A Mighty Girl's top picks of the best new biographies for children and teens about incredible women from around the world.
Some of the greatest minds in the history of the world have been dismissed because they were covered with curls and bows. — Historian Gerda Lerner, founder of the field of women's history
When you think back to your history classes in school, you may realize, as Gerda Lerner did, that "ostensibly one-half the human race is doing everything significant and the other half doesn’t exist." But increasingly, we are reclaiming history, telling the stories of the girls and women whose contributions to our shared story deserve to be celebrated! As parents and educators, it's also important that we tell these stories to all of our children, boys and girls alike, so that they live in a world where history has always been about the contributions of all of humanity.
In honor of Women's History Month, we've collected the best biographies that have been published in the past 12 months about remarkable, determined, trailblazing women! These books for children and teens feature a broad range of women in many different fields, from science to the arts to politics and activism, making them excellent additions to any bookshelf or school curriculum. Whether you're sharing a picture book biography at bedtime or introducing your teen to an inspiring new hero, these books will remind them to tell women's stories all year long!
For more books of inspiring girls and women from around the world, check out the hundreds of biographies and works of historical fiction in A Mighty Girl's History & Biography Collection.
Biographies of Mighty Girls & Women
This empowering board book is a great way to teach kids that "little trailblazers cause great big changes!" Ten groundbreaking women leaders are featured in this book, ranging from computer pioneer Ada Lovelace to athlete Wilma Rudolph to prima ballerina Maria Tallchief. Each woman's story is told in a short verse and accompanied by a cheerful illustration, while a final two-page spread provides a list of twelve more women whose stories you can explore together.
Celia Cruz had a powerful voice, a unique style, and the determination to change the music world forever! After starting her career singing in local contests and winning sweets as prizes, Cruz's star began to rise... and when she and her husband were forced to leave their home and settle in New York City, she would become known to the world as "The Queen of Salsa." Her delightful music has been azucar (sugar) to our ears ever since! This bilingual board book from the Lil' Libros series is a charming introduction to this powerful musical personality; simple text and vibrant illustrations make it perfect for sharing with young children.
From the moment she saw a shark at the New York Aquarium, Eugenie Clark was fascinated, but the rest of the world thought that sharks were mindless eating machines — and that girls couldn't be scientists. Clark devoted her life to learning about sharks, and proved that sharks weren't as dangerous as people feared. She even proved they could learn! She also built public support for the protection of her beloved sharks and the ocean in which they lived. This picture book biography of the "Shark Lady" is a celebration of a daring woman who changed the way the world saw one of the ocean's most famous inhabitants.
Harriet Tubman was born enslaved, but she knew she deserved to be free. She had the courage to make a run for it, despite the terrible consequences if she were caught, and escape to the North. Then, bravely, she dared to return to the South so that she could lead more people to freedom: as a conductor for the Underground Railroad, she never lost a "passenger." In this new addition to Brad Meltzer's best-selling Ordinary People Change The World series, young readers can learn more about Tubman and see how even a hero like her began her journey as a child like them. For more resources about this American hero, visit our Harriet Tubman Collection.
Mae Jemison famously became the first black woman in space on the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1992 but years before that historic journey, she was a little girl who dreamed of dancing in space. Her mother told her, "If you believe it, and work hard for it, anything is possible." Little Mae's curiosity, intelligence, and determination, matched with her parents' encouraging words, paved the way for her incredible success at NASA. This inspirational introduction to a trailblazing astronaut will encourage children to reach for the stars and never give up on their dreams.
Groundbreaking artist Frida Kahlo loved to paint and she loved her pets, her animalitos! As author Monica Brown describes each of Frida's beloved pets — two monkeys, a parrot, three dogs, two turkeys, an eagle, a black cat, and a fawn — she also explores how Kahlo embodied many characteristics of each animal, as well as how both her pets and her painting sustained Kahlo through the difficult times of her life. Warm, personal, and vibrant, this colorful picture book is a fitting tribute to the animals that supported and inspired Kahlo's work. For more resources about this groundbreaking artist, visit our Frida Kahlo Collection.
When Sacagawea left with Lewis and Clark on their mission to explore the West, nobody thought a woman, particularly a Native American woman, could contribute much. But as a translator, Sacagawea was able to help the expedition communicate with the tribes they met on their travels, and as a guide, she ensured they found their way. Her quick thinking even saved critical supplies that got washed off their canoes — while the men on the expedition were busy panicking. This new entry in the Ordinary People Change the World biography series is an excellent way to introduce kids to this literal trailblazer.
In Mrs. Bean's 18th century American home, full of six busy sons, things are chaos — until she hires Amelia Simmons to help. Simmons cooks and bakes delicious meals, from flapjacks to pickled cucumbers, and she even invents new recipes using local ingredients! So when the new president, George Washington, is coming, Simmons gets her oven going and creates thirteen Independence Cakes, one for each colony. Author Deborah Hopkinson imagines an inventive backstory for Simmons, author of the first American cookbook, in this delightful historical fiction picture book which even includes one of Simmons' original recipes.
She began her life as Minty, a slave whose spirit would not be broken, despite the abuse heaped upon her. When she escaped to freedom, she called herself Harriet Tubman. And then when she returned, over and over, to help others through the Underground Railroad, she was called Moses — because she was leading her people home. This evocative poetic telling of Tubman's life is accented with luminous illustrations for an unforgettable portrait. For more books for all ages about this inspiring figure, visit our Harriet Tubman Collection.
In 1950s San Francisco, Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin met and fell in love. But outside their windows, there were many things they saw that they wanted to change. For decades, these two activists fought for women's rights, LGBTQ rights, and more, so their community could be everything they dreamed. The main narrative of this book is a look through San Francisco windows, highlighting landmarks that mattered to Lyon and Martin and the changes they saw — and made happen — over time, while back matter provides historical details about these two inspiring activists.
Doctors told Temple Grandin's mother that she'd never speak, let alone have a productive life. But her mother refused to believe it: she saw potential in her observant and creative child. As Temple grew, she learned to articulate how her mind worked: her astounding visual memory allowed her to draw whole blueprints from just one tour through a facility, and her empathy with animals helped her design spaces that helped them stay calm. Today, she is a powerful voice in science, advocating for autistic people like herself. This picture book biography told in rhyming text is an inspiring introduction to an important figure in scientific history.
When Elizabeth Cotten picked up her big brother's guitar for the first time, it was all wrong for her: it was far too big for the little girl, and it wasn't strung for a left-handed player. But she flipped it upside down and backwards and learned anyway! By the time she was eleven, she'd written one of the most famous folk songs of the twentieth century, "Freight Train"... and while her music was forgotten for a time, by the end of her life, it was famous around the world. This lyrical picture book pays tribute to a determined and talented folk musician whose innovative techniques are still used today — and whose music has delighted millions.
Bobbi Gibb loved to run, and when she learned about the Boston Marathon, she was determined to be a part of it. She ran and she trained, and when she felt ready, she applied... and she was rejected, because women weren't permitted to run the marathon. But Gibb refused to accept that answer, and in 1966, she dared to break the rules and prove that women could run! This light and energetic telling of a marathon trailblazer celebrates both Gibb's determination and the power of the community when they fight for equality together.
Caroline Herschel was born to a family where girls weren't expected to amount to much — especially once she ended up scarred by smallpox and stunted by typhus. Her family used her as a scullery maid, but her brother William saw her promise, so when he left for England, he took her with him. Together, the astronomy-loving brother and sister built the greatest telescope of their age, which Caroline used to discover fourteen nebulae and two galaxies. She even became the first woman to discover a comet — and the first woman officially employed as a scientist. This picture book biography of the groundbreaking astronomer will inspire kids with her spirit of curiosity and resilience.
In Pakistan, a baby girl is considered bad luck, but Malala's father Ziauddin disagreed. When people said girls shouldn't go to school, Malala went to secret classes, and started writing a blog about her life that people around the world read. Even when the Taliban tried to kill her, Malala would not stay quiet; she recovered and traveled around the world speaking about the importance of equal access to education. Author / illustrator Lina Maslo's poetic and inspiring telling of the life of this phenomenal activist for girls' education will make young readers ask themselves how their own voice can contribute to this important cause. For more books to share this inspiring activist's story, visit our Malala Yousafzai Collection.
In 1926, Gertrude Ederle stood at the edge of the English Channel. Her plan was to swim solo across the whole thing — but everyone knew a woman couldn't possibly be a strong enough swimmer to succeed. With her body smeared with grease to protect her from jellyfish stings, and a pair of motorcycle goggles to protect her eyes, Ederle set out. Fourteen and a half hours later, she reached the other side and made history. Author Sue Macy and illustrator Matt Collins team up to create an inspiring account that captures Ederle's physical determination and power, and shows how her swim became a defining moment in the history of women in sports.
Grace Hopper was a software tester, a creative inventor, and a top-notch mentor — but she was also a famous rule-breaker, risk-taker, and sometimes a real trouble-maker! In this riveting picture book biography of the woman nicknamed "Amazing Grace," author Laurie Wallmark captures the determination and cleverness of the woman who invented the COBOL computer language, allowing people to "talk" to computers with typed commands. Fun anecdotes — like the time she found a literal bug in the computer — provide a glimpse into the extraordinary life of this accomplished woman, who knew that quick thinking and insatiable curiosity were the key to pushing a (sometimes reluctant) world forward.
In this much-anticipated follow-up to She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed The World, author Chelsea Clinton goes beyond America's borders to introduce young readers to inspiring women from around the globe! Scientists, athletes, artists, and activists: these women refused to listen to the naysayers and insisted on making their voice heard. From famous names like J.K. Rowling, Malala Yousafzai, and Marie Curie, to less familiar ones like Leymah Gbowee, Carline Herschel, and Kate Sheppard, these profiles will show kids that women everywhere prove that persistence is power every day.
Growing up in Rome, Elsa Schiaparelli knew she was "brutta" — ugly — so she searched around her for beauty, even "planting" seeds in her ears and nose so she would be vibrant and colorful like the flower market! In the 1920s and '30s, as a single mother in Paris, she drew inspiration from her surrealist artist friends and her own vivid imagination and started creating amazing, unique designs — from a hat shaped like shoes to a dress covered in lobsters — all in bold colors, including the signature shocking pink she invented herself. With style and sophistication, this book celebrates a truly innovative designer who dared to go her own way.
Growing up in Iraq, Zaha Hadid dreamed of designing her own city. After she studied architecture, she opened her own studio in London — but a Muslim woman architect faced many obstacles, especially when she wanted to design buildings that curved and swooped like natural objects rather than sticking to lines and columns. Today, even after her death, her architects continue to chase her vision, remembering her motto: "the world is not a rectangle." This poetic introduction to the life and work of Hadid from beloved author / illustrator Jeanette Winter reminds kids that a different perspective can be a powerful thing.
When Patricia Bath was coming of age, the intelligent young woman was determined to become a doctor, but she had many obstacles in her way: sexism, racism, and poverty all seemed to be working against her. Despite it all, she broke new ground for both women and African Americans in her chosen field of ophthalmology. In 1981, Bath invented the Laserphaco Probe, a quick and nearly painless way to treat cataracts — one which has now been used on millions of patients around the world! This inspiring story, which includes a note from Bath herself, highlights the power of fighting for a dream.
In Baltimore, a 13-year-old named Caroline Pickersgill, who grew up in a family of flag makers, helped a group of women create a very special flag to fly over Fort McHenry. Together, they worked diligently to sew one of the largest flags they'd ever made; Mary Pickersgill, Caroline's mother, even took the surprising step of negotiating a contract for the two African-American sewists. But the real test would come when the British attacked Baltimore on September 12, 1814. Would the flag stay waving? This fascinating story about the origin of the flag that inspired "The Star-Spangled Banner" will delight young readers.
When Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden joined NASA, they were hired as "human computers" — their mathematical genius was put to use calculating launch trajectories for America's first trips to space. They overcame both racism and sexism, carved out careers in science, and participated in some of NASA's greatest triumphs. Fans of the Hidden Figures movie will be excited to share this picture book adaptation of the story of these groundbreaking women mathematicians with younger readers!
As a child, Maya Lin loved studying the space around her: she explored the nearby forest, and built little towns out of scrap paper in her home. She was still an art student when she submitted a design for the proposed Vietnam Veterans Memorial: an angled expanse of glossy black stone, with names carved in seemingly endless lines. Her design was controversial at the time, but today it's hailed as one of the most moving monuments ever built. This celebration of Lin's artistry and love of light and space will show young readers the power of following your vision.
Lucile "Ludy" Godbold was six feet tall and skinny as a pole... and she was an athlete like nobody had seen before. Her long, strong arms made the ball fly when she tried shotput at Winthrop College in South Carolina, and she easily qualified for the first ever Women's Olympics in Paris in 1922. Ludy didn't have the money to go, but fortunately, her classmates and college were determined to get Long-Armed Ludy to Paris — where she won her event by a foot! Based on a true story about a little known athlete, and full of charming, folksy language, this picture book biography will get kids cheering.
Margaret Hamilton loved numbers, and to her, the best part of math was when it could solve a problem in the real world! Her love of math introduced her to computers, and then to a job at NASA, where they were planning a mission to the moon — and computers were going to be a part of it. Hamilton hand-wrote the code for the Apollo missions, and when a last-minute problem cropped up as Apollo 11 prepared for a lunar landing, it was Hamilton's forward-thinking code that saved the day! This lively look at a computer pioneer is a great way to show young readers that math really can take you to the stars.
Nelle Harper was not like the other girls of Monroeville, Alabama, preferring overalls to dresses and climbing trees to tea parties. She also loved watching her father's work as a lawyer and spending time writing tales with her best friend, 'Tru' (the future famous writer Truman Capote). When she was older, Nelle went to New York City, and spent every spare moment at her typewriter. The story she was born to tell finally came to her and her groundbreaking book, To Kill A Mockingbird, went on to sell forty million copies! This picture book biography of Harper Lee celebrates a woman who "carved out a life of her own design."
Jackie Kennedy loved New York, the city where she grew up. She loved its beautiful parks and its elegant buildings and architecture. In the late 1960s, however, one of New York's great landmarks, Grand Central Station, had seen better days and people were proposing to tear it down. She knew she had to do something, and her powerful defense of the station's importance drew thousands of people to come together to protect Grand Central. They even took the case to the Supreme Court — finally protecting the building forever by having it declared a historic landmark. This vibrant telling of a little known part of New York history and the power of people to make a difference in their community is sure to inspire.
Gloria Steinem knew that girls were equal to boys, but few people seemed to agree with her at first. She wrote for newspapers and magazine, spreading the ideals of feminism, and when she co-founded Ms. Magazine, she became the voice for a movement: women across the country demanding their rights. This picture book biography follows Steinem from childhood, to her political awakening, and on to her major role in the feminist movement, and explores both her motivations for her activism and the obstacles she faced along the way. Accenting her words with brilliant watercolor illustrations, author / illustrator Aura Lewis captures Steinem's powerful personality and highlights the power of believing in yourself.
Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen: The Story of Six Novels, Three Notebooks, a Writing Box, and One Clever Girl
Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen: The Story of Six Novels, Three Notebooks, a Writing Box, and One Clever Girl
If you had met young Jane Austen, you might have barely noticed her because she was so quiet and shy, but observant Jane noticed everything around her. She also loved to read, and soon, she was writing her own stories. But she didn't want to write adventures and romances, like the popular books of the day; instead, she wrote realistic stories, about the people and society around her — and often using biting irony to critique attitudes towards women, marriage, and class. In this elegant picture book biography, complete with a detailed timeline and quotes from Austen's most popular stories, kids get a fitting introduction to one of the great authors of English literature: an ordinary girl who created extraordinary books. For more books about this quietly extraordinary woman, visit our Jane Austen Collection.
How did Rosa Parks grow up to be brave enough not just to keep her seat on a bus, but also to make contributions to the Civil Rights Movement over decades? This book from American Girl's new biography series follows Parks through her childhood, highlighting the defining moments that shaped her character and led to the one history-making moment that most people remember first. In addition, the book includes a timeline, a glossary, and a story about a noteworthy modern girl who is following in Parks' footsteps! This early chapter book about Parks is a great choice for emerging readers. For more resources about this civil rights hero, visit our Rosa Parks Collection.
She's been called one of the greatest American minds of all time, and when NASA first started using computers to calculate launch trajectories, they only trusted them after she double-checked the math! Katherine Johnson broke both gender and racial boundaries when she started working for NASA in the 1950s as a human computer, performing the complex calculations necessary to launch rockets, satellites, and eventually, the Apollo 11 moon mission. New chapter book readers who are fans of the hit movie Hidden Figures will be excited to read their very own book about Johnson.
As a girl, Hillary Clinton was constantly told what girls couldn't do. But she refused to give up on her dreams, even though they took determination, courage, and confidence to spare! This book explores the defining moments of Clinton's childhood that drove her to achieve many firsts, including becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major political party. Full-color illustrations, a timeline, and a glossary provide addition details, and at the end, a profile of a noteworthy American girl following in Hillary's footsteps will inspire young readers to reach for their own dreams!
When Amalia Hernández saw a troupe of dancers perform, her dreams were full of dancing! She studied many kinds of dance, like ballet and modern, under the best teachers in the world — and then she returned to Mexico and studied under the best regional dancers of her country. After years of studying and dancing, she founded a dance company, El Ballet Folklórico de México, that combined all these different kinds of dance, becoming an international sensation. Duncan Tonatiuh's distinctive and colorful Mixtec-inspired artwork adds to his inspiring text, creating a story about Hernández that seems poised to leap off the page.
Even as a child, Belva Lockwood asked, "Are women not worth the same as men?" Despite prejudice, she went to law school, spoke before the Supreme Court, and protested on behalf of women's rights. And, when Lockwood decided to run for president in 1884, she became the first woman ever to appear on the ballot! In this nonfiction picture book crackling with the same energy that Lockwood brought to every challenge she encountered, kids will learn how Lockwood had the courage to speak her mind despite all the voices against her. An endnote includes a timeline with details about other major victories in the fight for women's rights, including Hillary Clinton's 2016 run as the first female presidential candidate nominated by a major party.
As an enslaved child in Kentucky, Lilly Ann Granderson learned to read from her master's children as they played school, and she passed on what she learned to others on the plantation. When she was sold to a plantation in Mississippi, she learned that it was illegal for enslaved people to learn to read and write, and the punishment was brutal: thirty-nine lashes. Granderson was still determined to teach others, however, so she formed a secret night school, despite the risks, and taught hundreds of people. This inspiring story about a little-known champion of literacy captures Granderson's unwavering belief in the power and importance of education.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: During this trial, you will learn about a little girl who had no clue just how important she would become." In this unique picture book, the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is told in the form of a trial, not unlike those that she argued as a lawyer and hears today as a judge. The narrator lays out "the facts of her case" — sexism, anti-Semitism, discrimination against working mothers — and highlights how the "notorious" Ginsburg became a symbol of justice in America. Unique, tongue-in-cheek, and full of heart, this book is a powerful testament to Ginsburg's lasting influence. For two more picture books about Ginsburg, check out I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark and No Truth Without Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, both for ages 5 to 9.
Over one hundred years before computers became common, a young woman named Ada Lovelace imagined the possibility of computers being used for calculations, communication, music, and more — and became the world's first computer programmer! The child of acclaimed poet Lord Byron and mathematical genius Annabella Milbanke, Ada combined her mother's logical mind with her father's vivid imagination, and when she learned about Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine, that sparked the idea for an algorithm designed to be run by a machine: a computer program. This vibrant biography by the author of Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell, celebrates the woman who envisioned the computer age. For more resources about this computing pioneer, visit our Ada Lovelace Collection.
Throughout American history, there were bold, daring black women who broke all expectations and boundaries to make the world a better place! In this engaging picture book, author/illustrator Vashti Harrison introduces young readers to forty trailblazing women, including abolitionist Sojourner Truth, pilot Bessie Coleman, chemist Alice Ball, politician Shirley Chisholm, mathematician Katherine Johnson, poet Maya Angelou, and filmmaker Julie Dash. This inspiring book, filled with stunning full-page illustrations of each of the featured women, reminds young readers that every great leader began as a little leader, taking their first steps towards something big.
Even as a child, Jane Addams' compassion drove her to help others. As an adult, she created Hull House, a settlement house in Chicago — and for 25 years, she helped people from many countries learn to live and work together. When World War I broke out, it only made sense to her to work for peace on a global scale, but many considered her efforts tantamount to treason and she was branded "the Most Dangerous Woman in America." This energetic picture book biography of the activist and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate provide an excellent introduction to the woman who became 'dangerous' for the sake of peace.
On her way to church in July 1854, Elizabeth Jennings was refused a seat on a streetcar, and when she sat down anyway, she was forced off the car by the conductor and a police officer, leaving her bruised and injured. She decided to take her case to court with the support of her family and her community, and legal representation by a future President of the United States! Her victory is little known today, but it was a pivotal moment in the long fight for desegregation of public transportation. Amy Hill Hearth turns a journalist's eye to telling this inspiring story, packing in facts about life in mid-1800s New York and vivid storytelling that will keep middle readers engrossed until they reach the triumphant conclusion.
Jane Austen's novels have remained almost constantly in print since they were published, and established her as one of the great authors of English literature. Yet in her own time, she published anonymously and was little recognized for her talents. Her realistic stories and critiques of the British landed gentry and the pursuit of a "good match" in matters of marriage were unique in her time and remain meaningful today! In this book from the popular Who Was...? biography series, middle grade readers get an intriguing introduction to this private but groundbreaking author. For more resources about Austen, visit our Jane Austen Collection.
The Children of Willesden Lane: A True Story of Hope and Survival During World War II - Young Readers Edition
The Children of Willesden Lane: A True Story of Hope and Survival During World War II - Young Readers Edition
As the Nazi regime rose — and people began to suspect its aims — one program, the Kindertransport, brought 10,000 children into the United Kingdom for safety. Lisa Jura was a 14-year-old musical prodigy whose parents were offered the chance to send one of their three children; they chose her. In a home for refugee children she yearned for her family, but her music offered hope to both her and many around her in the midst of the war. This young readers adaptation of the biography for teens and adults, The Children of Willesden Lane: Beyond the Kindertransport: A Memoir of Music, Love, and Survival, captures both the pain caused by the war and the power of music to lift everyone up.
In the early days of the space program, segregation was still the law, and most people thought that girls didn't belong in science. But at NASA, female African-American mathematicians challenged both gender and racial barriers: these "human computers" calculated the launch trajectories for America's rockets and satellites, and eventually, even for the first crewed space flights. In this narrative nonfiction book, young readers learn about these dedicated women, and then get a look at how women working at NASA today feel about their place in the space agency.
The wife of Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King was a civil rights leader in her own right, playing a prominent role in the African American struggle for racial equality in the 1960s. She joined the NAACP while she was still in college, and it was her determination and courage that allowed her to stay strong while her family was threatened by those who would silence their voices. From her childhood in Alabama, to her leadership of the Civil Rights Movement after her husband was assassinated, and to her advocacy for women's rights, LGBTQ rights, and world peace, this book from the accessible Who Was? biography series provides a compelling portrait of this smart and dedicated woman. For more resources about this often-overlooked leader, visit our Coretta Scott King Collection.
Middle grade fans of the indomitable Ruth Bader Ginsburg can now learn her story in this young readers edition of the best-selling Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg! From her convention-defying choice to continue law school even after marrying and having a family to her blistering dissents from the bench of the U.S. Supreme Court, this book explores Ginsburg's influence on both the law and popular culture. Young readers will be fascinated to see how this one determined woman has changed the face of their country over the course of her life.
In this follow-up to her bestselling book Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World, Rachel Ignotofsky shines a light on trailblazing athletes! From well-known figures like tennis player Billie Jean King and gymnast Simone Biles, to lesser-known champions like Toni Stone, the first woman to play baseball in a professional men's league, and skateboarding pioneer Patti McGee, these stories provide a unique look at groundbreaking female athletes of the past and present. Additional infographics cover fascinating details like a timeline of women's participation in sports, pay and media statistics for female athletes, and influential women's teams.
Today, Madeleine L'Engle is known as the groundbreaking author of A Wrinkle in Time but to get there, she had to persevere through tremendous obstacles. In this unique biography, L'Engle's granddaughters create a portrait of both the public face of this beloved author and her private life. They explore her lonely childhood, using excerpts from her teenage diaries, as well as the dozens of rejections she received before a publisher took a chance on her unique novel. This insightful and personal look at L'Engle's life will inspire readers of all ages to persist in following their dreams.
When Maria Merian began studying the world around her, bugs were considered to be "beasts of the devil." Everyone knew they spontaneously generated from mud; why would anyone want to study them? Merian's curiosity drove her to examine even these creatures, and through her notes and her art, she successfully documented something miraculous: the metamorphosis of the butterfly. This stunning biography, which is beautifully accented by full-color original artwork from Merian herself, provides an exciting look at one of the first female entomologists and her lifetime of exploration.
When Maya Lin proposed an expanse of polished black granite for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial -- and her proposal won -- the public was shocked. Today, her once controversial monument is considered one of the most powerful memorials of modern times. 35 years later, however, few people know much about the quiet, reserved young woman who was just a college student when she entered the design competition. In this captivating biography, accompanied with detailed photos, author Susan Goldman Rubin explores how Lin's artistic eye, Chinese-American heritage, and unique use of space created one of the most famous pieces of civic architecture in the world.
In October 2016, seven-year-old Bana Alabed became the voice of millions of children when she took to Twitter to tell the world about the horrors of the Syrian civil war. She lost her best friend, her school, and her home, and her heartrending messages — including “I just want to live without fear.” — captured the world's attention. Following her and her family's life in Syria and eventual escape to Turkey, this book alternates Bana's words with short chapters by her mother to create a reminder of the resiliency of the human spirit, the unconquerable courage of a child, and the abiding power of hope.
When the US Army Airforce faced a shortage of pilots in the middle of World War II, they called upon a determined group of women to help. The 1,100 women of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) were trained like military pilots, marching in review and wearing uniforms. They took on grunt work like testing repaired planes and ferrying planes from factories to bases, and even towing targets for live ammunition training. A number died in the line of duty, but because they were "only" civilians, they received no military benefits, not even for burials. In this inspiring book, author Patricia Pearson creates a lively account of the daring women whose love of flying and desire to serve their country drove them to soar and challenge the sexist attitudes of their time.
It's easy to say that the 19th Amendment "gave" women the right to vote, but the truth is that women had to fight to win that right — for almost eighty years, with literal blood, sweat, and tears. In this exciting volume, author Susan Zimet captures just how complicated the quest for women's suffrage in the United States was, and paints vivid portraits of the women who endured mockery, arrest, and even torture to achieve it, in some cases knowing that the Amendment wouldn't pass in their lifetimes. With portraits, period cartoons, and other archival images, Zimet highlights just how controversial the notion of votes for women was. Tween and teen readers will be shocked to learn the details of this epic women's rights battle — and inspired to use their votes well in future!
As a child, Melba Pattillo Beals saw Klansmen hang a man from the rafters during a prayer meeting; as a teen, she was almost raped when she was unknowingly taken to a KKK meeting. And throughout, she asked tough questions: why should she have to drink from a separate fountain, or live her life feeling unsafe? The adults in her life wanted her to keep quiet out of fear, but she refused: she knew there was a future where she could live free — and as one of the Little Rock Nine, she made her mark on history. This powerful memoir captures the courage and determination of Beals and the other child activists like her who pushed for change.
From 19th century battlefield nurses Clara Barton and Florence Nightingale, to modern medical miracle workers like Dr. Catherine Hamlin and Dr. Bonnie Simpson Mason, women have long played a key role in medicine — but their contributions have often been downplayed or forgotten. In this fascinating new title from the Women of Action series, readers get to meet some of the daring and trailblazing women of the past two hundred years of medicine. These women defied prejudices and expectations, created incredible new procedures, and devoted their lives to healing people around the world.
One morning, 18-year-old Victoria woke up to learn that her uncle had died — and that meant she would be taking the throne of England. Advisors and family thought the young queen would be easily swayed; instead, she boldly forged ahead, ruling for 63 years and overseeing some of the most dramatic social and economic changes her country — and empire — had ever known. In this lively and exciting biography, author Catherine Reef captures a unique portrait of the passionate, determined, and indomitable Queen Victoria.
Gertrude “Tommy” Tompkins joined the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) to overcome her grief over the death of the love of her life; learning to fly freed her from that and from the stutter that had plagued her throughout her life. But after lifting off for a mission on October 26, 1944, the 32-year-old pilot disappeared; she remains the only WASP still missing and what happened to her remains a mystery. In this fascinating book from the Women of Action series, author James Ure draws on years of research to create a complex portrait of this daring woman and her tragic end.
When American women won the right to vote in 1920, it was the culmination of a nearly eighty-year fight! In this mesmerizing book, author Winifred Conkling crafts a unique history of the Women's Suffrage Movement that explores the broader progress of the movement, as well as its often powerful and sometimes rocky relationship with the temperance and abolitionist movements. From early activists like Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth; to the first female candidate for president, Victoria Woodhull; to later activists like Alice Paul and Lucy Burns who succeeded in successfully pushing the amendment through at great personal cost, Votes for Women! tells their stories and explores their legacies in a riveting and unflinching fashion.
When Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein in response to a dare, it wasn't just a challenge: it was a chance to express to all of the grief and pain she had survived in her young life. Only nineteen years old, Shelley had already been disowned by her family, caused a scandal by living with a married man, and lost her newborn daughter. Her "ghost story" not only won her dare, but the passion behind her words created a classic work of literature that is still devoured by readers two centuries later. In this gorgeous novel in verse, accompanied by hundreds of stunning black-and-white watercolor illustrations, author / illustrator Lita Judge has created a haunting depiction of the pregnant runaway teenager whose Gothic horror novel sparked the imagination of millions.
Today, Diane Guerrero is the star of hit shows like Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin, but at fourteen, she came home from school to discover that her parents had been deported while she was in class. Since she had been born in the US, Guerrero could stay — but to continue her education, she had to depend on the kindness of friends to help her build a life for herself. In this gripping and ultimately triumphant memoir, Guerrero offers a personal take on the struggles of the millions of undocumented immigrants and their citizen children. Guerrero has also adapted her book for middle grade readers; to learn more My Family Divided: One Girl's Journey Home, Loss, and Hope.
Additional Recommended Resources
- For more inspiring stories about trailblazing women throughout history, visit our extensive Biography Collection.
- For a wide selection of both non-fiction history books and historical fiction, visit our History Collection.
- For toys and games to encourage an interest in women's history, visit our History Toy Collection.
- For films to introduce kids of all ages to the lives of inspiring women, visit our Documentary Collection.