March is Women’s History Month. During the month, we remember the contributions of notable and ordinary women. To help you celebrate, here are some recently released books that celebrate women’s accomplishments. Synopses are in gray and provided by the publishers.
Ages 3 and up
WOMEN ARTISTS A TO Z, by Melanie LaBarge and Caroline Corrigan, Dial Books, Feb. 11, 2020, Hardcover, $19.99 (ages 3-7)
From Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keeffe, to Jaune Quick-to-See Smith and Xenobia Bailey, this lushly illustrated alphabet picture book presents both famous and underrepresented women in the fine arts from a variety of genres: painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, and more. Each spread features a simple line of text encapsulating the creator’s iconic work in one word, such as “D is for Dots” (Yayoi Kusama) and “S is for Spider” (Louise Bourgeois), followed by slightly longer text about the artist for older readers who would like to know more. Backmatter includes photos, extended biographies, and discussion questions.
This is more than your typical ABC book. Brief paragraphs introduce the artists and inspire further research, making it a good choice for older as well as young readers. Stylized illustrations perfectly capture each artist’s style.
Ages 4 and up
THE ONLY WOMAN IN THE PHOTO: FRANCES PERKINS & HER NEW DEAL FOR AMERICA, by Kathleen Krull and Alexandra Bye, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Feb. 4, 2020, Hardcover, $18.99 (ages 4-8)
Most people know about President FDR, but do you know the woman who created his groundbreaking New Deal? As a young girl, Frances Perkins was very shy and quiet. But her grandmother encouraged Frances to always challenge herself. When somebody opens a door to you, go forward. And so she did.
Frances realized she had to make her voice heard, even when speaking made her uncomfortable, and use it to fight injustice and build programs to protect people across the nation. So when newly-elected President Franklin Delano Roosevelt finally asked Frances to be the first female Secretary of Labor and help pull the nation out of the Great Depression, she knew she had to walk through that open door and forward into history.
I had never heard of Frances Perkins prior to reading this book. She was an amazing woman who accomplished so much in a time when women were supposed to stay at home and be quiet. Beautiful illustrations are paired with smooth text in this fantastic picture book.
ANNA STRONG: A SPY DURING THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, by Sarah Glenn Marsh and Sarah Green, Abrams Books for Young Readers, March 3, 2020, Hardcover, $18.99 (ages 4-8)
Anna Smith Strong (1740–1812) was a fearless woman who acted as a spy for George Washington during the Revolutionary War. Recruited by Washington’s spymaster, Major Benjamin Tallmadge, she joined the Culper Ring, a group of American spies. General Washington placed a huge amount of trust in his spies, and Anna helped pass him important messages at a great risk to herself and her family. One of her cleverer devices was to hang laundry on the line in a planned fashion so that other spies could read the “message.” Had she been discovered by the British, she would have faced jail or execution. Thrilling and dramatic, Anna Strong tells the story of how one brave woman helped change the course of American history. The book includes an author’s note, a bibliography, an index, and a spy code so kids can get involved in the action.
This fascinating picture book is an enjoyable read that brings to life a little-known piece of American history. Vibrant illustrations are full of movement and emotion.
WHAT MISS MITCHELL SAW, by Hayley Barrett and Diana Sudyka, Beach Lane Books, Sept. 3, 2019, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 4-8)
Every evening, from the time she was a child, Maria Mitchell stood on her rooftop with her telescope and swept the sky. And then one night she saw something unusual—a comet no one had ever seen before! Miss Mitchell’s extraordinary discovery made her famous the world over and paved the way for her to become America’s first professional female astronomer.
This is a WOW book. Diana Sudya’s amazing illustrations — particularly those spreads of Miss Mitchell in the night sky — immediately draw you in. It’s a pleasure to read aloud and a joy to look at.
Ages 5 and Up
ON WINGS OF WORDS: THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF EMILY DICKINSON, by Jennifer Berne and Becca Stadtlander, Chronicle Books, Feb. 18, 2020, Harcover, $18.99 (ages 5-8)
In a small New England town lives Emily Dickinson, a girl in love with small things—a flower petal, a bird, a ray of light, a word. In those small things, her brilliant imagination can see the wide world—and in her words, she takes wing. From celebrated children’s author Jennifer Berne comes a lyrical and lovely account of the life of Emily Dickinson: her courage, her faith, and her gift to the world. With Dickinson’s own inimitable poetry woven throughout, this lyrical biography is not just a tale of prodigious talent, but also of the power we have to transform ourselves and to reach one another when we speak from the soul.
Any picture book about Emily Dickinson must live up to her poetry. This one more than fits the bill. Becca Stadtlander’s illustrations are gorgeous. From expansive spreads to single-page images, each illustration is intricately imaginative. Jennifer Berne’s text is equally lovely. Children are introduced to Dickinson’s poetry throughout, making this entire book a triumph.
Ages 6 and up
RUTH BADER GINSBURG: READY-TO-READ LEVEL 3 (YOU SHOULD MEET), by Laurie Calkhoven and Elizabet Vukovic, Simon Spotlight, Au. 27, 2019, Hardcover ($17.99), Paperback ($4.99)
Meet Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Also known as the notorious RBG, Ginsburg is only the second female Supreme Court justice in America’s history. She has spent her entire life fighting for equal rights for all, especially women. A special section at the back of the book includes extras like the history of the Supreme Court and how to become a lawyer.
We are currently loving the You Should Meet series. We also have books featuring Katherine Johnson and Mae Jemison. The chapters are short and feature larger text, which is beneficial to newly independent readers. Bright illustrations give them something to peruse while taking a break. My daughter regularly sits down with this (and the other two listed here) for long periods of time. This is a great series.
Ages 8 and up
A WOMAN IN THE HOUSE (and Senate): How Women Came to Washington and Changed the Nation, by Ilene Cooper and Elizabeth Baddeley, Abrams Books for Young Readers; Revised, Updated edition, March 3, 2020, Hardcover, $19.99 (ages 8-12)
For the first 128 years of America’s history, only men served in the Senate and House of Representatives. All that changed in January 1917 when Jeannette Rankin was sworn in as the first woman elected to Congress. From the women’s suffrage movement to the 2018 election, Ilene Cooper highlights influential and diverse female leaders who opened doors for women in politics. Women featured include Nancy Pelosi (the first woman Speaker of the House), Margaret Chase Smith (the first woman elected to the Senate), Patsy Mink (the first woman of color to serve in the House), and newcomers like Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar. This updated book includes archival photographs and lively illustrations from Elizabeth Baddeley, as well as a chart of all the women who have served in Congress, appendices that define key terms and governmental procedures, and an index.
This book is less about politics and more about what women have accomplished. Short chapters are easily digestible, and the book is designed to be read front to back or by jumping around. This is exactly the sort of book I would have picked up as a child.
BLAST OFF INTO SPACE LIKE MAE JEMISON, by Caroline Moss and Sinem Erkas, Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, March 3, 2020, Hardcover, $15.99 (ages 8-12)
When Mae Jemison was a little girl, she loved science, dancing, and dinosaurs. She watched the Apollo moon landings and wondered why none of the astronauts were women—and she just didn’t buy the answers she was given… Discover how Mae Jemison became the first African American woman in space in this true story of her life. Then, learn 10 key lessons from her work you can apply to your own life.
Mae Jemison is a favorite person in our house. And even though my daughter is only 6, she was immediately drawn to this book. Fairly short chapters are enhanced by intricate cut-paper illustrations that are as out of this world as Mae when she was floating in space. It’s a lovely mix of real life and imaginative art.
WORK IT, GIRL: MICHELLE OBAMA: BECOME A LEADER LIKE, by Caroline Moss and Sinem Erkas, Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, March 3, 2020, Hardcover, $15.99 (ages 8-12)
Michelle Obama grew up on the South Side of Chicago in a little bungalow with a close-knit family. She loved going to school, and she knew that, one day, she would use her voice to empower other young girls, just like her. Young Michelle was a brilliant student and wonderful daughter. With hard work and talent, she propelled herself into the universities of Princeton and Harvard. She qualified as a lawyer and life was going smoothly…Then she met a guy named Barack. Discover how Michelle became an inspirational leader, FLOTUS, lawyer, author, and role model in this true story of her life.
I can’t wait to read this one with my daughter. Michelle Obama is a great role model for young girls — smart, loving and passionate. Like the Mae Jemison book above, this Michelle Obama book is beautifully illustrated with cut-paper art.
CHANGING THE EQUATION: 50+ US BLACK WOMEN IN STEM, by Tonya Bolden, Abrams Books for Young Readers, March 3, 2020, Hardcover, $19.99 (ages 8-12)
Award-winning author Tonya Bolden explores the black women who have changed the world of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) in America. Including groundbreaking computer scientists, doctors, inventors, physicists, pharmacists, mathematicians, aviators, and many more, this book celebrates more than 50 women who have shattered the glass ceiling, defied racial discrimination, and pioneered in their fields. In these profiles, young readers will find role models, inspirations, and maybe even reasons to be the STEM leaders of tomorrow. These stories help young readers to dream big and stay curious. The book includes endnotes, a bibliography, and an index.
Changing the Equation is a fantastic book for middle-graders. Though it features black women in STEM, girls of all races will be inspired by these women’s accomplishments. Each chapter is fascinating. And the setup allows for jumping around as well as reading front-to-back.
© 2020, Cracking the Cover. All rights reserved. Unless otherwise noted, all books — digital and physical — have been provided for free by publishers in exchange for honest and unbiased reviews. All thoughts and opinions are those of the reviewer.