There is nothing I love more than reading with my children at bedtime. From the warmth and safety of their beds, we tackle big ideas and thoughts and spark their imaginations. Admittedly, I mostly seek out fictional books to read with them. But with March being Women's History Month, I've recently sought out some women's history books to read with my children. And I was pleasantly surprised by the beauty and imagination within the pages.
I hope that by reading these books with my children, especially my daughter, that they would see how hard work, curiosity, passion, and speaking up can have a profound impact on history. I want them to learn that they can affect change through their art, their thoughts, their inventions, their words, and their actions. The fact that all of these books are about women, often whom were going against the norms at the time, is even better. Just when I feel like we have made so much progress for women, I'm reminded of how far we still need to go.
This list just scratches the surface of what is out there, and I hope many parents will visit the library, just as I did, and be wowed by the wealth of what is out there. And how the truth can be just as powerful as fictional stories.
1. 'Maya Lin: Artist-Architect Of Light and Lines' by Jeanne Walker Harvey
This beautifully illustrated Maya Lin biography shows how the young architect came to be the designer of the iconic Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. Inspired by her love of natural spaces and sparse architectural lines, Lin was constantly experimenting with building and creating. Her story encourages young readers to play and experiment and be inspired by the world around them.
2. 'A Voice of Her Own: The Story of Phillis Wheatley, Slave Poet' by Kathryn Lasky
With evocative prose, A Voice of Her Own chronicles the life of Phillis Wheatley who was born in West Africa before she was captured and brought to America on a slave ship in 1761. In a time when slaves were purposefully kept illiterate, Phillis's thirst for knowledge motivated her to not only read, but to write.
3. 'Night Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic' by Robert Burleigh
Before Amelia Earhart's disappearance during a flight around the world in 1937, she was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. Night Flight is an exciting and harrowing account of that fifteen-hour flight. Action-packed and beautifully illustrated, this one had me at the edge of my seat. It really highlights Earhart's bravery.
4. 'Josephine' by Patricia Hruby Powell
Exuberant and playful text tells the story of legendary dancer Josephine Baker in Josephine. The highly detailed book chronicles all periods of her life and career, from dancing her way out of the St. Louis slums, to funneling her rage at racial inequalities into her work.
5. 'Helen Keller: The World In Her Heart' by Lisa Cline-Ransome
Helen Keller: The World In Her Heart attempts to paint a vivid picture of Helen Keller's world as she experienced it after an illness left her deaf and blind. We meet Keller before her teacher Annie Sullivan entered her life, and then we get to see how Keller learns to interact with the world around her.
6. 'Elizabeth Leads Yhe Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and The Right To Vote' by Tanya Lee Stone
Co-creator of the National Woman Suffrage Association, Elizabeth Cady Stanton never put up with the inequalities women suffered in the nineteenth century. My children were outraged along with Elizabeth as we read just how unfair things were for girls and women. Elizabeth Leads the Way really highlights how to raise your voice and be heard.
7. 'Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle' by Claire A. Nivola
Her insatiable quest for knowledge pushed young Sylvia Earle observe her world around her in great detail. She explored and reported her findings, and always wanted to dive deeper to discover what the secrets the ocean held. The illustrations in Life In the Ocean are stunning and will fill any child with a sense of wonder for our world.
8. 'Mary Cassatt: Extraordinary Impressionist Painter' by Barbara Herkert
Cassatt is a well-known impressionist painter whose images of mothers and children are much beloved (especially in my house.) But in her time there wasn't space for women, and the strict Salon in Paris declared her work unfit for exhibition. But Cassatt never gave up, she broke the rules and depicted people and life the way she saw it. Mary Cassatt also features illustrations painted in her impressionist style.
9. 'Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine' by Laurie Wallmark
Any book that depict women excelling in STEM fields is a crucial addition to our bookshelf at home. This biography of Ada Lovelace really shows how fostering a love of math and problem-solving can lead to breakthroughs. This book shows just how brilliant and ahead of her time Lovelace was.
11. 'Coretta Scott' by Ntozake Shange
Coretta Scott is a stunning work of art that paints a vivid image of the South under the Jim Crow laws, and how Coretta Scott King used her prayers and her actions to bring about change. This was a great introduction to the Civil Rights Movement for my kids, and it is infused with hope and beauty.
11. 'She Persisted: 13 Amazing Women Who Changed The World' by Chelsea Clinton
Inspired by Senator Elizabeth Warren's refusal to be silenced earlier this year, Clinton wrote a book to highlight the powerful voices of women activists and influential American women and girls. From Ruby Bridges to Sally Ride to Sonia Sotomayor, Clinton aims to inspire a new generation of influencers. Women and girls can make a difference. She Persisted is forthcoming, and I can't wait to add it to my shelves.