Here are 9 books children and teens should read during Women’s History Month

Looking for a graphic novel or an educational picture book to give your early readers this Women’s History Month?

Linda Tripp, the Somerset County Library System’s collection development librarian, suggests these nine books for young readers who want to learn about the contributions women have made throughout United States history.

“Learning about diverse women who have historically been overlooked, or have had their accomplishments downplayed, claimed by others or gone untold is important for readers of all ages,” Tripp said. “It’s imperative that our youngest readers see themselves and their world views reflected in the books they encounter, and when they read stories about someone who looks like them, their reality is recognized and validated.”

  • All the Way to the Top: How One Girl’s Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything” by Annette Bay Pimentel and illustrated by Nabi H. Ali.

Tripp said Jennifer Keelan, who was born with cerebral palsy, was already a seasoned activist by age 8 when she went to the US Capitol to advocate for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“The image of this young girl crawling up the steps of Capitol Hill went viral and helped pressure Congress into finally passing the act,” Tripp said.

This illustrated biography of Keelan’s life, Tripp said includes information and a timeline about the Disability Rights Movement.

  • “Becoming RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Journey to Justice” written by Debbie Levy and illustrated by Whitney Gardner.

Expanding on the author’s picture book biography for younger children, “I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark,” Tripp said this graphic biography of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will inspire and empower middle grade readers through adults.

In this colorful biography book, Tripp said Levy explains some of Ginsburg’s most important cases as a trailblazing feminist icon who argued for equal treatment of girls and women in society and the workplace.

  • “Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women” by Catherine Thimmesh and illustrated by Melissa Sweet.

“From Ruth Wakefield’s happy accident that led to the delicious Toll House cookie, to the graduate students who designed a solar-powered inflatable lantern to be used in disaster relief efforts, this collection of short biographies showcases diverse women inventors who were challenged to solve a problem and succeeded,” Tripp said.

This book contains interesting stories of inventors, Tripp said along with information on the patent process, websites for contests and organizations that will encourage young people to become innovators and inventors.

Filled with poems from unsung women poets of the early 20th century Harlem Renaissance, author Nikki Grimes’ book includes her own poetry and illustrations by contemporary Black women artists.

  • “Legacy: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance” by Nikki Grimes.

This book contains poems from unsung women poets of the early 20th century Harlem Renaissance, which are accompanied by Grimes’ original poetry.

Tripp said stunning illustrations created by contemporary Black women artists throughout the book.

“The award-winning author uses the unique Golden Shovel poetic form, borrowing a line or phrase from one of the other poets, and using each of their words as the final word of each line in her new poems in this collection celebrating the Black female experience,” Tripp said.

  • “Noisemakers: 25 Women Who Raised Their Voices and Changed the World” published Kazoo Magazine and edited by Erin Bried.

“Short profiles in this graphic novel anthology showcase different inventors, scientists, athletes, authors, activists, and trailblazers,” Tripp said.

Tripp said the book includes the “Count All the Things You Have in Common” exercise that prefaces each profile to engages the reader. Each biography is paired with comic illustrations by a different talented woman artist.

  • “Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist” by Jess Keating and illustrated by Marta Álvarez Miguéns.

Eugenie Clark turned her childhood passion for sharks, Tripp said, into a lifelong study of the most feared ocean predator, dispelling myths and misunderstandings along the way.

“The colorful illustrations by Marta Álvarez Miguén in this picture book biography perfectly complement the story of this fearless yet little-known woman of mixed race, who overcame countless obstacles and discrimination in her career as a woman scientist,” Tripp said.

  • “This Is Your Time” by civil rights activist and author Ruby Bridges.

Bridges, who at the age of 6 was the first African American to integrate an all-white elementary school in New Orleans, shares her story in this first person “letter” to young readers, Tripp said.

“Period black and white photographs are juxtaposed with those from current events emphasizing the lessons from civil rights history and the positive work still to be done by young activists,” she said.

  • “Walking for Water: How One Boy Stood Up for Gender Equality” written by Susan Hughes and illustrated by Nicole Miles.

A young boy sets out to effect change within his family and community when he recognizes the inequalities faced by his twin sister and other girls in their Malawi village.

Based on a true story, Tripp said this inspirational story shows how every action, no matter how small, can ripple outward and change things for the better.

History Smashers: Women's Right to Vote

Written by Kate Messner, this informative book showcases the untold stories of women who helped push the women’s suffrage movement forward.

  • “History Smashers: Women’s Right to Vote” by Kate Messner and illustrated by Dylan Meconi.

“Susan B. Anthony may come to mind when considering the fight to win voting rights for women, but she was just one piece of the story,” Tripp said.

Tripp said millions of women worked together for decades to achieve this goal, but as readers will find out, they also fought with one another, arguing not only over who should get to vote but how to go about bringing change.

This book smashes history, Tripp said, because it includes stories that celebrate other leaders, including those of color, in the women’s suffrage movement, whose work was often ignored or erased from history books.

“Nonfiction for children has come a long way from the dry dusty textbooks of the past,” Tripp said. “We are so very fortunate to have many talented, diverse authors and illustrators researching and writing nonfiction stories in various formats such as picture books, graphic novels or comics, collective biography anthologies, and narrative nonfiction.”

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Vashti Harris may be reached at vharris@njadvancemedia.com.

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