7 Incredible Women in History

Women’s history month just ended, so now is the perfect time to keep teaching and reading about women. Here are seven engaging picture books about women who discovered, pioneered, and pursued their dreams. Read them all! 

The House that Jane Built by Tanya Lee Stone

house that jane built_Jane Adams’ story is inspiring to adults as well as children. She grew up wealthy, yet she used her wealth to build a safe place for poor families and children.  She provided food, work for immigrants, and schooling for teenagers with day jobs. This is a wonderful book to show children how to give, and think of others. I never knew of her influence and contributions, I am glad I know now.

To Order this Book on Amazon, click here: The House That Jane Built: A Story About Jane Addams

Summer Birds: The Butterflies of Maria Merian by Margarita Engle 

summer birdsMaria Merian was the first person to discover and explain butterfly metamorphosis to the world. In her era no one, especially a woman, studied insects. Her drawings and research changed the medieval way of thinking about nature. This book is poetic, and combines science concepts into a biography.  The back story about her life at the end enriches the reader’s experience.

To Order this book on Amazon, click here: Summer Birds: The Butterflies of Maria Merian


Sewing Stories: Harriett Powers’ Journey from Slave to Artist by Barbara Herkert

sewing stories_Harriett Powers was a slave in Athens Georgia. She became a renowned quilter when a school teacher saw her quilt at a fair and offered to buy it. The teacher wrote down the stories Harriett had represented on the quilt to display in a museum. Today, Harriet’s quilts hand in the National Museum of American History in Washington DC. The story is engaging, and there are facts printed on quilt squares throughout the illustrations to give more details. Sewing Stories is a powerful story and stunningly designed book.

To Order this book from Amazon click here: Sewing Stories: Harriet Powers’ Journey from Slave to Artist


Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle

drum dream girlDrum Dream Girl is about Cuba’s first famous female drummer. She broke the outdated rule that only men could be drummers. The book is rhythmic, poetic, with a beat suitable for an engaging read aloud. The illustrations are vividly colorful and alive with movement.

To Order this Book on Amazon, click here: Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music


The Quickest Kid in Clarksville by Pat Zietlow Miller

the quickest kid in clarksvilleClarksville is the hometown of the great Wilma Rudolph, the Gold Medalist from the 1960 Olympic  games. In this book, two girls are competing to be the fastest runners, just like their hero Wilma. The girls learn about strength and friendship in this fictional picture book. The back of  the book features pictures of Wilma in the Clarksville Parade after her win. The connection from present day hero to history is well done.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: The Quickest Kid in Clarksville


Mary Cassatt- Extraordinary Impressionist Painter by Barbara Herkert

mary cassatt_This is a lovely account of the Mary Cassatts life and striving to become an artist. It was not acceptable for women to paint, and she received harsh reviews of her first efforts. She kept painting, and keenly observing life in order to capture it. The illustrations are done in Mary’s own style of painting. This is a lovely book to launch a lesson on Cassatt and her work.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: Mary Cassatt: Extraordinary Impressionist Painter


Nothing But Trouble- The Story of Althea Gibson by Sue Stauffacher

nothing but troubleAlthea Gibson was the first Africa American woman to win Wimbledon. Her story is so powerful, she was discovered on the streets of Harlem hitting hard and accurate ping pong balls. A few people saw her athletic talent, and invested in her life and future. She learned to play tennis, and worked very hard against many racial barriers to win Wimbledon. She is a woman all children should know about.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: Nothing but Trouble: The Story of Althea Gibson



Books for Bedtime

It is my personal opinion that books at bedtime need to literally be short and sweet. Long days call for short books, with sweet messages, to get your children off to dream land. Here are five beautiful book suggestions to add to your rotation.

Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick

finding winnieIf you add one book to your child’s library this year, add this one. The story is true; it is about the inspiration for Winnie the Pooh. It is magical. The story is told through the voice of a mother tucking her child in at night. It won the Caldecott Award for the illustrations, and they are unbelievable. My students loved this book.

To Purchase from Amazon, click here: Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear

Are you awake? By Sophie Blackall

Are you awakeThis book is child approved; my class of Kindergarteners requested it be read twice. I love Sophie Blackall, her illustrations are incredible. This is the true story of her jet lagged sun keeping her awake all night…parents will relate as much as kids who cannot sleep.

To Purchase from Amazon, click here: Are You Awake?


Once Upon a Memory by Nina Laden

once_upon_memory_mNina Laden is genius in composing magical picture books for children. She wrote this while walking on the beach and finding a feather. The simple poem teaches cause and effect. It offers the invitation to share happy memories before a child goes to sleep.

To Purchase from Amazon, click here: Once Upon a Memory


Shh! Bears Sleeping by David Martin

shh bears sleepingThis lyrical book shows the seasons through bears waking and hibernation. This is a good choice for a child that loves wild animals or non-fiction.  It has simple rhyme and lovely illustrations.

To Purchase on Amazon, click here: Shh! Bears Sleeping


Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey by Emily Winfield Martin

dream animalsThe illustrations are rich and vibrant with imagination. The simple text proposes there are sweet animals that take you off to dream land for big adventures. Short, sweet, and filled with eye catching creativity.

To Purchase on Amazon, click here: Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel

theboundlessIf you are looking for a book full of suspense and twists, read ‘The Boundless.’ The protagonist, William, is the son of a railroad worker. When the book opens the race to complete the railroad through the deep wilds of the United States is heated. The works is dangerous, the men are desperate, and William is caught in the madness of men seeking fortune, power, and immortality.

While William waits for his father to come down off the mountain from his job laying train tracks, he stumbles upon a traveling circus. A cunning girl catches his eye and lodges herself in his heart for good. William lets her convince him to meet his father in the mountains. He can simply board the train going up and ride the train back down with his father. However, a simple plan rarely remains simple. William heads into the snowy mountains and is reunited with his father. As soon as he thinks he is safe and sound, the crew is about to drive the last stake into the track, his plans are destroyed. A bloodthirsty Sasquatch, a gold hungry railroad worker, and an intricate conspiracy take William on an untamed ride in unchartered territory. Part magical realism, with historical references to the first railroads, there is suspense on every page. It is thrilling, wild, and touching.  Perfect for a 6th-8th grade reader looking for an adventure novel, with full adult appeal as well.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here:  The Boundless

If you liked The Book Thief…

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

echoIf you liked The Book Thief or All the Light We Cannot See, this is your next book, without the sadness.  The value of this novel is two fold; it is a brilliantly written and powerful historical fiction. The story is about three children facing different life circumstances as World War II is unfolding. All the children are musical prodigies, with their own hardships to overcome. The children’s lives follow an invisible magical trail as a harmonica is passed around the world.  Music plays an integral role in the novel; it is the background character orchestrating the life paths of each child.

Their stories seem separate, yet there is a magical and invisible tie that connects their lives. It exemplifies for children the complicated and devastating rise of Adolf Hitler, the irrational and unfair treatment of the Japanese, and the people who never stopped working for good in the face of evil. These hard themes are balanced with the hope of love and family, and the power of music to comfort and create beauty in hard times. The beautiful writing and finely crafted story make this a read for a voracious grade school reader, or any adult.

To Purchase this book from Amazon, click here: Echo