Picture Book Highlights | Women's History Month

By Monica C. RSS Thu, March 16, 2023

March is Women’s History Month, and we're happy to be back, highlighting books about remarkable women from the past and present — trailblazers in their own right. You can find even more by checking these previous posts, Women in Action, Women in the Arts, and Women in Science. Here is a selection of new picture books acknowledging women’s contributions in diverse fields such as art, literature, music, politics, science, sports, and aviation. 

Ablaze With Color: A Story of Painter Alma Thomas by by Jeanne Walker Harvey; illustrated by Loveis Wise

As a child in Georgia, Alma Thomas loved to spend time outside, soaking up the colors around her. And her parents filled their home with color and creativity despite the racial injustices they faced. After the family moved to Washington, DC, Alma shared her passion for art by teaching children. When she was almost seventy years old, she focused on her own artwork, inspired by nature and space travel.

Flying High: The Story of Gymnastics Champion Simone Biles by Michelle Meadows; illustrated by Ebony Glenn

Before she was a record-breaking, world-famous gymnast, Simone Biles spent time in foster care as a young child. Nimble and boundlessly energetic, she cherished every playground and each new backyard. When she was six years old, Simone’s family took shape in a different way: her grandparents, Ron and Nellie Biles adopted her and her sister Adria. Simone was also introduced to gymnastics that same fateful year, launching a lifelong passion fueled by remarkable talent, sacrifice, and the undying support of her family. From her early competitions to the height of her success as an Olympic champion, this is the story of the world’s greatest gymnast.

Ebook available from Overdrive

The Green Piano: How Little Me Found Music by Roberta Flack and Tonya Bolden; illustrated by Hayden Goodman

Growing up in a Blue Ridge Mountain town, little Roberta didn't have fancy clothes or expensive toys... but she did have music, and she dreamed of having her own piano. When her daddy spies an old, beat-up upright piano in a junkyard, he knows he can make his daughter's dream come true. He brings it home, cleans and tunes it, and paints it a grassy green. And soon the little girl has an instrument to practice on and a new dream to reach for — one that will make her become a legend in the music industry.

There Goes Patti McGee! The Story of the First Woman's National Skateboard Champion by Tootie Nienow; illustrated by Erika Rodriguez Medina

When Patti McGee first saw a skateboard, it was a board with wheels nailed onto it. At the time, skateboarding was considered a boy's domain — not something for girls to take part in. Despite the jeers, discouragement, and admonitions to be “less like a tomboy,” Patti went on to become one of the most talented skaters around. In 1964, she entered the first-ever national skateboard championship. Patti won first place in the women’s divison with her rolling handstand, a move she invented for the contest that would later become her signature. Patti went on to become the first-ever professional female skateboarder, touring around the country and proudly proving that anyone can skate.

Flying Free: How Bessie Coleman's Dreams Took Flight by Karyn Parsons; illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

Before Bessie Coleman blazed a high trail with her plane, before she performed in death-defying flying shows that would earn her fame as "Queen Bess," before she traveled the country speaking out against discrimination, Bessie was a little girl with a big imagination that took her to the sky, through the clouds, and past the birds. Knocking down barriers one by one, Bessie endured racism and grueling training to become the first Black female pilot and an inspiration to Mae Jemison, Josephine Baker, and many more influential people of color for years to come.

A Thousand Glass Flowers: Marietta Barovier and the Invention of the Rosetta Bead by Evan Turk

Marietta and her family lived on the island of Murano, near Venice, as all glassmakers did in the early Renaissance. Her father, Angelo Barovier, was a true maestro: a master of glass. Marietta longed to create gorgeous glass too, but glass was men’s work. One day her father showed her how to shape the scalding-hot material into a work of art, and Marietta was mesmerized. Her skills grew and grew. Marietta worked until she created her own unique glass bead: the rosetta. Small but precious, the beautiful beads grew popular around the world and became as valuable as gold. The young girl who was once told she could not create art was now the woman who would leave her mark on glasswork for centuries to come.

How to Hear the Universe: Gaby González and the Search for Einstein's Ripples in Space by Patricia Valdez; illustrated by Sara Palacios

In 1916, Albert Einstein had a theory. He thought that somewhere out in the universe, there were collisions in space. These collisions could cause little sound waves in the fabric of space-time that might carry many secrets of the distant universe. But it was only a theory; he could not prove it in his lifetime. Many years later, an immigrant scientist named Gabriela González asked the same questions. Armed with modern technology, she joined a team of physicists who set out to prove Einstein's theory. At first, there was nothing. But then... they heard a sound. Gabriela and her team examined, measured, and re-measured until they were sure. Completing the work that Albert Einstein had begun 100 years earlier, Gonzalez broke ground for new space-time research.

Cubs in the Tub: The True Story of the Bronx Zoo's First Woman Keeper by Candace Fleming; illustrated by Julie Downing

When Bronx zookeeper Fred brought home a lion cub, Helen Martini instantly embraced it. The cub's mother lost the instinct to care for him. "Just do for him what you would do with a human baby," Fred suggested... and she did. Helen named him MacArthur, and fed him milk from a bottle and cooed him to sleep in a crib. Soon enough, MacArthur was not the only cub bathed in the tub! The couple continues to raise lion and tiger cubs as their own, until they are old enough to return them to zoos. Helen becomes the first female zookeeper at the Bronx Zoo, the keeper of the nursery.

Ebook available from Overdrive

Sarah and the Big Wave: The True Story of the Woman to Surf Maverick by Bonnie Tsui; illustrated by Sophie Diao

Have you ever seen a big wave? One that's 20, 30, 40, even 50 feet tall? Here's a better question: would you ever surf a big wave? Sarah Gerhardt did, and this is her story. Full of thrills and scientific facts, Sarah and the Big Wave is about the first woman to surf Mavericks, a break known as "Mount Everest meets Niagara Falls." This is a tale of adventure and indomitable spirit.

Ebook available from Overdrive

Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks by Suzanne Slade; illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917–2000) is known for her poems about “real life.” She wrote about love, loneliness, family, and poverty — showing readers how just about anything could become a beautiful poem. Exquisite follows Gwendolyn from early girlhood into her adult life, showcasing her desire to write poetry from a very young age. This picture book biography explores the intersections of race, gender, and the ubiquitous poverty of the Great Depression — all with a lyrical touch worthy of the subject. Gwendolyn Brooks was the first Black person to win the Pulitzer Prize, receiving the award for poetry in 1950. And in 1958, she was named Poet Laureate of Illinois. A bold artist who from a very young age dared to dream, Brooks will inspire young readers to create poetry from their own lives.

Ebook available from Overdrive

Shaped by Her Hands: Potter Maria Martinez by Anna Harber Freeman and Barbara Gonzales; illustrated by Aphelandra

The most renowned Native American Indian potter of her time, Maria Poveka Martinez learned pottery as a child under the guiding hands of her "Ko-ōo," her aunt. She grew up to discover a new firing technique that turned her pots black and shiny, and made them — and Maria — famous. This inspiring story of family and creativity illuminates how Maria's belief in sharing her love of clay brought success and joy from her New Mexico Pueblo to people all across the country.

Ebook available from Overdrive

Sharice's Big Voice: A Native Kid Becomes a Congresswoman by Sharice Davids and Nancy Kay Mays; illustrated by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley

When Sharice Davids was young, she never thought she'd be in Congress. And she never thought she'd be one of the first Native American women in Congress. During her campaign, she heard from a lot of doubters. They said she couldn't win because of how she looked, who she loved, and where she came from. But here's the thing: everyone's path looks different and everyone's path has obstacles. This is the remarkable story of Sharice Davids's path to Congress.

Ebook available from Overdrive

Fall Down Seven Times, Stand Up Eight: Patsy Takemoto Mink and the Fight for Title IX by Jen Bryant; illustrated by Toshiki Nakamura

At a young age, Patsy Takemoto Mink learned that working toward a goal could come with challenges, but she never gave up. As the Japanese proverb says, "Fall down seven times, stand up eight." That spirit helped Patsy through life. When she wanted to become a doctor, medical schools refused to admit her because of her gender, so Patsy carved her own path. She went to law school, ran for a seat in the United States Congress, and helped create Title IX: the law that requires federally funded schools to treat boys and girls equally. Although many people tried to knock her down, Patsy always got up again. She was a historic trailblazer who championed equal rights and helped create a better future for all Americans.

An Equal Shot: How the Law Title IX Changed America by Helaine Becker; illustrated by Dow Phumiruk

This nonfiction picture book is a great introduction to the history and importance of Title IX as a civil rights legislature. This important book shines a light on how a few groundbreaking women denounced institutional injustice and created legislation that would protect and unite countless vulnerable people.

Be sure to check our catalog and Overdrive Kids eReading Room for these titles and many more being added!

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