By Katherine MoranWhen I was a fifth grade social studies teacher I would often begin the year by asking my students to brainstorm a list of important and influential people, past and present. Year after year the figures the students listed would rarely be women and even more rarely be women of color. With curiosity, the students and I would analyze what they noticed and wondered about the lists. Every year the students would come to a version of the same conclusion: “Shouldn’t we be learning about all people who have made a difference?”
March is Women’s History Month. The role of history months is a reminder of who is (and isn’t) considered noteworthy within the current dominant narrative of history. The contributions that girls and women have made have yet to be accurately represented and acknowledged. Sharing their stories with children is a powerful way to expand understanding, provide role models, and exhibit what an inclusive approach to the world around them can look like.
It is impossible to fully capture the experiences of girls and women in one booklist. The list below contains a range of stories, fiction and nonfiction, that highlight the experiences across race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, immigration status, and religion. Some are joyful and celebratory, some fact-driven with calls to action.
My hope is that these books spark a sense of belonging and build connections for you and your children, as well as provide some helpful resources as they ask more questions for you to unpack and address together. Few things are as empowering for young learners as hearing a trusted adult answer their question with, “Why don’t we work together to find some answers to that. I know a book that can help us start.”
Here’s to broadening our collective understanding of women’s history and contemporary experiences, one book and conversation at a time.
- Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
- Ambitious Girl by Meena Harris
- The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story by Tina Cho
- Areli Is a Dreamer by Areli Morales
- Intersection Allies: We Make Room for All by Carolyn Choi and Chelsea Johnson
- Sylvia & Marsha Start a Revolution by Joy Michael Ellison
- She Was the First! The Trailblazing Life of Shirley Chisholm by Katheryn Russell-Brown
- Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer by Traci Sorell
- Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
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