March is Women’s History Month, a time dedicated to the observance and celebration of the vital role of women in history―both past and present. In every scientific and humanitarian field, there have been women who have changed the world. Whether it is chemistry, journalism, politics, or civil rights, women have left their mark on all of our lives.
To honor their persistence, bravery, and compassion, we have gathered a list of titles which highlight our history’s female legacy. Please feel free to share these stories with family and friends and any woman, young or old, who has inspired you to reach higher, go farther, and dream bigger.
“Isabella Bird was like a wild vine stuck in a too-small pot. She needed more room. She had to get out. She had to explore.” This dashing picture book biography about the first female member of the Royal Geographical Society takes readers around the world with a daring nineteenth-century female explorer and bestselling author. Author Lori Mortensen even included quotes from Bird’s books sprinkled throughout the story! Check out the book trailer. For ideas of how to use the book in the classroom, check out the teacher’s guide.
The Life and Times of Jane Addams, Crusader for Peace
Written by Suzanne Slade
Illustrated by Alice Ratterree
This energetic and inspiring picture book biography of activist Jane Addams focuses on the peace work that won her the Nobel Peace Prize. From the time she was a child, Jane’s heart ached for others. At first the focus of her efforts was on poverty, and lead to the creation of Hull House, the settlement house she built in Chicago. For twenty-five years, she’d helped people from different countries live in peace at Hull House. But when war broke out, Jane decided to take on the world and become a dangerous woman for the sake of peace. Read an excerpt here. Also check out the teacher’s guide, download the poster, and print your own #BeDangerous stickers for inspiration!
This book tells the true story of Nellie Bly, a courageous newspaper reporter for the New York World, who decided to circle the globe in 1889 in less than eighty days. Equipped only with one sturdy travel dress and a small satchel, she has all kinds of incredible experiences―from surviving a monsoon at sea to visiting a leper colony in China. Bly’s indomitable spirit and love of adventure will inspire a new generation of young readers to defy the odds and attempt to do what many believe cannot be done.
Mind Your Manners, Alice Roosevelt!
Written by Leslie Kimmelman
Illustrated by Adam Gustavson
Alice Roosevelt was an independent, outspoken young woman during a time when women were supposed to be quiet and reserved. She flew in the face of convention at every turn, from riding a pig and keeping a pet snake to speeding through town in a new car. Her free-spirited antics, and rapier wit, drew the eyes and ears of the nation, inspiring many of its citizens to question their own definitions of womanhood.
Marching with Aunt Susan
Susan B. Anthony and the Fight for Women’s Suffrage
Written by Claire Rudolf Murphy
Illustrated by Stacey Schuett
Based on the experiences of a real ten year old girl, this title centers around Bessie a young woman who just wants to go hiking with her father and brothers. But it’s 1896, and girls don’t get to hike. Not only that, but they don’t get to vote either. So when Susan B. Anthony comes to town to lead a campaign for women’s suffrage, Bessie is stirred to action. Upon joining the movement, she discovers that small efforts can result in small changes—and maybe even big ones. Check out the teacher’s guide for ideas of how to use this book in the classroom.
Thanks to Frances Perkins
Fighter for Workers’ Rights
Written by Deborah Hopkinson
Illustrated by Kristy Caldwell
After Frances Perkins witnessed the Triangle Waist Factory fire in 1911, she was forever changed. Frances decided to work to bring about new laws that would force employers to treat people better and make workplaces safer. When she became Secretary of Labor in Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s administration—the first woman cabinet member—Frances had the opportunity to make real her bold vision of Social Security and a country where no one was left out. Check out the teacher’s guide, author Q&A, and illustrator Q&A for further discussion.
Despite the Emancipation Proclamation, the stench of slavery still lingered over America in the late 19th century. Blessed with a strong will, an eager mind, and a deep belief in America’s promise of “freedom and justice for all,” journalist Ida B. Wells used her position as a platform to speak for justice and civil rights. For ideas of how to use this book in the classroom, check out the teacher’s guide.
In this dramatic memoir of early-twentieth century immigration, Li Keng Wong shares her family’s journey from rural China to a new life in California. Hunger, poverty, police raids, frequent moves, and the occasional sting of racism were a part of everyday life, but slowly Li Keng and her family found stability and a true home in “Gold Mountain.” Read an excerpt here.
This inspiring story of little-known civil rights champion Oscar Chapman and his role in Marian Anderson’s concert at the Lincoln Memorial reminds readers that one person can truly make a difference.
Rappoport showcases a dozen of the twentieth century’s greatest female athletes in this particular title. Each profile highlights the lasting impact of women not only on their sport but on society as well, challenging popular misconceptions about women and sports. Read an excerpt here.
Based on almost 200 previously unpublished letters and extensive interviews with their closest associates, Walker’s biography of Margaret Mitchell and her husband, John Marsh, offers a new look into a devoted marriage and fascinating partnership that ultimately created a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. From years of meticulous research, Marianne Walker details the intimate and moving love story between a husband and wife, and between a writer and her editor. Read an excerpt here.