Welcome to Build Your Library’s “Homeschool Tidbits: Episode 45 – 5 Books to Read During Women’s History Month”. In this weekly video series, I will delve briefly into a topic related to homeschooling and will share some of my knowledge and expertise as a long-time homeschooling mother of 4 children. Three of whom have graduated high school and one who is a college graduate!
March is Women’s History Month, and it’s also March Through History, a readathon I host that is dedicated to reading history and historical fiction books. This year’s readathon theme also happens to be Women in History, so I thought it would be fun to share some books you can read with your children (or that they could read on their own) about some inspirational girls and women. So today I’m recommending 5 books that you and your children can enjoy together about amazing women and girls in history! I’m going to start with picture books and work my way up to books for teen and tween readers.
Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel and Melissa Sweet
This picture book is about one of my favorite historical women – Clara Lemlich. Clara’s family came to America from Russia when she was very young. This picture book shows how she worked hard to learn English and support her family with sewing. She saw firsthand how poorly she and other women workers were treated. So Clara fought back – she organized strikes and refused to back down no matter what. This picture book focuses specifically on her role in the strike of 1909.
Bonus book – Audacity by Melanie Crowder is one of my favorite YA books about Clara Lemlich’s life. It’s written in verse and is a stunning portrayal of a feisty woman.
Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai
This picture book tells the story of Malala Yousafzai. As a child, Malala wished for a magic pencil that could fix all the problems she saw around her – it could erase the garbage from the city and give her an extra hour to sleep in the mornings. But as she grew up, she realized that there were no magic pencils that could save the day. If she wanted to change the world, she would have to be the change. This lovely picture book serves as a wonderful introduction to an amazing woman.
For other books by Malala Yousafzai about her life, but at other reading levels, check out our HistoryBookByBook pages about: Malala: My Story of Standing Up for Girls’ Rights (LE), I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (MG), and I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education And Was Shot By The Taliban (YA).
The Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras
We can celebrate Woman’s History Month with fiction as well, and this book is a rollicking good adventure with a strong female protagonist. Set in medieval Scotland, Drest is the only daughter of the Mad Wolf, and she looks up to him and all her bothers. They are strong warriors and she wants to be just like them. When one frightful night her family’s stronghold is attacked and her father and brothers taken prisoner, she is the only one who can save them.
Drest goes on a dangerous and exciting mission to rescue her family. What I love about Drest is that she never doubts her abilities to rescue her family – she might be a girl, but she’s tough and up to the challenge. This book has themes of justice, morality, and loyalty, and is perfect for reading aloud!
Betty Before X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Renee Watson
Written by her daughter, this is the story of Betty Shabazz’s childhood, and tells the story of her formative years and the people who shaped who she would become. She has a fraught relationship with her mother, but is shown a loving home by the Malloys who would inspire her sense of activism.
This is a wonderful introduction to the Civil Rights movement, particularly since it is set in the 1940s – there are many wonderful rabbit trails to follow, from learning more about what Betty Shabazz did as an adult, to Jazz music, and other famous people mentioned throughout the story. Betty is an inspiring character and I think children will resonate with her story.
If you want to take this book further – we just released a Lit Bite!
White Rose by Kip Wilson
This YA novel in verse tells the story of Sophie Scholl, a young German activist who stood up against the Nazis during World War II. White Rose is a story of resistance and bravery. Sophie and her friends worked together to non-violently protest the Nazi regime. They created anonymous leaflets and graffiti, hoping to inspire others to resist as well.
Though the story has a very tragic ending, I don’t feel like the story itself was sad – the poetry was powerful and moving, and the overall feeling this book gave me was one of hope. Even in the darkness of Nazi Germany, there were people willing to stand up and say that this isn’t right.
I hope that you enjoyed these recommendations today! Let me know in the comments, who is your favorite historical woman to read about?
If you are looking for more recommendations you can always check out our lists at History Book By Book!
I hope you found this Tidbit helpful! Come back next week for more homeschooling inspiration!
Until then, happy reading!
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Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-12 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full-year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 18 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also make incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books, and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can also check out her author page on Amazon.