Reading Together

Storybook Guide Based on Julia Finley Mosca’s “The Girl with a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague”

Explore math while reading and talking about this storybook.


Activity Summary

Use this storybook guide with the book “The Girl with a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague.” Many public libraries have this book. This is a Mathical Award honor book.

Reading guide

About the Story

In the 1950s, Raye Montague, a young Black girl, dreamed of becoming an engineer who built submarines. Yet at that time, many adults (wrongly) thought that girls could not become engineers. Also, her Arkansas schools were segregated and Black children’s education was of poor quality. Raye’s mom encouraged her to let nothing hold her back. Raye did just that. She overcame obstacles in college, where she was not allowed to study engineering, and in the workplace, where her talents were disparaged. Eventually, she designed the first ship by computer!

Words to Learn

engineer, headstrong, potential, segregated, grit, blueprints, abhorrible, deplorable, applauded, propel

About the Math and More

 As children read the Raye Montague story, they can learn that:

  • Engineers use complex math to build boats, submarines, and much more.
  • Computer programs can speed up the process.
  • Raye Montague’s family helped her believe that she had potential and that she should not let discrimination she faced from being a Black girl deter her.
  • Raye worked hard, with determination, and refused to let people stand in the way of her remarkable achievements as an engineer.

Math Talk During Reading

 Ask your child to think about what Raye might have enjoyed about math/engineering that made her eager to do it despite its difficulty.

    Discuss how math can be useful (and fun) for practical challenges, from shopping to understanding baseball.
  • TALK ABOUT WHY PEOPLE LAUGHED AT RAYE’S PLAN  Discuss how some people felt—and some still feel—that girls and Black children do not have the ability to do math. Ask your child whether they have ever experienced someone holding incorrect stereotypes like these.
    Ask your child about their experience when they are faced with a really hard task. How do they feel about it? What do they do?

Try to come up with some of your own questions and comments, too!

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