There are so many WONDERFUL books celebrating women who have changed the world. Here are some of our favorites. Many of the books below have read aloud links to YouTube.
This is book one of a three book series by Chelsea Clinton. In this first book you learn the stories of 13 American women who persisted and changed the world. This book includes the stories of: “Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Clara Lemlich, Nellie Bly, Virginia Apgar, Maria Tallchief, Claudette Colvin, Ruby Bridges, Margaret Chase Smith, Sally Ride, Florence Griffith Joyner, Oprah Winfrey, Sonia Sotomayor”. This book is a wonderful collection of inspirational stories and would be perfect to share with children ages 5 and up.
The Ordinary People Change the World books by Brad Meltzer are well LOVED in our house. I think my daughter has almost every one of them and reads them all the time. I love them because they show that famous people who have changed the world are still people after all. Most have have had to overcome a lot of adversity and challenges to make change happen. Brad Meltzer makes the world of biographies so much fun and the illustrations by Christoper Eliopoulos are wonderful. They always hide the next famous person they are planning to write a biography for at the end of the book and it so much fun to hunt for them. This series has books about lots of famous women like: Sonia Sotomayor, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Billie Jean King, Jane Goodall, Anne Frank, Marie Curie, Sacagawea, Lucille Ball and Amelia Earhart. Frida Kahlo and Oprah Winfrey books are coming soon. Ages 5 and up
This book is the children’s biography of one of my heroes. Rachel Carson wrote a book in the early 60’s, called Silent Spring. This book alerted the world to the harmful effects of DDT and other pesticides that they were using and started an environmental movement. This book is the story of her life and how she came to write that important book . I would recommend this book for ages 6 and up.
This book, written by Malala Yousafzai, is an autobiographical story of her life done for young children. The story begins with Malala watching a show about a boy with a magic pencil and all he does with it. She then takes this idea of a magic pencil and shares all of the wonderful things she would do if she had one. The story tells, in a gentle manor, the story of how Malala took her own real life pencil and became a voice that stood up for herself and others in her home of Pakistan. This book is recommended for grades 3 and up.
Hidden Figures (both book and movie) are a favorite in this house. This beautiful picture book is a wonderful overview of the lives of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden and how they helped to launch a man into space. In a time of segregation and gender inequality, these four women of color showed that their genius minds were of great value to the space program. The read aloud link below is read by Laura Freeman, who is the illustrator of this book! This book is recommended for ages 4 and up.
This is the story of Maya Lin, who designed the famous Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC. Maya Lin was a senior in college when she submitted her design for the memorial. There were 1,421 entries into the contest and many objected to her winning the contest because of her age and inexperience. This story shares her childhood, all that inspired her to become an artist and architect, the story of how she envisioned the memorial and her bravery to stand up for herself when people objected to her design being the winner. This book would be great for ages 5 and up.
My children love this beautiful book about Jane Goodall’s life. We would recommend it for children ages 4 and up. From the publisher: “Acclaimed picture book biographer Jeanette Winter has found her perfect subject: Jane Goodall, the great observer of chimpanzees. Follow Jane from her childhood in London watching a robin on her windowsill, to her years in the African forests of Gombe, Tanzania, invited by brilliant scientist Louis Leakey to observe chimps, to her worldwide crusade to save these primates who are now in danger of extinction, and their habitat. Young animal lovers and Winter’s many fans will welcome this fascinating and moving portrait of an extraordinary person and the animals to whom she has dedicated her life.”
This is the story of tennis stars and sisters, Venus and Serena Williams. This book shares their life story, their bond and the dedication and hard work they had to put in to make their dream a reality. The book is illustrated in beautiful collages. This is a longer picture book and we’d recommend it for children ages 5 and up.
From the publisher: “The Cambodian Dancer, a Cambodian book for children, is the true story of a Cambodian refugee — a dancer and teacher — who built a life in the U.S. after fleeing the Killing Fields of the Khmer Rouge. She then became a counselor to other Cambodian refugees and created a school of dance for children. Her gift of hope was to teach children in the Cambodian community the traditional dances of their country, so young people growing up far away from the land of their ancestors would know about Cambodian culture and customs. Through straightforward language and colorful illustrations, this multicultural children’s story communicates to children a sense of the joy, sadness, injustice, and triumph that lives on in young Cambodian Americans. It shows that it is possible to overcome great hardship and that a single decision can do much to heal oneself and others. This touching multicultural children’s book brings a message of positivity to a true story of human hope and resilience.” This book is for ages 4 and up.
From the publisher: “Sylvia Earle first lost her heart to the ocean as a young girl when she discovered the wonders of the Gulf of Mexico in her backyard. As an adult, she dives even deeper. Whether she’s designing submersibles, swimming with the whales, or taking deep-water walks, Sylvia Earle has dedicated her life to learning more about what she calls “the blue heart of the planet.” With stunningly detailed pictures of the wonders of the sea, Life in the Ocean tells the story of Sylvia’s growing passion and how her ocean exploration and advocacy have made her known around the world. This picture book biography also includes an informative author’s note that will motivate young environmentalists.” This book is for ages 5 and up.
I use to read this book every February in my 2nd and 3rd grade class. It is a wonderful story of Rosa Parks life and how her one courageous act started a civil rights movement. This book would be great to share with children ages 6 and up. There is a lot of information in this book and it is a great springboard to a rich conversation about segregation and prejudice. I am a strong believer that a good picture book can be used for children in ANY grade (even high school) and I believe that this is one of them.
From the publisher: “This stunning picture book is the perfect gift for art enthusiasts of all ages. When her mother was worn out from caring for her five sisters, her father gave her lessons in brushwork and color. When polio kept her bedridden for nine months, drawing saved her from boredom. When a bus accident left her in unimaginable agony, her paintings expressed her pain and depression – and eventually, her joys and her loves. Over and over again, Frida Kahlo turned the challenges of her life into art. Now Jonah Winter and Ana Juan have drawn on both the art and the life to create a playful, insightful tribute to one of the twentieth century’s most influential artists. Viva Frida!” This book is for ages 4 and up.
From the publisher: “As a child in Oklahoma, Wilma Mankiller experienced the Cherokee practice of Gadugi, helping each other, even when times were hard for everyone. But in 1956, the federal government uprooted her family and moved them to California, wrenching them from their home, friends, and traditions. Separated from her community and everything she knew, Wilma felt utterly lost until she found refuge in the Indian Center in San Francisco. There, she worked to build and develop the local Native community and championed Native political activists. She took her two children to visit tribal communities in the state, and as she introduced them to the traditions of their heritage, she felt a longing for home.
Returning to Oklahoma with her daughters, Wilma took part in Cherokee government. Despite many obstacles, from resistance to female leadership to a life-threatening accident, Wilma’s courageous dedication to serving her people led to her election as the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation. As leader and advocate, she reinvigorated her constituency by empowering them to identify and solve community problems.
This beautiful addition to the Big Words series will inspire future leaders to persevere in empathy and thoughtful problem-solving, reaching beyond themselves to help those around them. Moving prose by award-winning author Doreen Rappaport is interwoven with Wilma’s own words in this expertly researched biography, illustrated with warmth and vivacity by Linda Kukuk.” This book is recommended for ages 4 and up.
The Little People, Big Dreams biographical series has over 60 books. Some of the notable women are Anne Frank, Michelle Obama, Greta Thunberg, Aretha Franklin, Mother Theresa, Coco Chanel, Dolly Parton, Zaha Hadid and many more. These books are meant for young readers and great for ages 4 and up. From the publisher: “Anne Frank was born in Germany to a loving family. But when World War II broke out, Anne and her family had to hide in a secret annex in Amsterdam. Here, Anne wrote her famous diary, describing her belief in people’s goodness and her hopes for peace. After the war, her diary captured the hearts of the public and she became one of the most important diarists of the 20th century. This moving book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of Anne’s life.”
The Tree Lady by H Joseph Hopkins tells the true story of Katherine Olivia Sessions and her love of nature and trees. Katherine grew up in the late 1800s and was the first woman to graduate form the University of California with a degree in science! Taking a job in San Diego, she could not believe the barren landscape. She followed her heart and dreams and led a movement that transformed the city into the lush place it is today. This book would be great for ages 5 and up.
This beautiful picture book tells the story of how Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life. Ruth was a trailblazer for much of her life as she worked hard to make sure that all people were represented fairly. I love the lesson at the end of the book that says just because you disagree with someone, does not mean you are disagreeable and can’t be friends. I’d recommend this book for children ages 5 and up.
From the publisher: “Eugenie Clark fell in love with sharks from the first moment she saw them at the aquarium. She couldn’t imagine anything more exciting than studying these graceful creatures. But Eugenie quickly discovered that many people believed sharks to be ugly and scary—and they didn’t think women should be scientists.
Determined to prove them wrong, Eugenie devoted her life to learning about sharks. After earning several college degrees and making countless discoveries, Eugenie wrote herself into the history of science, earning the nickname “Shark Lady.” Through her accomplishments, she taught the world that sharks were to be admired rather than feared and that women can do anything they set their minds to.
An inspiring story by critically acclaimed zoologist Jess Keating about finding the strength to discover truths that others aren’t daring enough to see. Includes a timeline of Eugenie’s life and many fin-tastic shark facts!”
My children love this book! They love reading all of the fun facts about the first ladies and their families. This book is recommended for age 5 and up.
From the Publisher: For every president, there has been a first lady, sometimes two. Who were these women? How has the job of First Lady (unpaid and unelected) changed over time? The Smart About format proves just right for covering history in an easy, appealing way.
This is the second book of a three book series from Vashti Harrison. This book features inspiring stories from 35 creative women around the world. Stories include: (from the publisher) “Mary Blair, an American modernist painter who had a major influence on how color was used in early animated films, actor/inventor Hedy Lamarr, environmental activist Wangari Maathai, architect Zaha Hadid, filmmaker Maya Deren, and physicist Chien-Shiung Wu. Some names are known, some are not, but all of the women had a lasting effect on the fields they worked in.” This book is recommended for ages 8 and up.
From the publisher: “Kate Pankhurst, descendent of Emmeline Pankhurst, has created this wildly wonderful and accessible book about women who really changed the world. Discover fascinating facts about some of the most amazing women who changed the world we live in. Fly through the sky with the incredible explorer Amelia Earhart, and read all about the Wonderful Adventures of Mary Seacole with this fantastic full colour book. Bursting full of beautiful illustrations and astounding facts, Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World is the perfect introduction to just a few of the most incredible women who helped shaped the world we live in. List of women featured: Jane Austen, Gertrude Ederle, Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo, Marie Curie, Mary Anning, Mary Seacole, Amelia Earhart, Agent Fifi, Sacagawa, Emmeline Pankhurst, Rosa Parks, Anne Frank”
This is the story of 15 black women who made big advancements in science. This book includes inspiring biographies of astronaut Mae Jemison, mathematician Katherine Johnson, cancer researcher Dr.Jane C. Wright and 12 others. This book is recommended for ages 9 and up.
From the publisher: “Throughout history, Black women have blazed trails across the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Black Women in Science brings something special to black history books for kids, celebrating incredible Black women in STEM who have used their brains, bravery, and ambition to beat the odds.”