Great Reads

Every year, the Library of Congress Center for the Book features a book from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands during the National Book Festival, creating an annual list of Great Reads. Each book is selected by the corresponding state’s Center for the Book affiliate and represents an aspect of the state’s literary culture, either addressing a topic of regional interest, taking place in the state, or written or illustrated by someone from or currently living in that state.

For 2018, the Virginia Center for the Book will feature Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Virginia author Margot Lee Shetterly as the 2018 Great Reads selection for the Commonwealth.

Based on the New York Times bestselling book and the Academy Award–nominated movie, Virginia author Margot Lee Shetterly and illustrator Laura Freeman bring to life the incredibly inspiring true story of four black women who helped NASA win the Space Race.

About the book: Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden were good at math… really good.

They participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes, like providing the calculations for America’s first journeys into space. And they did so during a time when being black and a woman limited what they could do. But they worked hard. They persisted. And they used their genius minds to change the world.

In this beautifully illustrated picture book edition, we explore the story of four female African American mathematicians at NASA, known as “colored computers,” and how they overcame gender and racial barriers to succeed in a highly challenging STEM-based career.

About the author: Writer, researcher, and entrepreneur, Margot Lee Shetterly is the founder of The Human Computer Project, an endeavor that is recovering the names and accomplishments of all of the women who worked as computers, mathematicians, scientists and engineers at the NACA and NASA from the 1930s through the 1980s. She is a native of Hampton, Virginia, where she knew many of the women behind the history in Hidden Figures. She graduated from the University of Virginia, and lives in Charlottesville, Virginia with her husband. To learn more, visit