Want to read the best picture books about Inspiring Women?
Women’s History Month is a good time to start putting a spotlight on courageous, creative, determined, and inspiring women that make our world a better place! There are so many special ways we can celebrate all of the enormous contributions of brilliant women, and reading about them is just one. Here is a list of some of the best picture books about inspiring women in politics, science, math, and sports to get your Women’s History Month started off right.
(And don’t worry, there will be a part two of this list with inspiring women in the arts next week!)
The Best Picture Books about Inspiring Women:
Asian American Women in Science: 15 Inspiring People You Should Know by Tina Cho. Meant for ages eight and up, this book introduced me to some inspiring women I hadn’t heard of before, like Hawaiian naturalist Isabella Aiona Abbott. It’s more in-depth than a picture book, but is a good starting point when it comes to researching amazing women you’ll want to know more about!
The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned To Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard and Oge Mora. Mary Walker was born into slavery so wasn’t allowed to read. But when she was over 100 years old, she decided to learn how and did just that! This inspiring woman shows us we are never too old to learn.
The Girl Who Thought In Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin by Julia Finley Mosca and Daniel Rieley. Book 1 of the Amazing Scientists series, this is all about the scientist Temple Grandin. Dr. Grandin’s interesting Autistic mind helped her develop many farming improvements throughout her life. Written in simple rhyme, with a note from Temple Grandin herself. Don’t miss the rest of the books in this series about other inspiring women in science!
Women In Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed The World by Rachel Ignotofsky. Even though this book is meant for ages seven and up, younger children can gain something from this one too! It’s a fun and interesting starting place for learning about groundbreaking women who work in science. There are two more books about amazing women by Rachel Ignotofsky: Women In Sports and Women In Arts.
World Cup Women: Megan, Alex, and the Team USA Soccer Champs by Meg Walters and Nikkolas Smith. Calling all budding soccer players! This book about the remarkable American team that won the World Cup will inspire every child who reads it to get out on the pitch.
Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became The Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist by Jess Keating and Marta Álvarez Miguéns. This one is a big favorite with my shark-loving children! Eugenie Clark followed her dreams of studying sharks even though she was born in a time when women weren’t encouraged to be scientists. (Some might say they still aren’t!) She made many shark discoveries and was instrumental in teaching that sharks aren’t vicious killers that should be hunted, but incredible creatures deserving of care and further study.
Shirley Chisholm Is A Verb by Veronica Chambers and Rachelle Baker. A fantastic book about an amazing woman, we love this one in my house! Shirley Chisholm never backed down and became the first Black woman in Congress. She paved the way for many women after her and did it all with courage and conviction.
Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became The World’s Fastest Woman by Kathleen Krull and David Diaz. Wilma Rudolph was diagnosed with polio as a child and needed to wear special braces on her legs just so she could walk. But that didn’t stop her from becoming an Olympic medalist in running! A true inspiration when it comes to overcoming and beating all the odds.
Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed The World by Susan Hood and various artists. Such a unique book, especially if you love illustrators! This book of poetry pairs up each amazing woman with an equally amazing female illustrator. Just right for children ages four and up.
Before She Was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome and James E. Ransome. Harriet Tubman had so many different roles in her life, from slave to spy to leader and hero. This book explores all of that and more with moving words and beautiful art.
Latinitas: Celebrating 40 Big Dreamers by Juliet Menéndez. One of my favorite collections of short biographies because it covers so many interesting women and includes bright and funky artwork! It’s a great jumping off point to start learning about important Latinas that shape our world. Written for ages eight and up, each biography is short enough for younger children too. It also includes some extra mini-bios at the end! Readily available in both English and Spanish.
When Sue Found Sue: Sue Hendrickson Discovers Her T. Rex by Toni Buzzeo and Diana Sudyka. This one is for anyone who has a lot of interests, including dinosaurs! Sue didn’t set out to find a dinosaur, but after a life of finding things she just happened to make this gigantic discovery! Sue the T. Rex is still one of the most impressive dinosaur fossils ever to be discovered and can be seen in Chicago’s Field Museum.
The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life With The Chimps by Jeannette Winter. Take a tour through Jane Gooddall’s life–and parts of Africa–as she studies the chimpanzee. Synonymous with primatology, read about how Goodall started out and her life’s work trying to save these primates from extinction.
Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride by Andrea Pinkney and Brian Pinkney. Sojourner Truth dedicated herself to demanding equal rights for Black people and women, even though she had to escape from slavery to do so. A powerful book about a powerful woman, this one is written for ages six and up.
Joan Proctor, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles by Patricia Valdex and Felicita Sala. Joan Proctor loved reptiles so much growing up and was often seen with a lizard growing up. She went on to design the Reptile House at the London Zoo and hosted tea parties for children with the komodo dragon! Not only is Joan Proctor an inspiration, but Felicita Sala is one of my personal favorites when it comes to illustrations.
More of The Best Picture Books about Inspiring Women:
The Dinosaur Lady: The Daring Discoveries of Mary Anning, The First Paleontologist by Linda Skeers and Marta Álvarez Miguéns. A must-read for all future paleontologists! Mary Anning is basically the Mother of Paleontology and discovered many fossils in her lifetime, even if she had to climb a cliffside to do so. Anyone interested in dinosaurs, fossils, or paleontology will be inspired by Mary Anning and this interesting book!
Secrets Of The Sea: The Story Of Jeanne Power, Revolutionary Marine Scientist by Evan Griffith and Joanie Stone. Jeanne Power may have started out as a dressmaker, but she wound up making many important discoveries about the ocean and even created the first aquarium! An engaging story even if you aren’t interested in marine life, and definitely worth a read.
Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and The Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly and Laura Freeman. Being Black female mathematicians, Christine Darden, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughan broke barriers of all kinds while working at NASA. It was their work that helped launch us into outer space! For more on Katherine Johnson, check out Counting On Katherine;How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 by Helaine Becker and Dow Phumiruk.
Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock The Secrets Of The Atom by Teresa Robeson and Rebecca Huang. I’ll admit, I don’t know much about physics, but I still enjoyed this book about the brilliant scientist Wu Chien Shiung! She fought to become a leading scientist and to break barriers for women in science, including becoming the first female elected as President of the American Physical Society. She even has a meteor named after her!
The First Woman Cherokee Chief: Wilma Pearl Mankiller by Patricia Morris Buckley and Aphelandra Messer. Wilma Pearl Mankiller restored the gender balance in leadership to the Cherokee Nation after it had been removed by colonizers. She became a Principal Chief in 1985 and her image will appear on a US quarter! This is a Step 3 Early Reader for ages five and up, but can also be read aloud.
Mae Among The Stars by Roda Ahmed and Stasia Burrington. Float through Mae Jemison’s early life as she gears up to become the first female African American astronaut to go to space. This one is just right for any young child that dreams of outer space!
Pirate Queen: The Story of Zheng Yi Sao by Helaine Becker and Liz Wong. My kids and I read this one on repeat! Zheng Yi Sao is captured by pirates as a young girl, but marries their leader and takes over the fleet after he dies. She rules with fairness and without fear, and stays true to herself until the end. Beautifully written and illustrated! The beginning may be scary for younger children as girls are taken from their village by force.
Sharice’s Big Voice: A Native Kid Becomes A Congresswoman by Sharice Davids, Nancy K. Mays, and Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley. Don’t miss this one about Sharice Davids’ journey to becoming the first Native American Congresswoman, and the first LBGTQIA person to represent Kansas. So inspiring with vibrant art, this story tells you to keep going past the obstacles and the doubts. It even includes a letter from Sharice Davids’ and information on the Ho-Chunk Nation.
The Women Who Caught The Babies: A Story Of African American Midwives by Elosie Greenfield and Daniel Minter. First of all, the art in this book is breathtaking so it’s worth a look even just for that alone. Second, this is an intense and powerful book of poetry that honors the work of African American midwives, meant for children ten and up.
The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee by Julie Leung and Julie Kwon. Hazel was determined to fly planes, even as everyone around her told her she couldn’t. But her determination paid off and she became the first Chinese American pilot in the U.S. military. If you have a budding pilot on your hands, be sure to read this one and some about Bessie Coleman as well, including Nobody Owns The Sky:The Story of “Brave Bessie” Coleman by Reeve Lindbergh and Pamela Paparone.
All The Way To The Top: How One Girl’s Fight For Americans With Disabilities Changed Everything by Annette Bay Pimentel, Nabi Ali, and Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins. Learn about disability activist Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins and the ADA–the Americans with Disabilities Act– in this incredibly inspiring picture book. We can make room for everyone, everywhere!
I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy and Elizabeth Baddeley. A classic picture book about a triumphant woman, Ruth Bader Ginsberg. She followed her dreams and never stopped fighting for herself and others, all the way to the Supreme Court. Don’t miss this one!
The Bug Girl: A True Story by Sophia Spencer, Margaret McNamara and Kerascoet. This one will hit home for any young children who may not be accepted for their interests. When Sophia Spencer was seven, she loved bugs so much that she became the Bug Girl. Her peers bullied her about her interest in these creatures, until her mom got a bunch of female scientists to back her up!
The Astronomer Who Questioned Everything: The Story of Maria Mitchell by Laura Alary and Ellen Rooney. Before this book, I had never heard of Maria Mitchell, who was the first professional female astronomer. But this book opened my eyes to her and her achievements! An interesting read, especially if you love star-gazing like we do in my family, and the art in this book is absolutely lovely.
One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Woman of the Gambia by Miranda Paul and Elizabeth Zunon. Though there are many women out there that are studying animals or the environment, Isatou Ceesay is helping protect it! By gathering plastic bags that are discarded in the streets where she lives, they weren’t left to hurt the environment. This book shows how one person can make a big change!