March is Women's History Month, so we have put together a list of empowering stories of some pretty cool women throughout history. Stories about women who excelled at a skill, accomplished something extraordinary, or exemplified courage and fortitude amid hardship can and should inspire anyone -- boy or girl, young or old -- to be the best they can be. We hope that this list of books about inspiring women will encourage you and the young readers in your life to aim high, even when (especially when) the odds are against them.
Ideas for things to discuss:
- Which of these stories do you relate to the most?
- How do you think you would respond in the face of hardship? Or, if you have faced hardship, how did it affect you? What lessons did it teach you?
- Have you ever been told you "couldn't" do something because of your age, gender, or something else? Did you let that discourage you? Why or why not?
- What is something you hope to excel at or accomplish in your life?
- What is something that fascinates or surprises you about one or more of these women?
Ideas for things to do:
- Look for other media (books, articles, movies, etc.) about one of the women from the list.
- Write a story or poem inspired by one or more of the women from these stories. Or paint their portrait!
- Write a letter to one of them. If she is still living, send it to her!
- Make up a slogan for several of the women from these stories or others. Ask friends or family to guess which slogan goes with who.
- Have an awards ceremony. For example, "The award for Courage in Face of Adversity goes to _______!" Alternatively, make Certificates of Achievement.
And now, for the list!
A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice by Jasmine A. Sterling, illustrated by Vesper Stamper.
Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael López.
Harriet Tubman: Toward Freedom by Whit Taylor and Kazimir Lee. A graphic novel that will help readers appreciate the courage and tenacity of this amazing woman and her fight for freedom.
Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai by Claire A. Nivola. The story of Wangari Maathai, who helped change the land for the better by teaching people to care for it.
Cubs in the Tub: The True Story of the Bronx Zoo's First Woman Zookeeper by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Julie Downing
Girl on a Motorcycle by Amy Novesky, illustrated by Julie Morstad. The true story of Anne France Dautheville, the first woman to ride a motorcycle around the world.
Nature's Friend: The Gwen Frostic Story by Lindsey McDivitt, illustrated by Eileen Rya Ewen. The true story of a Gwen Frostic, who overcame a disability and became a famous artist and writer.
Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom by Teresa Robeson, illustrated by Rebecca Huang.
Revolutionary Prudence Wright: Leading the Minute Women in the Fight for Independence by Beth Anderson, illustrated by Susan Reagan.
The Water Lady: How Darlene Arviso Helps a Thirsty Navajo Nation by Alice B. McGinty, illustrated by Shonto Begay.
Nina: A Story of Nina Simone by Traci N. Todd, illustrated by Christian Robinson. The story of how a little girl raised in a home of music and religion became a great singer.
The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever by H. Joseph Hopkins, illustrated by Jill McElmurry.
On Wings of Words: The Extraordinary Life of Emily Dickinson by Jennifer Berne, illustrated by Becca Stadtlander.
Girl Running: Bobbi Gibb and the Boston Marathon by Annette Bay Pimentel, illustrated by Micha Archer. The story of the first woman to (unofficially) run the Boston Marathon and eventually got the rules changed so women could officially compete.