Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine


  • Written by: Laurie Wallmark
  • Illustrated by: April Chu
  • Age Range: 5 – 9 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten and up
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Creston Books (October 13, 2015)

Summary: This story is about the life of Ada Byron Lovelace, the first computer programer, in the world! The story showcases the adversity that she faced through a difficult illness, and her ability to continue through sexism as a nineteenth century female inventor and mathematician. The book wonderfully illustrates her imagination and how it helped her think through some of the toughest math equations to become one of the most important scientific woman ever. 

5 keywords: Science, Historical Fiction, Women’s History, Biography, Picture Book 

Common Core State Standard: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.3
Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.

Suggested Delivery: Read-a-loud.

Electronic Resources: Pre: Use this video trailer to introduce the story and to base pre-reading questions off of this.

What is a computer? 

When was it invented?

What is the role of a programmer? 

Was the first programmer a woman or a man? Why do you think this?

Are computer programmers currently more male or more female?

This is an image of what Ada invented, show this to the students after to help them comprehend the magnitude of what she created.

Website: This is the authors website, where she includes some activities and curriculum ideas for the story.

Teaching guide – I LOVE this teaching guide! It has lessons on how to use this story for LA, Math, History, and Science. It’s all encompassing of these and bridges the gaps between disciplines.

Key Vocabulary: 

Dominated – To have power of control over someone or something

Notorious – Well known or famous for something bad

Scandalous – Shocking or offensive

Equations – Math – An expression when two things are equal

Wriggled – Twist from side to side (like a worm)

Pelted – When you throw small objects at someone, repeatedly

Scold – To be critical and angry with someone

Majestic – Very beautiful and large

Compose – To make something

Multiplication – The act of multiplying numbers together

Before: Ask students when they think the first computer was invented? Who invented it? What do we know about computers? Ask them if they think that the person who invented the computer was a boy or a girl? Introduce Ada Byron Lovelace as the worlds first computer programer.

During: The story contains many similes and examples of personification, so as the story is read, ask students what that means. This will reinforce their inferential comprehension, as they have to make sense of the comparisons and personification.

After: After reading, ask the students about the story. Ask them how she ended up flying, as the page does not explain that her equations made it possible for satellites to orbit and fly in space, but the picture shows this. This question will build upon inferential comprehension, as they have to use the picture and question together. Ask if they think she has benefited their life in any way. If she were alive today what would you say to her or what would you ask her? 

Writing Activity: Divide students up into pairs. Explain to them that one of them will be the reporter and one will be Ada Lovelace. They will have to write, questions and answers about Ada Lovelace to be filmed. Their interview will be recorded, as the students improv questions, and also use their question and answer sheet. The interview should last 3-5 minutes, depending on the age. Students will have to explore other books written about Ada, and find online resources about her life in order to come up with enough questions and answers to satisfy the time allotment. They should cite these sources on a document when they hand in their question and answer sheet. This activity will enhance students ability to comprehend literally and inferentially, as they have to put themselves in Ada’s shoes, and ask questions based on what they have read about her. 


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