Women’s History Books for Elementary Students
Every March, we celebrate the contributions women have made. Below, we’ve provided backgrounds about notable women across disciplines, plus Women’s History Month books for elementary students to help celebrate the month. We’ve broken down our list into three categories of women throughout history.
Women Who Have Shaped Literature
Reading about diverse cultures and experiences allows us to develop empathy for others who are different from ourselves. The women below invited others into their worlds through their literature.
1. Anne Frank
German-born Jewish diarist Anne Frank (1929–1945), along with her family and four others, spent over two years hiding in an Amsterdam attic during World War II due to the German occupation of the Netherlands. During that time, she kept a diary, which was published by her father after the war and later translated into around 70 languages.
Book: Anne Frank’s Story: Her Life Retold for Children, Grades 4–5
Anne Frank’s Story: Her Life Retold for Children discusses Frank’s life before and after she and the others in hiding were captured. Additionally, the book includes a wealth of details about life during that period for Jews, plus details about the other characters besides Anne Frank. Students can use our timeline graphic organizer to note key dates of Frank’s life discussed in the book.
2. Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson (1830–1886) lived most of her life in isolation. However, she was a prolific American poet who wrote almost 1,800 poems even though only ten were published during her lifetime.
Book: Poetry for Kids: Emily Dickinson, Grades 3–5
Poetry for Kids: Emily Dickinson features famous Dickinson poems, including “I’m Nobody! Who Are You?” “A Bird, Came Down the Walk,” and “Hope Is the Thing with Feathers.” The book includes illustrations and introduces the poet to young readers. Students can analyze their favorite poems and determine more about Dickinson, her view of the world, and her life through her words.
3. Jacqueline Woodson
Black American author Jacqueline Woodson (1963–) is well-known for her Newbery Honor-winning title Brown Girl Dreaming. She was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2020 and has written 30 books for children and adults.
Book: The Day You Begin, Grades K–3
The picture book The Day You Begin describes moments that we all can relate to—times when we might feel different than others around us. But there are also moments we can connect with others too. After reading this book, students can pair up and complete a Venn diagram. Each side should contain information about only one student—traits and details about their lives. The overlapping portion of the graphic organizer can contain features that both students share.
4. Pam Muñoz Ryan
Mexican American author Pam Muñoz Ryan (1951–) has written over 40 books for children and young adults. She has won many prizes, including the Newbery Award and the National Education Association’s Civil and Human Rights Award.
Book: Esperanza Rising, Grade 5
The historical fiction novel Esperanza Rising shares the story of Esperanza, a wealthy girl who starts her life off in Mexico but flees to a Mexican farm labor camp in California with her mother after her father’s death during the Great Depression. Students can use a T-Chart to organize events in Esperanza’s life before and after she immigrated to the United States.
Ask students: how do you think Esperanza changed after immigrating to the United States? Then, have students think about an experience in their lives that changed them and have them write a reflective narrative.
Teaching the upper grades? Explore this resource from Into Literature that highlights women’s perspectives and contributions to literature—with engaging stories and thematic pairings.
Women Who Have Impacted STEM
Seeing women succeed in STEM can inspire others to do the same. The women below made significant impacts in fields overly represented by men.
1. Amelia Earhart
American aviator Amelia Earhart (1897–1937) blazed a trail in the aviation space. She was the first woman and the second pilot to fly solo nonstop across the Atlantic.
Book: Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart, Grades 3–5
Amelia Lost switches back and forth between the search for Earhart and events in her life. While alive, Earhart was incredibly popular and often appeared in the papers. Ask students to think about how we consume news about famous people today (through social media, news sites, or videos). Then, after reading about Earhart’s life, have students choose an event from her life and write about it.
First, instruct students to choose a media outlet; then, have them identify an event that happened in Earhart’s life discussed in the book and write about it as if it would appear in the media outlet of their choice. Facilitate a discussion not just about what they wrote but about why they chose the writing form they did and how their writing would change if it were to appear in a different media outlet.
2. Dr. Wangari Maathai
Kenyan environmentalist Dr. Wangari Maathai (1940–2011) was the first African woman to receive a Nobel Prize, in her case for her contributions to sustainable development, democracy, and peace. She’s celebrated globally for her advocacy for human rights and environmental conservation.
Book: Planting the Trees of Kenya, Grades K–3
Planting the Trees of Kenyadiscusses the inspiring story of Dr. Maathai, the founder of The Green Belt Movement. Dr. Maathai noticed in problem in her community and found a solution that required teamwork. Have students think of problems in their community and brainstorm ways residents can work together to solve those problems. For example, perhaps littering in parks is a major issue in their community. What are ways they can help resolve this issue?
3. Marie Curie
Polish-French scientist Maria Skłodowska Curie (1867–1934) was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize for physics and the first person to win two Nobel Prizes; she won her second prize in chemistry. She’s recognized for discovering the elements radium and polonium; the element curium was named after Curie and her husband, Pierre.
Book: The Story of Marie Curie, Grades 3–4
The Story of Marie Curiedescribes Curie’s life—from her childhood to when she became a scientist. The book weaves in various scientific terms; students can familiarize themselves with these words and even create a journal with the definitions and illustrations.
4. Mary Golda Ross
Engineer Mary Golda Ross (1908–2008), a member of the Cherokee Nation, is considered the first known Native American aerospace engineer. She was a member of the top-secret Skunk Works program at Lockheed, where she was involved with cutting-edge research during the Space Race.
Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Rossdiscusses Cherokee values, such as gaining skills in all areas of life, working cooperatively with others, remaining humble, and helping to ensure equal education and opportunity for all, and weaves them throughout the book to display how these values inspired Ross to excel in learning and eventually become an aerospace engineer. Discuss how values can help us live focused and meaningful lives and help students identify any values they’ve been taught to honor, such as respect for others and honesty.
Download our posters and read more about famous women who have impacted science.
Women Who Have Made a Stand
Women worldwide have continuously worked to establish better conditions for all. The women below took the world by storm because they strove to make it a better place for everyone.
1. Anna May Wong
Actress Anna May Wong (1905–1961) was the first Chinese American film star in Hollywood. She appeared in over 60 movies and used her fame to protest racism in Hollywood.
Book: Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story, Grades 1–2
Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Storydiscusses the life of Wong, from childhood to international stardom, her relationship with her father, and her fight for more authentic images of Asians onscreen. As a child, Wong watched movies as escapism from school bullies and her work at her family’s laundry. Wong eventually fulfilled her dream of becoming a film star. Start a discussion:
- What do you like to do for fun?
- What goals do you have in life?
- How do you think you can accomplish your goals?
2. Malala Yousafzai
Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai (1997–), the youngest Nobel Prize laureate, is recognized for her fight for equality in education. TIMEmagazine featured her multiple times as one of the most influential people globally.
Book: Malala: My Story of Standing Up for Girls’ Rights, Grades 1–5
Malala: My Story of Standing Up for Girls’ Rights delves into her fight for the right of girls to obtain an education. Yousafzai shares intimate details about her life that might make her relatable to other young people, such as her hobbies and talents. Have students independently think of traits that describe Yousafzai. Then have them write down their traits as a list. Now facilitate a discussion with the whole class about how others view Yousafzai similarly and differently from each other.
3. Ruby Bridges
Civil rights activist Ruby Bridges (1954–) was the first Black American student to attend a formerly segregated school. She established the Ruby Bridges Foundation to inspire young people to unify their communities.
Book: I Am Ruby Bridges, Grades Pre-K–3
I Am Ruby Bridges is told from the perspective of her six-year-old self. Start a discussion with the following questions:
- Place yourself in her shoes. How would you react if encountering similar situations that she faced in the book?
- Think about a challenging situation you’ve faced. How did you react, and what helped you remain as brave as Ruby Bridges?
4. Sonia Sotomayor
Lawyer and jurist Sonia Sotomayor (1954–) broke barriers when she became the first Hispanic and third woman appointed to the Supreme Court. She’s vocal about issues concerning race, ethnicity, gender, and criminal justice reform.
Book: Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You, Grades Pre-K–3
Sotomayor was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at a young age; Just Ask! celebrates children of all ages with different abilities. In the book, the children introduce themselves and their disability, challenge, or what makes them different; they explain how they might interact with those around them and their environments.
Just Ask! teaches the importance of asking others about themselves. Sotomayor and the children in the book ask questions that can lead to a discussion. Choose any of the questions and use our social and emotional anchor charts for early primary and primary students that offer classroom discussion support.
Book: Turning Pages: My Life Story, Grades Pre-K–3
Another book option is Turning Pages: My Life Story, where Sotomayor writes about her love of books and how they inspired her throughout her life. Ask students: what are some of your favorite books? How have these books and their characters inspired you?
Share Your Favorite Women’s History Month Books
What literature about women do you like to use in your classroom? Please share your favorite women’s history books for elementary students on Twitter (@HMHCo) or Facebook or email us at email@example.com.
Find more lesson plans and classroom resources on Shaped.
March is Women's History Month! It's a month-long celebration of all the amazing things women have accomplished throughout history. As elementary teachers, we have the chance to inspire our students from an early age by teaching them about the incredible contributions of women throughout time.What is women's history month for elementary students? ›
March is Women's History Month! It's a month-long celebration of all the amazing things women have accomplished throughout history. As elementary teachers, we have the chance to inspire our students from an early age by teaching them about the incredible contributions of women throughout time.What is the topic for women's history month? ›
In 2022, the theme of Women's History Month was Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope. The theme was designed to celebrate the ongoing contributions of caretakers and frontline workers throughout the pandemic, as well as honor the countless ways women of all cultures have provided help and healing throughout history.What is the theme for women's history month 2023? ›
The National Women's History Alliance, which spearheaded the movement for March being declared National Women's History Month, has announced the women's history theme for 2023, “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories.”Who is the most famous woman in history? ›
The mother of Jesus, Mary is venerated by both Christians and Muslims, and is probably the most famous woman in history.What activities can be done on women's Day in school? ›
Ask the students to work on a project about women's challenges or gender equality. They could write a composition, a poem, a book report, a speech, or do a research paper. Lead a discussion on what students can do in their home, at school or in the community to bring women closer to equality.What is the color for women's history month? ›
Symbolically, purple is a hue that has been used for centuries to represent wealth, nobility, luxury and power. It is also a color used throughout modern history to represent the fight for gender equality and International Women's Day.Who is an important woman on women's history month? ›
- Malala Yousafzai. (1997 – Present)
- Ida B. Wells. (1862-1931)
- Toni Morrison. (1931-2019)
- Clara Barton. (1821 – 1912)
- Lilly Ledbetter. (1938 – Present)
- Ruth Bader Ginsberg. (1933 – 2020)
- Harriet Tubman. (1822 – 1913)
- Susan B. Anthony. (1820 – 1906)
Why do you think her work was essential to women's freedom today? What would life have been like if she did not fight for women's rights? List five women alive today that you think will be influential for future generations. Why did you choose these women?What is a fun fact for women's Day? ›
International Women's Day was adopted by The United Nations and it is celebrated on 8th March. Disposable diapers, non-reflective glass, paper bags, dishwasher, and the foot-pedal trashcan, were invented by women. Heels were initially worn by man to emphasize their masculinity and women wore them in 1600 to mimic them.
- 1776. Women's Advocacy in the White House. ...
- 1848. The First Women's Convention. ...
- 1872. First Woman to Run for President. ...
- 1894. First Women State Legislators. ...
- 1916. First Congresswoman. ...
- 1920. Women Achieve the Right to Vote. ...
- 1922. ...
During Women's History Month, we celebrate the countless women who have fought tirelessly and courageously for equality, justice, and opportunity in our Nation. We also reaffirm our commitment to advancing rights and opportunities for women and girls in the United States and around the world.How do you teach kids women's Day? ›
- Teach children about the history of International Women's Day. ...
- Create a wonderful International Women's Day classroom display. ...
- Deliver an amazing assembly all about the history of women's rights. ...
- Celebrate inspiring women!
- Mother Teresa. For those of you asking "who is Mother Teresa?" - shame on you! ...
- Joan of Arc. ...
- Kelly Holmes. ...
- Marilyn Monroe. ...
- Oprah Winfrey. ...
- Amelia Earhart. ...
- Billie Jean King. ...
- J. K. Rowling.
- Empress Dowager Cixi. Between 1861 and 1908, Empress Dowager Cixi dominated China's Qing dynasty. ...
- Catherine the Great. The Empress of Russia from 1762 to 1796, Catherine the Great wasn't technically Russian and wasn't even called Catherine to start with. ...
- Zenobia. ...
- Maria Theresa. ...
Women are the epitome of courage, hope, and life. Let us take a pledge this Women's Day that we will make the world a much better place for them. You are bold, beautiful, compassionate and caring. Wishing you a very happy Women's Day.What is the dress code for women's day? ›
The Purple signified justice and dignity; green symbolises hope; white represents purity. To express you feminist side, choose to wear a shade of purple this International Women's Day.
International Women's Day is on 8 March every year. On this day people celebrate the achievements of women all over the world, but also continue to fight for more equality for women.Why is womens month color purple? ›
The colors of Women's History Month are purple, green, and white. Each of these colors has its roots in the United Kingdom's women's suffrage movement that began in the mid-19th century but continues to have meaning today. Purple is recognized as the international color of women and gender equality.Why is womens history month purple? ›
Purple signifies justice and dignity, and being loyal to the cause. Green symbolizes hope. White represents purity, albeit a controversial concept. The colors originated from the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) in the UK in 1908.
Purple, green and white are the colours of International Women's Day. Purple signifies justice, dignity and being loyal to the cause. Green symbolizes hope and white represents purity. The colours originated from the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) in the UK in 1908.Which president made women's history month? ›
Women's History Month grew out of a weeklong commemoration by Jimmy Carter in 1980. President Jimmy Carter signs a proclamation designating March 2-8, 1980, as the first national Women's History Week. Years before it became a full month, there was Women's History Week.What are some quotes for National women's history month? ›
- “Women's rights are human rights.” – Hillary Clinton.
- “There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.” – Michelle Obama.
- “Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world.” – Hillary Clinton.
- “Women are the real architects of society.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe.
It is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. Since those early years, International Women's Day has assumed a new global dimension for women in developed and developing countries alike.What is the symbol for the female gender? ›
Symbol. The symbol ♀ (Unicode: U+2640 Alt codes: Alt+12), a circle with a small cross underneath, is commonly used to represent females.Did you know facts for womens history month? ›
In 2021, 57.8 percent of all women participated in the labor force. And nearly a million women returned to the workforce in 2021, compared to 666,000 men. According to The 19th, 3.3 million of all the jobs added to the economy went to women, while 3.1 million went to men.What are 2 important historical events for women's rights? ›
- 1848. First Women's Rights Convention. ...
- 1849. The First National Women's Rights Convention. ...
- 1851. “Ain't I a woman?” ...
- 1861-1865. The Civil War. ...
- 1866. Formation of the American Equal Rights Association. ...
- 1867. ...
- 1868. ...
The fight for women's right to vote in elections is known as the 'suffragette movement'. By the end of the 19th century, this had become a worldwide movement, and the words 'feminism' and 'feminist movement' started to be used from that point on.Why do we celebrate women's history month for kids? ›
How it started. Educators in Santa Rosa, California, first celebrated Women's History Week in March 1978 to increase awareness of women's contributions to society. Organizers selected a week in early March to correspond with International Women's Day on March 8.What does women's history mean to you? ›
“Women's history is everyone's history, right? So it's an opportunity to really celebrate all of the accomplishments of our women, big and small — to really learn more about the things that we do as women and give us a chance to really learn and grow in that space.
During Women's History Month, we celebrate the countless women who have fought tirelessly and courageously for equality, justice, and opportunity in our Nation. We also reaffirm our commitment to advancing rights and opportunities for women and girls in the United States and around the world.What is women's history month and why do we celebrate it for kids? ›
In the United States the month of March is known as National Women's History Month. It was designated in 1987 by the U.S. Congress. National Women's History Month is an honorary observance in recognition of women's many accomplishments throughout history.What is women's history month explanation? ›
Women's History Month is a dedicated month to reflect on the often-overlooked contributions of women to United States history. From Abigail Adams to Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth to Rosa Parks, the timeline of women's history milestones stretches back to the founding of the United States.Why do we teach women's history month? ›
For girls, knowing women's achievements expands their sense of what is possible. For all of us, knowledge of women's strengths and contributions builds respect and nourishes self esteem — crucial to all children and adults now, and in the years to come. Educators are willing, often eager, to introduce women's history.What color represents women's history? ›
Symbolically, purple is a hue that has been used for centuries to represent wealth, nobility, luxury and power. It is also a color used throughout modern history to represent the fight for gender equality and International Women's Day.Why do we celebrate women's Day for Kids? ›
Women haven't always been able to work, vote, or been given the same rights as men. So since the early 1900s, women around the world have celebrated an International Women's Day, campaigning for equal rights and shining a spotlight on brilliant women across the globe.Why do we celebrate women's Day in simple words? ›
It is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. Since those early years, International Women's Day has assumed a new global dimension for women in developed and developing countries alike.Why is women's history important? ›
Women's History Month empowers young girls around the nation with courage, self-esteem and willpower to walk in our ancestors' footsteps. Our history will also inspire current and future generations to emulate the women who laid the framework for us to succeed, be treated equitably and be recognized in society.