The Best Books about Creative Women.
Women’s History Month isn’t complete without celebrating the major contributions of women to the arts, including dance, music, fashion, and architecture. The world would not be as beautiful a place without the work of these women! If you’ve already read the best picture books about inspiring women, here are the best picture books about creative women. Though they are all creative and inspiring, aren’t they?
Firebird by Misty Copeland and Christopher Myers. A young ballerina learns to trust herself and gains confidence in this debut picture book from dancer Misty Copeland. Meant for ages five and up.
The World Is Not A Rectangle by Jeannette Winters. Zaha Hadid became a world-renowned architect despite the obstacles of her life in Baghdad, Iraq. Her buildings are now all over the world and bringing females in architecture to the forefront.
Only The Best: The Exceptional Life and Fashion of Ann Lowe by Kate Messner, Margaret E. Powell, and Erin Robinson. Costume design was never the same after Ann Lowe came around! She was one of the best costume designers in the business and the first African American one. A fashion trailblazer!
Alma’s Art by Roda Ahmed and Anita Cheung. With cute illustrations and simple text, this sweet book can introduce all ages to the colorful artwork of Alma Woodsey Thomas. One of my favorite painters and a true inspiration! Alma wasn’t discovered by the world until she turned 80 years old, proving it’s never too late to shine. For more about her, read Ablaze With Color: A Story of Painter Alma Thomas by Jeanne Walker Harvey and Loveis Wise.
Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein by Linda Bailey and Júlia Sardà. There are actually a few really good picture books about Mary Shelley so it was hard to choose just one! She wrote Frankenstein, a groundbreaking book that will forever be a part of the zeitgeist, and she did so during a time when women weren’t really becoming famous authors, especially in this monstrous genre. This one is meant for ages five and up and chronicles Mary’s life, which wasn’t always easy. To hear more about the possible story of how she wrote Frankenstein, check out the book She Made A Monster: How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein by Lynn Fulton and Felicita Sala.
Art From Her Heart: Folk Artist Clementine Hunter by Kathy Whitehead and Shane W. Evans. Clementine Hunter was a self-taught artist, which is inspiring all on its own. After she was discovered and her art was hung in a gallery, she wasn’t allowed to go to her own art show because she was Black. Clementine overcame adversity and stayed true to her artistic soul…and snuck into the gallery to see her own art!
Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois by Amy Novesky and Isabelle Arsenault. The artwork in this book is ethereal, just like the artwork of Louise Bourgeois! Her most famous piece is a giant sculpture of a spindly-legged spider that is both imposing and delicate at once. (If you have never seen it, look up Maman by Louise Bourgeois.) This book is a sweet ode to her and the influence her artistic mother had on her.
Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos by Monica Brown and John Parra. Frida Kahlo overcame so much in her life and through it all she always had her art! Though she is most famous for her self-portraits, this book highlights another side of her art, her animals! A fun introduction to Frida Kahlo.
A Life Made By Hand: The Story of Ruth Asawa by Andrea D’Aquino. Inspirational in her art and her devotion to art education, Ruth Asawa was an exceptional sculptor inspired by the world around her. The artwork in this book is beautiful too, and includes a fun art activity at the end!
Women In Art: 50 Fearless Creatives Who Inspired The World by Rachel Ignotofsky. All I’ll say about this one is READ THIS BOOK! Actually, I’ll also add READ THIS WHOLE SERIES! There are three of them and each are great additions to any library that honors strong, creative, and smart women. Meant for ages eight and up.
Libba: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten by Laura Viers and Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. I have to admit I love Elizabeth Cotten so it’s likely I would be a fan of any book about her. She’s an amazing folk legend! She learned how to play the guitar backwards and upside down and went on to write some of the most famous folk songs of all time, like Freight Train. This book is meant for children ages five and up.
Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played Piano for President Lincoln by Margarita Engle and Rafael López. Teresa Carreño was such an amazing piano player from a very young age and became known as the Piano Girl. Her skills on the keys were so famous that President Lincoln asked her to play at the White House during the Civil War. One of my favorite illustrators of all time, Rafael López helps bring this inspiring story to life. Also check out Drum Dream Girl by this amazing author/illustrator duo about another inspiring female musician.
Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson. Most people know Josephine Baker as a singer, but she was also a powerful civil rights activist. This book is a thorough and in-depth dive into the life of Josephine Baker and all of her struggles and triumphs. Meant for ages eight and up.
Red Bird Sings: The Story Of Zitkala-Ša , Native American Author, Musician, and Activist by Gina Capaldi and Q. L. Pearce. Zitkala-Ša grew up between two worlds, White and Native American, and tried to bridge the gap between them through stories, songs, and activism. She was an inspiring force, and this book is meant for ages eight and up.
Planting Stories: The Life Of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré by Anika Aldamuy Denise and Paola Escobar. A gorgeous must-read! You may have heard of Pura Belpré because she has a literary award in her name. She is an important woman in the literary world because she came to New York City from Puerto Rico and brought her rich storytelling traditions with her. She championed bilingual stories and left a rich legacy behind. You can also get this book in Spanish.
Rad American Women: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries Who Shaped Our History…And Our Future! By Kate Schatz and Mirian Klein Stahl. There are so many rad women in this one, and it’s a good jumping off point to find out which ones you want to learn more about more in-depth. The art is funky and though it says it’s meant for ages six and up, I think it is a good introduction for some younger kids too.
Honestly, this list could go on for days. Weeks. Years! There are so many amazing women out there, with picture books devoted to them. And so many amazing women who we haven’t heard of yet! So this list isn’t exhaustive by any means, just some of my favorites that I think are the best picture books about creative women. Which books about creative women would you add to the list?