This summer we’ve been basking in the glory of so many female heroes, in politics and in sports especially. I didn’t get to watch much of the summer Olympics, but I sure did read about many of the extraordinary feats of athleticism and personal, political and historic victory. Many of the young female athletes from around the globe were not only fighting for medals in their respective sports; these Olympic games also underscored ongoing challenges in race, representation and media image — similar challenges that are well known to women like Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, and so many others who forge ahead bearing the burdens of history on their backs.
So I would like to usher in the new school year with some wonderful books celebrating women of all ages, in all spheres.
Celebrating Women In Sports:
Nadia the Girl Who Couldn’t Stand Still: By Karlin Gray & Christine Davenier. A picture book that explores Nadia Comaneci’s journey from climbing trees as a girl in Romania to Olympic gold, a road that was full of many imperfect moments for the athlete who received an unprecedented seven perfect scores in her Olympic performances.
The Quickest Kid In Clarksville: By Pat Miller & Frank Morrison. This picture book pays homage to Wilma Rudolph in 1960 and the homecoming parade for the Olympian, which occurred in Clarksville, TN, and was the first integrated event in that town. A spunky story of one girl’s perseverance and ingenuity.
Stars of Women’s Soccer: by Illugi Jokulsson. A who’s who with fabulous action shots of the world’s contemporary legends for kids who love an encyclopedic look at their favorite athletes.
Celebrating Women In Politics:
Around America To Win the Vote: By Mara Rockliff & Hadley Hooper. Rockliff, in a whimsical picture book, introduces Nell Richardson and Alice Burke, whose five-month, 10,000-mile crusade for women’s voting rights drew crowds and made colorful newspaper copy in 1916.
I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes Her Mark: By Debbie Levy & Elizabeth Baddeley. “Disagreeing doesn’t mean you’re disagreeable”– why of course not! This biographical picture book about the Notorious RBG tells the justice’s story through the lens of her many famous dissents, or disagreements.
Hillary Rodham Clinton: Some Girls Are Born To Lead by Michelle Markel & LeUyen Pham. From the author who brought us Brave Girl, the story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history, this picture book bio details her challenges in balancing work and family life, as well as the criticism she’s received as a woman, make her willingness to conquer each new hurdle even more impressive.
Celebrating Women In Science:
Ada’s Ideas by Fiona Robinson and Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science by Diane Stanley & Jessie Hartland: two picture books that explore the young scientist’s love of numbers, poetry and her earliest inventions.
Ada Twist, Scientist: by Andrea Beaty & David Roberts. The latest addition to a popular series of picture books beginning with Iggy Peck, Architect. Drawing on the inspiration by real-life makers such as Ada Lovelace and Marie Curie, Ada Twist champions girl power and women scientists, and brings welcome diversity to picture books about girls in science.
Women In Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World: By Rachel Ignotofsky. With the accessibility of a graphic novel this book of illustrated biographies is a beautifully curated collection of personal narratives from female scientists from a wide variety of backgrounds and disciplines, mixed with a dash of whimsy.
And a few others I couldn’t leave behind:
Rad American Women and Rad Women Worldwide: By Kate Schatz & Miriam Klein Stahl. Two A-Z collections of infamous women throughout history, some well-known icons and others who are delightfully brought to attention. The powerful cut-paper portraits add vigor to their stories.
Bad Girls Throughout History: By Ann Shen. Another brand new who’s who throughout history including 100 stunning portraits in watercolor by the author.
Further reading for parents and children:
5 Other Women Who Ran For President
A MIghty Girl Blog’s Book List
Washington Post Article On Black Women in the Olympics
18 Feminist Moments From the Olympics That Deserve To Win Gold