Books by Theme

Strong Women in History and the Present

What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan

Music, science, and politics — just a few of the areas where women have made significant contributions. Famous and not-so-famous, their stories are worth exploring. In the books here, you’ll meet the First Lady of Jazz, a 19th century botanist who published the first photography book, the first bilingual storyteller/librarian, and others. You may even learn more about someone you thought you already knew! Celebrate women and their accomplishments this month and throughout the year. Find more books about Women's History in our Book Finder.

Bold and Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to Vote

By: Kirsten Gillibrand
Illustrated by: Maira Kalman
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

The women in Senator Gillibrand’s family inspired this examination of those active in the women’s suffrage movement from the late 19th to early 20th century. Some like Susan B. Anthony and Harriet Tubman are well known. Others such as Inez Mulholland and Lucy Burns are lesser known. Together, these portraits present an accessible look at early activists. Stylized illustrations enhance the presentation.

Eleanor Roosevelt, Fighter for Justice

By: Ilene Cooper
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Though Eleanor Roosevelt was born into privilege, she developed a keen sense of justice and fairness. In a highly readable narration, Eleanor’s life is presented, enhanced by photographs and primary sources. Also included are a timeline and bibliography.

Eliza: The Story of Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton

By: Margaret McNamara
Illustrated by: Esme Shapiro
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Eliza Schuyler Hamilton’s life and accomplishments come into focus through letters written to an imagined-yet-unborn great granddaughter. Eliza’s insights go beyond that of her famous husband, Alexander (about whom additional material is included at the end). Handsome illustrations evoke a 19th century style and period.

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race

By: Margot Lee Shetterly, Winifred Conkling
Illustrated by: Laura Freeman
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

The true story of four African American women whose talent and tenacity led to careers at NASA is recast for younger readers. The unfairness and dscrimination caused by segregation is presented in an accessible, age appropriate, and engaging way.

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré

By: Anika Denise
Illustrated by: Paola Escobar
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

What happens when you plant a seed? With a bit of care, something grows. The first children’s librarian from Puerto Rico, Pura Belpré (for whom an American Library Association literary award is named) planted seeds of stories throughout New York City where she worked, introducing children to tales from her homeland in Spanish and English. Illustrations bring the time and period to life.

Reach Higher: An Inspiring Photo Celebration of First Lady Michelle Obama

By: Amanda Lucidon
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Michelle Obama is revealed here through the lens of her official White House photographer and a brief but informative text. Obama’s verve and interests are evident throughout this lively book. For preschoolers, Alison Oliver’s board book, Michele Obama, can inspire parents to talk with young children about how to “be inspirational” while remaining true to one's self.

So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth's Long Walk Toward Freedom

By: Gary Schmidt
Illustrated by: Daniel Minter
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Sophisticated art portrays a haunting, bigger-than-life Sojourner Truth. When combined with a moving narrative, the result is a unique portrait of Sojourner Truth’s life. A biographical note and sources are included.

Struttin’ with Some Barbecue: Lil Hardin Armstrong Becomes the First Lady of Jazz

By: Patricia Hruby Powell
Illustrated by: Rachel Himes
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

She was a composer, an instrumentalist, the wife of a man whose name would become synonymous with jazz, and basically a woman before her time. Generous illustrations evoke the period in with Lil lived just as her story in verse suggests her musical talent. Readers will enjoy meeting this fascinating woman. Timeline, additional resources, and documentation are included.

The Bluest of Blues: Anna Atkins and the First Book of Photographs

By: Fiona Robinson
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Born in England in the early 19th century, Anna was encouraged by her father to observe, study, and document the natural world. Together, they also experimented with light as a way to photograph and record her botanic specimens. Unfortunately, none of the photographs exist today as the “prints faded over time, like memories.” Later she created books using cyanotype (known today as sun prints). Lush but muted illustrations in blues and white evoke the period and this scientist’s work. Additional resources are included.

What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan

By: Chris Barton
Illustrated by: Ekua Holmes
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

From a very young age, Barbara Jordan had a voice that stood out. The repeated refrain, “what can you do with a voice like that?” is answered as Jordan grows personally and politically. Even after retiring from the U.S. Congress, Jordan continued to use her voice to educate and inspire. Handsomely illustrated, this brief but informative look at the impact of one woman is highly readable. Additional resources are included.  

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Rachael Walker
Rachael Walker
September 17, 2018

Start with a Book: Read. Talk. Explore.

"Let us remember: one book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world." —

Malala Yousafzei