Picture Books about Inspiring Women Throughout History
These children’s books about inspiring women will empower the reader to reach for their goals no matter the obstacles. They are perfect children’s books for women’s history month and promote resilience, perseverance, curiosity, courage and much more.
Reading about Inspiring Women
These picture books about inspiring women are just the tip of the iceberg. Remarkable women from all over the world are being celebrated in the pages of children’s books more and more.
The women in this list are from different time periods, races, cultures and economic backgrounds. Despite the barriers they faced, they showed resilience, determination, curiosity, knowledge, independence, and courage to face adversity, follow their dreams, and stand up for their beliefs.
If you are sharing books about inspiring women for International Women’s Day visit Classroom Resources for International Women’s Day for supplementary resources.
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Picture Books about Inspiring Women
Ada's Ideas: The Story of Ada Lovelace, the World's First Computer Programmer by Fiona Roberton
The Bird In Me Flies by Sara Lundberg
Berta Hansson grew up on a Swedish farm and dreams of being an artist. With her frail mother ill in bed with tuberculosis, she had to take on extra responsibilities. Her childhood builds a determination to follow her dreams to be an artist… “Because I have a bird inside me, that must fly where it will…”
This translated biography prompts discussions on believing in yourself, following your dreams, courage, and determination.
The Bluest of Blues by Fiona Robinson
A picture book biography of botanist and photographer Anna Atkins, the first person to publish a book of photography. Her scientist father raised Anna to be a scientist. Her interest grew in botany, along with the new science of photography. She created cyanotype photographs of plants and published her book Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions in 1843.
The Brontës: The Fantastically Feminist (and Totally True) Story of the Astonishing Authors by Anna Doherty
Code Breaker, Spy Hunter: How Elizebeth Friedman Changed the Course of Two World Wars by Laurie Wallmark
Elizebeth Smith Friedman changed code-breaking forever with her intelligence, analytical thinking and problem-solving skills. She established code-breaking techniques and strategies that help capture spies and break the most complex of codes during WWI and WWII.
Counting on Katherine by Helaine Becker
Emmeline Pankhurst by Lisbeth Kaiser
As a political activist, Emmeline Pankhurst dedicated her life to the fight for women’s equality. She organised the suffragette movement in the UK and was instrumental in women gaining the right to vote. The book includes a profile of Mrs. Pankhurst’s life accompanied by historical photos and a timeline.
The Girl Who Thought In Pictures by Julia Finley Mosca
Greta and the Giants: inspired by Greta Thunberg's stand to save the world by Zoë Tucker
Forest animals plea with Greta to save their home. Holding a ‘STOP’ sign, she faces the greedy giants who have plundered the environment. She is joined by others who hold the giants to account, prompting a positive change to the environment.
Harlem's Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills by Renée Watson
Florence Mills was born to former slaves and grew up in a “teeny-tiny, itsy-bitsy house” in Washington, D.C. Her voice captivated people from a young age, and she made her way to Broadway. She used her success to make a stand against intolerance and racism. Unfortunately, there are no recordings of Florence Mills’ voice.
Hedy Lamarr's Double Life by Laurie Wallmark
This is the second of two books about inspiring women by Lesa Cline-Ransome. This is the second of two books about inspiring women by Laurie Wallmark. Actress Hedy Lamarr was a brilliant inventor behind the movie screen. Her groundbreaking communications system is behind today’s Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth technology. This biography promotes women in STEM, problem solvers and technology.
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
I Could Do That!: Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote by Linda Arms White
I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has spent her life standing against injustice, inequality and unfair treatment. This biography promotes standing up for what is right, women’s rights, and equality.
Joni: The Lyrical Life of Joni Mitchell by Selina Alko
Born in Canada, Joni Mitchell expressed her creativity through music and painting as a child, despite suffering from polio. She sang her songs in Toronto and then moved to New York and then California. She inspired a generation with her deeply emotional and personal songs. Joni Mitchell wrote a famous song about Woodstock because she was unable to attend.
Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice by Nikki Grimes
Explore the story of the first woman, first Black person, and first South Asian American to become Vice President of the United States. Read how Kamala Harris’ immigrant parents instilled her with a passion for freedom and justice.
The Librarian of Basra by Jeanette Winter
Malala: Activist for Girls' Education by Raphaele Frier
Mary Wears What She Wants by Keith Negley
Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines by Jeanne Walker Harvey
The inspiring American artist-architect, Maya Lin, used her love of open spaces to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC. Maya Lin is an environmentalist who merges her work with the physical and psychological environment.
A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice by Jasmine A. Stirling
Learn about the life and struggles of the remarkable writer, Jane Austen. Growing up, poetry, books, debates, performances and songs surrounded her. The book illustrates her struggles as a female writer and her emotional challenges to continue her creative writing.
Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment by Parker Curry
Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré by Anika Aldamuy Denise
Pura Belpré journeys from Puerto Rico to America in 1921. Working as a librarian she discovered there were no books representing the Puerto Rican culture. She tells stories and then turned them into books before travelling the world to spread the stories of her homeland.
The Power of Her Pen: The Story of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne by Lesa Cline-Ransome
Ethel Payne fought for her education despite the adversity and racism she faced. After graduating in journalism, she wrote about segregation and racism, before becoming one of three black journalists to be issued a press page for the White House. She asked tough questions and was a vocal critic to those in power for their lack of action in the civil rights movement.
Razia's Ray of Hope: One Girl's Dream of an Education by Elizabeth Suneby
A new school opens in a small Afghan village. Razia has to convince her father and brothers that she should attend and follow her dreams of receiving an education. This book is based on true stories from the Zabuli Education Center for Girls.
Red Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala-Ša, Native American Author, Musician, and Activist by Gina Capaldi
Sadako by Eleanor Coerr
Based on a true story. Sadako suffered from leukaemia caused by radiation from the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima. She starts to make 1000 origami cranes, but she dies before completing her goal. Family and friends complete the remaining cranes for her. A statue of Sadako stands in Hiroshima, as a symbol of hope, surrounded by paper cranes.
Shark Lady by Jess Keating
Eugenie Clark, the Shark Lady, came across prejudice from people who thought women shouldn’t be scientists and who believed sharks were scary. She devoted her life to learning about sharks and sharing her discoveries about these beautiful animals.
She Made a Monster: How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein by Lynn Fultonv
Two hundred years ago, Mary Shelley created one of the most frightening monsters in literature. Her friend, Lord Byron, set Mary the challenge to write a ghost story. During a stormy night, she dreamt of a man who was actually a monster, and Frankenstein was born.
Simone De Beauvoir by Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara
Simone de Beauvoir was a philosopher, teacher, novelist, activist, feminist and, defender of human rights. As a child, her father encouraged her education so she could earn her own living and not have to rely on others. In 1949 her book, The Second Sex, was published and is regarded as a catalyst for the 20th century feminist movement.
The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed A City Forever by H. Joseph Hopkins
Over 100 years ago, Katherine Olivia Sessions started a movement to transform the desert town of San Diego into a garden-filled oasis. Today, her parks and garden can still be found all over this green city. This biography reflects on the ideas of following your dreams and staying strong in the face of adversity.
Yayoi Kusama Covered Everything in Dots and Wasn't Sorry by Fausto Gilberti
Yayoi Kusama dreams of becoming an artist as she grows up in Japan. She sees the world covered in dots and transfers this vision to her artwork, an infinity of dots.
Use this biography to discuss artists and how their background, culture, and identity inspire their creations.
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I love reading picture book biographies, particularly about remarkable women.
Do you have any favourite picture books about inspiring women? Let me know in the comments below. I would love to add more books to my collection.
Remember to use some of these children’s books for women’s history month. You can also find resources on the post Classroom Resources for International Women’s Day.