Do you have any young readers who want to learn more about inspiring women in history? Now that the new school year is well underway, it’s the perfect time to introduce budding historians to some awesome women who dedicated their lives to making a positive difference in their communities. So check out our book picks featuring strong, independent women in history who defied tradition for the sake of important change, never letting anything stand in the way of progress!
“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.” But exploring was easier said than done in Victorian England. However, Isabella persisted, and journey by journey, question by question, word by word, Isabella bloomed. 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 author. Kristy Caldwell’s detailed illustrations illuminate Bird’s travels around the world, and Lori Mortensen’s back matter, author’s note, and bibliography will satisfy the curiosity of readers who want to learn more.
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. Suzanne Slade’s powerful text written in free verse illuminates the life of this inspiring figure while Alice Ratterree’s stunning illustrations bring Jane Addams and her world to life.
All Bessie wants is to go hiking with her father and brothers. But it’s 1896, and girls don’t get to hike. They can’t vote either, which Bessie discovers when Susan B. Anthony comes to town to help lead the campaign for women’s suffrage. Stirred to action, Bessie joins the movement and discovers that small efforts can result in small changes—and maybe even big ones. Inspired by the diary of the real Bessie Keith Pond, a ten-year-old girl who lived in California during the suffrage campaign, author Claire Rudolf Murphy and illustrator Stacey Schuett offer a thought-provoking introduction to the fight for women’s rights that reminds readers that society cannot evolve unless people—even young people—dare to take a stand.
The 26th president of the United States was a strong and clever man who could handle almost everything—except his eldest child, Alice. Alice Roosevelt was an independent, outspoken young woman during a time when women were supposed to be conventional and reserved. Whether it was riding a pig, keeping a pet snake, or driving a car—and speeding!—Alice did what she wanted. Leslie Kimmelman brings readers a factual and affectionate look at the free spirit who caught the attention of a nation, and Adam Gustavson’s illustrations perfectly capture the strong personalities of the story’s characters.
On Easter Sunday 1939, Marian Anderson performed at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial for a crowd of over 75,000 people. The person largely responsible for putting her there was a white man, Oscar Chapman, who had helped produce a landmark concert that―for at least one evening―bridged the color divide to bring a city and much of the nation together. Award-winning author Deborah Hopkinson tells the inspirational story of Oscar Chapman’s lifelong commitment to ending bigotry, and illustrator Leonard Jenkins’s remarkable illustrations recreate a bygone era and pay tribute to remarkable real-life people and a magical moment in modern history.
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. Deborah Hopkinson’s energetic text and Kristy Caldwell’s appealing illustrations introduce readers to a fascinating woman who has changed many American lives.
In 1863, when Ida B. Wells was not yet two years old, the Emancipation Proclamation freed her from the bond of slavery. Blessed with a strong will, an eager mind, and a deep belief in America’s promise of “freedom and justice for all,” young Ida held her family together, defied society’s conventions, and used her position as a journalist to speak against injustice. But how could one headstrong young woman help free America from the looming “shadow of lawlessness”? Author Philip Dray tells the inspirational story of Ida B. Wells and her lifelong commitment to end injustice. Award-winning illustrator Stephen Alcorn’s illustrations recreate the tensions that threatened to upend a nation while paying tribute to a courageous American hero.
Nellie Bly was a newspaper reporter for The New York World, but instead of writing about “ladylike” subjects like tea parties and charity balls, Nellie wrote about the social problems of her day, like poor job conditions, dilapidated housing, and dishonest politicians. If someone told her “It can’t be done, Nellie Bly,” she went right ahead and did it anyway. But when Nellie read Jules Verne’s novel, Around the World in Eighty Days, she was inspired to circle the globe even faster herself. Did the plucky young reporter go too far? This delightful true story of a woman with an indomitable spirit will inspire a new generation of courageous young readers―and adventurers.