March is Women's History Month, and it's a really good time to update your children's home libraries with more picture books about incredible women. This list includes a variety of women's stories from all over the world, with women from all different backgrounds becoming trailblazers, showing bravery, and making a difference so they can leave their important marks in history. Everyone knows the value of a good story, and these stories of women will make a huge impact on your child's bookshelf.
Women's History Month began back in 1981 and started with a week in March being celebrated as "Women's History Week." In 1987, March became the dedicated month to learn about and celebrate all that women have done in history. That means there's only been 33 years of a month dedicated to celebrating women, which sounds absurd. But with these books, you and your children will be able to celebrate all year.
Whether it's Malala fighting for girls' rights to learn, Audrey Faye Hendricks fighting for civil rights, Florence Mills standing up for the black arts, or Sylvia Mendez's fight for desegregation, these beautifully illustrated books will be something you'll want to read again and again with your child. They are inspiring, lovely, and will remind your family that when we celebrate and support women, big things can happen.
1. ‘Malala's Magic Pencil’ by Malala Yousafzai & Kerascoët
Malala has been making history for women's rights since 2012 by speaking out publicly on behalf of girls' rights to learn. After being shot in the head on her way home from school because of her beliefs, she recuperated and decided to keep fighting. She established the Malala Fund charity, which gives every girl a opportunity to learn, and she won the Nobel Peace Prize in December 2014, being the youngest-ever recipient, according to her foundation's website.
Her beautiful children's book, Malala's Magic Pencil, tells young readers in a kid-friendly way about her story and what she believes in. This is a must-have in your women's history collection.
2. ‘Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race’ by Margot Lee Shetterly, Winifred Conkling, & Laura Freeman
You can't have a list about influential people in history and not include Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race. This picture book tells the story of the four African-American women mathematicians who worked for NASA and provided calculations for America's first space journeys — all while overcoming racial and gender barriers.
3. ‘Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child’ by Jessie Hartland
Julia Child is a super fun woman in history to learn about, and in the picture book Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child, kids will learn about her exciting life. (There was way more to her than being an amazing cook.)
4. ‘Dorothea's Eyes: Dorothea Lange Photographs the Truth’ by Barb Rosenstock & Gérard DuBois
Not only did Dorothea Lange become a famous photographer for her work on victims of the Great Depression "who were previously unseen," according to the Goodreads description, but she also survived polio in her childhood. From a time where she didn't want to be the center of attention anywhere to becoming an incredible icon, the book Dorothea's Eyes: Dorothea Lange Photographs the Truth tells her incredible story.
5. ‘Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom’ by Carole Boston Weatherford & Kadir Nelson
Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom describes Tubman's incredible life and those nine trips to bravely save others from slavery via the Underground Railroad. This book will be an amazing addition to your kids' bookshelf all year long, as "Kadir Nelson's emotionally charged paintings embody strength, healing, and hope," Goodreads noted.
6. ‘Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell’ by Tanya Lee Stone & Marjorie Priceman
As the first woman to ever receive a medical degree, Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell is another important picture book to have in your child's women's history collection. Through many trials and tribulations, she defied gender stereotypes and proved everyone wrong. A story of bravery, determination, and stamina, this book is a great read at anytime.
7. 'What to Do About Alice?: How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove Her Father Teddy Crazy!’ by Barbara Kelly & Edwin Fotheringham
Now we've all heard quite a bit about President Teddy Roosevelt in our history classes throughout the years, but I have to admit, I have never really heard much of anything about his incredibly strong-willed and smart daughter Alice. What to Do About Alice?: How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove Her Father Teddy Crazy! will ensure your child will know that Alice was "hungry to go places," according to the book description. She loved adventure, defied traditions, and even had a pet snake.
8. ‘The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with the Chimps’ by Jeanette Winter
When I was a kid, Jane Goodall was my idol. I thought she was so cool and smart – plus, she could communicate with chimpanzees and basically lived with them. Perhaps The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with the Chimps will inspire your little budding scientist or animal lover to follow in Goodall's footsteps.
9. ‘Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker’ by Patricia Hruby Powell & Christian Robinson
Josephine Baker was not only an incredible performer, but she was also an important civil rights advocate. Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker is a beautiful illustrated biography of her triumphant story to becoming a legend.
10. ‘Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova’ by Laurel Snyder & Julie Morstad
Anna Pavlova is the most famous prima ballerina of all time, and Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova lyrically tells her story about how she contributed so much to the art of ballet after coming from very humble beginnings.
11. ‘Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl's Courage Changed Music’ by Margarita Engle & Rafael López
Now this is a story I have never heard of before, but I think it's a really important read. Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl's Courage Changed Music will inspire young musicians to follow their dreams, no matter how difficult or impossible they may seem. This story is inspired by Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, "a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba's traditional taboo against female drummers," per the Goodreads description.
12. ‘Here Come the Girl Scouts!: The Amazing All-True Story of Juliette 'Daisy' Gordon Low and Her Great Adventure’ by Shana Corey & Hadley Hooper
"Prim and proper? BOSH! Dainty and delicate? HOW BORING!" Young readers will see these words, according to the Goodreads description, and feel inspired to be more than what people would have thought of as a typical girl. At least back in the Victorian era. Here Come the Girl Scouts!: The Amazing All-True Story of Juliette 'Daisy' Gordon Low and Her Great Adventure is the true story of Juliette "Daisy" Gordon Low, and how she founded the Girl Scouts, inspiring young women everywhere to have a "passion for service, and an adventurous spirit," in addition to being a pioneer, pathfinder, and leader.
13. ‘Harlem's Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills’ by Renée Watson & Christian Robinson
Harlem's Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills is an incredible true story about performer Florence Mills, who started out her life in slavery, but wound up on the stages of Broadway in the 1920s. She was so good that Ziegfeld himself offered her a role of a lifetime, yet she chose to support all-black musicals instead, per Goodreads. This story will inspire young people to always stick to their guns and know that you are so much more than your circumstances.
14. ‘Frida’ by Jonah Winter & Ana Juan
15. ‘Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Méndez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation’ by Duncan Tonatiuh
It's incredible how many people don't know about Sylvia Méndez and her impact on desegregation 10 years before Brown v. Board of Education. You can make sure your child is aware by reading Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Méndez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation.
Sylvia and her parents helped end school segregation in California when she was denied enrollment in an all-white school, even though she spoke and wrote fluent English. She and her parents took to the Hispanic community and they filed a lawsuit in the federal district court.
This book had amazing reviews on Goodreads, with one reviewer writing, "Here I thought I knew a great deal about the Civil Rights Movement in this country. I guess I was wrong. I don't have a problem with being wrong, for this was a gem of a book that needed to be read and should be added to any lesson about segregation in the U.S."
16. ‘Helen's Big World: The Life of Helen Keller’ by Doreen Rappaport & Matt Tavares
To me, the really incredible thing about this picture book is it's accessible to almost everyone, and Helen Keller would have been very proud of that. In Helen's Big World: The Life of Helen Keller, the title on the front of the book is also in braille, and the words inside telling the story are larger than normal, making them easier to see. There's a sign language alphabet illustrated in the back, too, and the book covers her entire life.
17. ‘The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist’ by Cynthia Levinson & Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Audrey Faye Hendricks was the youngest civil rights activist in history to be arrested during a protest. In The Youngest Marcher, Audrey was inspired by her preacher's words, so she set out to wipe out segregation, picket white stores, and fill the jail. This story shows not only history in America, but also that no matter how young you are, you can still stand up and fight for what's right.
18. ‘Dreamers’ by Yuyi Morales
19. 'I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark’ by Debbie Levy & Elizabeth Baddeley
You can't have a list about trailblazing, smart, powerful, and cunning women in history without including Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark tells RBG's incredible story of how she's always disagreed with the status quo throughout her lifetime, like going against inequality and unfair treatment of people.
20. ‘Miss Moore Thought Otherwise: How Anne Carroll Moore Created Libraries for Children’ by Jan Pinborough & Debby Atwell
Miss Moore Thought Otherwise: How Anne Carroll Moore Created Libraries for Children tells the story about the often unsung hero, Anne Carroll Moore. She created the first children's room in the New York Public Library during a time when adults didn't think reading was that important for children and they couldn't even borrow library books.
21. ‘Of Numbers and Stars: The Story of Hypatia’ by D. Anne Love & Pamela Paparone
I feel like children's books focusing on Egypt and people from Egypt (other than Cleopatra) were severely lacking in my childhood reading materials. But Of Numbers and Stars: The Story of Hypatia will definitely ensure that your children won't miss the fascinating tales from this land and culture — especially this incredible true story of Hypatia, who showed that girls can be just as good at philosophy, math, and science as boys.
22. ‘Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx/La juez que creció en el Bronx’ by Jonah Winter & Edel Rodriguez
Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx/La juez que creció en el Bronx is the fascinating illustrated biography of Sonia Sotomayor's life, a childhood filled with hardship, which included poverty and prejudice, and how through bravery, hard work, and determination, she became the first Latina to be nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. And as a cool addition to this book, it's written in both English and Spanish.
23. ‘Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells: The Daring Life of a Crusading Journalist’ by Philip Dray & Stephen Alcorn
Not only was Ida B. Wells an African American journalist, abolitionist, and feminist at a time during a time when it wasn't well-received, she also led an anti-lynching crusade in the United States in the 1890s, per Biography. Not only that, but when her parents and one of her siblings died from yellow fever at 16, she dropped out of high school and convinced a school administrator she was 18 and became a teacher to help support herself and her other siblings.
Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells: The Daring Life of a Crusading Journalist (the title coming from her famous signature) tells her powerful story through incredible illustrations and words that will inspire you to stand up and fight for injustice and what you believe in — and to always believe in yourself.
24. ‘Sojourner Truth's Step-Stomp Stride’ by Andrea Davis Pinkney & Brian Pinkney
Sojourner Truth's Step-Stomp Stride tells the story of Belle, who changed her name to Sojourner once she escaped from slavery, and how she traveled across the country demanding equal rights for black people and for women. "And slowly, but surely as Sojourner's step-stomp stride, America began to change," the Goodreads description says.
25. ‘A is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women’ by Lynne Cheney & Robin Preiss Glasser
If you're focusing on American women's history, "A" is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women may just be the best purchase for your bookshelf — especially if you're limited on space. It features trailblazing women from A to Z and spans all fields and accomplishments.