Inspiring students with picture books about inspiring women.

Empower and Educate: Inspiring Students with Picture Books About Inspiring Women

Whether you’re a teacher aiming to enhance your classroom discussions or a librarian looking to diversify your collection, these picture books about inspiring women offer a compelling way to explore the lives of women who have made history. They aren’t just stories; they’re catalysts for change designed to ignite ambition and courage in your students.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase anything through them, I will get a small referral fee and you will be supporting me and my blog at no extra cost to you, so thank you! You can find more information here.

Reading Picture Books about Inspiring Women

The narratives of strong female role models overcoming adversity and achieving their dreams can ignite ambition in your students. Witnessing the possibilities for their futures, they can foster a mindset of “if she can, I can too.” This is particularly impactful when using these books for International Women’s Day.

The picture books about inspiring women in this post can empower your students to reach for their dreams as they read about women who showed resilience, perseverance, curiosity, courage, and much more. 

celebrating women's history month 2

Why Picture Books About Inspiring Women Are a Must for Your Classroom

Picture books, filled with vivid illustrations and accessible text, are vibrant teaching tools that deliver a wealth of knowledge to your students in an engaging and digestible way.

Let’s dive deeper into why picture books about inspiring women are a transformative addition to your classroom and school library.

  • Picture books summarise complex stories and events into simplified, manageable narratives, focusing on key moments and characters.
  • They offer a contextual understanding of the era in which these women lived and the challenges they encountered.
  • Themes such as courage, resilience, and persistence are often woven into picture books, introducing these values alongside historical events and cultural norms.
  • Picture books forge a tangible connection between the students and the women.
  • Selecting books that mirror the interests and experiences of your students heightens engagement and connection.
  • Picture books about strong female role models develop a classroom culture that embraces open-mindedness and instils empathy by featuring inspiring women from diverse cultures, backgrounds, and lifestyles.
  • Picture books about inspiring women stimulate critical thinking skills, such as questioning, predicting, and critical analysis.
celebrating women's history month 3

Questions to Pair With Picture Books About Inspiring Women

The trials, triumphs, and journeys of these female role models can act as springboards for engaging classroom discussions. They offer a chance to explore historical events, societal issues, or personal development.

  • These questions will get your discussions started.
  • Which qualities or actions made the woman in the story inspiring?
  • How did she overcome the challenges she faced?
  • What can we learn from her journey and challenges?
  • How did the woman challenge societal norms or expectations?
  • In what ways does her story relate to your experiences or current events?
  • Would her journey have been different if she were a man? Why or why not?
  • How does the story inspire you to achieve your goals?
  • What historical events or societal issues are discussed in the story?
  • What would it be if you could ask the woman in the story a question?

Picture Books About Inspiring Women

Book List introThese picture books about inspiring women and strong female role models are just the tip of the iceberg.

I Am a Promise by Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s rise from a humble childhood in Jamaica to one of the most decorated Olympic sprinters inspires all. With determination and the unwavering support of her loved ones, Shelly-Ann earned multiple gold medals over her career. 

Shelly-Ann’s story serves as a reminder of the power of resilience, motivation, commitment and hard work.

Beatrix Potter's Countryside by Linda Elovitz Marshall

Beatrix Potter’s beloved Peter Rabbit books captivated generations of children and enabled her to make an incredible contribution to preserving the Lake District in England. With the profits from her book sales, Potter purchased 4,000 acres of countryside, which she dedicated to the National Trust.

Today, the beautiful landscape remains largely unspoiled, thanks to Potter’s determination to protect the area and her generous donation.

Before She Was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome

This is the first of two picture books for women’s history month by Lesa Cline-Ransome. Despite being born into slavery, Harriet Tubman devoted her life to fighting for freedom and equality. The book highlights Harriet’s many roles – as a conductor of the Underground Railroad, a nurse, a suffragist, and a spy, among others.

Before She Was Harriet explores courage, perseverance, social justice, and how a single person cab bring about change. The book inspires discussions of historical issues like slavery, civil rights, and the role of women in societal changes.

The Bird Within Me by Sara Lundberg

Berta Hansson knew she was always destined for a life of art, despite taking on extra responsibilities due to her mother’s illness. Growing up on a Swedish farm, she faced challenges that would have broken many, yet, she was determined to fly “because I have a bird inside me that must fly where it will…” 

Hansson’s story is a reminder that anything is possible with grit, determination, resilience and belief in oneself. 

Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli by Kyo Maclear

Growing up with parents disapproving of her looks, Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli became a passionate advocate of unconventional beauty. She collaborated with the surrealist art movement and created daring designs. 

Elsa made a name for herself as a designer with an imaginative and unique style. Elsa showed resilience and courage and achieved remarkable things against all odds.

The Bluest of Blues by Fiona Robinson

Anna Atkins was a pioneering British botanist and photographer who left an indelible mark on science and art as the first person ever to publish a book using photography. 

Raised by her father to be a scientist, Anna’s interest in botany was complemented by her fascination with the emerging field of photography. Her resulting cyanotype photographs of plants were collated and published as Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions in 1843.

The Brontës: Children of the Moors by Mick Manning

In a daring move, Charlotte Brontë and her two sisters chose to use male pseudonyms to be published, and their success broke new boundaries for women. Accompanied by quotes, facts, and Emily’s poems, this biography offers insight into the obstacles they faced and how they overcame adversity with resilience and courage.

Chef Edna: Queen of Southern Cooking, Edna Lewis by Melvina Noel

Edna was a chef, a trailblazer, and the “Queen of Southern Cooking”. She came from a small town called Freetown, Virginia, and she changed the world of cooking. She taught America how to make delicious dishes like Hot Buttered Biscuits, Fried Chicken, and Peach Cobbler. She became the first African American cookbook author published by a mainstream publishing house. 

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy

Throughout her lifetime, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an unwavering advocate for justice, equality and ending unfair treatment.

This inspiring biography details her remarkable journey in standing up for what is right, championing women’s rights, and tirelessly striving for equality. Ginsburg demonstrates how one person can make significant differences through her example.

Dorothea's Eyes: Dorothea Lange Photographs the Truth by Barb Rosenstock

Dorothea Lange’s struggles with childhood polio could have been a limitation – but instead, it sparked her curiosity and observational skills, leading her to pursue her passion for photography. 

Best known for her powerful images capturing the plight of the forgotten victims of the Great Depression, Lange’s story allows discussions on overcoming adversity, gender roles, prejudice, curiosity, perseverance, empathy, and poverty.