⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Counting the Stars: The Story of Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician Written by Lesa Cline-Ransom and Illustrated by Raúl Colón [with teaching ideas]

Publication Date: October 8, 2019 | Grade Levels: Preschool – 3

I hope y’all are well this morning!

A few weeks ago I finished up a book club at the college where I teach, and we read the adult or young readers’ version of Hidden Figures. Today’s picture book Counting the Stars: The Story of Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician is a wonderful nonfiction text that tells the story of Katherine Johnson, one of the women featured in Hidden Figures.

Quick Summary. Impressive mathematical acumen thrusts Katherine Johnson into a pivotal role at NASA during the Space Race.

Critique. I appreciated the book’s pace and tone. The emphasis on inquiry is seen at multiple points with repeated questions, inspiring young readers to consider the importance of wondering in their lives. Colón’s mixed media illustrations offer a softness and beauty to this incredible story that needs to be shared.

Teaching Ideas. Here are a few teaching ideas for Counting the Stars:

  • Create a text set around nonfiction stories of incredible women, using Counting the Stars, Steadfast, Kate’s Light, and The Oldest Student.
  • Instead of the traditional biography assignment, ask students to create children’s picture books about important figures in the way Cline-Ransome and Colón tell Katherine Johnson’s story.
  • Begin a STEM lesson on space concepts with a read aloud of Counting the Stars, using the text as an introduction to the importances of questions and curiosity.
  • After middle grades readers read the young readers’ version of Hidden Figures, have them discuss the ways in which Katherine Johnson’s story was condensed into an accessible format for younger readers in Counting the Stars as they think about ways they can condense large amounts of information into more accessible formats for their particular audiences.

A stellar addition to your nonfiction collection, Counting the Stars earns five stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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