Stories featuring female protagonists are important for children of any gender to read year-round, but there is a particular power in reading the stories of real people overcoming real odds to make change in the world. Not just the girls and women who came before us, but those who are alive and fighting now for the world they want to see.
This month, the Youth Services Department would like to spotlight these books in our collection featuring the women who paved the way and brought about real change:
Brave, black, first : 50+ African American women who changed the world by Cheryl Willis Hudson and Erin K. Robinson
Harriet Tubman guided the way.
Rosa Parks sat for equality.
Aretha Franklin sang from the soul.
Serena Williams bested the competition.
Michelle Obama transformed the White House.
Black women everywhere have changed the world!
Published in partnership with curators from Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, this illustrated biography compilation captures the iconic moments of fifty African American women whose heroism and bravery rewrote the American story for the better.
Buffalo Bird Girl : a Hidatsa story by S.D. Nelson
This fascinating picture book biography tells the childhood story of Buffalo Bird Woman–a Hidatsa Indian born around 1839. Through her true story, readers learn what it was like to be part of this Native American community, which lived along the Missouri River in the Dakotas, a society that depended on agriculture for food and survival rather than hunting. Using original artwork and archival photographs, award-winning author/illustrator S. D. Nelson has captured the spirit of Buffalo Bird Girl and her lost way of life. The book includes a bibliography and an index, as well as an author’s note and timeline of events.
Contains one hundred biographies of immigrant women who left their birth countries for a multitude of reasons: some for new opportunities, some out of necessity. Readers will learn about Madeleine Albright, Asma Khan, Carmen Miranda, Rihanna, and many more. From chefs and surgeons, to musicians and politicians, to champions of judo and chess, these extraordinary figures will inspire girls everywhere to follow their dreams, no matter where they lead.
Josephine : the dazzling life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson
A portrait of the passionate performer and civil rights advocate Josephine Baker, the woman who worked her way from the slums of St. Louis to the grandest stages in the world. Meticulously researched by both author and artist, Josephine’s powerful story of struggle and triumph is an inspiration and a spectacle, just like the legend herself.
Kamala Harris : rooted in justice by Nikki Grimes and Laura Freeman
Discover the incredible story of a young daughter of immigrants who would grow up to be the first woman, first Black person, and first South Asian American ever elected Vice President of the United States in this moving picture book biography of Kamala Harris.
Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai and Kerascoët
Malala’s first picture book will inspire young readers everywhere to find the magic all around them. As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil. She would use it to make everyone happy, to erase the smell of garbage from her city, to sleep an extra hour in the morning. But as she grew older, Malala saw that there were more important things to wish for. She saw a world that needed fixing. And even if she never found a magic pencil, Malala realized that she could still work hard every day to make her wishes come true.
My Rainbow by Trinity and DeShanna Neal and Art Twink
A dedicated mom puts love into action as she creates the perfect rainbow-colored wig for her transgender daughter, based on the real-life experience of mother-daughter advocate duo Trinity and DeShanna Neal.
Sky high : the true story of Maggie Gee by Marissa Moss and Carl Angel
Young Maggie Gee became one of only two Chinese American Women Airforce Service Pilots to serve in WWII.
Based on the true adventures of a girl not bound by gravity, Marissa Moss’s stirring story and Carl Angel’s brilliant illustrations depict what determination, bravery, and boundless possibilities look like when dreams are allowed to soar sky high.
Sonia Sotomayor : a judge grows in the Bronx = la juez que crecio en el Bronx by Jonah Winter and Edel Rodriguez
The inspiring and timely story of Sonia Sotomayor, who rose up from a childhood of poverty and prejudice to become the first Latino to be nominated to the US Supreme Court.
Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales
Frida Kahlo, one of the world’s most famous and unusual artists is revered around the world. Her life was filled with laughter, love, and tragedy, all of which influenced what she painted on her canvases. Distinguished author/illustrator Yuyi Morales illuminates Frida’s life and work in this elegant and fascinating book.
This is just a small sampling of the amazing books out there on women in history. If you’d like more recommendations, Social Justice Books has a list featuring a different book for each day of the month. Are there any books you feel should be on the list or historical women you’d love to learn more about? Let us know!
If you know a rebel girl or non-binary youth looking for ways to express themselves and connect with other strong, like-minded people, tell them join the Rebel Girl Journaling Sessions to celebrate Women’s History Month as well as themselves. The Youth Services Department has free printed copies of I Am A Rebel Girl: A Journal To Start Revolutions available. Once you register, we will contact you to let you know when your kit is ready for pick up.
We meet every Friday in March–you can come to any and all sessions and it’s not necessary to have the journal or attend all the meetings to participate.
Sign up: Session 1, Session 2, Session 3, and Session 4.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.