As Black History Month, or rather, February, draws to a close, and we approach March, which happens to be Women’s History Month, I bring to you girl power picture books for #BHM and beyond!
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Girl Power Picture Books For #BHM and Beyond
Choosing Brave: How Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Sparked the Civil Rights Movement by Angela Joy and illustrated by Janelle Washington (8 – 12 years, and up)
The impactful words reach out to the reader, make us feel every feeling Mamie did, make us realize that choosing brave is something each and everyone of us can do everyday. The cutout style artwork enhances and empowers the narrative with its quiet strength. And the backmatter adds so much to this stunner of a book. We need more books like this!
Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams by Lesa Cline-Ransome with art by James E. Ransome (4 – 8 years, and up)
The Ransomes have done it again! This time, their collaboration on the picture book biography of the Williams sisters has won me over game-set-match! With collage-style acrylic illustrations accompanied by a no-holds barred, yet audience-friendly narrative, this picture book is the inspiring story of these barrier-breaking, hard-working game-changing sisters!.
The Girl With a Mind for Math
The Girl With a Mind For Math: The Story of Raye Montague (Amazing Scientists) by Julia Finley Mosca (Author), Daniel Rieley (Illustrator) (7 – 10 years, and up)
When I see books about people, or math, it lights up the numbers in my brain! And this one is a biography of a girl with a mind for math. So of course I had to read it, and so glad I did. I had no idea of Raye Montague and her perseverance as well as genius before this. Powerful rhyming verse with sweet vibrant artwork make this bio about a truly inspiring hero a must-read!
Jump at the Sun
Jump at the Sun: The True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston by Alicia D. Williams and illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara (4 – 8 years, and up)
I loved Williams’ oh-so-folksy and lyrical narrative as well as the vibrancy and life in Alcántara’s artwork. Both the emotive, folkloric text and exuberant illustrations capture Zora Neale Hurston’s attempts to ‘jump at de sun’ and succeed in landing there! I am certainly inspiring to jump at the sun now, and do more.
Lift as You Climb
Lift as You Climb: The Story of Ella Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell with art by R. Gregory Christie (4 – 8 years, and up)
Such an inspiring and uplifting title, just like the woman it is about! With a lyrical free verse narrative that doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities of racism and beautiful detailed illustrations, as well as a wonderful author’s note, this book gives an insight into Baker’s life that will educate and empower, and to ask ourselves (like Ella’s refrain in the book): “What do you hope to accomplish?”
Runaway: The Daring Escape of Ona Judge by Ray Anthony Shepard and illustrated by Keith Mallett (4 – 8 years, and up)
I had not heard of Ona Judge until this book (seems to be my refrain for picture book biographies!) and this is a stunning introduction to this courageous young woman, who dared to escape. With beautiful realistic paintings by Keith Mallett and a narrative that is spare yet impactful with its repeated use of “Why you run Ona Judge?”, this book asks to be read by everyone and ponder over what it means to be free.
So Tall Within
So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth’s Long Walk Toward Freedom by Gary D. Schmidt and art by Daniel Minter (4 – 8 years, and up)
Stunning, stirring, simply astonishing is what I can say about this book. With a no punches pulled poetic prose, and paintings that portray harshness, hardships, and all-that-heart with an amazing gentleness, this is a book that brings Sojourner Truth’s larger than life personality to, well, life, within its pages.
A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks
A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks (People Who Shaped Our World Book 3) by Alice Faye Duncan and illustrated by Xia Gordon (5 years and up)
Alice Faye Duncan pays homage to Brooks when she weaves her own beautiful sing-song lyrics into sections, interspersed with Brooks’ poems. Each section begins with the line ‘SING a song for Gwendolyn Brooks’ starting a short verse, then expertly illustrating with verse and art to illustrate different parts of Brooks’ life, from her childhood to when she won her Pulitzer. Backmatter is not to be missed.
Sweet Dreams, Sarah
Sweet Dreams, Sarah by Vivian Kirkfield with art by Chris Ewald (7 – 11 years, and up)
An entrepreneur I had never heard of until today (not even a tiny bit). Vivian Kirkfield’s depth of research shines through, and her use of lyrical, rhythmic text enhances the reading experience. Ewald’s realistic paintings in warm colors that take us back in time add to the beauty of this book that everyone needs to read, so we can all learn about Sarah and her journey from being enslaved to becoming a patent holder who created sweet dreams for all. Rich back matter includes information on patents, an author’s note, and a timeline of patents.
Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman by Kathleen Krull and illustrated by David Diaz (5 – 10 years, and up)
A book that is sure to inspire each and every one of its readers to follow through (like all the other books today, actually!) on their dreams and achieve the impossible! From being a preemie who many believed would not see her first birthday and overcoming polio to becoming the world’s fastest woman, Wilma Randolph’s story is one to read.
The Youngest Marcher
The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson and art by Vanessa Brantley-Newton (5 – 12 years, and up)
While a bit wordy for younger readers, it still works when someone reads to them perfectly well! The illustrations are both sweet and truthful of the events and times, while the narrative shows us how Audrey became the youngest marcher, and also became the youngest known child to be arrested for a civil rights protest.
More Girl Power Picture Books for #BHM & Always
- Honoring Amazing People For Black History Month: Picture Book Biographies
- 6 Great Reads About Super Women
- Wonderful Lessons From Inspiring Picture Books
And Now, the End of This Post
Dear reader, have you read any of these books? Any recommendations for similar reads? I hope you find something to add to your or a loved one’s collection today from this selection.