A Mighty Girl's reading recommendations and other resources for children and teens honoring the contributions of women to the founding of the United States.
The Fourth of July is celebrated across the United States in commemoration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. While no women were present to add their signatures to the declaration, their role in creating and preserving the freedom that all Americans cherish is equally important to our nation’s history. In this blog post, we strive to, as Abigail Adams famously directed her husband, John Adams, one of the authors of the Declaration of Independence, “remember the ladies” and their immense contributions to the nation's founding!
WOMEN OF COLONIAL TIMES
Budding historians eager for more stories of women in America will love this book, which introduces many fascinating figures of the Colonial period. Women of the Revolutionary War played many roles, from tending to wounded soldiers, to sewing for the troops, to disguising themselves as men in order to fight alongside their brothers and husbands. With engaging and detailed illustrations by Matt Faulkner, this book will intrigue children and adults alike!
Abigail Adams urged her husband, John Adams, to "Remember the ladies" — and this book does just that! Award-winning journalist Cokie Roberts and Caldecott Honor-winning artist Diane Goode showcase women's contributions to the American Revolution, featuring profiles on a diverse range of women including Abigail Adams, Martha Washington, Phillis Wheatley, Mercy Otis Warren, Deborah Franklin, Sarah Livingston Jay, and others. Fans of this title can check out the follow-up volume, Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation, featuring American women from 1776 to 1824. Roberts has also written versions of both books for adults; to learn more about those titles, check out Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation and Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation.
In order to accomplish what needed to be done during the Colonial period, women had to defy social norms — they needed to be outrageous! Whether she was a spy or a playwright, an agriculturalist or a soldier, the women of Colonial America were forces to be reckoned with. This book, written in an accessible, fun style, introduces women like Mumbet, a Massachusetts slave who sued for her own freedom; Mercy Warren, America's first female playwright; and Peggy Arnold, wife of Benedict Arnold and a formidable spy in her own right.
In the American colonies, women took on big challenges, but their work was rarely recorded. Even then, though, there were women whose accomplishments could not be denied! In this addition to the Women of Action series, Brandon Marie Miller tells the stories of thirteen women of colonial America — not just Europeans, but also Native American women and African women, who were housewives, indentured servants, poets, salves, accused witches, and more. This fascinating look at the grit and determination it took to survive the challenges of colonial America will give teens new perspective on how these women could be ready for a dangerously high-stakes fight for independence.
Every schoolchild knows about Paul Revere, but what about 16-year-old Sybil Ludington, who rode twice as far to help her father muster his scattered troops? And while we cheer the defiance of Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty, or give me death!", few know Martha Bratton's more daring declaration "It was I who did it!" to British soldiers after she blew up a gunpowder stash to keep it out of their hands. This lively collection of profiles from the Women of Action series highlights the little-known but remarkable women of the American Revolution, providing a fresh new perspective on this dynamic period in history.
For more coloring books, along with games and puzzles, honoring famous women, visit our Women's History toy section.
BIOGRAPHIES OF HISTORICAL WOMEN PATRIOTS
Legend says that Molly Hays became known as “Molly Pitcher” when she came to the aid of soldiers suffering in the extreme heat of the battle at Monmouth. When her husband was injured, she made sure he would live — and then took over his job firing the cannon! In the beautiful picture book biography or a true heroine of the American Revolution, author Anne Rockwell shares stories of Molly’s self-reliance, dedication, and bravery in the face of danger and turmoil.
While every American is familiar with Paul Revere, most have never heard of Sybil Ludington, the 16-year-old girl who became a hero of the American Revolutionary War. The night of April 26th, 1777, Sybil climbed onto her horse and proceeded to ride 40 miles — more than twice what Paul Revere rode two years prior — in order to warn American soldiers of the British approach. Her ride lasted until the dawn, when, exhausted, she returned home after giving advance notice to 400 Colonial troops so that they were prepared to take on the British soldiers. For a version of her story for emerging readers, check out Sybil Ludington's Midnight Ride for age 6 to 8.
Amelia Simmons was the first person to publish an American cookbook, full of simple recipes using local ingredients, but almost nothing is known about her. In this historical fiction picture book, author Deborah Hopkinson imagines a suitably patriotic background for Simmons! When Mrs. Bean hires Amelia Simmons as a cook, she is soon delighting the whole family with her American-made meals...and when George Washington comes to visit, she creates thirteen very special Independence Cakes: one for each of the colonies! An author's note details what's known about the real Amelia Simmons, and culinary kids will enjoy trying the included original recipe.
One night in North Carolina, a young girl slipped onto the back of her strong pony and dared to ride alone to warn the Colonial troops of an impending attack on the barrier island of Currituck. For two hundred years, her story was preserve in oral folklore, and now it exists in this beautiful picture book edition to share with girls across the country. Author Kitty Griffin's galloping text and Marjorie Priceman's vivid illustrations capture the exhaustion and danger of Betsy's ride. Intense and thrilling, this is perfect for a patriotic read-aloud.
As a girl, Eliza Schuyler was a spirited and intelligent child; as a young woman, the wife of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, she showed her big heart and her incredible strength of character. After Hamilton died in his infamous duel, she not only preserved his legacy: she also protected the memories of many other Revolutionary figures, and founded New York City's first orphanage, which still helps children today. This Level 3 biography from the Step Into Reading early reader series will teach kids about Eliza's life, work, and influence.
Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton was far more than the wife of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton! From her work building schools and orphanages to raising funds for the Washington Monument, Eliza — who outlived her husband by fifty years — was a determined and resilient force for change in her time. This well-researched picture book biography is framed as a letter from Eliza to her as-yet-unborn great-granddaughter, and accented with exquisite illustrations that mirror 18th century American paintings, elegantly illuminating the life and influence of this extraordinary woman. Newly independent readers will also enjoy Eliza Hamilton: Founding Mother from the Step Into Reading series for ages 5 to 8.
When Abigail was born, girls were supposed to be meek and quiet — but she refused. She asked questions, and she married who she pleased: a country lawyer named John Adams. When the Revolutionary war broke out, she managed his farm and demanded that John and his fellow Founding Fathers "remember the ladies." And when it was time to represent their new country to the nobility of Europe, she didn't flinch from standing shoulder to shoulder with kings and queens! This exuberant tribute to a forward-thinking and independent-minded woman from early American history, filled with bold, energetic artwork, has plenty of verve — just like its subject.
The poem The Star-Spangled Banner is sure to be familiar — but do you know where it came from? The poet was inspired by a flag made by Mary Pickersgill, an entrepreneur whose all-female shop was charged with making a giant flag, "so large that the British will have no difficulty seeing it from a distance." It took six weeks of hand sewing to make the flag, and after the battle at Fort McHenry it still flew proudly as described in the iconic poem. Beloved author-illustrator Jessie Hartland tells the story of the American flag while also highlighting the indomitable women who helped ensure it flew proudly. For another book about this inspiring moment in American history, check out Long May She Wave: The True Story of Caroline Pickersgill and Her Star-Spangled Creation.
The story of one of the most recognized female patriots in American history, Abigail Adams, is told in this Ready to Read biography. Young readers can learn more about the strong, brilliant, and formidable woman who, often through her husband’s actions and words due to the disenfranchisement of women and the inequalities of the day, became an indisputable Founding Mother of her nation. In fact, it was Adams who urged the Founding Fathers to "remember the ladies" in the laws and history of America.
You've heard of Paul Revere, but did you know that, in 1777, a 16-year-old girl rode 40 miles in one night to alert American troops of an impending British attack — twice as far as Revere did. Sybil Ludington traveled dirt roads in the pouring rain, facing attacks by outlaws and imprisonment by the British, to ensure that her father's militiamen were ready to push the invaders back to their boats. This page-turning account of Ludington's ride is sure to thrill young readers, while the afterword about Ludington's further efforts during the Revolutionary war will help them see the many contributions women made to America's battle for independence.
Mary Katharine Goddard grew up in colonial Connecticut, where her parents made the unusual choice to educate their daughter just as they did their son. It was her steady hand that kept her flighty brother's newspaper and publishing business afloat — and it was her decision to publish material that would encourage her fellow colonists to support the Revolution. When the Continental Congress decided the Declaration of Independence needed to be widely distributed, she agreed to print it — and even put her name at the bottom with a printing credit, despite the risk of being targeted by the British. This bold picture book celebrates a savvy businesswoman and keen supporter of her newborn nation, who wrote herself into history.
18-year-old Deborah Sampson never liked being told what to do — so when the King of England started cracking down on the American colonies, she agreed with the rebels who wanted to form their own nation. But even though she wanted to support the Revolution, she couldn't enlist in the Continental Army as a woman. So Deborah disguised herself as a man, calling herself Robert Shurtliff, and signed up. She was facing the risks of battle as well as the danger of her true identity being discovered, but somehow, she felt more herself than she'd ever been. Author Beth Anderson and illustrator Anne Lambelet tell the remarkable true story of a spirited woman who broke out of the role expected of her and found her own path to serve her country.
In 1778, George Washington knew that, if he was going to win the Revolutionary War, he needed information — and that meant spies. When Major Benjamin Tallmadge formed the Culper Ring, he recruited one woman: Anna Smith Strong. She had Loyalist relatives; who would believe she was a spy? The clever woman used her position to listen in on British officers, and she came up with an ingenious signalling method — using laundry on a clothesline! Strong's work helped turn the tide of the war, and the British never suspected her. This exciting story of a woman putting her ingenuity to work for her new nation even includes one of the Culper Ring's spy codes so kids can send their own coded messages!
As a child in the colonial Massachusetts town of Pepperell, Prudence Wright defied expectations for a girl: she liked to hunt, fish, and debate her brothers about politics. As she got older, she fumed about Britain's oppression of the American colonies and the punitive taxes they had to pay. So in 1773, when Pepperell voted to join the Revolution, Prudence and her female friends showed their support by boycotting British goods. Then, while the men were away. Prudence learned that Tory spies were planning to infiltrate Pepperell. She rallied the women, dressed them in men's clothing, and conducted a successful ambush with her "minute women"! A pulse-pounding narrative and vivid, historically accurate illustrations combine to create a fascinating portrait of a courageous Revolutionary woman.
When fourteen-year-old Dicey Langston overhears that the fierce Loyalist leader Bloody Bill is heading for the Patriot camp where her brothers are secretly based, she knows she needs to act. None of their Loyalist neighbors can find out that Dicey's family are Patriots, but she must warn her brothers. Discover the true story of how brave Dicey saved many lives and risked her own life for independence. This entry from the Encounter: Narrative Non-Fiction Picture Books series tells Dicey's story in gripping fashion.
In 1778, the British have occupied the town of Setauket... but right under their noses, George Washington's spy ring known as the Culper Ring is collecting intelligence. And right in the middle of it is Anna Strong, a daring young woman who used handkerchiefs on a clothesline to send messages and took advantage of her anonymity as a woman to slip right through the redcoats' guard. In this book from the Spy on History series, kids will learn more about this neglected Revolutionary War hero — and, with the help of spycraft tools included in the book, will solve the mystery of Strong's last letter! This exciting telling is perfect for any budding spy.
This volume from the popular Who Was...? series highlights Abigail Adams as a strong woman far ahead of her time. She urged her husband, President John Adams, to consider women's issues and contributions as he and his fellow lawmakers set precedent for their new country, and despite having no formal education herself, she later advocated for equal education in public schools for both boys and girls. She was also the first First Lady to live in the White House! This biography tells the story of Abigail Adams and her role in America's Revolutionary War period.
Born the eighth of seventeen children in Philadelphia, Betsy Ross lived in a time when the American colonies were yearning for independence from British rule. Ross worked as a seamstress and was eager to contribute to the cause, making tents and repairing uniforms when the colonies declared war. By 1779 she was filling cartridges for the Continental Army. Did she sew the first flag? That's up for debate, but Who Was Betsy Ross? tells the story of a fierce patriot who certainly helped create the flag of a new nation.
Sybil Ludington and her family are Patriots living in 1777 New York, fighting against the British. The obvious enemies are not the only ones that surround them: any neighbor, acquaintance, or passing stranger could be loyal to the British crown. But when British troops attack Danbury, Sybil has to take that chance if she's going to get word to her father's militia unit. Through an entire night, facing dangers from the weather to highway robbers to British soldiers, she would ride far long than Paul Revere to ensure that the new American forces were ready — and become a hero of the Revolutionary War. This stirring telling from the Based on a True Story series is sure to thrill middle grade readers!
16-year-old Susanna Bolling is frustrated with her life in the midst of the American Revolution; she chafes against the household chores expected of a girl, and wishes she could help the Patriots like her older brothers. But nowhere in America is safe during this struggle for freedom, not even little City Point, Virginia. When British General Cornwallis invades and takes over her home at Bollingbrook Plantation, Susanna overhears his plans — plans that could tip the balance in Britain's favor. If she's going to save the day, she'll have to outwit the General and all his troops, and ride through the night — against her mother's objections — to carry this critical information. Based on a true story of courage, this thrilling novel, with its inspiring and resourceful heroine, will captivate young readers.
Peggy Schuyler is used to being overshadowed by her two older sisters, brilliant Angelica and kind and beautiful Eliza. Even when George Washington's aide-de-camp, Alexander Hamilton, contacts her, it's just to find out how to woo Eliza. But Peggy and Alexander become fast friends, and as her father and Alexander take on important roles in the Revolutionary War, she decides she can't sit on the sidelines. Soon, she's helping her father gather intelligence — and when British Loyalists storm the Schuyler home, it will take all of Peggy's courage and cleverness to win the day. Inspired by the musical Hamilton and backed up by in-depth research, Elliott has crafted a thrilling new historical novel that highlights a daring, brave, and loyal young woman and her world-changing friendship.
15-year-old Frannie Tasker is desperately seeking an escape form her home in the Bahamas — and the brutal stepfather who's demanding she marry him now that her mother has died. When she finds the body of Emmeline Coates, a New York socialite, after a shipwreck, she takes her chance and assumes Emmeline's identity. For three years, she enjoys Manhattan living and a courtship with a British officer. But as the Revolutionary War heats up, she takes on a new identity: "355," a spy for George Washington's Culper spy ring. She's already gambled by taking on Emmeline's name; can she continue to beat the odds and help her new nation fight for freedom? This thrilling historical drama, inspired by the real "355," stars a daring, courageous woman who's willing to risk it all for liberty.
For more books of the girls and women of Revolutionary times, visit our Revolutionary US History section.
FICTIONAL STORIES OF PATRIOTIC GIRLS
While not set in Colonial times, this picture book tells the tale of a truly patriotic girl who has a deep and abiding love of all things historical. So when the town’s Historical Society is in danger of being torn down, Imogene does everything she can think of to keep the important building from destruction — even if it means riding through the town shouting her own variant of Paul Revere's cry, "The bulldozers are coming!" Candace Fleming’s use of historical quotes and Nancy Carpenter’s charismatic illustrations are sure to capture the attention of any patriotic audience.
As the residents of Philadelphia in 1777 anxiously wait for the British attack they know is coming, Maddy Rose takes the brave step of agreeing to send secret messages to the American army. Cleverly, she uses her stockings and petticoats on a clothesline as signals for General Washington’s army. She may be young, but Maddy Rose is just as much of a patriot as any full-grown adult. The lifelike and detailed illustrations in this book, part of the Tales of Young Americans Series, work to thoroughly pull the reader into the story.
Abby's life with her family is turned head over heels when General George Washington leads the Continental soldiers into their winter encampment at Valley Forge, PA. The presence of the army forces the town to face the realities of the Revolutionary War, and sides must be chosen. Hardship is a constant companion for soldiers and citizens alike throughout the winter, and in her diary, Abby pieces together the beauty, pain, and blessings of this long revolutionary winter. Back in print with a gorgeous new cover, young readers will be enthralled by this fictional telling of life during the Revolutionary War from the popular Dear America series.
At the Battle of Gettysburg, there were three young women: Annie Gordon, a Southern girl disguised as a male Confederate soldier; Tillie Pierce, a Union supporter pressed into service as a battlefield nurse; and Grace Bryan, a free African-American girl who refused to flee the possibility of being arrested as a fugitive slave. This remarkable work of historical fiction captures three different views of the Civil War through the eyes of young women within it. This fictionalized story about three real girls is intriguing and compelling. Teen readers can learn more about Pierce's story in Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness to the Battle of Gettysburg for age 13 and up.
In this gripping book, readers will be swept away by the gripping story of a young girl who becomes a spy after witnessing the execution of Nathan Hale. Through her work, she realizes that someone in the American army may be a traitor, but their identity is so shocking that Sophie wonders if anyone will believe her. Full of historical details, action, intrigue, betrayal, and danger, young Sophia is on her own as she does all she can to prove the identity of a guilty party no one is willing to believe but Sophia herself.
It’s hard to find a more American symbol than that of the Statue of Liberty. Built during the latter half of the nineteenth century, the Statue of Liberty was a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States as a symbol of freedom and democracy. Lady Liberty stands 46 meters (151 feet, 1 inch) tall, and holds a torch in one hand, and in the other a tablet inscribed with the date of the American Declaration of Independence.
A bronze plaque sits on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, bearing an inscription of a sonnet, “The New Colossus”, written by Emma Lazarus in 1883. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...” This phrase has become the voice of the iconic statue, all thanks to a young woman who was inspired by the freedoms and liberties available to American immigrants. Readers curious about Emma Lazarus can also check out Liberty’s Voice: The Story of Emma Lazarus for age 6 to 9.
On America's 100th birthday, the people of France sent a gift: a beautiful statue, one of the largest the world had ever seen! But the statue needed a pedestal, and it was proving hard to raise the funds. So Joseph Pulitzer, a poor Hungarian immigrant turned newspaper mogul, urged his fellow citizens to send in whatever they could — even if it was just a penny — and promised to print the name of anyone who did so. Donations poured in, including many from schoolchildren giving up precious coins to see Liberty rise! This appealing telling of a real-life story of American cooperation, complete with quotes from some of the children who contributed, is a celebration of what we can do when we work together.
After a quirky telling of the history of the Statue of Liberty, author Dave Eggers makes an observation: her right foot is coming off the podium as if she is in mid-stride. Why? Because, he suggests, Liberty is stepping out into the harbor to welcome immigrants to her shores — after all, Liberty is an immigrant too! Her right foot reminds us that “Liberty and freedom from oppression are not things you get or grant by standing around. These are things that require action. Courage. An unwillingness to rest." This profound and timely examination of the symbolism of Lady Liberty celebrates the diversity that makes American great.
The Statue of Liberty makes a fabulous dress-up option for playtime, pageants, or Halloween! This children's Statue of Liberty costume comes with a dress with a drape and a headpiece — just add a suitable torch prop and she's ready to go. Teens and adults can also get in on the fun with this adult Statue of Liberty costume, which is suitable for age 13 and up.
The Statue of Liberty remains an iconic symbol of freedom and opportunity, as well as an architectural marvel — and now with this 1685-piece LEGO set, you can build a detailed scale replica to keep at home! When completed, this LEGO interpretation of Lady Liberty stands 17" tall, complete with a shield-lined pedestal. Details like the columned balconies, 7-ray crown, and "flaming" torch add to the overall effect. It's a satisfying building experience that's sure to promote an interest in architecture, travel, history, and more.
KNOW YOUR 50 STATES!
Another fabulous way to celebrate the United States of America is by getting to know them all better. There are loads of great games and puzzles all about geography available at A Mighty Girl, and here are a few to check out if you’re interested!
Color your way across the USA with this coloring book from Dover! This book includes 50 ready-to-color pages with illustrations that identify each state's motto, flower, bird, tree, and capital, as well as principal geographic features like mountains and rivers. Plus, outline drawings of each state help kids identify its location on a full US map. Kids will love learning trivia about the states they know and love — or picking places they'd like to travel to someday!
Color your way across all 50 states with this jumbo USA coloring poster from Dekali Designs! This 52 by 35 inch poster, printed on 180GSM paper, depicts each state and state name, along with one or more landmarks or points of interest for each state. It's suitable for coloring with any of your own craft supplies, so she can really make it her own! A full-color reference picture is included if she wants some suggestions for her color choices. It's a fun way to introduce kids to their amazing country.
Place each state where it belongs with this 45-piece puzzle! This great wooden puzzle from Melissa and Doug is a great way to learn geography while also working on memory and motor skills. Beneath the pieces, the board shows state boundaries and capitals, as well as interesting facts. Most pieces represent whole states, so kids will get a solid idea of how each state fits into the greater picture of their country.
Learn your way around all 50 states with this map puzzle from Mudpuppy! This 70-piece double-sided puzzle has state-shaped pieces that feature a graphic on one side, and the state's name and nickname on the back. As kids put the puzzle together, they'll learn about state locations, capitals, landmarks, and more! This 23” x 16.5” puzzle is just the right size for kids, and the colorful illustration encourages them to learn more about American geography. Mudpuppy also makes 70-piece puzzle featuring a Map of Europe.
There's so much to see in this 51-piece floor puzzle from Melissa & Doug! Can you spot your home state? How about the White House or the Golden Gate Bridge? Many of these pieces are shaped like individual states, helping kids recognize them when they spot them on the fully assembled map. These high-quality, sturdy puzzle pieces are built to be assembled and disassembled again and again as kids learn more about the country they call home.
Get to know the United States with this 200-piece puzzle from Crocodile Creek that comes with a matching poster! This vibrant USA map puzzle features state names, iconic landmarks, and other details that kids will love to explore. This puzzle is 19" X 13" when assembled, big enough to see the details and get a good sense of American geography. The set also includes a 16" x 24" and a storage canister with a rope handle so that you can take your puzzle fun on the go. For two more geography themed puzzles from Crocodile Creek, check out the World Map Puzzle and Poster and the World Cities Puzzle and Poster.
Test your knowledge of the fifty states as you play this fast-paced game from Game Zone! This award winning board game lets you quiz your friends with a variety of cards: Find cards get kids searching the map looking for a matching illustration; Fact cards ask about state capitals, largest cities, state abbreviations, and more; Figure cards require you to study the map and draw your own conclusions; and Fun cards include silly challenges like spelling Mississippi — backwards! The timer is ticking, so you'll have to know your states to win. This game for 2 to 6 players includes a game board, 400 cards, a spinner, a mechanical timer, and game rules.
A companion to the hilarious book of the same name, this game helps players learn more about the United States through visual teasers, language riddles, and geography challenges. This madcap game of observation and quick reflexes will get kids making connections in unique ways. It's sure to have adults scrambling too!
For more games and toys with a geographical theme, visit our Geography Toys section.
This great American holiday is a day to celebrate, but also a day to remember the amazing people of the past who made this country what it is today. Let's never forget that there were many Mighty Girls and Women among them!
Additional Recommended Resources
- For coloring books, games and puzzles honoring famous women, visit our Women's History toy section.
- Our United States History section features books about all eras of US history, including subcategories on Colonial and Revolutionary history.
- To find true stories of female political leaders in the US and elsewhere, visit our Political Leaders biography section.
- For more games and toys with a geographical theme, visit our Geography Toys section.
- For our collection of Mighty Girl stories that teach about the value of rights, visit our Civil Rights & Liberties section.