[Image courtesy]

This is a guest post by Farah Qaiser and Nicole Williams, who are members of 500 Women Scientists — an international grassroots organization which serves society by making science open, inclusive, and accessible by fighting racism, patriarchy, and oppressive societal norms.

Today, the children’s book Ada Twist, Scientist is being launched as a Netflix Family animated series. Written by Andrea Beaty, Ada Twist is an eight-year-old Black scientist who is endlessly curious, and explores friendship, scientific discovery, and teamwork through her many questions. We’re looking forward to the launch of this Netflix series, because it’s an exciting moment to continue to change the face of science.

Why are books like Ada Twist, Scientist important? Well, as cliché as it sounds, it’s hard to be what you can’t see.

We know that diverse representation matters: past studies have shown that when children receive long-term exposure to counterstereotypical role models (e.g., women scientists), children are more likely to aspire towards, and engage with these roles. Similarly, studies also show that when asked to draw a scientist, more children are drawing women as scientists than ever before, but when they grow older, children still tend to associate science with men.

It’s clear that children need to be able to see themselves represented in the science-related books they read and the media they enjoy, yet existing media has often failed to represent the diversity of communities across the world. We can do much better. 

To be clear, representation is simply the first step. We cannot continue to welcome excited young scientists with open arms, without actively working to dismantle the racism, systemic discrimination, patriarchy, and other oppressive societal norms embedded in the world of science.

But for today, with the launch of Ada Twist, Scientist, we want to take a moment to celebrate existing children’s science books, to elevate the authors behind these incredible pieces of work, and to activate the next generation of scientists and storytellers. And what better way to do this, than a curated reading list?

Here’s a short list of ten incredible children’s science books, which have been published recently — many that we have read, and some that we hope to get our hands on soon.


  1. Ada Twist, Scientist (By Andrea Beaty)
    Ada Twist is an eight-year-old who is endlessly curious about the world, and carries out fact-finding missions and elaborate scientific experiments to find answers. If you’ve already zipped through this book, and the Netflix adaptation, there’s still more for you to explore. Andrea Beaty and Dr. Theanne Griffith are co-writing a nonfiction companion book series for the Netflix animated series, titled Ada Twist, Scientist: The Why Files. Beaty has also written several additional children’s books, including Iggy Peck, Architect and Rosie Revere, Engineer.

  2. The Magnificent Makers (By Dr. Theanne Griffith)
    Dr. Theanne Griffith is a neuroscientist, and an Assistant Professor at the University of California Davis. When she’s not running a lab, Dr. Griffith is busy writing The Magnificent Makers, a STEM-themed chapter book series, where best friends Violet and Pablo explore science through adventures. There are three books published already (How to Test a Friendship, Brain Trouble, and Riding Sound Waves), with the fourth book (The Great Germ Hunt) scheduled for October 2021.

  3. Cece Loves Science (By Kimberly Derting and Shelli R. Johannes)
    Like Ada Twist, Cece is also curious and loves science! In this STEM-themed picture book series, readers follow Cece, her dog, friends and family around, as Cece asks questions about the world. There are three books so far in the series, along with two companion series: Libby Loves Science, and Vivi Loves Science.

  4. Little Leonardo’s Fascinating World Of Astronomy (By Sarafina El-Badry Nance)
    Sarafina El-Badry Nance is an astrophysicist and analog astronaut, who is currently pursuing a PhD at UC Berkeley. There, she runs massive computer simulations to study the explosion physics of stars in the final throes of their lives. (No big deal!) Earlier this month, Nance published a children’s book, Little Leonardo’s Fascinating World of Astronomy, where you can explore fun facts about the universe.

  5. Nano (By Dr. Jess Wade)
    Dr. Jess Wade is a physicist at Imperial College London, specialising in Raman spectroscopy. At 500 Women Scientists, we’re especially in awe of Dr. Wade as she’s written over 900 Wikipedia biographies, in her attempt to challenge gender and racial biases on the online encyclopedia. Earlier this year, Dr. Wade published Nano, a picture book which introduces readers to the tiny building blocks that make up the world around us. Fun fact: Nano also sits on Daniel Radcliffe’s bookshelf, in case you need another reason to get your hands on a copy of the book!
  1. Wild Survival! (By Melissa Cristina Márquez)
    Melissa Cristina Márquez is a shark scientist, who is currently a PhD candidate at Curtin University. Earlier this year, Márquez published Crocodile Rescue! and Swimming With Sharks, as a part of the middle-grade Wild Survival! book series, based on her own real wildlife encounters. Wild Survival! follows 12-year-old Adrianna on adventures with wild and misunderstood animals while documenting her family’s TV show.
  1. What’s the Commotion in the Ocean?: A Rhyming Story about Saving Our Oceans (By Nyasha Williams)
    Nyasha Williams is an author, activist and former kindergarten teacher. In this rhyming book, Williams writes about a mermaid who has a message for the earth about our seas and oceans, and she requires your help. How will you help save our oceans?

  2. Ada Lace Adventures (By Emily Calandrelli)
    Emily Calandrelli is an MIT engineer turned science communicator and TV host for shows, such as FOX’s XplorationOuterSpace, and Netflix’s Emily’s Wonder Lab. Calandrelli has authored the science chapter book series, called the Ada Lace Adventures, which features third grader, Ada Lace, who works with her new best friend Nina to tackle challenges and mysteries in her own life.

    Fun fact: Calandrelli is set to publish a new book, Reach for the Stars, in 2022, which follows a child reaching for new and exciting things while the adult teaches them about the universe…until they have nothing left to teach. (We’re not crying — you are!)
  1. And on that note, we’re dedicating our last two recommendations to books that are coming out soon! This fall, we can’t wait for Dr. Cylita Guy’s children’s book, Chasing Bats & Tracking Rats, which explores how studying urban wildlife can help us make cities around the world healthier for all. We’re also excited to keep learning about more inspiring scientists in Chelsea Clinton’s She Persisted in Science.

This is by no means a complete list, but a selection of books which are aimed at different ages, and feature a diverse cast of characters who explore different aspects of the science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) fields. If you’re looking for more book recommendations, consider checking out First Book Marketplace’s Diversity In STEM book list, or initiatives such as #WeNeedDiverseBooks and #1000BlackGirlBooks.

While more and more children’s books are slowly popping up, we’re looking forward to seeing more books which explore the racial, cultural, and linguistic diversity of young readers, and their lived experiences. For example, what about a children’s science book with a lead character who is disabled or a Muslim, or books that explore obscure or emerging aspects of science, such as open science or organoids?

Children’s science books are one way to keep changing the face of science. There are endless stories still left to write — and perhaps you, dear reader, have a story you want to tell too.

Farah Qaiser is a genomics researcher who uses DNA sequencing to better understand complex neurological disorders, and carries out policy-related research. Outside the lab, Farah has written about science for media outlets, hosted Wikipedia Edit-A-Thons, and co-founded the Toronto Science Policy Network. She serves on the Canada Chief Science Advisor’s Youth Council, and the Executive Leadership Team for 500 Women Scientists.

Nicole Williams (she/her/hers) is a marine scientist, diversity and inclusion practitioner, and an advocate for policies that improve the well-being and health of self-identifying African American women. She holds a Masters of Science degree from Hawai’i Pacific University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology from Wittenberg University in Ohio. Nicole is the Director of Outreach at 500 Women Scientists, and manages the Gage database, which is the world’s largest community of women and gender diverse individuals in science, technology, engineering, math and medicine (STEMM). She is also the co-founder of the Black Women’s Collective, which was formed from the necessity for Black women in STEMM to advocate for progress and accountability while uplifting Black women in their science and advocacy work.