Introduce your kids to these great American women children’s books. These picture books will inspire young kids everywhere, and are appropriate to read to young children as well as older kids. These works of children’s literature are a great jumping off point for raising a new generation of feminists.
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Great American Women Picture Books
- Sacagawea- I am Sacagawea
- Vice President Kamala Harris- Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea
- Captain Beverley Bass- Me and the Sky
- Clara Barton- Brave Clara Barton
- Wilma Rudolph- The Quickest Kid in Clarksville
- Kate Shelley- Kate Shelley and the Midnight Express
- Harriet Tubman- An Apple for Harriet Tubman
- Helen Keller- I am Helen Keller
- Katherine Olivia Sessions- The Tree Lady
- Sonia Sotomayor- A Judge Grows in the Bronx / La juez que crecio en el Bronx
- Katherine Johnson- Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13
- Ruby Bridges- The Story of Ruby Bridges
- Maggie Gee- Sky High: The True Story of Maggie Gee
- Juliette Gordon Low- Here Come the Girl Scouts!: The Amazing All-True Story of Juliette ‘Daisy’ Gordon Low and Her Great Adventure
- Mary Lou Williams- The Little Piano Girl: The Story of Mary Lou Williams, Jazz Legend
- Elizabeth Cady Stanton- Elizabeth Leads the Way
- Dr. Kathy Sullivan- To the Stars! The First American Woman to Walk in Space
- Amelia Earhart- Night Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic
- Bessie Coleman- Bessie, Queen of the Sky
- Eugenie Clark- Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist
- Mae Jemison- Mae among the Stars
Great American Women Children’s Books
1. Sacagawea- I am Sacagawea
Sacagawea (May c. 1788 – December 20, 1812) was a Shoshoni Native American. When she was only 16 years old, she joined the Lewis and Clark expedition and greatly helped the team navigate thousands of miles of wilderness (giving birth and caring for her first child along the way!) I am Sacagawea comes from Brad Meltzer’s “Ordinary People change the world” book series. With simple illustrations and straightforward language it’s a good book for young readers.
2. Vice President Kamala Harris- Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea
Kamala Harris (born October 20th, 1964) made history in 2020 by becoming the first female Vice President of the United States. Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea is a picture book written by Harris’ niece Meena and tells the story of sisters Kamala and Maya’s quest to put a playground in their building’s courtyard. It’s a tale of persistence and hard work told from a child’s perspective, which makes it very relatable for younger readers.
3. Captain Beverley Bass- Me and the Sky
Captain Beverley Bass (born in 1952) was one of the first female pilots of commercial airliners. Her heroic flying is immortalized in the broadway hit “Come From Away,” as she was the pilot of a plane that was grounded in Newfoundland after the attacks of 9/11. In Me and the Sky Beverley Bass tells the story of her own lifelong persistence and encourages kids to follow their dreams.
4. Clara Barton- Brave Clara Barton
Clara Barton (December 25, 1821 – April 12, 1912) was a teacher, nurse and civil rights activist who founded the American Red Cross. During the Civil War, she tended to wounded soldiers on the front lines of battle, and successfully petitioned for medical supplies for the war efforts. Her courageous story is told in Brave Clara Barton.
5. Wilma Rudolph- The Quickest Kid in Clarksville
Wilma Rudolph (June 23, 1940 – November 12, 1994) overcame childhood illness which prevented her from walking without leg braces to become a record holding Olympic track and field Athlete. In The Quickest Kid in Clarksville, readers follow young girls from Wilma’s hometown of Clarksville, Tennessee as they race to the parade held for Wilma. Told from a child’s perspective, this is a sweet tale highlighting the importance of hometown female heros.
6. Kate Shelley- Kate Shelley and the Midnight Express
Kate Shelley (December 12, 1863 – January 21, 1912) was an immigrant from Ireland who moved to Iowa when she was a baby. When she was 16 years old, Kate Shelley saved an entire passenger train from crossing over a bridge that had been washed away during a flash flood. Her heroic tale was featured on Reading Rainbow with the book Kate Shelley and the Midnight Express.
7. Harriet Tubman- An Apple for Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman (March 1822 – March 10, 1913) was a great American abolitionist. Born into slavery, she not only escaped but risked her life to rescue her family members and other people who were enslaved. An Apple for Harriet Tubman does a really nice job of explaining the terrible hardships Harriet Tubman overcame in her life in a language children will understand. The story gives examples of her heroic efforts to save other people held in slavery while risking her own life as a “conductor” of the Underground Railroad.
8. Helen Keller- I am Helen Keller
When Helen Keller (June 27, 1880 – June 1, 1968) was only 19 months old, she contracted a mysterious illness that took away her sight and hearing. However, she overcame incredible odds and went on to become a prolific author, teacher and disability rights advocate. I am Helen Keller honors her legacy brilliantly.
9. Katherine Olivia Sessions- The Tree Lady
Katherine Olivia Sessions (November 8, 1857 – March 24, 1940) is more famously known as the “Mother of Balboa Park” in San Diego. The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever tells the story of how Sessions changed San Diego’s landscape forever by planting hundred of trees there. Tree Lady is a story of persistence and the love of nature. With beautiful illustrations, this is a classic children’s book.
10. Sonia Sotomayor- A Judge Grows in the Bronx / La juez que crecio en el Bronx
Sonia Sotomayor (born June 25, 1954) made history in 2009 when she became the first Latina Supreme Court Justice. In Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx / La juez que crecio en el Bronx (Spanish and English Edition) children will get a glimpse of Sonia’s childhood as she grew up in the projects in the Bronx. This books highlights how hard working and supportive Sonia’s mother was, and how determined Sonia was to be successful.
11. Katherine Johnson- Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13
Katherine Johnson (August 26, 1918 – February 24, 2020) was a mathematician and one of the first African American women to work as a NASA scientist. Taraji P. Henson portrayed her in the 2016 movie “Hidden Figures.” Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 follows Katherine on her life long journey of learning and counting.
12. Ruby Bridges- The Story of Ruby Bridges
Ruby Bridges (born September 8, 1954) was the first African American child to desegregate a school in Louisiana in 1960. The Story of Ruby Bridges is a short biography of the hardships Ruby went through as a 6 year old child standing alone against racism. Her courage while facing the mobs of people who angrily protested every day against her going to school is incredibly moving.
13. Maggie Gee- Sky High: The True Story of Maggie Gee
Maggie Gee (August 5, 1923 – February 1, 2013) was one of only two Chinese American Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) to serve in World War II. Sky High: The True Story of Maggie Gee is told in the voice of Maggie, who had the courage to chase her dreams of flying even against the odds.
14. Juliette Gordon Low- Here Come the Girl Scouts!: The Amazing All-True Story of Juliette ‘Daisy’ Gordon Low and Her Great Adventure
Juliette Gordon Low (1860–1927) was the founder of the Girl Scouts of the United States. Through her innovative program, she encouraged girls to be adventurous and skillful. Here Come the Girl Scouts!: The Amazing All-True Story of Juliette ‘Daisy’ Gordon Low and Her Great Adventure tells the story of how the Girl Scouts came to be.
15. Mary Lou Williams- The Little Piano Girl: The Story of Mary Lou Williams, Jazz Legend
Mary Lou Williams (May 8, 1910 – May 28, 1981) was a prolific musician and composer who wrote for Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman. She is known as the “First Lady of Jazz.” The Little Piano Girl: The Story of Mary Lou Williams, Jazz Legend tells the story of her childhood and the way music shaped her life. From supporting her family with the money she earned by playing at small parties to going on to be a Jazz legend, Mary Lou Williams is a great American inspiration.
16. Elizabeth Cady Stanton- Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote
Elizabeth Cady Stanton (November 12, 1815 – October 26, 1902) fought alongside Susan B. Anthony as a leader of the Women’s Rights Movement. She was a human’s rights activist and an abolitionist. Elizabeth Leads the Way explains how hard Elizabeth worked to gain equal rights for all citizens of the United States.
17. Dr. Kathy Sullivan- To the Stars! The First American Woman to Walk in Space
Dr. Kathy Sullivan (born October 3, 1951) has led an incredible and inspirational life. In 1984 she became the first American woman to walk in space, and in 2020 she became the first woman to dive to the Challenger Deep in the Marina Trench, the deepest parts of Earth’s oceans. In the book To the Stars!: The First American Woman to Walk in Space readers follow Kathy’s journey as a young girl who chased her dreams to lead the live she wanted.
18. Amelia Earhart- Night Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic
Amelia Earhart (born July 24, 1897 – disappeared July 2, 1937) was a pioneer in flight and a hero to many women. In Night Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic readers follow along with Amelia as she dares to do what only one person (and no woman) has ever done- fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. This exciting book will leave kids motivated to learn more about Amelia’s amazing legacy.
19. Bessie Coleman- Bessie, Queen of the Sky
Brave Bessie Coleman (January 26, 1892 – April 30, 1926) broke barriers as the first African American and first Native American woman pilot. Bessie, Queen of the Sky tells of the hurdles Bessie had to jump as a young woman who sought an education in flying, and how much she accomplished in her short life.
20. Eugenie Clark- Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist
Eugenie Clark (May 4, 1922 – February 25, 2015) was a scientist who studied fish (specifically shark) behavior. She was a pioneer in using scuba diving as a way to observe and collect research. Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist is an exciting book about Eugenie’s journey to become an authority in marine conservation efforts.
21. Mae Jemison- Mae among the Stars
Former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison (born October 17, 1956) was the first African American woman to travel to outer space in 1992. Mae Among the Stars follows young Mae as a little girl on her journey to becoming a groundbreaking astronaut, even when teachers encouraged her to be something more ordinary.
Searching for more inspiration for Great American Women children’s books? Check out my Women’s History Month curated book list at Bookshop.org.
Great American Women Children’s Books
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