Find amazing picture book biographies as well as chapter and middle-grade biographies for kids about famous women for Women’s History Month in March! (Or anytime.) This book list of children’s books will help kids learn about many amazing women, inspiring big dreams of their own.
American presidents have proclaimed March the official month for Women’s History in the United States starting in 1987 with only a previous full week of celebration. The monthly commemoration seeks to recognize the women who have contributed to culture, society, and history.
Around the world, International Women’s Day is an important reminder to remember to keep advocating for the rights of women who are denied health care, education, and other basic human rights.
These books will introduce your kids to amazing women from history and modern times who are (or were) scientists, activists, athletes, dancers, writers, and more. Some became famous, many did not. But, they all contributed to the betterment of the world in some way.
Children’s Books Biographies for Women’s History Month
Women in STEM
The Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom by Teresa Robeson, illustrated by Rebecca Huang Gorgeous collage-style artwork helps the author share female scientist, Wu Chien Shiung’s, inspiring life with young readers.Chien loved learning, especially math and physics. After moving to the United States, she made significant scientific breakthroughs and fought for equal rights, becoming a renowned physicist dubbed “The Queen of Physics.” Very inspiring for young girls.
Counting the Stars: The Story of Katherine Johnson NASA Mathematician by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by Raul Colon You can’t help but be inspired by Katherine’s life story. Katherine, after zipping through her schooling early because she is so smart, finds a job as a teacher. But she’s most well known for her next job as a human calculator for NASA’s space program, helping the first American travel to space.
The Stuff Between the Stars How Vera Rubin Discovered Most of the Universe by Sandra Nickel, illustrated by Amee Sicuro Vera Rubin was an inspiring female pioneer in astronomy who persevered to make huge discoveries that she wasn’t credited for but she didn’t love science because of the accolades. She continued to pursue her questions about the universe and to mentor others.
Breaking Through the Clouds by Sandra Nickel, illustrated by Helena Perez Garcia Great writing shares the fascinating life story of a woman whose stubbornness helped her break all sorts of barriers to study clouds in a male-dominated field.
Wood, Wire, Wings Emma Lilian Todd Invents an Airplane by Kirsten W. Larson, illustrated by Tracy Subisak Here’s another lovely biography about female airplane inventor and engineer, Lilian Todd. Lilian followed her passion and curiosity with persistence to figure out how to make an aircraft. She persisted and failed but eventually designed a successful airplane.
Out of School and Into Nature the Anna Comstock Story by Suzanne Slade Anna didn’t follow the typical female path of her time which was getting married. Instead, she studied insects, drew them in detailed pictures, studied them under a microscope, and wrote books about them. When she realized that schools weren’t teaching children about the natural world, she wrote lessons about nature for children. Not only that, she encouraged teachers to take their students outside to experience the beauty of nature.
Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell by Tanya Lee Stone Despite growing up in a time when women were not viewed as equal to men, Elizabeth studied and worked hard to become the first woman doctor. She showed the world that women were just as smart and capable as men– and can be doctors, too. Elizabeth Blackwell became not just famous but a hero to many women who would follow her footsteps. A perfect choice for Women’s History Month!
The Story of Environmentalist Wangari Maathaiby Jen Johnson, illustrated by Wellington Sadler (ages 7 – 10) A narrative biography chapter book is about a woman named Wangari who studied biology in her native Kenya and later in the United States who started a tree planting movement. Facing lots of opposition, Wangari was arrested and jailed. Once released, she continued her work of planting trees and eventually won the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Girl Who Drew Butterflies How Maria Marian’s Art Changed Science by Joyce Sidman (ages 8 – 12) A detailed and thorough biography written for ages 10+, this book starts with Maria’s childhood and continues to her adult life including detailed illustrations and photographs of her actual drawings. Maria’s dogged passion for the natural world, insects, in particular, led to being one of the first naturalists to document a butterfly’s metamorphosis.
Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science by Jeannine Atkins (ages 8 – 12) Three women’s lives, Maria Merian, Mary Anning, and Maria Mitchell, are showcased in this beautiful book in verse. Each girl’s interest is explained and elaborated. We see how these interests grew into something more, into the passions and discoveries that become their life’s work.
Hidden Figures (Young Readers’ Edition) by Margot Lee Shetterly (YA ages 12 – 18) I liked how the author blended the historical realities with the true inspiring life stories of four mathematically talented women. The women worked to build this country’s aviation and aeronautical programs starting from the Civil Rights era to the Space Race and the Cold War to the fight for gender equality. The text includes black-and-white photographs documenting the women’s lives and the historical events which add to the reader’s understanding.
Untamed The Wild Life of Jane Goodall by Anita Silvey Untamed is an excellent depiction of Jane Goodall’s life with kid-friendly language using kid-appealing layouts of colorful photos. Interesting insets throughout describe tips for kids and information such as sign language. I love the Gombe Family Scrapbook at the end with some of the significant chimps in Jane’s life.
Dian found her passion for primates and studied with Louis Leakey and Jane Goodall, then settled in the congo to study mountain gorillas. It wasn’t easy — she was even captured by the military. As you read about her life and her passion for mountain gorillas, you’ll also learn from the informational section about gorilla species, the landscape around her, and Gorillas that became well known to Dian. The writing is superb.
Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist by Sylvia Acevedo (YA ages 12 – 19) Sylvia Acevedo’s story shows her incredible intelligence, drive, and determination. She grows up poor in New Mexico greatly impacted by her Mexican-American heritage, Head Start, and the Girl Scouts. Sylvia credits the Girl Scouts with not just teaching her life skills but showing her that she could do hard things and that her life could be more than being a housewife. She is an amazing woman who becomes a rocket scientist and influential leader.
Everyday Superheroes Women in STEMby Erin Twamley and Joshua Sneideman Consider this a motivational STEM career guide for Women’s History Month. Informative with a nice design with an inclusive and diverse selection of women and featured careers, you’ll discover 26 women who are making a difference in the world; women you’ve never heard of; women whose jobs you might one day want to do.
All the Way to the Top: How One Girl’s Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything by Annette Bay Pimentel, illustrated by Nabi H. Ali Jennifer uses a wheelchair because of her cerebral palsy. Using a wheelchair means that she can’t get into the neighborhood school with stairs or eat lunch in the cafeteria with the other kids. Jennifer joins other activists to speak up for access to all places — asking Congress to pass a law called the ADA, the Americans with Disabilities Act. Jennifer leaves her wheelchair to crawl up the steps (no ramps) of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. Eventually, Congress finally passes the ADA!
Annette Feels Free by Katie Mazeika Annette changed the world for herself and all women! She became a swimmer after her struggles to walk after an illness. But, Annette hated the bulky, heavy bathing costumes she was forced to wear for races and exhibitions, so she made her own suit. Even though it was scandalous and she faced troubles because of it, her new design gave women more options to wear what they liked. And nowadays, they do.
The Only Woman in the Photo: Frances Perkins and Her New Deal for America by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Alexandra Bye Frances witnessed injustice and decided to do something about it. Even when women weren’t always taken seriously, she fought for big changes to make life better for workers. Her hard work was rewarded when Franklin D. Rosevelt asked Frances to be the secretary of labor in his cabinet of advisors.
Malala’s Magic Pencilby Malala Yousafzai When she was younger, Malala dreamed of the things she’d do if she had a magic pencil. She’d erase war, poverty, and hunger. Then she would draw girls and boys together as equals. Soon she gets to achieve her dream and writes about her beliefs. Even after bad men try to stop her, Malala writes. She uses her words as magic to spread a message of hope. Beautifully illustrated and inspiring.
Someday is Now: Clara Luper and the 1958 Oklahoma City Sit-Ins by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich An amazing woman named Clara advocated for justice and equality during a time when black people weren’t permitted the same rights as white people. As a teacher, she inspired her students to believe that change was possible.
Lillian’s Right To Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965by Jonah Winter Blueish-tinted illustrations capture the somber mood of Lillian’s memories in this historical nonfiction picture book. Lillian’s memories begin with her great-great-grandparents who were slaves, sold, and separated from each other. As Lillian remembers all people who struggled to gain equal rights, all gone before her, she walks slowly up a steep hill to cast her vote. Gaining the right to vote was a journey, somewhat like a steep climb up a hill.
Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel This is the true story of an immigrant from Ukraine with grit and perseverance. Clara worked in a shirtwaist factory and grew sick of how she and her coworkers were treated. So, she did something about it — she led a strike.
Child of the Flower-Song People Luz Jiménez, Daughter of the Nahua by Gloria Amescua, illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh Luz grew up in Milpa Alta, curious about everything and hoping to be a teacher. Despite being forced to attend school in Spanish, she stayed connected to her Nahua people. She worked as a model for many artists in Mexico, representing her ancestors. She taught interested artists and scholars about the Nahua language and culture.
Sanctuary: Kip Tiernan and Rosie’s Place, the Nation’s First Shelter for Women by Christine McDonnell, illustrated by Victoria Tentler-Krylov Kip’s life is so inspiring! She saw a need in the world and worked hard to solve it. When others denied that women were just as homeless as men, Kip saw the urgent need to help homeless women. She learned more and opened the first shelter for only women as well as fought for permanent housing for the poor and homeless.
The Story of World War II Hero Irena Sendler by Marcia Vaughan (beginning chapter book) Sendler’s story truly shows how much one person can make a difference. During WWII, she rescued Jewish children from the Ghetto, changed their names, and found them new families, so they’d escape sickness, starvation, and death. She saved almost 2,500 children! This is a beginning chapter book for kids in an excellent, diverse series called The Story of.
Who Was Helen Keller? by Gare Thompson (beginning chapter book) This is the inspiring true story of Helen Keller, a woman who was deaf and blind and who learned to speak and read then went on to help others.
Rosa Parks & Claudette Colvin: Civil Rights Heroes by Tracey Baptiste, illustrated by Shauna J. Grant This is a must-read, compelling historical look at the important contributions of Blackwomen like Rosa Parks, Claudette Colvin, and Jo Ann Robinson to the Civil Rights Movement. Because before Mrs. Parks, there was a girl named Claudette Colvin who also refused to move to the back of the bus and was arrested. When Rosa Parks also got arrested for not moving to the back of the bus, another woman named Jo Ann Robinson thought of the bus boycott idea. Once the women asked the male leaders in the Civil Rights Movement for their support, the men led the boycott. The bus boycott dragged on and on — but through the actions of so many individuals who bravely stood up against injustice, the Supreme Court ruled that bus segregation was illegal.
Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller by Joseph Lambert (ages 9 – 12) Excellent! The graphic novel biography shows both Annie and Helen’s strengths and weaknesses as well as really significant character arcs. If you don’t know the story, or even if you do, read this book. You’ll be entranced with how laborious it was to teach Helen and how Annie’s persistence paid off in the end.
Chasing Freedom by Nikki Grimes I loved this nonfiction picture book about Susan B. Anthony and Harriet Tubman — two women in history who changed the world!
Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation adapted by Ari Folman, illustrated by David Polonsky (ages 12+) The diary bits and dialogue are well-balanced into a cohesive story that feels seamless, well-written, and insightful. Anne’s personality really shines through as she sets the historical context and describes her daily life in hiding which isn’t always very exciting but does result in a romance with the boy her age who lives there, too.
I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (Young Readers Edition) by Malala Yousafzai with Patricia McCormick (YA ages 12 – 18) This is a powerful, well-told personal story from the wise, self-reflective perspective of Malala Yousafzai. Malala draws readers in with her accounts of daily life in Pakistan — the sounds, smells, sights, habits. She shares the fearful place her country is under the Taliban’s influence. Then, she is shot for her blog writing which supports the education of girls. What is most striking is Malala’s hope, positivity, and belief in what she stands for.
Becoming RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Journey to Justice by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Whitney Gardner ages 8 -12 Introduce young readers to the fascinating life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg with this clearly-written graphic novel that shows her life from childhood to adulthood including her family life. Based on her experiences and quest for fairness, Ginsburg became passionate about civil liberties, specifically gender discrimination. Not only was she a lawyer and judge but she also became a Supreme Court Justice. Readers will see how Ginsburg was true to herself and her goals and persisted despite difficulties and used her career to fight for equal rights. Well-crafted and highly recommended.
Girl Activist: Winning Strategies from Women Who’ve Made a Difference by Louisa Kamps, Susanna Daniel & Michelle Wildgen, illustrated by Georgia Rucker (ages 8 – 12) Short biographies about women who have taken a stand for injustices.These 40 inspirational women demonstrate how one individual can change things for the better because they care. Readers will learn how each woman used different strategies whether social media, art, protest, petitions, or something else. Read how someone can work passionately to make the world a better place.
Noise Makers: 25 Women Who Raised Their Voices & Changed the World by Kazoo Magazine (ages 8 – 12) Graphic novel fans will love this accessible, interesting biographical collection that celebrates females who’ve made a difference in the world. There’s so much to love besides that the biographies are written in comics…Before each biography is the main idea page (time period and what they’re famous for) as well as a page asking you to look at the list of descriptive phrases and see what YOU have in common with the woman.
Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks by Suzanne Blade, illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera Talk about a growth mindset! Gwendolyn loved words and poetry and from a young age, wrote poetry of her own. She never had monetary success but with persistence and dedication, she eventually found success as an adult with publications and winning the Pulitzer Prize.
A Story Is to Share: How Ruth Krauss Found Another Way to Tell a Tale by Carter Higgins, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault Carter Higgins’ brilliant writing both references Ruth Krauss’s (no parade when she was born) and pays homage to it with distinct syntax. Higgins’ memoir captures the quirky, passionate Ruth Krauss who wore her clothes backward and preferred dancing to athletics. Krauss scribbles and scratches and scrambles — to find the stories that she wants to tell in her own way. Whimsical and playful, this biography will inspire you to reread your favorite Ruth Krauss picture books.
The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Sarah Jocoby A conversational and interactive narrator speaks directly to the reader, inspired by Margaret Wise Brown’s The Important Book. What are the important things about Brown? For one, she wrote books…more than 100! Whimsical watercolor illustrations plus an infectiously likable narrator make this a memorable biography for both its content (the important things about the talented Margaret Wise Brown) and playful writing.
A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voiceby Jasmine A. Stirling, illustrated by Vesper Stamper Lovely pink and green illustrations and an incredible narrative biography capture the life of the talented Jane Austen. Jane grew up in a supportive family that encouraged reading and writing. She wrote prolifically while she was young but stopped writing after significant life challenges including loss, death, worry, and loneliness. After years passed, Jane rewrote old stories and crafted new ones with lifelike characters, leading to her success and longevity.
El Deafoby Cece Bell (ages 8 – 12) A multiple award-winning graphic novel, Cece Bell shares the story of growing up with a hearing impairment, using a very bulky hearing aid, and finding her place in the world. Funny and moving, this is a beautiful coming-of-age memoir of courage and determination.
Melissa Taylor, MA, is the creator of Imagination Soup. She's a mother, teacher, author, and freelance writer. She writes Imagination Soup and freelances for publications online and in print, including Sylvan Learning, Random House, USA Today Health, The Writer, and Scholastic Parent and Child.