Best books to read to kids for Women’s History Month

Best books to read to kids for Women’s History Month

Welcome to Women’s History Month, the annual celebration in America that honors the remarkable achievements and contributions of women throughout history. 

This month-long celebration is a way to recognize the countless ways women have shaped our world, despite facing numerous obstacles and systemic barriers. 

From political leaders and social activists to artists and women writers, women have played a vital role in advancing human progress and creating a more just and equitable society.

This article will focus on some of the must-read women authors and illustrators in the children’s literature space. Each of these authors are great to add to your book list will introduce your children to diverse perspectives, give your kids positive role models, and help them with reading skills.

What women authors should kids learn about during Women’s History Month?

Here are some of RIKs favorite books by women, female authors, and illustrators.

1. “She Persisted” book series

She persisted book series

The "She Persisted" book series is a collection of children's books that celebrate the accomplishments of remarkable women throughout history. The series was inspired by the now-famous phrase "Nevertheless, she persisted," which was used to describe Senator Elizabeth Warren's refusal to stop speaking during a Senate debate.

The books, written by Chelsea Clinton and illustrated by various artists, feature stories of women who have overcome obstacles and persevered in the face of adversity. From Civil Rights activists and political leaders to scientists and athletes, the series showcases the inspiring stories of women who have made a significant impact on the world.

The series includes titles such as "She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World," "She Persisted in Sports: American Olympians Who Changed the Game," and "She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History." Each book features short biographies of the women, accompanied by vibrant illustrations that bring their stories to life.

The "She Persisted" books serve as a powerful reminder to children that they too can achieve greatness, regardless of their gender or any obstacles they may face. They encourage children to dream big, work hard, and never give up, inspiring the next generation of change-makers and trailblazers.

2. Lois Lowry

the giver by lois lowry

Lois Lowry is a highly acclaimed American author of over 40 books for children and young adults. Born on March 20, 1937, in Honolulu, Hawaii, Lowry spent her childhood in various locations around the world, including Japan and Germany, due to her father's military career. Her experiences growing up in different cultures and her love of reading inspired her to become a writer.

Lowry's first book, "A Summer to Die," was published in 1977, and since then, she has become known for her thought-provoking and emotionally powerful stories. She has won numerous awards for her work, including two Newbery Medals, the National Book Award, and the Margaret Edwards Award.

One of Lowry's most famous and beloved works is "The Giver," a dystopian novel that has become a modern classic. The book, which explores themes of conformity, individuality, and memory, has been adapted into a film and a graphic novel.

Lowry's other notable works include "Number the Stars," which tells the story of a young girl's experiences during the Nazi occupation of Denmark, and "The Willoughbys," a humorous and irreverent take on classic children's literature.

Throughout her career, Lowry has been praised for her ability to tackle complex and challenging themes in a way that is accessible and engaging for young readers. Her stories are beloved by children and adults alike and continue to inspire and captivate readers around the world.

3. Jessica Day George

Dragon Flight

Jessica Day George is an American author of young adult and children's books. She was born  on October 11, 1976, in Boise, Idaho, and grew up in a family of readers and storytellers. 

George has always loved fantasy and fairy tales and often incorporates them into her stories.

George's first published novel, "Dragon Slippers," was released in 2007 and tells the story of a girl who dreams of becoming a dragonkeeper. The book was a critical and commercial success and was followed by two sequels, "Dragon Flight" and "Dragon Spear."

Since then, George has written numerous other books, including "Princess of the Midnight Ball," a retelling of the classic fairy tale "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," and "Tuesdays at the Castle," a series of books about a magical castle that changes its shape every Tuesday.

George's books are known for their strong female protagonists, intricate world-building, and engaging storytelling. She often draws inspiration from myths, legends, and fairy tales, but puts her own unique spin on them to create something fresh and original.

4. Jennifer Nielsen

Elliot and the goblin war

Jennifer Nielsen is an American author of young adult and children's books. Born in Utah in 1971, she developed a love of reading and writing at an early age. She began writing stories as a child, but it wasn't until she was an adult that she decided to pursue a career as an author.

Nielsen's first book, "Elliot and the Goblin War," was published in 2010 and tells the story of a boy who must save his town from an invasion of goblins. The book was well-received and was followed by two sequels, "Elliot and the Pixie Plot" and "Elliot and the Last Underworld War."

Nielsen has since written numerous other books, including the popular "Ascendance Trilogy," which follows the adventures of a young orphan who poses as a lost prince to take back his rightful throne. The series has been widely praised for its engaging characters, intricate plot, and fast-paced action.

Nielsen's other notable works include "The Traitor's Game" series, which follows a young woman's quest for revenge against the ruling class that killed her family, and "A Night Divided," a historical novel set during the Cold War.

Nielsen's books are known for their strong characters, intricate world-building, and page-turning plots. She often draws inspiration from history and mythology but puts her own unique spin on these stories to create something fresh and original. Her books have been widely acclaimed and have earned numerous awards and accolades.

5. Sophie Blackall

hello lighthouse

Sophie Blackall is an Australian-born author and illustrator of children's books. She was born in 1967 in Sydney, Australia and studied illustration at the Sydney College of the Arts. Blackall has since lived and worked in New York City, where she has become a highly acclaimed artist and author.

Blackall has illustrated over 30 books, including many award-winning titles. Her illustrations are known for their whimsical and imaginative style, and she often incorporates collage and other mixed media into her work. Blackall has also written several books, including "Hello Lighthouse," which won the 2019 Caldecott Medal for best-illustrated children's book.

"Ivy and Bean" is a popular children's book series written by Annie Barrows and illustrated by Sophie Blackall. The series follows the adventures of two young girls, Ivy and Bean, who become unlikely best friends despite their differences. The series is known for its humorous and relatable stories, and the charming illustrations by Sophie Blackall have helped to bring the characters and their world to life for young readers.

In addition to her children's books, Blackall has also worked on a number of high-profile projects, including creating murals for the New York City subway system and designing a series of stamps for the United States Postal Service.

Blackall's books are beloved by children and adults alike and have been praised for their heartwarming stories and beautiful illustrations. She is known for her ability to capture the magic and wonder of childhood and to create stories that are both timeless and timely.

6. Jan Brett

gingerbread baby

Jan Brett is an American author and illustrator of children's books. She was born in 1949 in Hingham, Massachusetts, and grew up in a family of artists. Brett's parents encouraged her artistic talent from an early age, and she went on to study at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Brett is best known for her exquisitely detailed illustrations, which often incorporate themes from nature and folklore. Her books have sold millions of copies worldwide and have been translated into numerous languages. Some of her most popular titles include "The Mitten," "Gingerbread Baby," and "The Hat."

Brett's illustrations are known for their intricate patterns, vibrant colors, and realistic depictions of animals and other natural elements. She often does extensive research for her books, traveling to different parts of the world to gather inspiration and learn about local customs and traditions.

In addition to her work as an author and illustrator, Brett is also a passionate advocate for literacy and education. She has worked with numerous organizations to promote reading and has donated many of her books to schools and libraries.

Brett's books have won numerous awards and accolades over the years, and she is widely regarded as one of the most talented and beloved children's book authors and illustrators of her generation.

7. Mary Pope Osborne
the magic treehouse

Mary Pope Osborne is an American author of children's books, best known for her wildly popular "Magic Tree House" series. Born in 1949 in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Osborne grew up with a love of reading and storytelling. She went on to study drama at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and later pursued a career in children's literature.

Osborne has written over 100 books, including picture books, non-fiction, and of course, the "Magic Tree House" series. The series follows the adventures of siblings Jack and Annie as they travel through time and space in their magic tree house, encountering historical figures and events along the way. The series has been a massive success, selling over 134 million copies worldwide and being translated into 38 languages.

In addition to her work as an author, Osborne is also a passionate advocate for literacy and education. She has worked with numerous organizations to promote reading and has donated many of her books to schools and libraries.

Osborne's books are known for their engaging stories, relatable characters, and educational value. She has a gift for making history and science come alive for young readers, and her books have been widely praised for their ability to spark a love of learning in children.

8. Jennifer Adams

Frankenstein for kids

Jennifer Adams is an American author and editor of must-read books for kids. She was born in California and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. After graduating from college, Adams pursued a career in publishing, working as an editor for several major publishing companies before transitioning to writing her own books.

Adams is best known for her "BabyLit" series, which introduces young children to classic literature through board books that teach basic concepts like colors, numbers, and shapes. Each book in the series is based on a classic work of literature, such as "Pride and Prejudice," “Frankenstein,” "Alice in Wonderland," or "Moby Dick." The books feature beautiful illustrations and simple, rhyming text that makes them fun and engaging for young readers.

In addition to her work on the "BabyLit" series, Adams has also written several other children's books, including board books and picture books. Her books are known for their gentle humor, bright colors, and charming illustrations, and they have been widely praised for their ability to engage and delight young children.

Adams is a passionate advocate for early childhood literacy and has worked with numerous organizations to promote reading and literacy. Her books are beloved by parents and children alike and have become some of the most popular and widely read children's books of recent years that you should add to your reading list.

Introduce these books by these women authors and illustrators!

These books often feature strong female characters and themes of empowerment, helping to instill in young readers a sense of confidence and self-worth.

Additionally, many women authors and illustrators are known for their beautiful prose, intricate illustrations, and engaging storytelling, all of which can help to spark a love of reading in children and foster a lifelong appreciation for literature. 

Finally, many women authors and illustrators are also advocates for literacy and education, and their books often promote important values like diversity, inclusion, and social justice. 

By reading books by women authors and illustrators, children can gain not just knowledge and imagination, but also empathy, compassion, and a greater understanding of the world around them.

For more information about great books to read children and reading programs for kids, check out the Reading With RIK blog. We also have a great blog post that focuses on books by black authors to check out.

FAQ about women’s literature

What are some good books by best-selling authors (women authors) that adults can read?

Anything by Virginia Woolf, Zadie Smith, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Donna Tartt, George Eliot, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Maya Angelou, Harper Lee, Mary Shelley, Louisa May Alcott, Charlotte Bronte, Sylvia Plath, and Anne Sexton. Short-stories by Pulitzer Prize winning author, Jhumpa Lahiri. The coming-of-age novel Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The HandMaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. MiddleMarch by George Eliot.

How have female authors impacted the literary world?

Female authors have made significant contributions to the literary world throughout history, challenging societal norms and bringing attention to important issues such as gender roles, sexuality, race, and social justice. Their works have enriched our cultural heritage and influenced generations of writers and readers alike.What challenges have female authors faced throughout history?

Female authors have faced numerous challenges throughout history, including limited access to education

and publishing opportunities, censorship and criticism of their work based on gender stereotypes, and a lack of recognition for their literary achievements. Many female authors have also had to balance their writing careers with family responsibilities and societal expectations for women.

What recent works by female authors have gained critical acclaim?

Some recent works by female authors that have gained critical acclaim include "The Testaments" by Margaret Atwood, "Circe" by Madeline Miller, "The Dutch House" by Ann Patchett, "The Overstory" by Richard Powers, "The Water Dancer" by Ta-Nehisi Coates, "The Immortalists" by Chloe Benjamin, "Normal People" by Sally Rooney, and "The Nickel Boys" by Colson Whitehead.

How can we support female authors and their work?

We can support female authors by reading their first novel and buying their subsequent books, recommending their work to others, attending their readings and events, and advocating for greater representation and recognition of female authors in the literary world. We can also support organizations and initiatives that promote female authors and their work, such as the Women's Prize for Fiction or the VIDA Count, which tracks the representation of women in literary publications.

What is the significance of Women's History Month?

Women's History Month is a time to celebrate and recognize the contributions of women throughout history. It aims to promote gender equality and raise awareness of the obstacles women have faced and continue to face in their pursuit of equal rights.

Who was the first female author?

The first female author is difficult to determine as women have been writing for centuries. However, some notable early female writers include Sappho, Enheduanna, and Murasaki Shikibu.

Who was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize for Literature?

Selma Lagerlöf, a Swedish author, was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1909.

What is the Bechdel Test?

The Bechdel Test is a measure of the representation of women in fiction. It asks whether a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man.

Who are some influential female authors of the 21st century?

Some influential female authors of the 21st century include J.K. Rowling, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Zadie Smith, Elena Ferrante, and Roxane Gay.