Kids' Books to Celebrate Women's History

Meikle, Olivia

Queens. Warriors. Witches. Revolutionaries. History is full of sisters making their mark. Meet incredible women in this nonfiction book for kids, from Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret to tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams. Authors (and sisters!) Olivia Meikle and Katie Nelson have scoured history for jaw-dropping stories of amazing siblings, including: Why Egyptian ruler Cleopatra went to war against her younger sister Arsinoë How Native American sisters Maria and Marjorie Tallchief became America's first star ballerinas What made samurai sisters Nakano Takeko and Nakano Yuko take on an entire army Through the stories of the sisters, readers will go on a whirlwind tour of women's history, from the courts of Imperial China to the French Revolution. And you'll discover that stories about sisters aren't anything new-they can be traced back to ancient tales, from Greek goddesses to Maya mythology.

De Laurentiis Johnston, Julia

A thrilling look at 25 female adventurers from around the world who made their marks on history. Women have long been badass adventurers, loop the looping as trick pilots or braving the grueling climb to the top of Mount Everest. But their stories have not always got the recognition they deserve. Here are the stories of 25 remarkable women who have soared the skies, climbed the world's highest peaks and sailed around the world. There are the famous adventurers, such as Amelia Earhart and Junko Tabei, as well as the lesser-known women, such as Diana Nyad, who at age 64 became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage (and trust us, she might have needed one!). Alongside each biography are fun, interactive sidebars that show kids just what it takes to become an adventurer themselves, like how to survive an avalanche or what exactly happens to your body in space. The featured women are incredibly diverse, with many stories of people of color, women with disabilities and LGBTQ+ women. What they all have in common is that they didn't let anything get in the way of their dreams. With playful illustrations to enhance the compelling stories, it's a book that shows kids that anything -- and any adventure -- is possible!

Fletcher, Tiera

Searching the cosmos for a new Earth. Using math to fight human trafficking. Designing invisible (and safer) cars. Unlocking climate-change secrets. All of this groundbreaking science, and much more, is happening right now, spearheaded by the diverse female scientists and engineers profiled in this book.

Menéndez, Juliet

A celebration of Latinas and Latin American women who followed their dreams, with portraits and short bios.

Adams, Khristi Lauren

Young Black leaders have always been at the forefront of the fight for justice, freedom, and equity. And Black girls today are stepping up and leading in bold, creative ways. In a world overrun by power and greed, now is the time to look to Black girls for lessons in resilience, leadership, tenacity, spirit, and empathy. From Khristi Lauren Adams, author of the celebrated Parable of the Brown Girl,comes Black Girls Unbossed, which introduces readers to young Black girls leading the way and changing the world. Eight young Black women are profiled, including the founder of a child literacy nonprofit, political activists, and a school shooting survivor who launched a political action committee to prevent gun violence. These are the young Black women we will be reading about and studying decades from now. Like the young women who came before them, Black girls today are saying "enough is enough" and building a better world.

Mathematicians & Scientists

Becker, Helaine

When Emmy Noether is born in 1882, no one knows she's going to become a visionary mathematician. Back then, girls were expected to be gentle and quiet -- definitely not geniuses. But Emmy is a genius! And she's much more interested in math than in learning to cook and sew. Though she faces sexism and anti-Semitism, she perseveres to earn her mathematics degree and teach at a university. And when Einstein's famous Theory of Relativity has a problem that no one can solve, Emmy gets the chance of a lifetime to prove herself. That's just the first of her lasting contributions to the fields of computer science and theoretical physics. Emmy's extraordinary story is finally shared in this charming picture book biography by bestselling, award-winning children's author Helaine Becker and illustrator Kari Rust. Becker's spirited text and Rust's warm illustrations bring Emmy's lively personality to life with an appealing touch of humour. Emmy faces down every challenge with steadfast belief in her own abilities and a true love of math -- a growth mindset that will inspire young readers. With kid-friendly explanations of advanced math and physics concepts, the book provides tons of STEM curriculum links, along with a thoroughly researched biographical note about Emmy's life and sources for further reading.

Box, Stephanie Anne

As a young child, Ayanna Howard liked figuring out how things worked. Her creativity and love for math led her to become a robotics engineer who continues to solve problems for Earth and space. Her story inspires young people to enjoy math and science.

Magellan, Marta

For Mireya Mayor, even as a young child whose house was filed with cats, dogs, rabbits, birds, a chicken, and a snapping turtle, nothing was quite wild enough. Older, she traded her pom-poms as a cheerleader for the National Football League for the swamps of the South American jungle. The first woman wildlife TV reporter for National Geographic, she traveled the world, but things still weren't quite wild enough. It was only when Mireya went to Madagascar that things FINALLY got wild enough. This biography of the woman who convinced the prime minister of Madagascar to make the mouse lemur's rain forest a protected national park is an inspiring-and wild story. 

Reid, Megan

The true story of Maryam Mirzakhani, an Iranian girl whose creativity and love of stories helped her and the world see math in a new way, and who was the only woman ever to win the Fields Medal, the most prestigious honor in mathematics.

Robeson, Teresa

When Wu Chien Shiung was born in China in the early 1900s, girls typically did not attend school. They weren't considered as smart as boys. But her parents thought differently, so they gave her a name meaning "courageous hero" and encouraged her love of learning and science. Chien Shiung found her passion in physics, which took her from her small hometown of Liuhe to the National Central University in Nanjing and then all the way to the United States. She became such an exceptional physicist that other scientists asked her for help running experiments! Even then, she didn't always get the jobs she wanted or the credit she deserved -- because she was a woman and because she was Asian. But she pushed back against the prejudice with dignity and poise, and focused on excelling at what she loved. It's no wonder Newsweek declared her the "Queen of Physics."

Valdez, Patricia

A biography of immigrant scientist Gabriela González, who, armed with modern technology, completed the work that Albert Einstein had begun one hundred years earlier, confirming his theory of gravitational waves and breaking new ground for space-time research.

Yee, Tammy

When Fe del Mundo's sister died, Fe vowed to fulfill her sister's dream of becoming a doctor. This is the story of how Fe kept that promise, from the Philippines to America and back, through World War II and beyond, acting always with courage and care.

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Artists & Athletes

Cavallo, Francesca

This is the story of 17-time Paralympic medalist Tatyana McFadden. Born with spina bifida in Russia, Tatyana was raised in an orphanage where she walked on her hands for the first six years of her life. In 1994, she was adopted and moved to the United States, where she started racing and breaking records; and is now considered the best female wheelchair racer of all time, and the fastest woman on Earth.

Freeman, Anna Harber

The most renowned Native American Indian potter of her time, Maria Poveka Martinez learned pottery as a child under the guiding hands of her Ko-ōo, her aunt. She grew up to discover a new firing technique that turned her pots black and shiny, and made them-and Maria-famous. This inspiring story of family and creativity illuminates how Maria's belief in sharing her love of clay brought success and joy from her New Mexico Pueblo to people all across the country.

Harvey, Jeanne Walker

Tells the Story of Painter and Teacher Alma Thomas, Discussing Her Childhood, Teaching Career, and Activism.

Henderson, Leah

Mamie 'Peanut' Johnson had one dream: to play professional baseball. She was a talented player, but she wasn't welcome on the all-white Girls Pro Baseball League team due to the color of her skin. However, a greater opportunity came her way in 1953 when Johnson signed to play ball with the Negro Leagues' Indianapolis Clowns, becoming the only professional female pitcher to play on a men's team. During the three years she played with the team, her record was an impressive 33-8. But more importantly, she broke ground for female pitchers like Mo'ne Davis and women everywhere.

Subramaniam, Suma

Before M.S. Subbulakshmi was a famous Carnatic singer and the first Indian woman to perform at the United Nations, she was a young girl with a prodigious voice. But Subbulakshmi was not free to sing everywhere. In early 1900s India, girls were not allowed to perform for the public. So Subbulakshmi busted barriers to sing at small festivals. Eventually, she broke tradition to record her first album. She did not stop here. At Gandhi's request, Subbulakshmi sang for India’s freedom. Her fascinating odyssey stretched across borders, and soon she was no longer just a young prodigy. She was a woman who changed the world.

Todd, Traci N.

An evocative picture book biography about the prolific life of Jackie Ormes, whose groundbreaking cartoons became some of the first empowering depictions of Black women in America!

Tonatiuh, Duncan

Award-winning author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh tells the story of Amalia Hernandez, dancer and founder of El Ballet Folklorico de Mexico. Published in time for the 100th anniversary of Hernandez's birth, Danza! is the first picture book about the famous dancer and choreographer. Danza! is a celebration of Hernandez's life and of the rich history of dance in Mexico. As a child, Amalia always thought she would grow up to be a teacher, until she saw a performance of dancers in her town square. She was fascinated by the way the dancers twirled and swayed, and she knew that someday she would be a dancer, too. She began to study many different types of dance, including ballet and modern, under some of the best teachers in the world. Hernandez traveled throughout Mexico studying and learning regional dances. Soon she founded her own dance company, El Ballet Folklorico de Mexico, where she integrated her knowledge of ballet and modern dance with folkloric dances. The group began to perform all over the country and soon all over the world, becoming an international sensation that still tours today. Duncan Tonatiuh's picture books have been honored with many awards and accolades, including the Pura Belpre Award, the Robert F. Sibert Award, and the New York Times Best Illustrated Book Award. With Tonatiuh's distinctive Mixtec-inspired artwork and colorful drawings that seem to leap off the page, Danza! will enthrall and inspire young readers with the fascinating story of this important dancer and choreographer.

Winter, Jeanette

A biography of architect Zaha Hadid, who grew up in Baghdad and went on to design buildings all over the world.

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Writers, Thinkers, Students, & Scholars

Cline-Ransome, Lesa

Ethel L. Payne always had an ear for stories. Seeking truth, justice, and equality, Ethel followed stories from her school newspaper in Chicago to Japan during World War II. It even led her to the White House briefing room, where she broke barriers as one of the first black journalists. Ethel wasn't afraid to ask the tough questions of presidents, elected officials, or any one else in charge, earning her the title "First Lady of the Black Press." Fearless and determined, Ethel L. Payne shined a light on the darkest moments in history, and her ear for stories sought answers to the questions that mattered most in the fight for civil rights.

Hinojosa, Maria

"There is no such thing as an illegal human being or an illegal immigrant." Maria Hinojosa is an Emmy award-winning journalist and was the first Latina to found a national independent non-profit newsroom in the United States. But before all that, she was a girl with big hair and even bigger dreams. Born in Mexico and raised in the vibrant neighborhood of Hyde Park, Chicago, Maria was always looking for ways to better understand the world around her-and where she fit into it. Here, she combines stories from her life, beginning with her family's indelible experience of immigration all the way through the first time she heard her own voice on national radio, with truths about the United States' long and complicated relationship with immigrants. Funny, frank, and wise, Maria's story is one you will want to read again and again, and her voice will inspire you to find your own.

Hubbard, Rita L.

A picture book biography sharing the inspiring and incredible true story of the nation's oldest student, Mary Walker, who learned to read at the age of 116.

Samuel, Sigal

Osnat, the world's first female rabbi, was born almost five hundred years ago, during a time when few girls were allowed to read. Her father was a great scholar whose house was filled with books, and she convinced him to teach her. She grew up to teach others, becoming a wise and famous scholar in her own right. 

Yuksel, M. O.

The story of Fatima al-Fihri, a trailblazing woman who founded the oldest existing and continually operating university in the world.

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Activists & Politicians

Barton, Chris

A picture book of lawyer, politician, and civil rights leader Barbara Jordan.

Bryant, Jen

A champion of equal rights who helped create a better future for all Americans, this biography of the first Asian American woman elected to Congress showed how she carved her own path to become a historic trailblazer.

Cocca-Leffler, Maryann

In the 1970s an important disability rights law, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, was waiting to be signed. Judy [Heumann] and other disability rights activists fought for YES! They held a sit-in until Section 504 was signed into law. Section 504--established thanks in large part to the ongoing work of Judy and her community--laid the foundation for the Americans with Disabilities Act."-- Front of book jacket.

Davids, Sharice

This inspiring picture book autobiography tells the remarkable story of Sharice Davids, one of the first Native American women elected to Congress and the first LGBTQ congressperson to represent Kansas.

Duncan, Alice Faye

The true story of Black activist Opal Lee and her vision of Juneteenth as a holiday for everyone will inspire children to be brave and make a difference. Growing up in Texas, Opal knew the history of Juneteenth, but she soon discovered that most Americans had never heard of the holiday that represents the nation's creed of "freedom for all."\

Ellison, Joy Michael

"Someday girls like us will be able to wear whatever we want. People will call us by the names we choose. They'll respect that we are women. The cops will leave us alone and no one will go hungry." Sylvia and Marsha are closer than sisters. They are kind and brave and not afraid to speak their truth, even when it makes other people angry. This illustrated book introduces children to the story of Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, the two transgender women of colour who helped kickstart the Stonewall Riots and dedicated their lives to fighting for LGBTQ+ equality. It introduces children to issues surrounding gender identity and diversity, accompanied by a reading guide and teaching materials to further the conversation.

Joy, Angela

The story of the mother of Emmett Till, and how she channeled grief over her son's death into a call to action for the civil rights movement.

Powell, Patricia Hruby

A picture book about the life of civil rights activist Ella Baker.

Rappaport, Doreen

A picturebook biography of Wilma Mankiller, the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation.

Robertson, Joanne

This is the story of a determined Ojibwe Grandmother (Nokomis) Josephine Mandamin and her great love for Nibi (Water). Nokomis walks to raise awareness of our need to protect Nibi for future generations, and for all life on the planet. She, along with other women, men, and youth, have walked around all of the Great Lakes from the four salt waters - or oceans - all the way to Lake Superior. The water walks are full of challenges, and by her example Josephine inspires and challenges us all to take up our responsibility to protect our water and our planet for all generations. Her story is a wonderful way to talk with children about the efforts that the Ojibwe and many other Indigenous peoples give to the protection of water - the giver of life.

Rockliff, Mara

A picture book biography about Georgia Gilmore, the woman whose cooking helped feed and fund the Montgomery bus boycott of 1956.

Stevens-Holsey, Rosita

Written in verse, this inspiring biography chronicles the life of a queer civil rights and women's rights activist who fought for many of the rights taken for granted today, working tirelessly for human rights and the dignity of life for all.

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Summaries provided by DPL's catalog unless otherwise noted. Click on each title to view more information.

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