Beyond the Book: Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly & Laura Freeman

Book Summary

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly and Laura Freeman is the picture book version of the story that was a bestselling book and movie. Young readers learn all about Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden and how important their roles were at NASA. Each woman overcame racism, gender stereotypes, and other barriers to prove that they could be successful in STEM careers, inspiring a new generation of girls and boys to dream big.


4 – 8 years

Pre-reading activity:

Discuss what you see on the cover of the book and ask your little one to predict what the story may be about. Ask your child what the word “hidden” means. Explain why it’s important to discover and learn more about hidden figures and their contribution to the wold as we know it.

During the story:

Have your little one predict the text based on the illustrations. Provide definitions and connections for any of the target vocabulary words listed below that may be unfamiliar. Ask questions throughout the story to help your child comprehend what’s being read. Have your child repeat unfamiliar words.

Example Questions:

  • What do you think it means to be a human computer?
  • How would you feel if you could not get a job based on your gender or race?
  • Why were the Americans and Russians competing against each other?
  • Why is turbulence dangerous for planes?
  • Do you think Katherine should have kept asking to attend the expert meetings?
  • Why was it important for Katherine to double-check the computer’s calculations before John Glenn went into outerspace?
  • Tell me about a time you had to persevere and work through a challenging time.

Target Vocabulary:

a science that deals with airplanes and flying
to separate groups of people because of their race, religion, etc.
a room or building with special equipment for doing scientific experiments and tests
a scientific test performed in order to learn about something
a person with scientific training who designs and builds complicated machines, systems, or structures

dangerous gusts of air

the curved path something moves through the air or space

a set of instructions that tell a computer what to do
the quality or state of having the same rights, social status, etc.
the quality that allows someone to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult


Have your little one re-read the book in their own words using the illustrations. Discuss how important it was for four Black women to make the impact they did during that time period.


Galaxy Jar

Materials: Glass jar, cotton balls, paint (pink, blue, black, white, and purple), silver glitter, and water

Following these directions, we created our own Galaxy Jar in about 10 minutes. Start by gathering all of your materials. Pour a little bit of water into the glass jar, then add some silver glitter. Next, add about a quarter-sized dollop of the first color. Swish the water around to mix the ingredients. Then, put several cotton balls in the jar. Use a craft stick (or pencil) to help the cotton balls soak up the water. You then repeat this process for each color until the jar is filled.

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