Counting on Katherine Activities and Comprehension Questions

Counting on Katherine Activities and Comprehension Questions

Counting on Katherine promotes determination, resilience and breaking through racial and gender barriers. Read on to find activities and comprehension questions for this great book.

Counting on Katherine gives you the opportunity to discuss:

You can also use the book to teach:

Scroll down for Counting on Katherine activities, discussion questions and videos.

Counting on Katherine Summary

Katherine Johnson grew up loving to count. She would count anything! Through her love of numbers and her curiosity, she longed to know more about maths and the universe. At her segregated elementary school, Katherine skipped a few grade levels because of her intelligence. Katherine and her family had to move over 80 miles away because her town didn’t have a high school for black students.

Katherine wanted to become a research mathematician, but there were many barriers for her to overcome, particularly because she was black and a woman. In the 1950s, NACA (became NASA in 1958) began hiring female mathematicians. She was excited to apply, but was initially told all the positions had been filled. She waited patiently for another year before successfully applying again.

In her role as a human computer, she calculated the flight path for the first Apollo mission to the moon. Katherine was also part of the Apollo 13 team. The lead astronaut, John Glenn, wanted Katherine to re-check all the electric computer calculations. After an explosion on Apollo 13, she recalculated a safe flight path for the astronauts to return home.

Katherine Johnson was a trailblazing African American woman who contributed hugely to history, particularly in the areas of STEM.

Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13
Author: Helaine Becker
Illustrator: Dow Phumiruk
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. 
ISBN: 9781250137524

Alternative Versions

  • A Computer Called Katherine by Suzanne Slade
  • Counting the Stars by Lesa Cline-Ransome
  • You Should Meet Katherine Johnson by Thea Feldman
  • Reaching for the Moon: The Autobiography of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson

Related Books

  • The Girl With a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague by Julia Finley Mosca
  • Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed
  • Nothing Stopped Sophie: The Story of Unshakable Mathematician Sophie Germain by Cheryl Bardoe
  • Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles by Patricia Valdez 
  • The Astronaut With a Song for the Stars: The Story of Dr. Ellen Ochoa by Julia Finley Mosca
  • Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom by Teresa Robeson
  • Ada’s Ideas: The Story of Ada Lovelace, the World’s First Computer Programmer by Fiona Robinson

Counting on Katherine Activities & Resources

I have created literacy graphic organizers for Counting on Katherine. You can find them at my Teachers Pay Teachers store. There are many activities for each literacy area to differentiate depending on your student’s ability/age. They include activities for:

*Click on these links to discover book recommendations on these topics.

External Counting on Katherine Activities & Links


Counting on Katherine Graphic Organisers

Would you like free graphic organisers for Counting on Katherine?

I have a freebie that is part of a larger resource so you can try it out before buying anything!

Fill in the form below to get access to the FREE pack. Click on the image to see the full pack on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Counting on Katherine Read-Aloud Questions

Read aloud sessions are a wonderful way for children to understand the connection between written text and spoken language. You can model reading habits and strategies, reading fluency, tone and eye contact. You can also introduce different genres, authors and illustrators.

  • What do you think Helaine Becker wants us to learn from reading Counting on Katherine?
  • How has Katherine Johnson inspired you?
  • What did you learn from Katherine Johnson and her life?
  • Describe the problems faced by Katherine and how she solved them.
  • How did the illustrations help you understand Counting on Katherine?
  • How would you describe Katherine? What are her character traits?
  • Why do you think it took so long for Katherine to get a job as a mathematician? 
  • Do you think she would have the same problem if she applied for jobs today?
  • What character traits helped Katherine cope with the Apollo 13 crisis?
  • Why do you think Katherine asked lots of questions? Why is it good for you to ask lots of questions?

You can find a full set of discussion cards in the Counting on Katherine on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Counting on Katherine Videos

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Counting on Katherine Activities and Comprehension Questions

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