Women’s History Month

To celebrate International Women’s Day this week – and Women’s History Month all month – I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite picture books, chapter books, graphic novels, and nonfiction books with women and girls as the main character. Damsels in distress need not apply: whether it’s taking on a fire-breathing dragon, acting in a school play, or solving a mystery, these smart, determined girls tackle their own problems. It was too hard to narrow down nonfiction titles about individual women, so I’ve also included some great collective biographies about awesome women throughout history. This is only a drop in the bucket of all the great books about girls out there, so feel free to stop by the Children’s Desk to get some further recommendations!


The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty
Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn
The Name Jar by Xangsook Choi
I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont
Waiting for the Biblioburro by Monica Brown
My Brave Year of Firsts by Jamie Lee Curtis
The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson


Franny K Stein: Lunch Walks Among Us by Jim Benton
Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Savvy by Ingrid Law
Princess in Black by Shannon Hale
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta


Sanity and Tallulah by Molly Brooks
Princeless by Jeremy Whitley
Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
Sunny Side Up by Jennifer Holm
Real Friends by Shannon Hale
Baby-Sitters Club: Kristy’s Great Idea by Raina Telgemeier
Cleopatra in Space by Mike Maihack
Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute by Jarrett Krosoczka


Girls Think of Everything by  Catherine Thimmish
Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky
Shaking Things Up by Susan Hood
She Persisted and She Persisted Around the World by Chelsea Clinton
Women Who Dared by Linda Skeers

A Mighty Girl
National Women’s History Project
National Women’s History Museum
Women’s History Month

Miss Jessica


Top 10 of 2018: #4




The Day You Begin 

by Jacqueline Woodson

Beautifully written and illustrated, this picture book gives courage to every child who feels alone, that there is no one quite like them.  The book acknowledges that it is not easy being different but to take courage, reach out and share your story.  You will being to find others who are a little like you in different ways.  It is a powerful and reassuring book about diversity and becoming accepted.




by Holly Hobbie

Elmore is a lonely porcupine looking for friends and he is having no luck because he is prickly. In this very short book Elmore find friends by giving of himself and helping others.



Winter is Here

by Kevin Henkes

Another winner from the dream team Kevin Henkes and Laura Dronzek.  Henkes’ text discusses life during the wintertime – the mittens and zippers and scarves and zippers and coats and OH NO PLEASE NOT MORE ZIPPERS – and Dronzek’s illustrations bring color and beauty to an often drab season.  If you’re like me and have always hated winter, this book might just change your mind.


Magnificent Birds 

by Narisa Togo

This book is gorgeous and educational.  The author has studied both ecology and printmaking, and she has combined her knowledge and talent here beautifully.  Great book for kids who love facts and those who enjoy perusing bird and animal books for the pictures.


Chomp Goes the Alligator

by Matthew Van Fleet

This laugh-out-loud board book was one of my favorite storytime reads this year for our birth to two year group.  I actually read this gem the first time on a day when school was out and I had older siblings in the room and it had all of us laughing. Entertaining that many age groups with a single story is not easy so that made it an instant winner for me.  I was easily able to make this story interactive by adding actions to the Alligator’s chomping as he eats many of his friends in the swamp (but don’t worry, everyone is safe and sound in the end).  The early literacy side of me loves this book because there are so many things that make it educational in that sneaky the-kids-won’t-even-know way.  Opportunities to identify animals, colors, rhyming and predicting, practice counting and even motor skills since this book does have a flap that allows your alligator to chomp just to name a few.  For people leery of board books that have moving parts, this book is super sturdy and will provide you and your favorite kiddos many happy reads and stand the test of time.

Top 10 of 2018: #9




Aru Shah and the End of Time

by Roshani Chokshi

Aru has a tendency to tell lies at school about how glamorous her life is.  However, during a school break her classmates go to her home at the Museum of Ancient Indian Arts and Culture to catch her in a lie.  Not only is Aru NOT in Paris, she is standing in the doorway wearing her Spider-Man pajamas.  To get herself out of this mess, she lights the museum’s Lamp of Bharata to prove to the kids her claim the lamp is cursed.  Aru knows she is not supposed to light the lamp but she doesn’t realize that in doing so she sets into motion the destruction of the world.  Everyone is frozen in time and there is only Aru to undo it all before it is too late.

WHat and exciting introduction to Hindu mythology!  RIck Riordan fans will love this book.



There’s a Dragon in Your Book

by Tom Fletcher

I really enjoyed this title that allows the listener to engage with the book!  Mischief happens when you have a dragon in your book.  And Dragon is quick to assist in fixing the problems coming from having a dragon in your book.  This story brings out the giggles in any listener!



Black Bird Yellow Sun

by Steve Light

Simple text describes the colors of the things in Black Bird’s world.  Bold, colorful illustrations made this an instant top ten pick for me.



The Day You Begin

by Jacqueline Woodson

“There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you.”

Beautiful poetic book about the difficulty of being different but finding the courage to express yourself to open the door to friendship.  I love the way Woodson shows how difficult it is to be different, and shows the bravery it takes to be new, but also talks about the eventual process of making connections.



Dread Nation: Rise Up

by Justina Ireland

“It’s a cruel, cruel world. And the people are the worst part.”- Justina Ireland

Antebellum era zombies?  Yes please!  Imagine the Battle of Gettysburg where the dead rise from the fields.  With the War Between the States derailed, the north and south are both fighting the walking dead instead of each other.  Laws are still very unfair to Native Americans and African Americans, such as the Reeducation Act where they must attend combat schools to learn how to kill the “shamblers.”  Jane McKeene is a biracial zombie hunter, training at one of the best schools.  She has a fierce spirit and doesn’t want to become just an attendant like the other girls from school.  Rather than defending some well-to-do white lady,  Jane wants to go see what happened to her mother and her home.   She is assuming the worst- that her home was overrun by the walking dead and she has no family left.  Jane’s brave and adventurous spirit can’t be tamed with any amount of training and etiquette courses and this gets her into trouble when she starts snooping around to find out why some families around Baltimore are disappearing.   Caught up in some deep conspiracies, Jane is shipped out to the western frontier where she must not only fight off the dead and fear the shambler’s bite, but must also deal with a racist Sheriff and a corrupt Mayor who are just as dangerous.


This book is solidly in the Young Adult/Teen Read category for ages 13 and up.  Though there is some violence in this book (killing zombies can be a messy affair, after all), Jane is a very positive role model.  The adventure and twists and turns this story takes makes it tough to put down.  This is book one in the Dread Nation series.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

indexThis morning it was announced that Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson won the 2014 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.  This beautiful, emotional read was a fantastic choice that will stand tall next to previous winners like Katerine Erskine’s 2010 winner, Mockingbird  and last year’s winner, The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata.

Woodson’s autobiographical book in verse tells the story of an African-American girl growing up split between the south and the north during a time of great change.  Displaying the best of her powerful storytelling skills, Brown Girl Dreaming is as likely to make the reader think as feel.  Passages examining her challenges with reading are made more powerful by her discovery of books that featured people that looked like her.  At a time when the children’s book world is protesting the dearth of diverse literature for children, Woodson makes the best argument I’ve read for why it is important it is for kids to find themselves in what they read.

But like any great children’s book, I would recommend this to adults as well as kids.  Woodson is a brilliant writer who finds beauty in pain and hope in hopelessness.  She never shies away from complicated topics or speaking a tough truth.  Adults will find comfort in her charming voice, while still examining their own childhoods and beliefs.  Recommended for 4th grade and up, this book will easily appeal to longtime fans and readers new to Woodson’s work.

Link Grab Bag

Link Grab Bag

  •  Are wordless books intimidating to you? If so, you’re not alone!  But they are fantastic tools for building language and literacy skills. Mel’s Desk has a great rundown of the importance of including wordless books in your family’s reading.
  • This NPR interview with author, Jacqueline Woodson about her newest book, Brown Girl Dreaming, is a wonderful listen or read.
  • Speaking of Brown Girl Dreaming, it made the long list for the National Book Award, along with two John Corey Whaley’s second novel, Noggin.  Do you have a favorite on this list?
  • We probably all think that someone in our family is the favorite child to one or both of our parents.  A study in August’s Journal of Family Psychology found that children’s perceptions of favoritism counted a lot more than the reality.
  • With Halloween just around the corner, we’re scowering the internet looking for costume ideas.  We love this list of cute homemade costumes for kids.
  • The New York Public Library made a great list of books about failure and mistakes.  We love encouraging kids to try things, even if it might not work out as they planned, and these books will go far in teaching that.  We’d like to add a personal favorite — The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires — to that list.

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