March 8th is International Women’s Day, and it seems as fitting a time as any for us to share this book list. These titles highlight some of the amazing contributions women have made throughout the course of history, often working to overcome great obstacles. Whether you read them to your daughters or your sons, we hope you will find a story that resonates, sparks their imaginations, and gives them a little glimpse of what their own lives might become.
We’ve started with one of our favourites, it’s the story of Maria Montessori and she needs no introduction…
Amazing Australian Women
by Pamela Freeman, illustrated by Sophie Beer
A bright and colourful look at twelve incredible Australian women who helped shape our country, from politics and the arts to Indigenous culture, science and more.
Meet twelve amazing Australian women who have changed the world, in small ways and large. Some of them are world famous, like Annette Kellerman and Nellie Melba. Some of them are famous in Australia, like Mary Reibey and Edith Cowan.
All of them deserve to be famous and admired.
These women are the warriors who paved the way for the artists, business owners, scientists, singers, politicians, actors, sports champions, adventurers, activists and innovators of Australia today.
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History
by Vashti Harrison
Striking a balance between widely recognised and lesser known influential black women, Harrison has crafted a beautiful book for children. The pictures will appeal to all children, but the text is best suited to those aged eight and up. Forty women are featured, including Zora Neal Hurston, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ella Fitzgerald, Ruby Bridges, Oprah Winfrey, and many more.
I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes Her Mark
by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley
Boys were expected to grow up, go out into the world, and do big things. Girls? Girls were expected to find husbands. Ruth’s mother disagreed. With the support of her family and her own tenacious spirit, little Ruth grew up to become the strong woman we know today as Justice Ginsburg.
Shout out to the Girls!
by Penguin Random House Australia
Let’s hear it for the Australian women who have shaped our history and are expanding our future!
Shout-outs to 50 awesome Australian women with easy-to-read biographies of their incredible achievements. From Cathy Freeman to Turia Pitt, Edith Cowan to Julia Gillard, Mum Shirl to Vali Myers, plus rally car drivers, molecular biologists and more, this book is a celebration of women in all fields, from all walks of life, and from Australia’s past and present.
Brought to life by colourful illustrations from female artists, Shout Out to the Girls is the ultimate inspirational read for young and old.
All royalties from sales of this book go to The Smith Family.
Rosie Revere, Engineer
by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts
Rosie may seem quiet during the day, but at night she’s a brilliant inventor of gizmos and gadgets who dreams of becoming a great engineer. When her Great, Great Aunt Rose (Rosie the Riveter) comes for a visit and mentions her one unfinished goal – to fly, Rosie sets to work building a contraption to make her aunt’s dream come true. Her invention complete, Rosie attempts a test flight – but after a moment, the machine crashes to the ground.
Discouraged, Rosie deems the invention a failure, but Aunt Rose insists that on the contrary, it was a raging success. You can only truly fail, she explains, if you quit. Reassured, Rosie returns to her engineering and inspires her classmates to join in the fun.
Who was Rosa Parks?
by Yona Zeldis McDonough, illustrated by Stephen Marchesi
The ‘Who Was’ series is well-loved by primary aged children across the country. In this book, Zeldis McDonough details the life of civil rights activist Rosa Parks, famous for her refusal to change her seat on an Alabama city bus. Her actions sparked a boycott that lasted for more than a year and were a major contribution to the work of ending segregations.
Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13
by Helaine Becker, illustrated by Tiemdow Phumiruck
Children love to be able to relate to people in books. Counting on Katherine begins by giving readers a glimpse into the mathematician’s childhood, as a kid who loved to count, was fascinated by the universe, and did well in school. This book tells how she went on to combine her passions while working for NASA, eventually saving lives and making history.
Malala’s Magic Pencil
by Malala Yousafzai, illustrated by Kerascoët
The only autobiography on the list, Malala’s Magic Pencil was penned by the Nobel Peace Prize Winner herself. Malala takes readers on a journey through her experiences, first imagining how she might make her life better, then coming to a realisation that real action was needed. While she once wished for a magical pencil, she grew to discover the power in her own writing. She voiced her support for women’s rights, education, and peace in her home country of Pakistan as it was being controlled by the Taliban.
Girls Can Fly
by Sally Morgan, illustrated by Ambelin Kwaymullina
Girls Can Fly is an inspirational, young teen book from award-winning Aboriginal writer and artist Sally Morgan and her equally talented daughter Ambelin. Together they have written short, poignant sayings full of advice that comes from their life experiences. Mother and daughter have written a beautiful, thoughtful and inspiring book. An early draft of the manuscript was given to the participants of the Kimberley and Pilbara Girls program and their feedback and suggestions were taken in. An acknowledgement, information about and photographs of the girls are featured at the back of the book.
You might also like to read the children’s version’s of Sally Morgan’s classic, My Place.
Mae Among the Stars
by Roda Ahmed, illustrated by Stasia Burrington
Honoring the first African American woman to travel in space, Ahmed and Burrington have created a beautiful picture book about the life of Mae Jemison. Young Mae shares her dreams with her encouraging parents, later to have them dismissed by her white teacher and classmates. Mae’s own determination, combined with the unwavering support of her family, led her to achieve her dreams and chance history.
A Story to Tell
by Laurel Nannup
In A Story to Tell, Laurel Nannup brings to life a childhood in a large Aboriginal family. While her stories include time spent at the Wandering Mission, their main focus is on memories of family life-picnics, roaming through the bush, sharing campfire tales, and events such as buying a new dress and first communion. The collection is illustrated with Laurel’s striking woodcuts and etchings, which, together with a selection of photographs, complement the warm and affectionate humor of her narrative.
I made a promise to myself to stop buying children’s books once my daughter started secondary school but it’s not working! There are just so many great children’s books and it’s so good to read books bringing this year’s IWD theme to life: An Equal world is an enabled world. #Eachfor Equal
We hope you and your children will find these books inspiring. Let us know if you have others to recommend!