Part Five- Women and Diversity in Literature: A Diverse Curriculum Across Disciplines

"A Computer Called Katherine" By Suzanne Slade

Dr. David Childs, Ph.D.
Northern Kentucky University

I have written about my childhood attending an urban school and the lack of literary resources I had access to that could cultivate my curiosity for learning. Fortunately there were individuals in my community and church, often outside of the school setting that offered the resources needed for academic success. See a recent article I wrote for Democracy and Me entitled Re-educating Our Children: Multicultural Educational Resources from Sweet Blackberry Media Company. This is worth mentioning because a student’s success in school and in life is often contingent on their exposure to rich and diverse curricular resources and educators that can foster and cultivate learning.

Cultural Diversity and Education: Foundations, Curriculum, and Teaching 6th Edition By James A. Banks.

An important aspect of effective teaching is to expose students to a more diverse curriculum. Teachers should not simply attempt to diversify their curriculum because it is a good thing to do. Teachers must go beyond such a surface level view of diversity. We must understand that students get a more robust education when they engage with resources and literature that features a diversity of people and subject matter. An article entitled The Importance of Diversity and Cultural Awareness in the Classroom from the Drexel University School of Education states that “when working and learning with people from a variety of backgrounds and cultures present in the classroom, students gain a more comprehensive understanding of the subject matter. It also teaches students how to use their own strengths and points of view to contribute in a diverse working environment.”

For the last installation of our series on Women’s history we would like to highlight the importance of integrating a more diverse body of literature into school curriculum. There are a number of children’s and adolescent young adult books that help us think about the intersection of gender and cultural diversity in the curriculum. It is important that we expose students to books written by women and people of color and also share stories that feature them. Literature is a great way to teach in an interdisciplinary way. It is also an effective way to diversify the core subjects of math, science, language arts and social studies. Below we offer several examples of books that contain both gender and cultural diversity, divided up by subject matter and grade level.



Women in Language Arts and Social Studies
Copper Sun By Sharon M. Draper
Dear Shameless Death By Latife Tekin
The Friendship By Mildred D. Taylor
Song of the Trees By Mildred D. Taylor
Parable of the Sower By Octavia E. Butler  
Brown Girl Dreaming By Jacqueline Woodson 
Aya of Yop City By Marguerite Abouet, Clément Oubrerie
One Crazy Summer By Rita Williams-Garcia
Inside Out and Back Again By Thanhhà Lai
The Girl Who Drank the Moon By Kelly Barnhill
Zeely By Virginia Hamilton 
The Color Purple First Edition By Alice Walker  

The Forty Rules of Love: A Novel of Rumi By Elif Shafak 


Women in Science
The Meteorologist In Me By Brittney Shipp
Your Fantastic Elastic Brain By JoAnn Deak Ph.D. 
Mae Among the Stars By Roda Ahmed 
The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes: The Story of Dr. Patricia Bath By Julia Finley Mosca
The Astronaut With a Song for the Stars: The Story of Dr. Ellen Ochoa By Julia Finley Mosca 
Black Women in Science: A Black History Book for Kids By PhD Kimberly Brown Pellum

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race By Margot Lee Shetterly

Women in Math
Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 By Helaine Becker
A Computer Called Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Helped Put America on the Moon
By Suzanne Slade
One Grain Of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale Written By Demi
Maryam’s Magic: The Story of Mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani By Megan Reid
The Story of Unshakable Mathematician Sophie Germain By Cheryl Bardoe

The Girl With a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague By Julia Finley Mosca

Women in Social Studies
Molly, by Golly!: The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter By Dianne Ochiltree  
50 Fearless Women Who Made American History By Jenifer Bazzit
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History By Vashti Harrison 
Skin Like Mine By LaTashia M. Perry
Black Heroes: A Black History Book for Kids: 51 Inspiring People from Ancient Africa to Modern-Day U.S.A. By Arlisha Norwood 

The Story of Jane Goodall: A Biography Book for New Readers By Susan B. Katz


  1. I agree that it is important that we expose students to books written by women and people of color in order to diversify the core curriculum. I also believe that a student’s success in school and in life is often based on their exposure to rich and diverse curricular resources or their educators who can foster and cultivate learning.

  2. Women in history, or rather being taught anything about women in history always fascinated me. 90% of History is men and how they ruled their own country, but when women are mentioned in subjects such as history, math, or science I always feel relieved and proud at the same time to see that atleast some are being represented in our curriculum.

  3. It is important for students to learn a diverse curriculum. You have to make sure students are able to understand themselves and their classmates.

  4. Diversifying curriculum helps build trust in a student that feels independent and distinct from their peers based upon their identity, by implementing a diverse curriculm they are able to learn and express their feelings. They are also better able to understand their own identity.

  5. Women’s history is great and I love learning about it. The stuff I have loved about in these classes and articles is something I wish I could have learned about in middle and highschool. This article, just like all the others, is inspiring and makes me want to do more.

  6. I believe having those few people that do have confidence in you in life is the people that you need to surround yourself with. If someone believes that your going to be the best person you can be then that is the motivation you need, and that is who you need to be around.

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