I must confess, I'm very ashamed at how few of these magnificent women I have heard about before writing this article. Thanks Georgia public school system — I vividly remember "celebrating" Christopher Columbus, but not all of these women, and I'm so glad I got to learn about them today. So many women have done pretty incredible things, and they need to be taught, celebrated, and shared. Make sure your kid doesn't end up like me, and be sure to read at least one of these 20 picture books that celebrate women around the world with them just in time for Women's History Month.
Women's History Month is celebrated the entire month of March, and it was started as a local week-long celebration in Santa Rosa, California back in 1978 according to womenshistory.org. Then, after Women's History Week celebrations started popping up around the United States (as they should have), "in 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the week of March 8, 1980, as National Women’s History Week," the website noted. In 1989, Congress authorized March to be Women's History Month. And there was much rejoicing.
To supplement what your kids will hopefully be learning in school (unlike my classmates and I did back in the '90s/'00s), these amazingly beautiful, educational, and fun picture books will be perfect for bedtime (or anytime) reading to celebrate these women who have done so much for the world.
1. 'Rad American Women A – Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries Who Shaped Our History . . . and Our Future!' by Kate Schatz
From Angela Davis to Zoro Neale Hurston, the ABCs have never been cooler and more feminist. Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries who Shaped Our History . . . and Our Future! has a diverse list that spans generations and professions, highlighting some incredible BA women who were (and are) trailblazers for us all.
2. 'I Am Michelle Obama: The First Lady' by Margina Graham Parker
I Am Michelle Obama is the story of our former first lady through the eyes of a young girl who wants to be just like her. Her story shows how women can be powerful and get things done, and that she's more than just a fashion icon and beauty.
3. 'Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? The Story Of Elizabeth Blackwell' by Tanya Lee Stone
Elizabeth Blackwell is the first female doctor, and Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell tells her inspiring and empowering story about a girl in the 1830s who refused to stick to the gender norms set before her and graduated from medical school to become a doctor.
4. 'Hillary Rodham Clinton: Some Girls Are Born to Lead' by Michelle Markel
Hillary Rodham Clinton: Some Girls Are Born to Lead is a beautifully illustrated "picture book biography" of our first ever female presidential nominee in the United States.
5. 'Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History' by Vashti Harrison
Tell your kids the stories of 40 trailblazing black women who did extraordinary things by picking up a copy of Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History. These women were heroes, role models, and strived to make the world a better place for all women.
6. 'Buffalo Bird Girl: A Hidatsa Story' by S.D. Nelson
Buffalo Bird Woman was a Hidatsa Indian born around 1839, and this beautiful picture book tells her story. Buffalo Bird Girl tells Buffalo Bird Woman's story about what it was like to be a part of the Native American community of which she was a part, and how even though it was a difficult life at times, she still found good in the every day.
7. 'Malala: Activist for Girls' Education' by Raphaele Frier
Malala: Activist for Girls' Education is a gorgeously illustrated rendition about the young female activist who stood up to the Taliban and fought for girls to have the right to an education.
8. 'Are You an Echo?' by Misuzu Kaneko
Children's poet Misuzu Kaneko's poems are breathtakingly illustrated in this picture book collection of her works. Are You An Echo? tells Kaneko's life story in addition to her poetry, which has been recently discovered just in time to "touch a new generation devastated by the tsunami of 2011," the book description noted.
9. 'Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker' by Patricia Hruby Powell
Famous performer and civil rights activist Josephine Baker's story is magically told in the picture book Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker. Your child will learn more about Josephine's impressive story of growing up in the "slums of St. Louis" and working her way up to performing on the biggest stages in the world.
10. 'She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story' by Audrey Vernick
She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story is an illustrated rendition of the first and only woman ever inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
11. 'Yayoi Kusama: From Here to Infinity' by Sarah Suzuki
Yayoi Kusama is a visionary artist whose most famous vision was of the world and everything on it being covered by polka dots. Yayoi Kusama: From Here to Infinity! tells her eccentric story about how her work will not be complete until the entire world (to infinity and beyond) is covered in her dots.
12. 'Molly By Golly!: The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter' by Dianne Ochiltree
Anyone else now have Little Richard's "Good Golly, Miss Molly" stuck in their head now? You'll definitely be saying good golly about this Miss Molly when you read her incredible story of how she became the first female firefighter in America in Molly, By Golly!: The Legend of Molly Williams, America's First Female Firefighter.
13. 'Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race' by Margot Lee Shetterly
Hopefully you've read the book and seen the incredible movie by now, but this version of Hidden Figures is perfect for little listeners to learn about the story of how these four black women contributed to science, space exploration, and aeronautics, all while dealing with segregation, racism, and sexism in the workplace.
14. 'Mae Among the Stars' by Roda Ahmed
Mae Jemison was the first black woman to travel in space, and this picture book, Mae Among the Stars, was inspired by her captivating story.
15. 'Dolores Huerta: A Hero To Migrant Workers' by Sarah Warren
Dolores Huerta was an extraordinary teacher who fought for fair and safe workplaces for migrant workers when she noticed her students were starving, and had no shoes. Dolores Huerta: A Hero to Migrant Workers tells her inspiring story through beautiful watercolor and pastel illustrations.
16. 'Here Come the Girl Scouts!: The Amazing All-True Story of Juliette Daisy Gordon Low and Her Great Adventure' by Shana Corey
Juliet "Daisy" Gordon Low was the founder of the Girl Scouts, and Here Come the Girl Scouts!: The Amazing All-True Story of Juliette 'Daisy' Gordon Low and Her Great Adventure
is her story. She was not your typical girl back in the Victorian Era, and she believed girls could do anything, like loving the outdoors and going on adventures.
17. 'Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909' by Michelle Markel
Clara Lemlich was a Ukranian immigrant, and she believed women should be treated equally and paid fairly. Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 tells the story of how she led the largest walkout of women workers the country had ever seen.
18. 'Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos' by Monica Brown
Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos tells the story of iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo's life through her animal friends. Fitting, because she reportedly loved animals and always surrounded herself with them.
19. 'Maya Lin: Artist – Architect of Light and Lines' by Jeanne Walker Harvey
One of my most favorite trips I ever took as a kid was to Washington, D.C. to see all the memorials and the museums. Even as an 11-year-old, I remember how struck I was by the intense Vietnam Veterans Memorial in its vastness and simple elegance. Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines is the story of the artist behind this memorial, Maya Lin, starting with her childhood and leading up to her executing her vision for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
20. 'I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark' by Debbie Levy
And you can't have an article about powerful female role models without including the original RBG, am I right? I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes Her Mark is the first picture book of the Supreme Court Justice's life, highlighting her lifetime of standing up for what's right for people everywhere, and arguing against inequality.