? It turns out that this Math Curse can actually be pretty funny! For any child who's considered word problems to be the bane of their existence, this book will show them the light side of math – and prove the point that math really is everywhere.
People in the 18th century thought learning math could hurt a woman's health, so when Sophie Germain was a child, her parents even took away her candles at night so she couldn't see to study. However, she was determined to follow her dreams, and spent six years working to prove a math problem that male scholars had declared unsolvable. When she developed an equation that could predict patterns of vibrations — which laid the groundwork for much of modern architecture — she became the first woman to win a grand prize from France's Academy of Sciences. This exuberant picture book biography captures the triumphant life of a pioneering and under-recognized mathematician.