A Picture Book For Every Day of Women’s History Month

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Every March since 1987, American women of all fields, past and present, have been remembered and celebrated. According to the official Women’s History Month website, the nation first recognized women’s history and achievements in March 1982 with “Women’s History Week.” After five years of petitioning from the National Women’s History Project, now the National Women’s History Alliance, the month of March was presidentially proclaimed as Women’s History Month. 

To celebrate Women’s History Month, here are 31 picture books about diverse American women! Designed for reading a book each day, this list is perfect for introducing powerful and important women to children and adults alike. These books highlight all kinds of women— from activists to scientists and entertainers— so there truly is something for everyone! Happy reading and happy Women’s History Month!


March 1st Buffalo Bird Girl: A Hidatsa Story 

Written & Illustrated by S.D. Nelson; Abrams Books for Young Readers

Buffalo Bird Woman was a Hidatsa woman who lived on the Missouri River valley in present day North Dakota. Readers learn about the traditions of the Hidatsa people and the hardships that led to their moving to a reservation. Buffalo Bird Woman’s childhood is candidly described, including the chores and games that children can relate to, all while educating readers about the Hidatsa culture and history!


March 2nd Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation 

Written & Illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh; Harry N. Abrams Books 

This book narrates the story of Sylvia Mendez who, alongside her parents, contributed to ending segregated education in the state of California. Being a Mexican-Puerto Rican-American, Sylvia was not allowed to join a school for white children. This led to Sylvia’s parents rallying their Hispanic community to file a lawsuit, which helped bring about the end of segregated schools in California. Read this book to learn about how Sylvia’s courage changed history!


March 3rd Molly, by Golly!: The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter 

Written by Dianne Ochiltree; Illustrated by Kathleen Kemly; Calkins Creek Books

Molly Williams, nicknamed “Volunteer Number 11,” is the first known woman firefighter. When the 1818 influenza pandemic left volunteer firefighters unable to put out a local fire, Molly’s bravery led her to risk her life and put the fire out herself. Part adventure, part history lesson, this story teaches readers about the courageous Black woman who became the first female firefighter!


March 4th All the Way to the Top: How One Girl’s Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything 

Written by Annette Bay Pimentel; Illustrated by Nabigal-Nayagam Haider Ali; Sourcebooks Explore 

Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins is a disability rights activist diagnosed with cerebral palsy. As a young girl, Jennifer fought for the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which would make public areas more accessible to people living with disabilities. To show her support, Jennifer joined other members of the disability community and left her wheelchair to climb the steps of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. This book also has a foreword written by Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins herself!


March 5th Write to Me: Letters From Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind 

Written by Cynthia Grady; Illustrated by Amiko Hirao; Charlesbridge Publishing 

Miss Clara Breed, an American librarian, corresponded with Japanese-American children over the years of their internment following Executive Order 9066. Miss Breed wrote these children letters, provided them with books, and recorded and shared their stories. This book includes excerpts from real letters that Miss Breed received and addresses a dark period of American history through a story of hope and love. 


March 6th A Girl Named Rosita: The Story of Rita Moreno: Actor, Singer, Dancer, Trailblazer! 

Written by Anika Aldamuy Denise; Illustrated by Leo Espinosa; HarperCollins

West Side Story star, Rita Moreno, born with the name Rosita, always loved singing and dancing. After her family moved from Puerto Rico to the U.S. mainland, Rita pursued her love for performing and worked to become a Hollywood star. This story recounts Rita’s childhood and her journey of overcoming obstacles and succeeding as a Puerto Rican immigrant in American society. 


March 7th Lift as You Climb: The Story of Ella Baker 

Written by Patricia Hruby Powell; Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie; Margaret K. McElderry Books

Ella Baker fought for racial justice her entire life. Before the Civil Rights Movement even began, she worked to empower her fellow African Americans and secure the rights they deserved. This picture book retells the life and achievements of Ella Baker, from behind the scenes as a sit-in organizer to her directly working alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Read this book to learn more about this amazing woman! 


March 8th, International Women’s Day! Bold & Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to Vote 

Written by Kirsten Gillibrand; Illustrated by Maira Kalman; Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

In celebration of International Women’s Day, check out this picture book that highlights women’s rights activists Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Jovita Idár, Alice Paul, Inez Milholland, Ida B. Wells, Lucy Burns, and Mary Church Terrell. Each of these women dedicated their lives to fighting for equality for women’s voting rights and standing up for what they believed in. This book spotlights these ten ladies, plus a timeline of several more incredible women in the back matter of the story!


March 9th We Are Inspiring: The Stories of 32 Inspirational Asian American Women  

Written & Illustrated by Angel Trazo; Bookbaby 

Asian American author Angel Trazo said she grew up wanting to see, “…living breathing complex driven LGBTQ+ undocumented political funny wild artistic Asian American women” in children’s literature. When Trazo could not find this book in the market, she decided to create the story she always wanted to read. We Are Inspiring beautifully introduces readers to powerful and influential Asian American women like Anna May Wong, Sugar Pie DeSanto, Grace Lee Boggs, Hayley Kiyoko, and so many more!


March 10th — She Sang Promise: The Story of Betty Mae Jumper, Seminole Tribal Leader

Written by J. G. Annino; Illustrated by Lisa Desimini; National Geographic Society 

Betty Mae Tiger Jumper was the first female chief of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Her life story is told through this picture book, giving readers a glimpse into the trials that Betty Mae Jumper faced growing up in the Everglades as half Seminole and half white. Betty Mae’s perseverance and determination to succeed and serve her community is an inspiration to readers of all ages!


March 11th Sky High: The True Story of Maggie Gee  

Written by Marissa Moss; Illustrated by Carl Angel; Tricycle Press 

The book tells the story of Maggie Gee, who served the country in the Women Airforce Service Pilots program during World War II, and made history as one of the first two Chinese American women to serve in the U.S. Air Force. Maggie’s dreams of becoming a pilot and her service during WWII are truly inspirational. Check out this book to learn more about this awesome Chinese American woman!


 March 12th Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement 

Written by Carole Boston Weatherford; Illustrated by Ekua Holmes; Candlewick Press

Content Warning: This book includes an instance of strong language and a racial slur.

Fannie Lou Hamer was a major figure in the civil rights movement, advocating for the right to vote and for women’s rights. This picture book takes on Fannie’s incredible life story and gives readers insight to both the injustice and triumphs that she experienced. Fanie’s bravery and dedication to fighting for the rights of Black Americans and American women are celebrated in this story. Read this book to learn more about the accomplishments of Fannie Lour Hamer!


March 13th Turning Pages: My Life Story 

Written by Sonia Sotomayor; Illustrated by Lulu Delacre; Philomel Books 

In this picture book autobiography, Sonia Sotomayor shares her journey of becoming the U.S.’s first Latina Supreme Court Justice. One thing that helped Justice Sotomayor become a Supreme Court Justice was reading books. Throughout the hardships that Justice Sotomayor faced, reading and storytelling always brought her happiness and inspiration for a law career. Sonia Sotomayor’s story highlights Puerto Rican pride, educating readers on her history and encouraging children to become great readers themselves!


March 14th Patricia’s Vision: The Doctor Who Saved Sight

Written by Michelle Lord; Illustrated by Alleanna Harris; Sterling Children’s Books 

Dr. Patricia Bath was an ophthalmologist (eye doctor!) and inventor of laser cataract surgery. Growing up in the 1940s as an African American woman, Dr. Bath was never considered for a professional career, let alone becoming a doctor. However, Dr. Bath was dedicated to helping restore people’s eyesights, and she achieved exactly that. Read this book to learn more about  Bath’s incredible inventions and contributions to medical science!


March 15th When Everything Was Everything 

Written by Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay; Illustrated by Cori Nakamura Lin; Full Circle Publishing

This picture book tells the refugee story of Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay, a Lao American poet, playwright, and activist. Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay was born in a refugee camp in Nongkhai, Thailand and immigrated to Minnesota. Once in America, she grampled with learning English, living between houses, and being a Lao immigrant in the U.S. This story is perfect for all generations and recognizes the strength of Southeast Asian refugees!


March 16th Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré 

Written by Anika Aldamuy Denise; Illustrated by Paola Escobar; HarperCollins

Pura Belpré was a Puerto Rican immigrant who loved the cuentos folklóricos of her homeland. When she moved to America and found herself at the New York Public Library, Pura became a bilingual assistant. Pura combined her storytelling and puppeteering skills to introduce Latinx folklore to American audiences. If you want a book about a woman whose love for stories and Puerto Rican culture forever changed children’s literature, this one’s for you!


March 17th Astronaut Kalpana Chawla, Reaching for the Stars 

Written by Ai-Ling Louie; Illustrated by H. Rick Pettway; Dragoneagle Press

Kalpana Chawla was the first South Asian American woman to go to space. Born in India, Kalpana grew up wearing pants instead of dresses and dreamed of flying airplanes instead of getting married. To follow her dream of having a career, Kalpana came to America to study aerospace engineering. Kalpana joined NASA and went to space on Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997. If you want to learn more about this awesome Indian American astronaut, pick up a copy of this book! 


March 18th The Girl With a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague 

Written by Julia Finley Mosca; Illustrated by Daniel Rieley; Innovation Press 

Raye Montague, a Black engineer, was the first person to design a Navy ship using a computer. Raye was a brilliant woman who faced racism and sexism as she pursued a career in engineering. During the Vietnam War, Raye was serving in the Navy as an engineer when she designed a ship’s rough draft using a computer for the first time in history— an achievement that forever changed Naval ship design. To learn more about Raye’s accomplishments, check out this book! 


March 19th Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist 

Written by Jess Keating; Illustrated by Marta Álvarez Miguéns; Sourcebooks Explore

Eugenie Clark was a Japanese American woman who, starting at a young age, absolutely loved sharks. Where many people saw sharks as dangerous and scary, Eugenie was fascinated and excited to learn about these animals. This picture book dives into Eugenie’s life story, telling readers how she came to study and revolutionize the scientific knowledge of sharks. Pick up this book if you are a fellow shark-lover or want to learn about the “Shark Lady”!


March 20th Rise!: From Caged Bird to Poet of the People, Maya Angelou 

Written by Bethany Hegedus; Illustrated by Tonya Engel; Lee & Low Books 

Content Warning: This book addresses the sexual abuse that Angelou experinced as a child.

This book introduces readers to writer, activist and inspiration, Maya Angelou. The biography follows Maya as she grows up facing racial discrimination and fighting for civil rights in Arkansas, to her success as a poet and writer of autobiographies. Maya Angelou is a household name, and her life achievements are beautifully explored through this picture book. This book is great for educating and starting conversations about Maya Angelou’s life!


March 21st Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson 

Written by Leda Schubert; Illustrated by Theodore Taylor III; Little Bee Books

Many people know Misty Copeland, the first African American Female Principal Dancer with the American Ballet Theatre. But how many people know the woman who inspired her? Raven Wilkinson was the first Black woman to dance with a major classical ballet company. She dealt with racism and rejection as she pursued a career in dance, but her determination and talent led her to great success with the Dutch National Ballet. Raven Wilkinson danced until she was fifty years old, and her story is perfect for dance lovers across all ages!


March 22nd Wilma’s Way Home: The Life of Wilma Mankiller  

Written by Doreen Rappaport; Illustrated by Linda Kukuk; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Wilma Mankiller was a Cherokee political activist who became the first woman to be elected as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. Growing up in Oklahoma, Wilma was able to experience Cherokee culture until the U.S. government relocated her family to California. Once there, Wilma got involved in her community and advocated for Native rights. This book honors the life of Wilma Mankiller and is an empowering story of empathy and problem-solving!


March 23rd Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race 

Written by Margot Lee Shetterly; Illustrated by Laura Freeman; HarperCollins

This picture book celebrates four Black mathematicians at NASA: Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden. Their work as computers broke racial and gender barriers, and their calculations allowed NASA to make their first expeditions to space. This book is an excellent introduction to four women who made history. Pick up this book for a story of empowerment and encouragement for future women in STEM!


March 24th Side by Side/Lado a Lado: The Story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez/La Historia de Dolores Huerta y Cesar Chavez  

Written by Monica Brown; Illustrated by Joe Cepeda; HarperCollins Espanol 

Dolores Huerta was a Mexican-American labor and civil rights activist. Born in New Mexico, Dolores grew up surrounded by farmworkers who harvested food for the entire country but had little to feed their own families. To fix this problem, Dolores worked with activist Cesar Chavez to fight for labor rights. This bilingual picture book is perfect for learning about Dolores Huerta and how she changed labor laws for America!


March 25th The Cambodian Dancer: Sophany’s Gift of Hope 

Written by Daryn Reicherter; Illustrated by Christy Hale; Tuttle Publishing

This picture book shares the story of Sophany Bay, a Cambodian refugee, dancer, and teacher. Sophany survived the Khmer Rouge’s invasion of Phnom Penh and immigrated to America, where she shared Cambodian culture and dances with Camobdian-American children. She also became a Cambodian refugee counselor. Sophany’s story is a beautiful example of perseverance and love, great for starting conversations about refugees and sharing Cambodian culture!


March 26th The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin 

Written by Julia Finley Mosca; Illustrated by Daniel Rieley; Innovation Press 

 Dr. Temple Grandin is a scientist who advocated for the humane treatment of livestock and invented technology that revolutionized farming. Diagnosed with autism as a child, Dr. Grandin formed special connections with animals and used her unique visual thinking to better the treatment of farm livestock. She is an inspiration to women in science and an autism spokesperson. Read more about Dr. Grandin’s life in this picture book!


March 27th The Legendary Miss Lena Horne 

Written by Carole Boston Weatherford; Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon; Atheneum Books for Young Readers 

Lena Horne was an African-American actress, singer, dancer, and civil rights activist who broke through racial barriers in her career. Lena pursued her love of acting across theater, film, and television and did not settle for stereotypical roles. She fought for respect as a performer and became the first Black actress to have a studio contract. This picture book explores Lena Horne’s life through beautiful illustrations and is a great addition to your book collection!


March 28th The Astronaut with a Song for the Stars: The Story of Dr. Ellen Ochoa 

Written by Julia Finley Mosca; Illustrated by Daniel Rieley; Innovation Press 

Dr. Ellen Ochoa was the first Hispanic-American woman to go to space. As a child of immigrant parents, Ellen discovered a passion for engineering and worked to become an astronaut for NASA. She faced racial and gender discrimination throughout her career, but she overcame these obstables and went to space on the Space Shuttle Discovery. If you want to learn more about Dr. Ellen Ochoa’s life, check out this book! 


March 29th, National Vietnam War Veterans DayMaya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines 

Written by Jeanne Walker Harvey; Illustrated by Dow Phumiruk; Harry Holt & Company 

As we honor those who served in the Vietnam War, let’s also learn about the woman who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial: Maya Lin. Maya is a Chinese-American architect and sculptor who uses environmental themes in her work. At only 21 years old, Maya won a national competition to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and her genius artistic mind produced the iconic memorial we know today. Read this book to gain insight to both Maya’s personal life and the process she went through to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial!


March 30th The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist 

Written by Cynthia Levinson; Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton; Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Audrey Faye Hendricks is the youngest known civil rights activist, as she was only nine years old when she was arrested for protesting in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. This picture book celebrates Audrey’s courage to stand up for herself and advocate for civil rights. Audrey’s young age can inspire children not to be deterred by their age, but to instead fight against injustice. A great conversation starter and encouragement for kids, Audrey’s story is a must-have picture book!


March 31st Queen of Tejano Music: Selena 

Written by Silvia López; Illustrated by Paola Escobar; Little Bee Books

March 31, 2021 marks 26 years since the passing of Selena Quintanilla. To honor and celebrate her life, here’s a picture book that teaches readers about how Selena broke barriers in Tejano music. 

Ever since childhood, Selena knew she wanted to sing. Although she didn’t grow up speaking Spanish, she did not let that nor the sexism in Tejano music stop her from pursuing her passions. Instead, she worked hard to become a musical success and eventually crossed over into mainstream American music. Read this book to learn more about the iconic Mexican-American singer and to share Selena’s musical and cultural legacy with a new generation!


PRR Writer, Erika Brittain

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