Picture books are powerful. For our developing learners, they allow students to connect to life experiences through listening, build empathy and understanding for others. All while developing foundational literacy skills that will create and build their love of reading (among a million other reasons!). For more developed learners, picture books can offer different levels of understanding with a more sophisticated message. They can deal with tough topics, such as bereavement, self-esteem, identity, inequality, and conflict. For all learners, picture books give students visual representation that can work to motivate, empower, and inspire. 

As we look for ways to highlight the work of women during the month of March, check out these female-focused picture books that demonstrate the persistence of some outstanding women. These books can help your students better understand the influence of women in history, work to empower others, and contribute to the ongoing progress towards equality for all. Let’s work to make this an ongoing practice that extends beyond this month and into our everyday teaching and learning.

How Kate Warne Saved President Lincoln by Elizabeth Van Steenwyk

During a time when only men were detectives, Kate Warne convinced the detective agency that was in charge of helping protect the president, to hire her. She explained that she could get secrets out of people in places men couldn’t go – in disguise as a society woman. Her most important mission? To derail a plan to assassinate President Lincoln.

Fly High: The Story of Bessie Coleman by Louise Borden and Mary Kay Kroeger

Picking cotton on a slave farm was a far cry from what Bessie really wanted out of life. She wanted to be free, and she wanted to fly. So, she persisted through some of life’s most difficult challenges to become the first Black American to earn her pilot’s license.

Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark

Ada was always fascinated with numbers. She would sketch models for flying machines. Perform calculations to figure out the wings’ power. Study boats to figure out how minute changes to the sail would affect its speed. After meeting the inventor of the first mechanical machine, she figures out how to write the world’s first computer program to demonstrate its capabilities.

Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor by Robert Burleigh

Marie was always fascinated by the ocean floor, and she wanted to do something never done before. Throughout history, many had attempted to measure the depths of the oceans. And even though having a woman on board was considered a sign of bad luck, she fought through these challenges and became the first person to successfully chart the ocean floor. 

Lilian’s Right to Vote by Jonah Winter and Shane W. Evans

Lilian, an elderly Black American, remembers her family’s tumultuous voting history as she herself is in route to cast her vote for the next president. She sees the passing of the 15th amendment and her great-grandfather voting for the first time, she sees her parents trying to register to vote, and she sees herself marching in protest to fight for rights that should also be hers – all with fierce determination to reach her destination to make her voice hear.

*Today’s Image comes from Lilian’s Right to Vote by Jonah Winter and Shane W. Evans.

Looking for an engaging classroom activity that highlights some powerful women in history? Check out Quoting HERstory, a QR code Quest.
Want more resources that focus on the impactful contributions of women throughout history? Check out this resource!