by Bailey Keimig-Gehrke, Youth Services
Happy Women’s History Month! One of the best ways to celebrate with children is to read a picture book biography! There are many wonderful books about women throughout history, some stories are more familiar than others, but all are worth reading. Here are a few of my favorites that are perfect to share with elementary school-aged children for Women’s History Month or anytime. You can find these books and more at the library.
“The Oldest Student” (Schwartz & Wade Books, 2020) by Rita Lorraine Hubbard & illustrated by Oge Mora
This beautifully illustrated book proves that you are never too old to learn new things. It tells the story of Mary Walker, who was born into slavery in 1848 and finally freed at the age of 15. Unfortunately, being free did not solve all of Mary’s problems. Mary wanted to learn to read. But her life was still full of hard work and she did not have any time to pursue her goal. As Mary got older, her sons would read to her since she couldn’t read on her own. But still determined to learn how to read, Mary joined an adult literacy class at the age of 114! Eventually, she accomplished what she never thought possible. She spent the rest of her years spreading the message that you are never too old to learn.
“How the Cookie Crumbled: The True (and Not-So-True) Stories of the Invention of the Chocolate Chip Cookie” (Atheneum Books, 2017) by Gilbert Ford
Most of us are familiar with the chocolate chip cookie, but you probably don’t know that Ruth Wakefield is the person who invented it. As a young girl, Ruth loved to help her grandmother in the kitchen. She recognized that cooking and baking was a science and eventually went on to study nutrition in college. After Ruth graduated college, she got married and opened a restaurant with her husband. It was at that restaurant that Ruth invented the chocolate chip cookie, but nobody really knows how she did it. Was it an accident? Was it because she had to spontaneously use a substitute in one of her recipes? Or was it carefully crafted and intentional? The chocolate chip cookie became a national hit thanks to Ruth and her recipe, which is still used today.
“Sisters: Venus & Serena Williams” (Beach Lane Books, 2019) by Jeanette Winter
Vibrant, colorful illustrations depict the lives and careers of Venus and Serena Williams, two sisters who grew up to be world famous tennis players. We see the girls learning to play tennis in their neighborhood’s shabby tennis courts with old tennis balls and rackets. As the girls got better and better, people began to take notice. Eventually, Venus and Serena began competing and earning trophies. The more successful they became, the more attention they got, but Venus and Serena stayed focused on the sport and on their bond as sisters. They overcome challenges with their health, with the hate that sometimes accompanies great success, and continue to show us that hard work and commitment have the power to change your life.
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