Katherine Johnson

Books & Resources

“I’ve always loved to learn, and I believe that if students love learning, no one will have to push them to do well. They will want to learn and perform well. A good teacher helps students want to learn. So while my students learned, they also had lots of fun.”

Katherine Johnson, My Remarkable Journey

Books by Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson authored three autobiographies. Her story can be enjoyed by people all ages.

One Step Further: My Story of Math, the Moon, and a Lifelong Mission

The only autobiographical picture book by Katherine Johnson, perfect for young children eager to learn.

Reaching for the Moon: The Autobiography of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson

For the first time, children ages 10 and up can be inspired by Katherine’s famous story, told in her own words.

My Remarkable Journey: A Memoir

Katherine Johnson shares her life story of perseverance and determination in this posthumous memoir.

This book was named a finalist in the 2022 NAACP Image Literacy Awards.

More Recommended Reading

Black Women Scientists in the United States (Race, Gender, and Science)

By Wini Warren

This pathbreaking book goes beyond the lip-service traditionally paid to Black women scientists and illuminates their scientific contributions, struggles, strategies, and triumphs. Drawn heavily from primary sources, Warren’s original reference guide includes biographies of more than 100 Black women scientists in fields from anatomy and mathematics to psychology and zoology.

Teaching Resources and Lessons for Students

Students who want to learn more about Katherine Johnson are encouraged to read one of her autobiographies, depending on their reading level. Katherine was also featured in the NASA Educational Technology series Katherine Johnson: A Lifetime of STEM and the online learning series NASA Knows K-6.

Katherine’s family members frequently hold speaking engagements for students and adults of all ages. Contact us to learn more.

Students' FAQs

Katherine loved speaking to children, sharing her stories, and encouraging them to learn and ask questions. Asking questions can break barriers, and she believed if you don’t know something, you shouldn’t feel embarrassed to ask about it and learn something new. Here are some of the questions students most frequently asked her…

Hidden Figures is a Hollywood movie based on true events, but there are some things they exaggerated for the story. Katherine estimated that about 75% of what was shown in the film was accurate. For example, Dot, Mary, and Katherine didn’t actually commute to work together.

Those acts of racial and gender segregation depicted in the movie – separate bathrooms and coffee pots for people of color, for example – did all really happen, but not all of it happened to Katherine. Sometimes in stories, one character has to represent the experiences of many others.

The Johnson family is extremely grateful that so many people are now able to hear Katherine’s inspirational story because of Hidden Figures. Katherine’s husband, Jim, was not well enough to attend the Oscars with Katherine, but they did have a screening in their home and were overjoyed when he was able to recognize himself in the movie.

For many Black people in her time, it was hard to find a job other than laborer, janitor, servant, or maid without a college degree. With a college degree, the options were teaching or nursing. That’s why education was so important – it can open doors to new opportunities you didn’t know were available. Before she worked at NASA, Katherine was an educator for a number of years and would have continued to teach.

Yes, Katherine’s was very curious and eager to learn, but she also felt a drive to learn because she saw how much her parents were sacrificing to put her in the very best schools. Their hard work motivated her. She got excellent grades, but more importantly, she did her very best.

It’s no surprise that Katherine loved math, but not many people know how much she also loved English and French. She loved learning French so much, that she added a French accent to Mamà after she learned the language, and that became the name she called her mother from then on.

Katherine loved to play any games that kept her mind sharp. She didn’t like electronic games or video games, but instead liked puzzles, cards, and bingo. She also liked keeping physically fit and even took boxing lessons when she was almost 90 years old!

Katherine came from a family of excellent cooks, and she was no exception. She had pea salad and crab casserole recipes that the family still cooks every Thanksgiving. She would also make the tastiest applesauce.

Katherine loved to play the piano and would play in the choir and teach children how to play too. But to many of her friends and family, her work at NASA was secret because she never bragged about what she was doing. When the stories started to come out about her contributions, many said they had no idea!

Katherine said that she would have loved to have gone into space. While she was never able to go herself, in 2021 the U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command named a GPS satellite after Katherine Johnson. So, in a way, she is in space right now!

NASA Published Reports

In 1960, Katherine coauthored a paper with another engineer in the Space Task Group at NASA about calculations for placing a spacecraft into orbit. It was the first time a woman in her division received credit as an author of a research report.

Throughout her career, Katherine Johnson authored or coauthored 26 research reports, some of which are accessible via the NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)  and the Library of Congress.

The KCGJ Foundation, Inc.

KCGJ Foundation is synonymous with education and the joy of learning for young people.  Our mission is to encourage, inspire and empower youth to pursue careers in STEM—especially math and science.

Please consider donating to The KCGJ Foundation.

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