While adding our new Women's History Curriculum to RAL we of course had to supplement with some great books! Here are our top picks for this month!

Our Top Pick Children’s Books for Women’s History Month

Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World

This is a collection of visionary women from around the world. The author chose to use the word visionary because these women saw visions that others didn’t. Each of the thirty-six women featured has a page summary about their life and a gorgeous picture to match. 

Full Review Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World | Raising A Legacy

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Amelia to Zora: Twenty-Six Women Who Changed the World

Amelia to Zora is full of twenty-six inspiring biographies of women around the world in alphabetical order, one for each letter of the alphabet. Each woman has a page dedicated to them with a bio, beautiful picture, and one of their quotes. The author chose to pick contemporary women to make them more relatable to children and half of them were alive at the time of publication. She alphabetized the names by their first name because family names are often from the male side of the family. 

Full Review Amelia to Zora | Raising A Legacy

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So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth’s Long Walk Toward Freedom

This book is very deep and touches on the wounds and pains of slavery. It leaves the reader with lots of emotions. The author doesn’t try to sugarcoat the horrors of slavery. It tells Sojourner’s life: from being sold from her mother, having to see her own kids sold, and leaving the man who enslaved her to fighting for civil rights and the right to vote. As the cover shows, it portrays her in words and illustrations always tall metaphorically showing her strength. 

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Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: Immigrants

This book contains 100 immigrants who changed the world. They represent all aspects of life from science, politics, art, fashion, and everything in between. Each one is a page long, details the girl’s life from childhood to adulthood, and is accompanied by a picture. I especially like how they include their lasting impact and everyone leaves you inspired for the future. What makes this book superior to traditional biographies is how the stories are written. Many start with “Once upon a time….” reminiscent of the fairy tales so often read to children. This is the perfect replacement for that and each story is short enough that you can read a little each night before bed!

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She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story

I love this biography of Effa Manley for many reasons. One it tells a beautiful story about someone’s passion and how they used that to make a change in the world. Second, we see lots of books on discrimination faced in buses and lunch counters. This book let’s us know how people have been and still are fighting discrimination in all aspects of life. Lastly, this is an important reminder that segregation was not solely in the south and happens in all areas of America.

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Tallchief: America’s Prima Ballerina

Maria Tallchief was the first Native American prima ballerina. This is her children’s autobiography. It talks about the battles she faced growing up and her accomplishments in the ballet world and beyond. The painted illustrations pair well with such an inspiring story about a true hero!

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Mary Wears What She Wants  

Mary Wears What She Wants is about the military veteran, doctor, and women’s activist Mary Walker.  It tells the fictional story of young Mary who decided that she wanted to wear pants, which was unheard of for women at the time. People taunted her and told her she was wearing boy clothes and was worried about what the reaction of her classmates would be when she went to school. To her surprise, when she walked in everyone was wearing pants too!  This book is written for younger audiences. It touches lightly on the subject of gender norms.  Detailing it simply by showing that Mary should get to wear what she wants and by the end you are rooting for her to do just that!

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Yayoi Kusama: From Here to Infinity

Yayoi Kusama was born in Japan. She started producing art when she was young and went against the many norms of what a woman and artist should be. To expand her craft she moved to New York when she was twenty-eight. Yayoi spent every day painting and quickly became known for her unique style and her dots. As a child, she had dreams of dots that covered the world which is translated in many of her works of art. Her distinctive style of art is quickly recognizable and appreciated around the world for its uniqueness and creativity.

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Before She Was Harriet

Before She Was Harriet could have been written as a biography about Harriet Tubman but instead was written as an ode to the strength and courage of a hero. And, that makes it incredibly powerful. The story traces her life from an old woman to a child and everything in between. We see Harriet as a suffragist, General, spy, nurse, Aunt, Moses, conductor, Minty, and Araminta. I appreciate how it doesn’t just focus on her life as a conductor of the Underground Railroad, but includes the great work she continued to do after that moment. I would readily replace a generic Harriet Tubman biography with this book.

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For the Right to Learn: Malala Yousafzai’s Story 

For the Right to Learn is a biography about Malala Yousafzai. This story shows how brave and resilient she is. In the face of everything that was happening she maintained her right for girls to go to school. I appreciate how it always shows other school friends fighting against what was happening showing she was not a lone figure and many others were important in the fight. The author is able to tell the story and include lots of facts, but still remain child-friendly.

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Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines

Maya Lin entered a contest to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in college and her submission was picked out of 1,421 other entries. When her age and gender were revealed many people had objections, but eventually the design was approved. This is her story from childhood up to the creation of the Memorial. The illustrations pay tribute to the style of Maya’s art.

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Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909

Brave Girl is inspired by the life of Clara Lemlich. Clara immigrated to New York City with her family from Ukraine and became instrumental in the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike. This book focuses on the courage of Clara and the other women garment workers. There are many instances throughout the book that point to the fact that the girls, who are primarily teenagers and adolescents, should be in school reiterating how young they are. Despite this, they still make an impact.

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Sonia Sotomayor: a judge grows in the Bronx

Sonia Sotomayor: a judge grows in the Bronx is a detailed biography of Sonia Sotomayor who became the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice. Throughout the book, there are allusions to Sonia being like a flower. If you give the flower the right conditions it will blossom just as she did. I love how it makes this association. This suggests that everyone can be great if they are given the right opportunities and guidance.

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Finish the Fight

This book is for a little older audience, but an important history of women’s suffrage through the lenses of Women of Color. It begins with showing some of the suffragists you may have learned about….Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott…and then lets you know there are so many more! Finish the Fight is about the women you were not told about. More specifically about the WOC that have been left out of the history books but were equally influential in the fight. It covers the matriarchal society of the Haudenosaunee that played a strong role in the origination of women’s suffrage, the abolishment of slavery, and African American men’s right to vote in contexts to the women’s movement, and biographies of WOC that shape voting rights for women. This book is colorful designed and engaging but gives the feel of a textbook solely because of the amount of information included. It needs to have a permanent place in the required reading for middle-grade readers.

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