10 Picture Books in Honor of International Women's Day and Women's History Month

Today (March 8th) is International Women's Day. In some countries this holiday is much like Mother's Day. Men give flowers and gifts to the women in their lives. Others focus more on political activism for women's rights. In the United States, the whole month of March is also considered Women's History Month. So in honor of that, I headed to the library to check out some picture books about women to read to my children. I actually had a hard time finding nonfiction picture books about historical women that were short enough to keep the attention of my young children--ages 5, 3, and 2 (if you have any recommendations I would love to hear suggestions in the comments!) I found a few that we enjoyed, but I also broadened out to  include some fictional books that feature strong female characters. Below are some of the books we read and enjoyed.

10 Picture Books with Strong Heroines
(Both Fictional and Historical)

Seeds of Change: Wangari's Gift to the World  by Jen Cullerton Johnson and Sonia Lynn Sadler--This is the true story of 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Wangari Maathi. It is really suited for older children (The description says 7 and up) because it has a lot of text, but my 3-year-old and 5-year-old surprised me by sitting through it all. They were very captivated by the vibrant illustrations.

Marching with Aunt Susan: Susan B. Anthony and the Fight for Women's Suffrage  by Claire Rudolf Murphy and Stacey Schuett--My kids enjoyed this story about the fight for women's rights. It is told from the first-person point of view of a young girl so perhaps that helps children connect with the story more.

You Forgot Your Skirt, Amelia Bloomer by Shana Corey and Chesley McLaren--This is a lighthearted introduction to the women's rights movement in the U.S. It is a short and easy readso even though it lacks the depth of some books, it still brings up some issues women used to face and is a great choice for young children.

Me . . . Jane  by Patrick McDonnell--My kids love monkeys--especially chimpanzees. So this book about Jane Goodall was a perfect fit for them. It is a 2012 Caldecott Honor Book.

Grace for President by Kelly S. DiPucchio and LeUyen Pham--In this story, a girl named Grace dreams of being the first president of the United States, and she starts on her journey by running for class president.

Miss Rumphius  by Barbara Cooney--Miss Rumphius has a grandfather that encouraged her to make the world more beautiful. So, in a small and simple way she makes the world a better place. I love this book because it shows that we don't always have to do great, dramatic things to make an impact.

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell and David Catrow--This is a charming fictional book that is perfect for preschoolers. When Molly Lou Melon faces a boy at a new school who teases her, she stands up to him and shows the other children that her differences can actually be assets.

Willow by Denise Brennan-Nelson, Rosemarie Brennan and Cyd Moore--Willow frustrates her art teacher by always veering from the established examples of what her art should look like. But in the end, it's the teacher who learns the value of self expression.

The Paper Bag Princess  by Robert Munsch and Michael Martchenko--Roles are reversed in this picture book about a princess who saves a stuck-up knight from a dragon.

Fanny's Dream  by Caralyn Buehner and Mark Buehner--This is another "fairytale" story that has a twist from your traditional plot ending. Fanny dreams of meeting her fairy godmother and being whisked off to the mayor's house to marry the mayor's son just as Cinderella met her prince. But when her fairy godmother finally arrives, Fanny realizes that she is happy with her life the way it is. I love this story because it shows that "happily ever after" can come in many different ways--not just through marrying a prince.

If you have older readers, you could find even more books to share with your children at your local library. While I had a hard time finding shorter picture books about many historical women whom I admire, I saw a lot of biographies or longer books in the juvenile nonfiction section of the library that would be great for older kids.

I would love to hear your comments, too. Do you have any favorite picture books featuring strong women or girls? What women from history are your heroes and why?

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