Are you looking for picture books for Women’s History Month? Then, this list of diverse picture books is perfect for you! What makes this list special is that many of these women aren’t well known and their stories need to be shared.
Many of us currently benefit from their hard work and sacrifices. These women are incredible!
I will update this list as I find more books! Follow me on Instagram to get updates and ideas for other picture books! If there’s a book you think I should add, comment below!
Just a friendly reminder, I am an Amazon Affiliate, so if you decided to use the links below to purchase the books, I do get a commission. The price of the books does not change for you.
Effa Manley (1897-1981) was a civil rights activist and the owner of the Negro League Team, the Newark Eagles.
Effa took good care of her players and made sure they got the respect and recognition they deserved long after they left her team.
Effa was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.
As someone who grew up in a city that loves baseball (St. Louis), I enjoyed this book.
I also loved this book because it is illustrated by my favorite illustrator, Don Tate. My school actually owns a copy of this book signed by him! How cool is that?
Mary G. Harris Jones, better known as Mother Jones (?-1930) is furious that children are working in factories to help their families make ends meet.
She is disgusted that children are getting hurt and sometimes disabled because of the back-breaking work they are doing.
In 1903, Mother Jones decided that enough is enough, so she and 100 children begin marching to Theodore Roosevelt’s summer home to protest child labor laws.
Although this protest did not end child labor, it did help bring awareness and, of course, child labor became illegal eventually.
This book is written in first person, and you feel the wrath of Jones. That’s what makes it so good! My students really enjoyed this book!
Sylvia Townsend taught herself how to dance with books from a bookmobile!🩰
Growing up in the 1950s, Sylvia faced many obstacles, but it didn’t keep her from dancing.
Ready to Fly is a great story, and the illustrations are gorgeous!
The back of the book has a brief history of bookmobiles and pictures of how they’ve changed over time.
Maya Lin (1959-) is the architect who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Maya won the national contest that decided who would create the memorial. Although she won the contest, when others found out that Maya created the design, they were not happy that she won. They like that an Asian woman had won. Critics also said they didn’t understand her design.
Maya proved her unique design had meaning and was a perfect way to honor Vietnam Veterans.
I loved that there are tons of figurative language in this book; it gave us plenty of opportunities to practice!
Do you know the story of the first Black woman to become a mail carrier?
In 1895, Mary Fields (1832-1914) took the job of driving a stagecoach in the Wild West!
Mary would do whatever it took to make sure her cargo was delivered safely. She fought off wolves and thieves. And she had no problem traveling the dangerous mountain trails.
She even had a pet eagle to help protect her and her packages!
We had a great time learning about this unsung hero!
Do you know a little girl helped convince Congress to pass the American with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
That disability activist is Jennifer Keelan (1981-).
Jennifer Keelan was born with cerebral palsy and found out very quickly that it was not easy to get around in a wheelchair.
In 1987, when Jennifer was only six years old, she joined her first protest. This would be her first of many.
She was arrested at a protest in 1988.😲
All the Way to the Top is an excellent story about a courageous little girl that helped pass a law that made sure people with disabilities have access to the world.
Many people know Cesar Chavez, but they don’t know the woman behind the scenes that made everything happen. Dolores Huerta (1930-) is the little known civil rights activist who fought for the safety of migrant workers.
PBS produced an incredible documentary about her if you want to learn more.
Wangari Maathai (1940-2011) is known as the woman who planted 30 million trees and the FIRST African woman to win the Noble Peace Prize.
Wangari Maathai earned a scholarship to attend college in the U.S., along with hundreds of other Africans from then-Senator John F. Kennedy. When she returned to Kenya, Wangari noticed that the trees were gone. Animals were becoming endangered and the soil wasn’t good for crops.
When Britain colonized Kenya, they cut down a lot of their trees to sell and use Kenya’s resources. The deforestation continued after Britain was overthrown so, Wangari began her fight to return Kenya to the beautiful country it once was by organizing the planting of millions of trees.
Mabel Fairbanks (1915-2001) was a Black and Native American figure skater. Mabel was denied opportunities to compete in competitions and qualifying events for the Olympics because of the color of her skin.
She found ways to keep skating by performing in shows and she eventually became a coach to little-known and well-known (Scott Hamilton and Kristi Yamaguchi) figure skaters.
In 1997, she would become the first Black woman inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame.
Everyone has heard of Rosa Parks, but have you heard of Elizabeth Jennings (1827-1901)?
In 1854, Elizabeth Jennings lived in New York City and tried boarding a streetcar but was brutally denied.
Lizzie Demands a Seat, takes us through Elizabeth’s fight for equal rights on public transportation.
Wu Chien Shiung (1912-1997) was a Chinese physicist.
Her parents made sure she was adequately educated, even if that meant she had to live far away from them. Chien Shiung developed a passion for math and eventually, physics very quickly! She would sneak and read her friends’ textbooks to learn everything she could.
Chien Shiung means courageous hero, and it was fitting. She would lead an underground group to fight against the Chinese government even though she could have been punished or killed.
She eventually moved to the United States, where she continued her study of physics. Chien Shiung helped many scientists with their research that earned them Nobel Prizes. She never got credit for her work.
Although Chien Shiung never got the appropriate recognition, she definitely was a trailblazer.
She was the first female instructor at Princeton University.
She was the first female president of The American Physical Society.
She was the first person to receive the Wolf Prize in Physics.
She rightfully earned the nickname Queen of Physics.
Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977) was a civil rights leader who was determined to make a change. Her story is heartbreaking, but it was why she constantly fought for equal rights for the Black community.
This is an excellent book that I highly recommend for parents and teachers to read. This book contains content and language that is more appropriate for older elementary/middle school students. You should use your best judgment if you’re reading this to your students.
Fun fact, my cousin is related to her!
Althea Gibson was the first Black tennis player to win Wimbledon, the French and U.S. Open title. 🎾
Althea was known to be strong on and off the court, which made her the perfect person to tear down barriers in the game of tennis.
She also would become the first Black golfer in the Ladies Professional Golf Association! 🏌️♀️
Barbara Jordan (1936-1996) was a former congresswoman who began her career as a lawyer and ended it as an educator.
She is known for her powerful voice; her most well-known speech was probably her opening speech for Richard Nixon’s impeachment investigation.
In Texas, you can find many schools named in her honor.
The illustrations in this book are gorgeous, and it’s written by one of my favorite authors!
Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020) was a lawyer and a Supreme Court Justice (1993-2020)
Isn’t the cover dope?
Ruth Objects takes us back to her childhood. We learn how she earned her position in the highest court in the U.S.
If you like this list of diverse books, you’ll love The Ultimate List of Diverse Picture Books. There are over 250 books to use in the classroom and home libraries.