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Must-Have Literary Nonfiction Women’s History Month Books

March 4, 2022 No Comments
narrative nonfiction book recommendations about women's history

March is Women’s History Month. It’s a great opportunity to share with your students the stories of women from around the world. And what better way than with books?!

Today I’m sharing 5 awesome Women’s History Month books that feature women I’m guessing your students haven’t heard of!

These literary nonfiction picture books make excellent read-alouds and narrative nonfiction mentor texts for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade. I love the variety of interests, occupations, and experiences they reflect, and I know your students will, too!

Tu Youyou’s Discovery: Finding a Cure for Malaria

"Tu Youyou's Discovery" is a great mentor text all about one of the female pioneers of medicine

Tu Youyou’s Discovery is a biography of a Chinese scientist whose childhood illness led her to study science and medicine. When malaria began spreading rapidly in the early 1970s, Youyou and her team began experimenting with traditional Chinese remedies. They eventually discovered a treatment for malaria that is still used today! Youyou’s scientific breakthroughs earned her the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015. I love the themes of perseverance and altruism in this story!

Curriculum connections: health and disease, the scientific method, STEM

A Voice for the Everglades: Marjory Stoneman Douglas

another favorite women's history month picture book is "A Voice for the Everglades"

A Voice for the Everglades tells the story of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, a woman who spent decades advocating for the Everglades. Working beyond 100 years of age, she organized volunteers, lobbied lawmakers, made speeches, and became a published author. Her efforts drew attention to this unique, diverse ecosystem, even halting plans to build an airport in the Everglades. The writing is beautiful and features a mix of narrative nonfiction and descriptive text. It’s a bit longer, but will hook your students and show that one person truly can make a difference.

Curriculum connections: ecosystems, human impact, persuasive writing, STEM

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré

"Planting Stories" is a nice mentor text for narrative nonfiction during Women's History Month

As a former school librarian, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to share Planting Stories. An immigrant from Puerto Rico, Pura Belpré noticed that the stories from her childhood and culture were missing from American shelves. So, she became an author and storyteller! Her work helped give a voice to Latinx authors in the United States. This is a heartwarming story with gorgeous illustrations and Spanish words and phrases throughout. And of course, I love that it received the Pura Belpré award!

Curriculum connections: geography, oral storytelling, Spanish language

She Stitched the Stars: A Story of Ellen Harding Baker’s Solar System Quilt

"She Stitched the Stars" is a narrative nonfiction picture book that upper elementary students will love

She Stitched the Stars is the story of Ellen Harding Baker, a rural storekeeper’s wife in the late 1800s. Baker made a detailed quilt of the solar system at a time when science was still largely “men’s work.” This inspirational story shows that something seemingly ordinary can be incredibly meaningful. In fact, the quilt is currently on exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History! The story is told from the perspective of Baker’s children, making it relatable for students.

Curriculum connections: space and astronomy, art, STEM

Before She Was Harriet

Women's History Month won't be complete without a picture book read-aloud about Harriet Tubman, like "Before She Was Harriet"

While Harriet Tubman won’t be new to your students, her accomplishments outside of her work on the Underground Railroad may be. Before She Was Harriet explores her many roles – suffragist, Civil War nurse, Union spy, and more. It is beautifully written and illustrated, and its lyrical, poetic style makes it a great mentor text!

Curriculum connections: U.S. history, African-American history, women’s suffrage

And a Few More…

It’s just so hard to narrow it down! Here are 5 more women’s history narrative nonfiction picture books to check out:

Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills

Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln

Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965

No Truth Without Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

She Was the First!: The Trailblazing Life of Shirley Chisholm

Picture books are a wonderful way to teach about the accomplishments – and struggles – of women from around the world. I hope you’ve found some new literary nonfiction Women’s History Month books to share with your students. They’re perfect for highlighting women’s history in March and all year long!

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