six stupendous historical lady books (+ many more)

In honor of Women’s History Month and my sincere love of picture book biographies, here are some of my historical lady favorites:






Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat by Roxane Orgill, illustrated by Sean Qualls.

That title just has to be referring to Ella Fitzgerald, right?! Humble beginnings, hardship, and in the end, a dream come true. (Also, Sean Qualls always does extraordinary artwork.)





Favorite lines:

“Ella was not pretty, but so what? The girl could swing!”



While I think Fitzgerald was lovely, I so appreciate the sentiment that as a performer, it was all about her skit-scat and not her raggedy cat!







Who Says Women Can’t be Doctors? by Tanya Lee Stone, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman.

The story of Elizabeth Blackwell, just one of the ladies in history who broke silly rules like “girls can’t be doctors,” to be the first and then inspire others.







Favorite lines:

“Some people are afraid of anything new or different.

Not Elizabeth.”







Touch the Sky by Anna Malaspina, illustrations by Eric Velasquez.

Alice Coachman, olympic high jumper, was the first black female to win a gold medal at the games. But the story starts at the beginning, when Coachman is a young girl running and leaping barefoot in Georgia in the 30s. The writing is pure poetry too.






Favorite lines:

“The moon was so far from Albany, where Momma saved pennies because there weren’t enough. But a dream is a beginning and as Alice grew older, her dream was to soar.”






Just Being Audrey by Margaret Cardillo, illustrated by Julia Denos.

This one goes behind the gorgeous glamor of movie star Audrey Hepburn and shows us her childhood, her heart, and her work on behalf of humanity.





Julia Denos_Books_Just Being Audrey





Mama Miti byDonna Jo Napoli, illustrated by Kadir Nelson.

The true and moving story of Wangari Maathai and her Greenbelt Movement in Kenya. A Nobel Peace Prize-winning modern day heroine!! And Nelson’s stunning textile collage brings the story to colorful, textural life!













Emily by Michael Bedard, pictures by Barbara Cooney.

We glimpse the reclusive poet Emily Dickinson herself through the eyes of a young neighbor girl.






“There is a woman on our street they call the Myth. She lives with her sister in the yellow house across the road.” 


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You Forgot Your Skirt, Amelia Bloomer by Shana Corey, illustrated by Chelsea McLaren.

Here Come the Girl Scouts, the story of Juliette “Dasiy” Gordon Law.

And more historical women bio books to check out:

Helen’s Big WorldThe Life of Helen Keller by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Matt Tavares.

*Dolores Huerta: A Hero to Migrant Workers by Sarah Warren, illustrated by Robert Casilla.

Rachel Carson and Her Book that Changed the World by Laurie Lawlor, illustrated by Laura Beingessner.

*Mary Walker Wears the Pants by Cheryl Harness, illustrated by Carlo Molinari.

*Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell.

*Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel, illustrated by Melissa Sweet.



Doctor, athlete, poet, singer, scientist, soldier, actress and activist, fashion pioneers and suffragettes. So many inspiring ladies to read about!! And many more not mentioned here. Leave your favorite(s) in the comments!

11 Responses to six stupendous historical lady books (+ many more)

  1. Tim says:

    Super list, super topic.

    I have to add two titles. Both are wonderfully illustrated, and both (at over a hundred pages each) stretch the idea of what a picture book biography can be:

    Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell

    Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss.

  2. I have to plug a new favorite that I just reviewed today – Dare the Wind: The Record Breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud. Here’s the link for more info on another stupendous book for Women’s History Month!

  3. Ronna Mandel says:

    What a fab selection of titles. I am now curious about them all. How perfect for Women’s History Month that there are now so many wonderful choices of books to read and role models to inspire young girls.

  4. Lovely collection! I’ve enjoyed many of these, but I’m eager to check out “Emily.” Thanks!

  5. I love that women are a trend in nonfiction picture books! I, too, am doing a post similar to this soon 🙂

  6. Pingback: five picture books about trees / cherry blossom tree crafts | This Picture Book Life

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