The Best Picture Books On Strong Inspiring Women

The Books I Picked & Why

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909

By Michelle Markel, Melissa Sweet

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909

Why this book?

Brave Girl is the amazing story of Clara Lemlich and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909. Clara, a young Jewish immigrant who could not speak English upon arrival in New York, was instrumental in fighting against poor treatment of textile factory workers, leading the largest walkout of women workers in US history. Clara embodies ‘being able to do what you put your mind to,’ spending long hours studying, working, and advocating for downtrodden workers, fighting for fairness. This book not only inspires activism, but provides readers with a glimpse into the harsh realities of past working environments. Told clearly and sensitively, Brave Girl is a wonderful blend of historical content, engaging story, and imaginative illustrations. This book should not be missed!


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Dangerous Jane: the Life and Times of Jane Addams, Crusader for Peace

By Suzanne Slade, Alice Ratterree

Dangerous Jane: the Life and Times of Jane Addams, Crusader for Peace

Why this book?

This is a marvelous picture book on Jane Addams, founder of Hull House in 1889. Hull House was a Chicago settlement house for newly-arrived European immigrants. When we first meet Jane, she is a sad, sickly child who relates to those living without hope. She promises to help them when she grows up – and she does! Through her tenacity and grit, she studies, travels, and figures out how to help struggling families. 

Called “Saint Jane” when Hull House opened, she also formed the Women’s Peace Party during WWI. A Nobel Peace Prize winner, Jane Addams is an inspiration. The text of Dangerous Jane is spare, clear, and poetic; illustrations are beautifully drawn and carefully designed. This book is a treasure!


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Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli

By Kyo Maclear, Julie Morstad

Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli

Why this book?

Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli is a visual feast! Pages are strewn with illustrations created in designer colors and, of course, Schiaparelli’s signature color: SHOCKING PINK! Entering this book, readers might have the impression of sniffing a fragrant bouquet of flowers or savoring an Italian pastry. Schiaparelli’s life was not easy, but her resolve to conquer her problems and become an artist/fashion designer is inspiring. She Blooms! The true story is engaging and fast-paced. The pictures are imaginative and exciting, just like Schiap herself. Get your hands on this book. You won’t be disappointed!


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Joni: The Lyrical Life of Joni Mitchell

By Selina Alko

Joni: The Lyrical Life of Joni Mitchell

Why this book?

“Joni Mitchell painted with words,” begins this beautifully lyrical book on the well-known singer/song-writer. The colorful and imaginative collage illustrations jump off the page, telling the story of the girl from a small town in Canada who vanquished polio to go on to become a household name. Joni Mitchell used poetry to paint her feelings into song. We know her music and lyrics as a familiar soundtrack to our lives; now children can learn about the enigmatic spirit behind all that creative musicality.


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Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams

By Lesa Cline-Ransome, James E. Ransome

Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams

Why this book?

Many people know of the Williams sisters, titans in the world of professional tennis. But do you know of their struggles to gain their top-rated spots in the sport? This book highlights Venus’ and Serena’s challenges to overcome racism, poverty, and neighborhood violence to take their places as women admired for their determination, courage, and sisterly love besides their excellence in worldwide championships. Masterful collage illustrations draw readers into this story like a riveting tennis match. Sports fan or not, you will love this book!


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