Work It, Girl: Blast Off Into Space Like Mae Jemison

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

The young Mae Jemison was fascinated by space from an early age; growing up in the 60s, she was a child when astronauts landed on the moon and, as she watched Neil Armstrong and his crew, she wondered what aliens would think if they met those humans: they’d never know that all humans weren’t white men.

Mae was a straight-A student at school and became fascinated with science, maths and space. Yet, after she excitedly announced to her teacher that she wanted to be a scientist when she grew up, her teacher suggested she could aim to be a nurse perhaps, but not a scientist.

Luckily for Mae, her parents were very supportive, and when Mae had done so well at her school studies that she could go to university early, they supported her to go to Stanford University at just 16 years of age. When she had finished there, she went to medical school aged just 20. When she finished at medical school, Mae joined the US Peace Corps and then applied to the NASA astronaut programme, who accepted her. The rest is history - Mae became the first black woman astronaut at NASA, and on 12 September 1992, she blasted off into space on the space shuttle ENDEAVOUR, watched by millions of people worldwide.

This inspiring, wonderful life story is a perfect one to inspire girls aged about 8-10, and the Work It, Girl series is wonderful - attractively designed, it feels cool and not babyish, and manages to explain big concepts such as institutional racism in accessible language. They’re really beautiful books that make perfect gifts, too.

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