by Roda Ahmed:
This book tells the story of a little girl named Mae who dreams of being an astronaut. Her parents encourage her, but her teachers and classmates don’t think the job would suit “someone like her.” These discouragements make Mae feel upset, but her mother explains that she shouldn’t listen to people like that. “They might not encourage you, but they can’t stop you,” she says. The book is based on the true story of Dr. Mae Jemison, first Black female astronaut to go to space. The last page of the book is a brief biography of Dr. Jemison, detailing some of the many things she accomplished.
Using this book as an educational tool:
Mae's story, like many others, represents something that many children and adults of color still go through regularly. Underrepresented populations continuously need to fight to occupy predominantly-White spaces. Using examples from Mae's life and questions like those below, encourage your child to notice prejudice and empathize with the struggles that people different than them might experience.
How did Mae feel when her teacher suggested she become a nurse instead of an astronaut? How would that make you feel? Talk about why the teacher made that comment—the inequalities and unfairness that people of color experience in employment opportunities, the privilege White people have in employment, etc.
Do you think it would be fair to tell someone that they can’t follow their dreams because of their race or ethnicity (i.e. where they come from, how they look)?
Use Mae’s story to talk about the history of racism and why it was so meaningful to be the first Black person to do something. Distinguish between the historical roots of racism as well as the inequalities in opportunity and treatment that still exist today.