March is Women’s History Month, and books are a great way to teach kids of all ages about inspirational female historical figures.
“This diverse list of books for children and teens is all about persistent women,” said Cindy Welch, associate director of UT’s Center for Children’s and Young Adult Literature. “It’s fascinating to see the look on a child’s face when they realize the person they’re reading about it is real.”
Grab a book and celebrate women’s achievements throughout the years.
Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark, illustrated by April Chu. Poet Lord Byron’s daughter, Ada, loved math and was good at it. Her work with algorithms helped Charles Babbage create the first version of what has come to be our modern computer.
Dolores Huerta: A Hero to Migrant Workers by Sarah Warren, illustrated by Robert Casilla. Dolorest Huerta went from being a teacher and mother to a fierce fighter for migrant worker rights in the 1950s.
Here Come the Girl Scouts! The Amazing All-True Story of Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low and Her Great Adventure by Shana Corey, illustrated by Hadley Hooper. When Daisy learned about the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides in England, she was determined to bring the idea back to America.
Mumbet’s Declaration of Independence by Gretchen Woelfle, illustrated by Alix Delinois. Massachusetts declared slavery to be illegal in 1783, largely as a result of the lawsuit brought by a female slave known as Mumbet (later Elizabeth Freeman).
Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone. In 1960, 13 women started astronaut training and did better than some of their male counterparts. They never made it into space, but they set the bar for women like Sally Ride and Mae Jemison.
I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World by Malala Yousafzai as told to Patricia McCormick. This is the young readers’ edition of Malala Yousafzai’s memoir about her fight to become educated despite Taliban restrictions.
Rad American Women A–Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries who Shaped History and Our Future! by Kat Schatz, illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl. An unusual ABC book that profiles women as diverse as Angela Davis and Carol Burnett.
Wild Women of the Wild West by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Susan Guevara. We know about Calamity Jane and Annie Oakley, but there were plenty of feisty ethnically diverse women making their way out West in the mid-1800s.
A Woman in the House and Senate: How Women Came to the United States Congress, Broke Down Barriers, and Changed the Country by Ilene Cooper, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley. Jeannette Rankin was the first, in 1916, and paved the way for powerful women like Shirley Chisholm, Geraldine Ferraro, and Elizabeth Warren.
Cleopatra Rules! The Original Amazing Life of the Original Teen Queen by Vicky Shecter. A well-researched and slangy contemporary take on the life and family of a truly amazing teen.
The Girls of the Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan. From secretaries to statisticians, women played an important role in the work being done in Tennessee’s Secret City in the 1940s.
Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (with a Few Flat Tires Along the Way) by Sue Macy. Bicycles are more than just a way to get around, they helped women enlarge their world, change the way they dressed and feel free.
Grades 9 and up
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Henrietta was a poor southern black woman who died of cervical cancer in 1951, but her tissue samples – taken without her permission or knowledge—have been central to medical breakthroughs made since that time.
The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist by Margarita Engle. Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda was a poet and rebel, and Engle shares her biography in verse.
Snow Falling in Spring: Coming of Age in China During the Cultural Revolution by Moying Li-Marcus. The author shares her life during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, when fear and governmental aggression were the norm and no one was safe.
Feminine Ingenuity: How Women Inventors Changed America by Anne L. MacDonald. From antibiotics to windshield wipers, women have been instrumental in inventing or improving things.
Tyra Haag (865-974-5460, email@example.com)