Happy early New Year, everyone! I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for 2023. I have big plans for this year, both personally and for Mutually Inclusive (some of which may be related to the changes you’re seeing on the site this week) and I’m ready to get back to work and dive in.
So, to get the year started on the right foot, I want to share the 23 books I’m most looking forward to! As always, these titles will have inclusive characters or themes, and fall into a range of genres in both fiction and nonfiction categories. I just can’t help it, my reading runs the gamut when it comes to kidlit.
Please note: This list will contain affiliate links. I will receive a small commission from purchases made using these links at no additional cost to you. This commission allows me to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you.
Everybody Has a Body by Molli Jackson Ehlert, Illustrated by Lorian Tu
In this body neutral picture book, debut author Molli Jackson Ehlert and illustrator Lorian Tu show us all of the different ways bodies can look and all of the things they can do.
Everybody has a body. Whether you’re short, tall, fat, thin, hairy, bald, whether you use a wheelchair or have a limb difference, we all rely on our bodies to take us through the world.
From hiking a mountain to playing baseball to exploring an aquarium, debut author Molli Jackson Ehlert and illustrator Lorian Tu show us all the different ways that bodies can look and the things they can do, with representation of all different types of bodies,
With a body neutral approach – your body isn’t good or bad, it just is – this is an accessible and fun read that’s perfect for kids who have questions about the different bodies they encounter every day.
The Fire of Stars by Kirsten W. Larson, Illustrated by Katherine Roy
A poetic picture book celebrating the life and scientific discoveries of the groundbreaking astronomer Cecilia Payne!
Astronomer and astrophysicist Cecilia Payne was the first person to discover what burns at the heart of stars. But she didn’t start out as the groundbreaking scientist she would eventually become. She started out as a girl full of curiosity, hoping one day to unlock the mysteries of the universe.
With lyrical, evocative text by Kirsten W. Larson and extraordinary illustrations by award-winning illustrator Katherine Roy, this moving biography powerfully parallels the kindling of Cecilia Payne’s own curiosity and her scientific career with the process of a star’s birth, from mere possibility in an expanse of space to an eventual, breathtaking explosion of light.
Remember by Joy Harjo, Illustrated by Michaela Goade
US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo’s iconic poem “Remember,” illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Michaela Goade, invites young listeners to pause and reflect on the wonder of the world around them, and to remember the importance of their place in it.
Remember the sky you were born under, Know each of the star’s stories. Remember the moon, know who she is. Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, That is the strongest point of time.
So begins the picture book adaptation of the renowned poem that encourages young listeners to reflect on family, nature, and their heritage. In simple and direct language, Harjo, a member of the Mvskoke Nation, urges listeners to pay close attention to who they are, the world they were born into, and how all inhabitants on earth are connected. Michaela Goade, drawing from her Tlingit culture, has created vivid illustrations that make the words come alive in an engaging and accessible way.
This timeless poem paired with magnificent paintings makes for a picture book that is a true celebration of life and our human role within it.
Mother of Sharks by Melissa Cristina Márquez, Illustrated by Devin Elle Kurtz
Forbes 30 Under 30 Honoree and globally renowned shark scientist Melissa Cristina Márquez teams up with award-winning illustrator Devin Elle Kurtz to create an informative, powerful picture book that explores Melissa’s personal journey from being an inquisitive ocean-loving child in Puerto Rico to becoming the Mother of Sharks.
As the sun sets over another gorgeous day at la Playita Del Condado in Puerto Rico, Meli doesn’t want to go home. She loves the ocean more than anything, and with only five minutes left at the beach, she knows exactly where her last stop should be: the tidal pools. They are small universes of their own teeming with critters and creatures of the ocean. While looking into the pools, she meets a crab, Jaiba, who takes her on a dreamlike underwater adventure, teaches her about the importance of shark conservation, and reveals Meli’s ultimate destiny: to become the Mother of Sharks.
The Good Hair Day by Christian Trimmer, Illustrated by J Yang
A boy dreams of long hair in this sweet story about self-expression and embracing our most authentic selves.
Noah has a special day coming up, and he has a very long wish list. But there’s one thing missing from it, the thing he wants more than anything else in the world: long, beautiful, wavy hair.
Noah understands that his hair will grow if he just doesn’t get a haircut. But almost all the boys that Noah knows have short hair, and he’s heard people say mean things about men with long hair. So, he just doesn’t think he’s allowed to ask.
When a fresh trim brings Noah to his lowest point, it turns out his caring family has been paying closer attention than he thinks–and they have an idea that will show Noah it’s okay to be his gorgeous self.
This heartfelt, witty, encouraging story from Christian Trimmer and J Yang will empower kids to share their true selves with the world.
Summer Is For Cousins by Rajani LaRocca, Illustrated by Abhi Alwar
From Newbery Honor author Rajani LaRocca comes a celebration of extended family and summertime fun
Summer is for cousins. Mom and Dad, Two uncles, two aunties, Thatha and Pati, Seven cousins, All of us are together.
Ravi can’t wait to spend summer vacation at the lake house with his family—especially his cousins! Summer vacation is for days at the beach, long hikes, paddleboarding, and—of course—ice cream. Ravi and his oldest cousin, Dhruv, had the same favorite flavor last year, but everything feels different now.
Dhruv’s much taller and his voice is deeper. Ravi’s worried that Dhruv won’t be interested in spending time with him, the little cousin. The ice cream shop doesn’t even have their favorite flavor this year. But on the last night of vacation, the cousins decide to make dinner, and Ravi’s in charge of dessert. He only has one special thing in mind!
This picture book all about summertime fun celebrates the resilient bond between extended family members.
The Wishing Flower by A.J. Irving, Illustrated by Kip Alizadeh
An LGBTQ-inclusive story about understanding your peers, your feelings, and yourself, The Wishing Flower is a love letter to longing, belonging, and longing to belong.
Birdie finds comfort in nature and books, but more than anything she longs for connection, to be understood. At school, Birdie feels like an outsider. Quiet and shy, she prefers to read by herself, rather than jump rope or swing with the other kids. That all changes when Sunny, the new girl, comes along. Like Birdie, Sunny has a nature name. She also likes to read, and loves to rescue bugs. And when Sunny smiles at her, Birdie’s heart balloons like a parachute.
From the acclaimed author of Dance Like a Leaf, with stunning illustrations by Kip Alizadeh, this book will inspire readers to honor their wishes and show the world their truest selves.
La Guitarrista by Lucky Diaz, Illustrated by Micah Player
From the creators of Paletero Man—Latin Grammy–winning musician Lucky Diaz and celebrated artist Micah Player—comes a story about a tenacious girl who achieves her wildest dreams with a little help from her community and a broken guitar.
Strum! Strum! Strum!Get ready to rock with la guitarrista!
When Canta finds a guitar in the trash, she is one step closer to becoming a rock star. Even though the guitar is broken and she doesn’t know how to play, nothing can stop Canta from going after her dreams!
Perfect for fans of Because and We Will Rock Our Classmates, readers will rock out to this empowering tale of resilience, community, the power of music—and never giving up on your dreams.
The book includes Spanish words and phrases throughout, an author’s note from Lucky Diaz, and a link to the song inspired by the book.
I Dare! I Can! I Will!: The Day the Icelandic Women Walked Out and Inspired the World by Linda Ólafsdóttir
A picture book inspired by the Long Friday—a real event in Iceland that inspired women around the world to stand up, walk out, and march together for women’s rights
Vera and Mamma are headed out for a march, but it’s not just any march: It’s October 24 in Reykjavík, and on this day in 1975, the women of Iceland took the day off, walked out of their homes and away from their jobs—as farmworkers, butchers, and fisherwomen; wives, daughters, and children—and marched to demand equality and change, chanting: “I dare! I can! I will!” And they did, inspiring and empowering girls and women to make change, not just in their country, but all around the world.
The Yellow Handkerchief (El pañuelo amarillo) by Donna Barba Higuera, Illustrated by Cynthia Alonso
A child confronts conflicting feelings of embarrassment and love for her Mexican abuela in this moving, personal story from Newbery- and Pura Belpré Award–winning author Donna Barba Higuera
My abuela wears an old yellow handkerchief that her grandmother gave to her. I don’t like the yellow handkerchief.
When a young girl feels ashamed of her family for being “different” and subconsciously blames her abuela, she gradually grows to not only accept but also love the yellow handkerchief that represents a language and culture that once brought embarrassment.
Inspired by the personal experiences of award-winning author Donna Barba Higuera and expressively illustrated by Cynthia Alonso, The Yellow Handkerchief is a lyrical, honest, and intimate intergenerational story about embracing who we are, where we come from, and the people who shape us.
Ramen for Everyone by Patricia Tanumihardja, Illustrated by Shiho Pate
Hiro loves ramen. Every Sunday, Hiro’s dad makes delicious, perfect ramen for dinner, using a recipe passed down from his dad. There’s nori seaweed, briny like the ocean; nitamago egg, the yolk golden like the sun; and chashu pork so tender, it melts in your mouth. Yum!
Hiro’s dream is to make his own perfect bowl, and he’s sure he can do it after watching his dad and taking notes. But when he gets started, things don’t go according to plan. The seaweed crumbles! The eggs slip through his fingers! The pork falls apart! Hiro is worried he’ll never be a real ramen chef…but thanks to his father’s wise advice and his own creativity, Hiro discovers that every person’s perfect bowl of ramen is unique.
Naming Ceremony by Seina Wedlick, Illustrated by Jenin Mohammed
A sweet sibling story all about making family traditions your own–perfect for fans of Alma and How She Got Her Name and Welcome to the Party
Today’s the day! It’s Baby Sister’s naming ceremony, and big sister Amira could not be more excited. She has the perfect name picked out . . . or, at least, she hopes it’s the perfect name.
One by one, friends and family arrive. As Amira greets them, she asks what name they have brought to give to Baby Sister. Each is more beautiful than the last–Shakira, Akahana, Uhwe. And each has its own special meaning–thankful, red flower, moonlight. Amira knows that Baby Sister will love these names. But will she love the name Amira has chosen? Is it special enough?
A story about rich traditions and the unique bond between sisters, Naming Ceremony celebrates multigenerational family and Black joy.
Chef Edna: Queen of Southern Cooking by Melvina Noel, Illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera
A warm and inviting picture-book portrait of African American culinary legend Edna Lewis, who brought Southern cooking to the masses
Edna loved to cook. Growing up on a farm in Freetown, Virginia, she learned the value of fresh, local, seasonal food from her Mama Daisy, how to measure ingredients for biscuits using coins, and to listen closely to her cakes to know when they were done. Edna carried these traditions with her all the way to New York, where she became a celebrated chef, who could even turn traditional French food into her signature Southern style. The author of several cookbooks and the recipient of numerous awards, Chef Edna introduced the world to the flavors of her home.
Manolo and the Unicorn by Jackie Azúa Kramer and Jonah Kramer, Illustrated by Zach Manbeck
A story about seeing, believing wholeheartedly in the extraordinary—unicorns and oneself
To Manolo, the world is a magical place, a place where he searches for the most magical creature of all: unicorns. Manolo loves unicorns. When the Wild Animal Parade is announced at school, and Manolo declares that he will come as his favorite animal, his classmates say there is no such thing as unicorns, making the world feel ordinary. That is, until Manolo meets a real unicorn—wild and graceful—and discovers that the world is truly extraordinary.
Milloo’s Mind: The Story of Maryam Faruqi, Trailblazer for Women’s Education by Reem Faruqi, Illustrated by Hoda Hadadi
From the author of Lailah’s Lunchbox and Unsettled comes a powerful picture book biography about Maryam Faruqi, the founder of the Happy Home Schools, which provided education to thousands of girls across Pakistan at a time when girls weren’t encouraged to go to school.
Maryam was a trailblazer for women’s education and the author is her granddaughter, creating a personal, inspiring tale. Perfect for fans of Malala’s Magic Pencil and She Persisted!
Milloo lives in a time when school is considered unnecessary for girls. But to Milloo, education is essential.
When Milloo reads, her thoughts dance. Milloo courageously dreams of becoming a teacher, but in fifth grade her parents tell her she has had enough school. Milloo is heartbroken but finds a way to achieve her educational goals, graduating high school and college with honors. When she’s married, Milloo’s husband tells her to stay home, but she does not let that stop her.
She decides to open a school in her house and later opens more schools around Karachi, Pakistan, fulfilling her dreams
Just Like Grandma by Kim Rogers, Illustrated by Julie Flett
In this lyrical picture book by Kim Rogers (Wichita), with illustrations by Boston Globe-Horn Book Honoree Julie Flett (Cree-Métis), Becca watches her grandma create, play, and dance—and she knows that she wants to be just like Grandma.
Becca loves spending time with Grandma. Every time Becca says, “Let me try,” Grandma shows her how to make something beautiful.
Whether they are beading moccasins, dancing like the most beautiful butterflies, or practicing basketball together, Becca knows that, more than anything, she wants to be just like Grandma.
And as the two share their favorite activities, Becca discovers something surprising about Grandma.
Nell Plants a Tree by Anne Wynter, Illustrated by Daniel Miyares
This gorgeous picture book shows how one little girl’s careful tending of a pecan tree creates the living center of a loving, intergenerational Black family. For Earth Day and every day! Perfect for fans of Matt de la Peña and Oge Mora.
Before her grandchildren climbed the towering tree,
explored its secret nests,
raced to its sturdy trunk,
read in its cool shade,
or made pies with its pecans…
Nell buried a seed.
And just as Nell’s tree grows and thrives with her love and care, so do generations of her close-knit family.
Inspired by the pecan trees of the creators’ own childhoods, Anne Wynter’s lyrical picture book, brought to life with breathtaking illustrations by Daniel Miyares, brims with wonder and love.
Plátanos Go with Everything by Lissette Norman, Illustrated by Sara Palacios
Paletero Man meets Fry Bread in this vibrant and cheerful ode to plátanos, the star of Dominican cuisine, written by award-winning poet Lissette Norman, illustrated by Sara Palacios, and translated by Kianny N. Antigua.
Plátanos are Yesenia’s favorite food. They can be sweet and sugary, or salty and savory. And they’re a part of almost every meal her Dominican family makes.
Stop by her apartment and find out why plátanos go with everything—especially love!
Little Rosetta and the Talking Guitar: The Musical Story of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the Woman Who Invented Rock and Roll by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow
A picture-book biography of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the woman who invented rock and roll–a warm, inspiring tale of a childhood filled with music, community, and a drive to succeed.”
Music is the heart of our story,” says Momma to young Rosetta, surprising her with her first guitar. Rosetta’s strums sound like ker-plunks. But with practice and determination, she makes music, fingers hopping “like corn in a kettle,” notes pouring over the church crowd “like summer rain washing the dust off a new day.” In this stunning picture book, author and illustrator Charnelle Pinkney Barlow imagines the childhood of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, whose rural roots inspired the music we still hear today. Young readers will see a child’s dream become reality through hard work and perseverance. And they’ll learn the overlooked story of a pioneering Black artist, whose contribution to music history is only now being discovered.
Sometimes they call you shy. Sometimes they call you quiet, or maybe even scared. People think these are bad things, because sometimes they are LOUD.
But you are happy just the way you are. And maybe you don’t need to learn to be loud, they just need to learn to listen.
Mackenzie Joy beautifully pairs her gorgeous illustrations with minimalist text in this heartwarming book that doesn’t just acknowledge shy children, but celebrates them–because every wallflower deserves their chance to grow.
Door by Door: How Sarah McBride Became America’s First Openly Transgender Senator by Meeg Pincus, Illustrated by Meridth McKean Gimbel
A nonfiction picture book about Delaware State Senator Sarah McBride, who dreamed of making a difference as a kid and grew up to become the highest-ranking openly transgender political official in America.
As a kid, Sarah McBride dreamed of running for office so she could help people in her community. When her friends asked for bicycles for Christmas, Sarah asked for a podium. Her friends and family encouraged her to follow this path, but there was one problem: they saw Sarah as a boy, and Sarah knew she was a girl. Every night, she’d replay the day in her head, watching how it would have played out if she was able to live as the girl she knew herself to be.
In college, she finally came out as Sarah, and in 2020 she won her election to become a Delaware State Senator, making her the highest-ranking trans political official in the country and a hero to kids everywhere who want to live their dreams and be themselves!
Your One and Only Heart by Rajani LaRocca, Illustrated by Lauren Paige Conrad
A lyrical introduction to the many wonders of the human heart, from award-winning author and practicing doctor, Dr. Rajani LaRocca
In this stunning non-fiction picture book, poetry and science come together with playful cut-paper illustrations to create a moving ode to the human heart and all that it does. Complete with illustrative diagrams and copious backmatter, this is a one-of-a-kind non-fiction picture book that gently guides readers through the various systems make up our most vital organ.
Grandad and Milly are back for another adventure, this time honoring the past and celebrating the future with a pride parade. This heartwarming tale continues to wonderful journey that began with the Stonewall Honoree and Waterstones Best Illustrated Book, Grandad’s Camper.
After Milly discovers a pride flag in Grandad’s attic, this adorable pair are motivated by the past to start a pride parade in their small town. Activism and celebration go hand in hand as the town gathers to help “build a world where everyone is proud to be themselves.” This beautiful follow-up to Grandad’s Camper is filled with heart and purpose.
It’s time for one of my favorite (and most difficult) posts of the year! Today, I am sharing my favorite picture books of 2022 with you all. I’ve read SO MANY books this year and I’ve loved most of them, so it’s always hard to narrow down the list. This year it took me almost two weeks to decide on the tops, so if your book is not included, please know it was probably one I anguished over removing from the three-foot-tall stack of picture books in my office. So here they are in no particular order, my top 22 picture books of 2022!
As always, these titles will have inclusive characters (think racial and cultural diversity, LGBTQ+ representation, diverse family structures, disability representation, and more), and fall into a range of genres in both fiction and nonfiction categories.
Please Note: This post contains affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission from purchases made, at no additional cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you.
The Hair Book by Latonya Yvette, Illustrated by Amanda Jane Jones
With bold, colorful graphics and poetic rhyme, this is a stunning tribute to every kind of hair, perfect for fans of Hair Love.
Covered hair, Bun Hair, Party Hair… No matter your hair—YOU are welcome anywhere!
Author and lifestyle blogger, LaTonya Yvette makes her children’s book debut with a must-have gift purchase for any occasion alongside art from award-winning illustrator Amanda Jane Jones.
If You Were a City by Kyo Maclear, Illustrated by Sanna Francesca
A colorful celebration of cities and the people living in them.
Just like people, there are so many ways a city can be. And this lively picture book explores all of them. From quiet and dreamy to bright and buzzing, the magnificent diversity of our world is celebrated by connecting the uniqueness of its places with the people who live in them. Wild, gritty, bookish, or sheltering—if you were a city, how would YOU be?
You are here, and from here there are so many places you can go. But how will you know how to get there? In this warm and wise debut, Zach Manbeck gives readers a poetic roadmap to help us find our way in the world, while also reminding us all that right now, we are here—exactly where we are meant to be.
Both sweet and uplifting, this is a perfect book for a new baby, a new graduate, or anyone who could use a reminder that “all who wander are not lost.”
The Mother of a Movement: Jeanne Manford–Ally, Activist, and Founder of PFLAG by Rob Sanders, Illustrated by Sam Kalda
The Mother of a Movement is a true story of parental support and unconditional love.
The Mother of a Movementtells the story of Jeanne Manford, the founder of PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). When her son Morty was beaten by New York City officials for handing out pro-gay leaflets, Manford wrote a powerful letter to the New York Post to complain about how Morty was treated. In the letter she came out as the mother of a gay son. The letter was published. Morty invited his mother to march with him in the June 1972 Christopher Street Parade. While marching, she had the idea to form a group to help parents and families of LGBTQ+ people. That was the beginning of PFLAG.
Choosing Brave: How Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Sparked the Civil Rights Movement by Angela Joy, Illustrated by Janelle Washington
A picture book biography of the mother of Emmett Till, and how she channeled grief over her son’s death into a call to action for the civil rights movement.
Mamie Till-Mobley is the mother of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old boy who was brutally murdered while visiting the South in 1955. His death became a rallying point for the civil rights movement, but few know that it was his mother who was the catalyst for bringing his name to the forefront of history.
In Choosing Brave, Angela Joy and Janelle Washington offer a testament to the power of love, the bond of motherhood, and one woman’s unwavering advocacy for justice. It is a poised, moving work about a woman who refocused her unimaginable grief into action for the greater good. Mamie fearlessly refused to allow America to turn away from what happened to her only child. She turned pain into change that ensured her son’s life mattered.
Love, Violet by Charlotte Sullivan Wild, Illustrated by Charlene Chua
Perfect for Valentine’s Day, Love, Violet by Charlotte Sullivan Wild and Charlene Chua is a touching picture book about friendship and the courage it takes to share your feelings.
Of all the kids in Violet’s class, only one leaves her speechless: Mira, the girl with the cheery laugh who races like the wind. If only they could adventure together! But every time Violet tries to tell Mira how she feels, Violet goes shy. As Valentine’s Day approaches, Violet is determined to tell Mira just how special she is.
Leila Wayward is a little witch who excels at everything she does. She’s the fastest flier, the most cunning conjuror, and the most superb shape-shifter. She has won trophies for potions, herbology, and alchemy—and now she dreams of winning the Magnificent Witchy Cake-off! As the youngest in a long line of masters of the Dark Arts of Patisserie, Leila wants her entry to be perfect. But even with the most bewitching of recipes, she realizes a terrible truth: she’s a disaster in the kitchen. Luckily, Leila has three magical sisters who are happy to share their culinary secrets with her. What’s more, Leila discovers that baking with them is fun! Win or lose, she has already tasted the sweetest thing of all: acceptance—with a pinch of nightshade and a bit of mandrake. Filled with expressive and fancifully offbeat illustrations, Flavia Z. Drago’s enchanting story of trying your hardest despite your imperfections is sure to delight little witches and novice bakers alike.
Be a Good Ancestor by Leona Prince and Gabrielle Prince, Illustrated by Carla Joseph
Rooted in Indigenous teachings, this stunning picture book encourages readers of all ages to consider the ways in which they live in connection to the world around them and to think deeply about their behaviors.
Addressing environmental issues, animal welfare, self-esteem and self-respect, and the importance of community, the authors deliver a poignant and universal message in an accessible way: Be a good ancestor to the world around you. Thought-provoking stanzas offer a call to action for each one of us to consider how we affect future generations. Every decision we make ripples out, and we can affect the world around us by thinking deeply about those decisions.
Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle by Nina LaCour, Illustrated by Kaylani Juanita
For one little girl, there’s no place she’d rather be than sitting between Mama and Mommy. So when Mommy goes away on a work trip, it’s tricky to find a good place at the table. As the days go by, Mama brings her to the library, they watch movies, and all of them talk on the phone, but she still misses Mommy as deep as the ocean and as high as an astronaut up in the stars. As they pass by a beautiful garden, the girl gets an idea . . . but when Mommy finally comes home, it takes a minute to shake off the empty feeling she felt all week before leaning in for a kiss. Michael L. Printz Award winner Nina LaCour thoughtfully renders a familiar, touching story of a child who misses a parent, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita, whose distinctive style brings charm and playfulness to this delightful family of three.
Yes We Will: Asian Americans Who Shaped This Country by Kelly Yang, Illustrated by Nabi H. Ali, Fahmida Azim, Marcos Chin, Sally Deng, Shereya Gupta, Julia Kuo, Julie Kwon, Nhung Le, Kitkat Pecson, Dow Phumiruk, Sujean Rim, Dan Santat, Yuko Shimizu, Yuewei She, and Yao Xiao
From creating beautiful music like Yo-Yo Ma to flying to outer space like Franklin Chang-Díaz; from standing up to injustice like Fred Korematsu to becoming the first Asian American, Black and female vice president of the United States like Kamala Harris, this book illuminates the power of Asian Americans all over the country, in all sorts of fields.
Each spread is illustrated by a different renowned Asian American or Asian artist. Alongside the poetic main text, Yes We Will includes one-line biographies of the person or historical moment featured on the page, with extended biographies at the end. Readers of different ages and needs can use the book in different ways, from classroom discussions to bedtime readalouds and more.
Good Night, Little Bookstore by Amy Cherrix, Illustrated by E. B. Goodale
Part lullaby, part love song, this perfectly pitched bedtime book gives a nod to its classic predecessors as it champions the vibrant independent spirit of local bookstores.
Join the Little Bookstore’s friendly staff as they draw the curtain on another busy day of browsing and matchmaking. Choose a bedtime story, say your good nights, and pet the shop’s feline mascot on your way out. Snuggle up to a loved one for a read-aloud, then drift off to sweet dreams of adventure and enchantment to come.
Kind Like Marsha: Learning from LGBTQ+ Leaders by Sarah Prager, Illustrated by Cheryl Thuesday
For fans of Little Leaders and Pride comes a nonfiction picture book celebrating 14 incredible LGBTQ+ change makers and forward thinkers throughout history.
Kind Like Marsha celebrates 14 amazing and inspirational LGBTQ+ people throughout history. Fan favorites like Harvey Milk, Sylvia Rivera, and Audre Lorde are joined by the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Frida Kahlo, and more in this striking collection. With a focus on a positive personality attribute of each of the historical figures, readers will be encouraged to be brave like the Ugandan activist fighting for LGBTQ+ rights against all odds and to be kind like Marsha P. Johnson who took care of her trans community on the New York City streets.
Over and Under the Waves by Kate Messner, Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
Explore the wonders and beauties of the ocean’s kelp forests in this latest addition to the acclaimed Over and Under series.
Award-winning duo Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal return in this latest addition to the Over Over the waves, the sea lions bark and seagulls wheel and call. The bay is smooth and bright in the sun. But under the waves, there’s a whole hidden forest, full of whales and wolf eels, sardines and sea bass, leopard sharks and luminous jellies, as well as the waving kelp that shelters them all. Discover the magical depths of the kelp forest, and all the fascinating creatures living just a paddle’s length away—over and under the waves.
The Big Book of Pride Flags by Jessica Kingsley, Illustrated by Jem Milton
Celebrate and learn about the LGBTQIA+ community with this colourful book of Pride flags!
Featuring all the colours of the rainbow, this book teaches children about LGBTQIA+ identities through 17 different Pride flags. With fun facts, simple explanations and a short history of each flag accompanying beautiful illustrations, children will uncover the history of Pride and be introduced to different genders and sexual orientations. There’s also a blank Pride flag design at the back of the book so that children can create their very own Pride flag!
A Life of Service: The Story of Senator Tammy Duckworth by Christina Soontornvat, Illustrated by Dow Phumiruk
Thai American creators portray the inspirational and barrier-breaking life of Senator Tammy Duckworth in a picture-book tribute to an extraordinary woman.
Senator Tammy Duckworth has logged a long list of “firsts” during her tenure as the first Thai American woman elected to Congress, including being the first woman with a disability to serve in the House and Senate. But while she dreamed of serving her country from a young age, Tammy’s path was not without its challenges. In this dramatic account, award-winning creators Christina Soontornvat and Dow Phumiruk chronicle Tammy’s journey. From her childhood fight to keep her family from homelessness, to her service in the US Army, to her recovery from grievous injuries sustained in the line of duty, Tammy never lost her determination to keep going against staggering odds.
The 1619 Project: Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson, Illustrated by Nikkolas Smith
The 1619 Project’s lyrical picture book in verse chronicles the consequences of slavery and the history of Black resistance in the United States, thoughtfully rendered by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and Newbery honor-winning author Renée Watson.
A young student receives a family tree assignment in school, but she can only trace back three generations. Grandma gathers the whole family, and the student learns that 400 years ago, in 1619, their ancestors were stolen and brought to America by white slave traders. But before that, they had a home, a land, a language. She learns how the people said to be born on the water survived.
I Love You Like Yellow by Andrea Beaty, Illustrated by Vashti Harrison
Love comes in many forms. It can feel tart as lemonade, or sweet as sugar cookies. Slow as a lazy morning, or fast as a relay race. Love is there through it all: the large and small moments, the good times and bad. And at the end of the day, love settles us down to bed with a hug and kiss goodnight.
With charming, rhyming text from bestselling author Andrea Beaty and lush, heartwarming illustrations by bestselling illustrator Vashti Harrison, I Love You Like Yellow celebrates the unconditional love that pulses through life’s profound and everyday moments—and the people who make them so special.
Love in the Library by Maggie Tokuda-Hall, Illustrated by Yas Imamura
Set in an incarceration camp where the United States cruelly detained Japanese Americans during WWII and based on true events, this moving love story finds hope in heartbreak.
To fall in love is already a gift. But to fall in love in a place like Minidoka, a place built to make people feel like they weren’t human—that was miraculous.
Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s beautifully illustrated, elegant love story features a photo of the real Tama and George—the author’s grandparents—along with an afterword and other back matter for readers to learn more about a time in our history that continues to resonate.
All from a Walnut by Ammi-Joan Paquette, Illustrated by Felicita Sala
A moving, multigenerational story about love, family roots, and the cycle of life
When Emilia finds a walnut one morning, Grandpa tells her the story behind it: of his journey across the ocean to a new home, with only one small bag and a nut in his pocket.
Step by step, Grandpa teaches Emilia how to cultivate her own seed. But as her little nut grows, Grandpa begins to slow down—until one sad day, Emilia has to say goodbye. Emilia’s sapling looks as droopy as she feels . . . but she knows just what to do.
Ablaze with Color: A Story of Painter Alma Thomas by Jeanne Walker Harvey, Illustrated by Loveis Wise
Celebrate the life-changing power of art in this inspiring and stunningly illustrated picture book biography of American artist Alma Thomas.
Meet an incredible woman who broke down barriers throughout her whole life and is now known as one of the most preeminent painters of the 20th century. Told from the point of view of young Alma Thomas, readers can follow along as she grows into her discovery of the life-changing power of art.
Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers by Uma Mishra-Newbery and Lina Al-Hathloul, Illustrated by Rebecca Green
Loujain watches her beloved baba attach his feather wings and fly each morning, but her own dreams of flying face a big obstacle: only boys, not girls, are allowed to fly in her country. Yet despite the taunts of her classmates, she is determined to do it—especially because Loujain loves colors, and only by flying can she see the color-filled field of sunflowers her baba has told her about. Eventually, he agrees to teach her, and Loujain’s impossible dream becomes reality—and soon other girls dare to learn to fly.
Based on the experiences of co-author Lina AlHathloul’s sister, Nobel Peace Prize nominee Loujain AlHathloul, who led the successful campaign to lift Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving, this moving and gorgeously illustrated story reminds us to strive for the changes we want to see—and to never take for granted women’s and girls’ freedoms.
I’ll Go and Come Back by Rajani LaRocca, Illustrated by Sara Palacios
A tender, beautifully illustrated story about a girl in America and her grandmother in India, whose love stretches between languages and cultures—and across the world.
When Jyoti visits her grandmother halfway around the world, she is overwhelmed by the differences between India and home. At first she feels lonely and out of place, but soon, despite a language barrier, she and Sita Pati are able to understand each other. They form a bond—looking at books together, making designs with colored sand, shopping at the market, playing games, eating chapatis, and sipping warm milk with saffron to bring sweet dreams. When it’s time to part, Jyoti doesn’t want to leave, but then she remembers that in Tamil, people don’t say goodbye, they say “I’ll go and come back.” Sure enough, the two reunite the next summer when Pati visits Jyoti in America, and it’s Jyoti’s turn to make her grandmother feel welcome. Can they create some special memories that will last until the next time they see each other?
Despite its many challenges, 2022 was a great year for Mutually Inclusive and myself. I want to thank every single one of you; from readers and educators to publishers and my fellow reviewers and authors for making this year so amazing. This continues to be my favorite corner of the internet and it wouldn’t be the same without you all.
It’s that time of year again where we are all looking forward and wondering what the new year has in store for us. Personally, the future freaks me out these days, so I really just want to know what books I’m going to be reading. So I thought I would share the 22 books I am most looking forward to this year, as well as preorder links so those release dates don’t sneak up on you!
So here they are, my most anticipated titles of 2022, in order of publication date (but we all know those are moving targets these days).
Please note: This list will contain affiliate links. I will receive a small commission from purchases made using these links at no additional cost to you. This commission allows me to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you.
Love , Violet by Charlotte Sullivan Wild, Illustrated by Charlene Chua
“Perfect for Valentine’s Day, Love, Violet by Charlotte Sullivan Wild and Charlene Chua is a touching picture book about friendship and the courage it takes to share your feelings.
Of all the kids in Violet’s class, only one leaves her speechless: Mira, the girl with the cheery laugh who races like the wind. If only they could adventure together! But every time Violet tries to tell Mira how she feels, Violet goes shy. As Valentine’s Day approaches, Violet is determined to tell Mira just how special she is.”
Love In The Library by Maggie Tokuda-Hall, Illustrated by Yas Imamura
“After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Tama is sent to live in a War Relocation Center in the desert. All Japanese Americans from the West Coast—elderly people, children, babies—now live in prison camps like Minidoka. To be who she is has become a crime, it seems, and Tama doesn’t know when or if she will ever leave. Trying not to think of the life she once had, she works in the camp’s tiny library, taking solace in pages bursting with color and light, love and fairness. And she isn’t the only one. George waits each morning by the door, his arms piled with books checked out the day before. As their friendship grows, Tama wonders: Can anyone possibly read so much? Is she the reason George comes to the library every day? Beautifully illustrated and complete with an afterword, back matter, and a photo of the real Tama and George—the author’s grandparents—Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s elegant love story for readers of all ages sheds light on a shameful chapter of American history.”
Yes! No!: A First Conversation About Consent by Megan Madison and Jessica Ralli, Illustrated by Isabel Roxas
“Based on the research that race, gender, consent, and body positivity should be discussed with toddlers on up, this read-aloud board book series offers adults the opportunity to begin important conversations with young children in an informed, safe, and supported way.
Developed by experts in the fields of early childhood and activism against injustice, this topic-driven board book offers clear, concrete language and imagery to introduce the concept of CONSENT. This book serves to normalize and celebrate the experience of asking for and being asked for permission to do something involving one’s body. It centers on respect for bodily autonomy, and reviews the many ways that one can say or indicate ‘NO’.”
Powwow Day by Traci Sorell , Illustrated by Madelyn Goodnight
“River wants so badly to dance at powwow day as she does every year. In this uplifting and contemporary picture book perfect for beginning readers, follow River’s journey from feeling isolated after an illness to learning the healing power of community.
Additional information explains the history and functions of powwows, which are commonplace across the United States and Canada and are open to both Native Americans and non-Native visitors. Author Traci Sorell is a member of the Cherokee Nation, and illustrator Madelyn Goodnight is a member of the Chickasaw Nation.”
I Am Thinking My Life by Allysun Atwater, Illustrated by Stevie Lewis
“I am thinking my life. Every day. I am creating a universe. I am communicating with the world. I think stars. I see stars. I am stars. I think myself smiling. I see myself smiling. I am smiling. I am sculpting my world. I am clay. I am motion. I am light. I am what I think.
Follow along as a young girl discovers the relationship between her thoughts, actions, and her place in the world. This empowering story is all about dreaming, doing, and becoming, and how the power of positive thinking can transform our lives—and the lives of those around us—forever.”
Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers by Uma Mishra-Newbery and Lina AlHathloul, Illustrated by Rebecca Green
“Loujain watches her beloved baba attach his feather wings and fly each morning, but her own dreams of flying face a big obstacle: only boys, not girls, are allowed to fly in her country. Yet despite the taunts of her classmates, she is determined to do it—especially because Loujain loves colors, and only by flying can she see the color-filled field of sunflowers her baba has told her about. Eventually, he agrees to teach her, and Loujain’s impossible dream becomes reality—and soon other girls dare to learn to fly.
Based on the experiences of co-author Lina AlHathloul’s sister, Nobel Peace Prize nominee Loujain AlHathloul, who led the successful campaign to lift Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving, this moving and gorgeously illustrated story reminds us to strive for the changes we want to see—and to never take for granted women’s and girls’ freedoms.”
“When a little girl is home sick for dress-up day at school, she decides there’s no need to miss out entirely: She’ll just wear her rabbit costume the next day!
But when the next day arrives and she’s the only one in costume, it doesn’t feel like such a great idea, after all. Can a little bit of confidence and an unexpected new friend turn a self-conscious moment into a wonderful one?
Funny, endearing, and relatable to any kid who’s ever felt insecure, Dress-Up Day is an ode to friendship, embracing individuality, and putting yourself out there no matter the occasion.”
Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle by Nina LaCour, Illustrated by Kaylani Juanita
“A little girl stays home with Mama when Mommy goes off on a work trip in this tender, inviting story that will resonate with every child who has missed a parent.
For one little girl, there’s no place she’d rather be than sitting between Mama and Mommy. So when Mommy goes away on a work trip, it’s tricky to find a good place at the table. As the days go by, Mama brings her to the library, they watch movies, and all of them talk on the phone, but she still misses Mommy as deep as the ocean and as high as an astronaut up in the stars. As they pass by a beautiful garden, the girl gets an idea . . . but when Mommy finally comes home, it takes a minute to shake off the empty feeling she felt all week before leaning in for a kiss. Michael L. Printz Award winner Nina LaCour thoughtfully renders a familiar, touching story of a child who misses a parent, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita, whose distinctive style brings charm and playfulness to this delightful family of three.”
This is a School by John Schu, Illustrated by Veronica Miller Jamison
“A moving celebration of school and all it may signify: work and play, creativity and trust, and a supportive community that extends beyond walls
A school isn’t just a building; it is all the people who work and learn together. It is a place for discovery and asking questions. A place for sharing, for helping, and for community. It is a place of hope and healing, even when that community can’t be together in the same room. John Schu, a librarian and former ambassador of school libraries for Scholastic, crafts a loving letter to schools and the people that make up the communities within in a picture book debut beautifully illustrated by Veronica Miller Jamison.”
I’ll Go and Come Back by Rajani LaRocca, Illustrated by Sara Palacios
“When Jyoti visits her grandmother halfway around the world, she is overwhelmed by the differences between India and home. At first she feels lonely and out of place, but soon, despite a language barrier, she and Sita Pati are able to understand each other. They form a bond—looking at books together, making designs with colored sand, shopping at the market, playing games, eating chapatis, and sipping warm milk with saffron to bring sweet dreams. When it’s time to part, Jyoti doesn’t want to leave, but then she remembers that in Tamil, people don’t say goodbye, they say “I’ll go and come back.” Sure enough, the two reunite the next summer when Pati visits Jyoti in America, and it’s Jyoti’s turn to make her grandmother feel welcome. Can they create some special memories that will last until the next time they see each other?”
The Pronoun Book by Chris Ayala-Kronos, Illustrated by Melita Tirado
“They, she, he . . . all together, us! Join along in this vibrant board book’s joyful celebration of people and their pronouns.
How do you know what someone wants to be called? Ask! This lively board book features eye-catching illustrations of a diverse cast of people and simple text that introduces their pronouns, perfect for readers both young and old.”
How You Came to Be by Carole Gerber, Illustrated by Sawsan Chalabi
“This love letter written from mother to child invites readers to experience a baby’s month-by-month development in the womb as compared to familiar fruits and vegetables.
A mother lovingly describes the sizes and stages of her baby’s month-by-month development inside the womb, and the amazement of experiencing it from the outside.
Simple, age-appropriate facts are woven into a tender and lyrical text that celebrates the miracle of a baby. It demystifies and informs readers, while simultaneously appreciating the wonder of it all. A perfect read-aloud for mother and child, or for children whose mothers are pregnant with a younger sibling.”
One Million Trees: A True Story by Kristen Balouch
“When Kristen Balouch was 10 years old, her parents made a surprising announcement: their whole family was going on a trip to plant trees! Kristen, her sisters, and her mom and dad—and their pet, Wonder Dog!—flew from their California home to a logging site in British Columbia. There, they joined a crew working to replant the trees that had been cut down.
In One Million Trees, Kristen reflects on the forty days they spent living in a tent, covered in mud and bug bites, working hard every day to plant a new forest. Young readers will learn a little French, practice some math skills, and learn all about how to plant a tree the right way!”
Listen: How Evelyn Glennie, a Deaf Girl, Changed Percussion by Shannon Stocker, Illustrated by Devon Holzwarth
“From the moment Evelyn Glennie heard her first note, music held her heart. She could play the piano by ear at age eight, the clarinet by age ten. But soon the nerves in her ears began to degenerate, and Evelyn was told that, as a deaf girl, she could never be a musician. What sounds Evelyn couldn’t hear with her ears, though, she could feel resonate through her body, as if she were a drum, and the music she created as a result was extraordinary. All she had to do was listen in a way that others didn’t. And soon, the world was listening too.”
Hattie Hates Hugs by Sarah Hovorka, Illustrated by Heather Brockman Lee
“Hattie loves her family, but she hates hugs!
While at a family reunion, Hattie wants to play horseshoes with Uncle Jake and Aunt Celia, but her boisterous relatives keep hugging her. Hattie’s stomach squirms uncomfortably when she’s hugged, but dodging and hiding from the open arms isn’t working. Great-Grandma is the only relative who understands how Hattie feels. With Great-Grandma’s help, Hattie learns to use simple but clear body language with verbal reinforcement to set boundaries around her personal space and to assert her right to consent to physical touch. And she even wins a game of horseshoes!
This picture book will teach huggers and non-huggers alike the importance of respecting people’s personal boundaries and provides an example of how to advocate for yourself with confidence.”
The Hair Book by LaTonya Yvette, Illustrated by Amanda Jane Jones
“A bold, graphic picture book celebrating all types of hair. With striking, colorful graphics and simple alliterative text, this paper-over-board book with thick interior stock features poufy hair, wavy hair, Afro hair, hair covered in a hijab, and more. The message is clear: no matter what you look like, you are beautiful, valued, and welcome everywhere.”
Twas the Night Before Pride by Joanna McClintick, Illustrated by Juana Medina
“This joyful picture-book homage to a day of community and inclusion—and to the joys of anticipation—is also a comprehensive history. With bright, buoyant illustrations and lyrical, age-appropriate rhyme modeled on “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” it tackles difficult content such as the Stonewall Riots and the AIDS marches. On the night before Pride, families everywhere are preparing to partake. As one family packs snacks and makes signs, an older sibling shares the importance of the march with the newest member of the family. Reflecting on the day, the siblings agree that the best thing about Pride is getting to be yourself. Debut author Joanna McClintick and Pura Belpré Award–winning author-illustrator Juana Medina create a new classic that pays homage to the beauty of families of all compositions—and of all-inclusive love.”
Mi Ciudad Sings by Cynthia Harmony, Illustrated by Teresa Martinez
“After experiencing a devastating earthquake, the spirit of a charming and vibrant Mexican neighborhood might be shaken, but it cannot be broken.
As a little girl and her dog embark on their daily walk through the city, they skip and spin to the familiar sounds of revving cars, clanking bikes, friendly barks, and whistling camote carts. But what they aren’t expecting to hear is the terrifying sound of a rumbling earthquake…and then…silence.
With captivating text and lively, beautiful illustrations, this heartwarming story leaves readers with the message that they can choose to be strong and brave even when they are scared, and can still find joy and hope in the midst of sadness.”
“The Ezra Jack Keats Award–winning creator of Brick by Brick brings to delicious life the anxiety and elation involved in waiting in line to get ice cream.
As far as this ice-cream-loving kid is concerned, every meal should include ice cream. In any form, in every flavor, he loves it all. But what he doesn’t love is seeing other people with ice cream . . . while he’s still waiting in line for his. That’s when he can get his mad, “no-ice-cream-yet, waiting-in-a-long-line face”–until he finally gets his cone, and his mad face melts into something sweet. Heidi Woodward Sheffield gently explores a range of emotions as they relate to this delicious, everyday experience.”
Today I’m Strong by Nadiya Hussain, Illustrated by Ella Bailey
“A classic in the making from the winner of The Great British Baking Show and star of Nadiya Bakes, about a young girl finding her strength in spite of a schoolyard bully.
I love to go to school. Well, most days I do. There are some days when what I really want is to stay at home with you.
Most days, this little girl loves to go to school and play with her friends. But sometimes the schoolyard can feel like a battleground where she has to dodge mean words from a bully. Luckily, she always has her steadfast tiger by her side—even if she’s the only one who can see it. With the reminder that strength comes from within, she digs deep to believe in herself, no matter what anyone else says.”
“A debut picture book about loving your name, finding your voice, and standing up for yourself from the critically acclaimed illustrator of Bilal Cooks Daal and I Am Perfectly Designed.
Mirha is so excited for her first day of school! She can’t wait to learn, play, and make new friends. But when her classmates mispronounce her name, she goes home wondering if she shound find a new one. Maybe then she’d be able to find a monogrammed keychain at the gas station or order a hot chocolate at the cafe more easily.
Mama helps Mirha to see how special her name is, and she returns to school the next day determined to help her classmates say it correctly–even if it takes a hundred tries.”
Sam’s Super Seats by Keah Brown, Illustrated by Sharee Miller
“A joyful picture book about a disabled girl with cerebral palsy who goes back-to-school shopping with her best friends, from #DisabledandCute creator and The Pretty One author Keah Brown.
Sam loves herself, learning, and making her family and friends laugh. She also loves comfortable seats, including a graceful couch named after Misty Copeland and Laney, the sassy backseat of Mom’s car.
After a busy morning of rest, Sam and her friends try on cute outfits at the mall and imagine what the new school year might bring. It’s not until Sam feels tired, and the new seat she meets isn’t so super, that she discovers what might be her best idea all day.
With hilarious, charming text by Keah Brown and exuberant illustrations by Sharee Miller, Sam’s Super Seats celebrates the beauty of self-love, the power of rest, and the necessity of accessible seating in public spaces. Includes narrative description of art for those with low/limited vision.”
It’s that time when we all look back on the year and examine everything: our accomplishments, our memories, and, of course, the books we read. Today, I want to share my favorite picture books of the year with you all. It was a tough call, but I managed to narrow it down to my top 21 for 2021. I’m only including books published in 2021 (versus all the books I read in 2021) to keep it simple. So without further ado, here they are in no particular order.
Standing On Her Shoulders by Monica Clark-Robinson, Illustrated by Laura Freeman
“A stunning love letter to the important women who shape us — from our own mothers and grandmothers to the legends who paved the way for girls and women everywhere. Standing on Her Shoulders is a celebration of the strong women who influence us — from our mothers, sisters, aunts, and grandmothers to the women who fought for equality and acceptance in the United States.
Monica Clark-Robinson’s lyrical text encourages young girls to learn about the powerful and trailblazing women who laid the path for their own lives and empowers them to become role models themselves. Acclaimed illustrator Laura Freeman’s remarkable art showcases a loving intergenerational family and encourages girls to find female heroes in their own lives.
Standing on Her Shoulders will inspire girls of all ages to follow in the footsteps of these amazing women.”
Over and Under The Canyon by Kate Messner, Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
“In this latest book in the acclaimed Over and Under series, a spectacular hike reveals the hidden wonders, rich colors, and layers of wildlife living within a thriving desert slot-canyon.
Over and Under the Canyon takes young readers on a thrilling tour of a desert canyon ecosystem. Over the canyon, the sun scalds the air, baking desert mud to stone. But under the shade of the cliffs hides another world, where bighorn sheep bound from rock to rock on the hillside, roadrunners make their nests in sturdy cacti, and banded geckos tuck themselves into the shelter of the sand. Discover the wonders concealed in the curves of the canyon, the magic of a desert wildflower bloom, and all the unexpected creatures that bring the desert to life.”
The Big Bath House by Kyo Maclear, Illustrated by Gracey Zhang
“In this celebration of Japanese culture and family and naked bodies of all shapes and sizes, join a little girl–along with her aunties and grandmother–at a traditional bath house. Once there, the rituals leading up to the baths begin: hair washing, back scrubbing, and, finally, the wood barrel drumroll. Until, at last, it’s time, and they ease their bodies–their creased bodies, newly sprouting bodies, saggy, jiggly bodies–into the bath. Ahhhhhh!
With a lyrical text and gorgeous illustrations, this picture book is based on Kyo Maclear’s loving memories of childhood visits to Japan, and is an ode to the ties that bind generations of women together.”
Peace by Miranda Paul and Baptiste Paul, Illustrated by Estelí Meza
“Peace is on purpose. Peace is a choice. Peace lets the smallest of us have a voice.
From a hello and pronouncing your friend’s name correctly to giving more than you take and saying I’m sorry, this simple concept book explores definitions of peace and actions small and big that foster it.
Award-winning authors, Baptiste Paul and Miranda Paul, have teamed up with illustrator Estelí Meza—winner of the ‘A la Orilla del Viento’ the premier Picture Book Contest Award in Mexico—to create an inspiring look at things we can all do to bring peace into our lives and world.”
A Girl’s Bill of Rights by Amy B. Mucha, Illustrated by Addy Rivera Sonda
“In a world where little girls must learn to stand tall, A Girl’s Bill of Rights boldly declares the rights of every woman and girl: power, confidence, freedom, and consent. Author Amy B. Mucha and illustrator Addy Rivera Sonda present a diverse cast of characters standing up for themselves and proudly celebrating the joy and power of being a girl.”
We Are Still Here! Native American Truths Everyone Should Know by Traci Sorell, Illustrated by Frané Lessac
“Twelve Native American kids present historical and contemporary laws, policies, struggles, and victories in Native life, each with a powerful refrain: We are still here!
Too often, Native American history is treated as a finished chapter instead of relevant and ongoing. This companion book to the award-winning We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga offers readers everything they never learned in school about Native American people’s past, present, and future. Precise, lyrical writing presents topics including: forced assimilation (such as boarding schools), land allotment and Native tribal reorganization, termination (the US government not recognizing tribes as nations), Native urban relocation (from reservations), self-determination (tribal self-empowerment), Native civil rights, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), religious freedom, economic development (including casino development), Native language revival efforts, cultural persistence, and nationhood.”
We Move Together by Kelly Fritsch, Anne McGuire, and Eduardo Trejos
“A bold and colorful exploration of all the ways that people navigate through the spaces around them and a celebration of the relationships we build along the way. We Move Together follows a mixed-ability group of kids as they creatively negotiate everyday barriers and find joy and connection in disability culture and community. A perfect tool for families, schools, and libraries to facilitate conversations about disability, accessibility, social justice and community building. Includes a kid-friendly glossary (for ages 3–10). This fully accessible ebook includes alt-text for image descriptions, a read aloud function, and a zoom-in function that allows readers to magnify the illustrations and be able to move around the page in zoom-in mode.”
Not Little by Maya Meyers, Illustrated by Hyewon Yum
“Dot is the smallest person in her family and at school; even her name is small! People often mistake her for being younger than she is, but not when she tells them the square root of sixty-four is eight, nor when she orders from the grown-up menu at restaurants or checks out the hard books at the library. She may be small, but she’s not little.
When a new boy named Sam joins Dot’s class, she wonders if he’s even smaller than she is. But when she sees him getting bullied by a mean kid twice his size, she knows she has to do the big thing and stand up for him.
Maya Myers’s debut picture book has a pitch-perfect voice that captures the inimitable Dot in all her fierceness, and Hyewon Yum’s delightful pastel-hued artwork is its perfect complement.”
If I Had an Octopus by Gabby Dawnay, Illustrated by Alex Barrow
“Have you ever thought about what the best aquatic pet would be? It’s an octopus, of course! When a little girl fantasizes about having a crazy smart octopus pet, she pictures jumping rope with its tentacles, practicing different ball games simultaneously, and playing hide-and-seek with her camouflaging friend (just look out for the ink!).
With vibrant illustrations and playful rhymes, If I Had an Octopus is a laugh-out-loud story celebrating friendship between a child and her octopus. From the duo behind If I Had a Dinosaur, If I Had a Sleepy Sloth, and If I Had a Unicorn, Gabby Dawnay and Alex Barrow’s latest is a charming and imaginative tale about our favorite eight-armed creature.”
What Are Your Words? A Book About Pronouns by Katherine Locke, Illustrated by Anne (Andy) Passchier
“Whenever Ari’s Uncle Lior comes to visit, they ask Ari one question: “What are your words?” Some days Ari uses she/her. Other days Ari uses he/him. But on the day of the neighborhood’s big summer bash, Ari doesn’t know what words to use. On the way to the party, Ari and Lior meet lots of neighbors and learn the words each of them use to describe themselves, including pronouns like she/her, he/him, they/them, ey/em, and ze/zir. As Ari tries on different pronouns, they discover that it’s okay to not know your words right away—sometimes you have to wait for your words to find you.
Filled with bright, graphic illustrations, this simple and poignant story about finding yourself is the perfect introduction to gender-inclusive pronouns for readers of all ages.”
The Bare Naked Book by Kathy Stinson, Illustrated by Melissa Cho
“The Bare Naked Book has been a beloved fixture in libraries, classrooms, and at-home story times since its original publication in 1986. Now, this revised edition is ready to meet a new generation of readers.
The text has been updated to reflect current understandings of gender and inclusion, which are also showcased in the brand-new, vibrant illustrations by Melissa Cho.
Featuring a note from the author explaining the history of the book and the importance of this updated edition, readers will delight in this celebration of all kinds of bodies.”
Sakamoto’s Swim Club: How a Teacher Led an Unlikely Team to Victory by Julie Abery, Illustrated by Chris Sasaki
“The inspirational and little-known story of a dedicated teacher who coached Hawaiian swimmers all the way to the Olympics, beautifully told in simple rhyme. When the children of workers on a 1930s Maui sugar plantation were chased away from playing in the nearby irrigation ditches, local science teacher Soichi Sakamoto had an idea. He offered to take responsibility for the children — and then he began training them how to swim. Using his science background, Sakamoto devised his own innovative coaching techniques: he developed a strict practice regime for the kids, building their strength and endurance by using the ditch water’s natural current. The children worked hard under the dedicated Sakamoto’s guidance, and their skills improved. They formed a swim club and began to dominate in swimming events around the world. And then one day, the proud Sakamoto saw an impossible dream come true — Olympic gold!”
Where Three Oceans Meet by Rajani LaRocca, Illustrated by Archana Sreenivasan
“Sejal, Mommy, and Pati travel together to the southern tip of India. Along the way, they share meals, visit markets, and catch up with old friends. For Pati, the trip retraces spaces she knows well. For Mommy, it’s a return to the place she grew up. For Sejal, it’s a discovery of new sights and sounds. The family finds their way to Kanyakumari, where three oceans meet, and delight in making it to the end of the earth together. This own voices picture book celebrates the beauty of India and the enduring love of family.”
“Zonia’s home is the Amazon rain forest, where it is always green and full of life. Every morning, the rain forest calls to Zonia, and every morning, she answers. She visits the sloth family, greets the giant anteater, and runs with the speedy jaguar. But one morning, the rain forest calls to her in a troubled voice. How will Zonia answer? Acclaimed author-illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal explores the wonders of the rain forest with Zonia, an Asháninka girl, in her joyful outdoor adventures. The engaging text emphasizes Zonia’s empowering bond with her home, while the illustrations—created on paper made from banana bark—burst with luxuriant greens and delicate details. Illuminating back matter includes a translation of the story in Asháninka, information on the Asháninka community, and resources on the Amazon rain forest and its wildlife.”
A Kid is a Kid is a Kid by Sara O’Leary, Illustrated by Qin Leng
“Being the new kid is hard, a child in the school playground tells us. I can think of better things to ask than if I’m a boy or a girl. Another child comes along and says she gets asked why she always has her nose in a book. Someone else gets asked where they come from.
One after another, children share the questions they’re tired of being asked again and again — as opposed to what they believe are the most important or interesting things about themselves. As they move around the playground, picking up new friends along the way, there is a feeling of understanding and acceptance among them. And in the end, the new kid comes up with the question they would definitely all like to hear: “Hey kid, want to play?”
Sara O’Leary’s thoughtful text and Qin Leng’s expressive illustrations tell a story about children who are all different, all themselves, all just kids.”
The Aquanaut by Jill Heinerth, Illustrated by Jaime Kim
“Through beautiful, spare text, Jill Heinerth tells her story about a girl who feels too young, too little and too far away from her dreams. But you don’t need to wait to grow up. It doesn’t take much to imagine all the things you can do and be. What if your bedroom were a space station? What would it be like to have flippers or tusks? In your own home you can explore new worlds and meet new friends.
Jaime Kim’s luminous art transports readers back and forth through time to see how Jill’s imagination as a young girl laid the pathway to her accomplishments and experiences as an underwater explorer.”
Pride Puppy by Robin Stevenson, Illustrated by Julie McLaughlin
“A young child and their family are having a wonderful time together celebrating Pride Day―meeting up with Grandma, making new friends and eating ice cream. But then something terrible happens: their dog gets lost in the parade! Luckily, there are lots of people around to help reunite the pup with his family.
This rhyming alphabet book tells a lively story, with rich, colorful illustrations that will have readers poring over every detail as they spot items starting with each of the letters of the alphabet. An affirming and inclusive book that offers a joyful glimpse of a Pride parade and the vibrant community that celebrates this day each year.”
“On a snowy day, a grandmother and grandchild find an injured bird. They take it home and care for it until it can fly around the living room. It is fantastic—just like everything at Abuela’s house! But a fantastic moment is also bittersweet, for the little bird’s recovery means that it’s time to let it fly free. Drawing inspiration from a formative childhood experience, Blanca Gómez crafts a deceptively simple story that is morally and emotionally resonant and is brimming with love, wonder, and a deep respect for the natural world.”
“Discover a wonderful grandfather-granddaughter relationship, as a little girl hatches the perfect plan to get her Grandad adventuring again.
Gramps and Grandad were adventurers. They would surf, climb mountains, and tour the country in their amazing camper. Gramps just made everything extra special. But after Gramps died, granddad hasn’t felt like traveling anymore. So, their amazing granddaughter comes up with a clever plan to fix up the old camper and get Grandad excited to explore again.
This beautiful picture book honors love and reminds us not only to remember those we have lost, but to celebrate them.”
My City Speaks by Darren Lebeuf, Illustrated by Ashley Barron
“A young girl, who is visually impaired, finds much to celebrate as she explores the city she loves. A young girl and her father spend a day in the city, her city, traveling to the places they go together: the playground, the community garden, the market, an outdoor concert. As they do, the girl describes what she senses in delightfully precise, poetic detail. Her city, she says, “rushes and stops, and waits and goes.” It “pitters and patters, and drips and drains.” It “echoes” and “trills,” and is both “smelly” and “sweet.” Her city also speaks, as it “dings and dongs, and rattles and roars.” And sometimes, maybe even some of the best times, it just listens.”
Despite its many challenges, 2021 was a huge year for Mutually Inclusive and myself, and I have even bigger things in store for 2022. I want to thank every single one of you; from readers and educators, to publishers and my fellow reviewers and authors for making this year so amazing. This continues to be my favorite corner of the internet and it wouldn’t be the same without you all.
Happy International Women’s Day, everyone! Officially adopted in 1977 by the United Nations General Assembly, International Women’s Day is all about highlighting the issues faced by women, and celebrating the achievements women have made towards equality.
Because I posted so many picture book biographies last week for my Women’s History Month list, I don’t want to focus on women in history today. Instead, I thought it would be fun to focus on the different women in our lives for International Women’s Day. This list is all about the mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, and friends who love and support us everyday. Every woman deserves an army of women behind her cheering her on. So let’s celebrate women supporting women today!
Please Note: This post contains affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission from purchases made, with no additional cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you.
Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, Illustrated by Ebony Glenn (Bookshop | Amazon)
“A young Muslim girl spends a busy day wrapped up in her mother’s colorful headscarf in this sweet and fanciful picture book from debut author and illustrator Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and Ebony Glenn.
A khimar is a flowing scarf that my mommy wears. Before she walks out the door each day, she wraps one around her head.
A young girl plays dress up with her mother’s headscarves, feeling her mother’s love with every one she tries on. Charming and vibrant illustrations showcase the beauty of the diverse and welcoming community in this portrait of a young Muslim American girl’s life.”
“Today would be special. Today would be splendid. It was Saturday! But sometimes, the best plans don’t work out exactly the way you expect….
In this heartfelt and universal story, a mother and daughter look forward to their special Saturday routine together every single week. But this Saturday, one thing after another goes wrong–ruining storytime, salon time, picnic time, and the puppet show they’d been looking forward to going to all week. Mom is nearing a meltdown…until her loving daughter reminds her that being together is the most important thing of all.
Author-artist Oge Mora’s highly anticipated follow up to Caldecott Honor Thank You, Omu! features the same magnificently radiant artwork and celebration of sharing so beloved in her debut picture book.”
A Day With Yayah by Nicola Campbell, Illustrated by Julie Flett (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Set in the Nicola Valley, British Columbia, in Canada’s westernmost province, a First Nations family goes on an outing to forage for herbs and mushrooms. A grandmother passes down her knowledge of plant life and the natural world to her young grandchildren.”
Standing On Her Shoulders by Monica Clark-Robinson, Illustrated by Laura Freeman (Bookshop | Amazon)
“A stunning love letter to the important women who shape us — from our own mothers and grandmothers to the legends who paved the way for girls and women everywhere.
Standing on Her Shoulders is a celebration of the strong women who influence us — from our mothers, sisters, aunts, and grandmothers to the women who fought for equality and acceptance in the United States.
Monica Clark-Robinson’s lyrical text encourages young girls to learn about the powerful and trailblazing women who laid the path for their own lives and empowers them to become role models themselves. Acclaimed illustrator Laura Freeman’s remarkable art showcases a loving intergenerational family and encourages girls to find female heroes in their own lives.
Standing on Her Shoulders will inspire girls of all ages to follow in the footsteps of these amazing women.”
You can also read my full review of Standing On Her Shoulders for more detail.
The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad and S.K. Ali, Illustrated by Hatem Aly (Bookshop | Amazon)
“With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It’s the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it’s her older sister Asiya’s first day of hijab–a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waving to the sky. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong.
Paired with Hatem Aly’s beautiful, whimsical art, Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad and Morris Award finalist S.K. Ali bring readers an uplifting, universal story of new experiences, the unbreakable bond between siblings, and of being proud of who you are.”
Plenty Of Hugs by Fran Manushkin, Illustrated by Kate Alizadeh (Bookshop | Amazon)
“This cheerful book follows a family from morning to night in lively rhyme that rolls off the tongue. There’s a buzz for each bug, and a breeze for each tree, and plenty of hugs for you and me. The toddler and mommies take a morning bike ride to a farm stand, they visit a zoo in the afternoon, and in the evening there’s the bath and storybook routine before the child is tucked cozily into bed. There are seas for ships and kisses for lips, so we can whisper I love you! This is sure to become a preschool favorite, for bedtime and any time.”
Yaffa and Fatima Shalom, Salaam by Fawzia Gilani-Williams, Illustrated by Chiara Fedele (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Two neighbors―one Jewish, one Muslim―have always been best friends. When they both fall on hard times, can they find a way to help each other? In Fawzia Gilani’s retelling of this folktale―which has both Jewish and Arab origins―differences are not always causes for conflict and friendship can overcome any obstacle.”
“A brother and sister are thrilled that their mom and mum are getting married! After dancing around the living room, they are full of questions. Will Nana and Pop be there? Will they get to dress up? The answer is yes! They celebrate the wedding outdoors with family and friends. And most importantly, they all get to blow bubbles! A beautiful celebration of a loving family celebrating an important day together.”
“It’s the day of the Big Star Little Gala, and Stella’s hair just isn’t acting right! What’s a girl to do?
Simple! Just hop on her hoverboard, visit each of her fabulous aunties across the solar system, and find the perfect hairdo along the way.
Stella’s Stellar Hair celebrates the joy of self-empowerment, shows off our solar system, and beautifully illustrates a variety of hairstyles from the African diaspora. Backmatter provides more information about each style and each planet.”
“Dreamers is a celebration of making your home with the things you always carry: your resilience, your dreams, your hopes and history. It’s the story of finding your way in a new place, of navigating an unfamiliar world and finding the best parts of it. In dark times, it’s a promise that you can make better tomorrows.
This lovingly-illustrated picture book memoir looks at the myriad gifts migrantes bring with them when they leave their homes. It’s a story about family. And it’s a story to remind us that we are all dreamers, bringing our own strengths wherever we roam. Beautiful and powerful at any time but given particular urgency as the status of our own Dreamers becomes uncertain, this is a story that is both topical and timeless.”
We Wait For The Sun by Dovey Johnson Roundtree and Katie McCabe, Illustrated by Raissa Figueroa (Bookshop | Amazon)
“In the hour before dawn, Dovey Mae and Grandma Rachel step into the cool, damp night on a secret mission: to find the sweetest, ripest blackberries that grow deep in the woods.
But the nighttime holds a thousand sounds―and a thousand shadows―and Dovey Mae is frightened of the dark. But with the fierce and fearless Grandma Rachel at her side, the woods turn magical, and berry picking becomes an enchanting adventure that ends with the beauty and power of the sunrise.”
You can also read my full review of We Wait For The Sun for more detail.
I Dream of Popo by Livia Blackburne, Illustrated by Julia Kuo (Bookshop | Amazon)
“From New York Times bestselling author Livia Blackburne and illustrator Julia Kuo, here is I Dream of Popo. This delicate, emotionally rich picture book celebrates a special connection that crosses time zones and oceans as Popo and her granddaughter hold each other in their hearts forever.
I dream with Popo as she rocks me in her arms. I wave at Popo before I board my flight. I talk to Popo from across the sea. I tell Popo about my adventures.
When a young girl and her family emigrate from Taiwan to America, she leaves behind her beloved popo, her grandmother. She misses her popo every day, but even if their visits are fleeting, their love is ever true and strong.”
A Gift For Amma by Meera Sriram, Illustrated by Mariona Cabassa (Bookshop | Amazon)
“A young girl explores the vibrant rainbow of items for sale in a southern Indian street market as she searches for a gift for her mother. Includes facts about the items mentioned and markets around the world, as well as photographs taken by the author in her hometown of Chennai, India.”
Nana Akua Goes To School by Tricia Elam Walker, Illustrated by April Harrison (Bookshop | Amazon)
“It is Grandparents Day at Zura’s elementary school, and the students are excited to introduce their grandparents and share what makes them special. Aleja’s grandfather is a fisherman. Bisou’s grandmother is a dentist. But Zura’s Nana, who is her favorite person in the world, looks a little different from other grandmas. Nana Akua was raised in Ghana, and, following an old West African tradition, has tribal markings on her face. Worried that her classmates will be scared of Nana–or worse, make fun of her–Zura is hesitant to bring her to school. Nana Akua knows what to do, though. With a quilt of traditional African symbols and a bit of face paint, Nana Akua is able to explain what makes her special, and to make all of Zura’s classmates feel special, too.”
I hope this list provides you with a few titles to read to your little ones today, highlighting the way the women in our lives encourage and support us day in and day out.
What are your favorite books to read for International Women’s Day? Be sure to share them in the comments below!
Today marks the beginning of Women’s History Month, and I would like to celebrate with a list of picture book biographies highlighting some amazing women who made their mark on history.
Despite the fact that doors were not always open for them, women have contributed in countless ways throughout history. Far too often their accomplishments have been dismissed, overlooked, or in some cases, claimed by men in their fields. Though we have come a long way in recognizing the accomplishments of women, there is still a need for awareness around women’s prominence in history.
If you ask your friends or family who their favorite women from history are, you may find that many people can only list a handful of women who changed the world. Even in 2021, many people still don’t know that women invented circular saws, life rafts, central heating, and bullet proof fiber.
I hope that this list can provide a small history lesson about a remarkable woman for each day of Women’s History Month. By introducing young readers to books like these, we can share the stories of women and ensure the next generation is aware of their place in history.
So without further ado, here is my list of 31 books to read with your children for Women’s History Month.
Please note: This article contains affiliate links, from which I will receive a small commission. This commission allows me to maintain this website and continue to bring new content to you.
Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell, Illustrated by Christian Robinson (Bookshop | Amazon)
“In exuberant verse and stirring pictures, Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson create an extraordinary portrait for young people of the passionate performer and civil rights advocate Josephine Baker, the woman who worked her way from the slums of St. Louis to the grandest stages in the world. Meticulously researched by both author and artist, Josephine’s powerful story of struggle and triumph is an inspiration and a spectacle, just like the legend herself.”
Dorothea Lange: The Photographer Who Found The Faces Of Depression by Carole Boston Weatherford, Illustrated by Sarah Green (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Before she raised her lens to take her most iconic photo, Dorothea Lange took photos of the downtrodden, from bankers in once-fine suits waiting in breadlines, to former slaves, to the homeless sleeping on sidewalks. A case of polio had left her with a limp and sympathetic to those less fortunate. Traveling across the United States, documenting with her camera and her fieldbook those most affected by the stock market crash, she found the face of the Great Depression. In this picture book biography, Carole Boston Weatherford’s lyrical prose captures the spirit of the influential photographer.”
The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid by Jeanette Winter (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Get to know Zaha Hadid in this nonfiction picture book about the famed architect’s life and her triumph over adversity from celebrated author-illustrator Jeanette Winter.
Zaha Hadid grew up in Baghdad, Iraq, and dreamed of designing her own cities. After studying architecture in London, she opened her own studio and started designing buildings. But as a Muslim woman, Hadid faced many obstacles. Determined to succeed, she worked hard for many years, and achieved her goals—and now you can see the buildings Hadid has designed all over the world.”
The Fearless Flights Of Hazel Ying Lee by Julie Leung, Illustrated by Julie Kwon (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Hazel Ying Lee was born fearless—she was not afraid of anything, and the moment she took her first airplane ride, she knew where she belonged. When people scoffed at her dreams of becoming a pilot, Hazel wouldn’t take no for an answer. She joined the Women Airforce Service Pilots during World War II. It was a dangerous job, but Hazel flew with joy and boldness.
This moving, true story about a groundbreaking figure will inspire young readers to challenge barriers and reach for the sky.”
You can also read my full review of The Fearless Flights Of Hazel Ying Lee for more detail.
Mother Jones And Her Army Of Mill Children by Jonah Winter, Illustrated by Nancy Carpenter (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Here’s the inspiring story of the woman who raised her voice and fist to protect kids’ childhoods and futures– and changed America forever. Mother Jones is MAD, and she wants you to be MAD TOO, and stand up for what’s right! Told in first-person, New York Times bestselling author, Jonah Winter, and acclaimed illustrator, Nancy Carpenter, share the incredible story of Mother Jones, an Irish immigrant who was essential in the fight to create child labor laws. Well into her sixties, Mother Jones had finally had enough of children working long hours in dangerous factory jobs, and decided she was going to do something about it. The powerful protests she organized earned her the name “the most dangerous woman in America.” And in the Children’s Crusade of 1903, she lead one hundred boys and girls on a glorious march from Philadelphia right to the front door of President Theodore Roosevelt’s Long Island home.”
Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai, Illustrated by Kerascoët (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Malala’s first picture book will inspire young readers everywhere to find the magic all around them.
As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil. She would use it to make everyone happy, to erase the smell of garbage from her city, to sleep an extra hour in the morning. But as she grew older, Malala saw that there were more important things to wish for. She saw a world that needed fixing. And even if she never found a magic pencil, Malala realized that she could still work hard every day to make her wishes come true.
This beautifully illustrated volume tells Malala’s story for a younger audience and shows them the worldview that allowed Malala to hold on to hope.”
Counting the Stars: The Story of Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician by Lesa Cline-Ransome, Illustrated by Raúl Colón (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Before John Glenn orbited the Earth or astronauts walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used their knowledge, pencils, adding machines, and writing paper to calculate the orbital mechanics needed to launch spacecraft. Katherine Johnson was one of these mathematicians who used trajectories and complex equations to chart the space program. Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws were in place in the early 1950s, Katherine worked analyzing data at the NACA (later NASA) Langley laboratory.
In 1962, as NASA prepared for the orbital mission of John Glenn, Katherine Johnson was called upon and John Glenn said “get the girl” (Katherine Johnson) to run the numbers by hand to chart the complexity of the orbital flight. He knew that his flight couldn’t work without her unique skills.”
Portrait of An Artist: Frida Khalo by Lucy Brownridge, Illustrated by Sandra Dieckmann (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter and today is one of the world’s favourite artists. As a child, she was badly affected by polio, and later suffered a terrible accident that left her disabled and in pain. Shortly after this accident, Kahlo took up painting, and through her surreal, symbolic self portraits described the pain she suffered, as well as the treatment of women, and her sadness at not being able to have a child. This book tells the story of Frida Kahlo’s life through her own artworks, and shows how she came to create some of the most famous paintings in the world. Learn about her difficult childhood, her love affair with fellow painter Diego Rivera, and the lasting impact her surreal work had on the history of art in this book that brings her life to work.”
Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist by Jess Keating, Illustrated by Marta Álvarez Miguéns (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Eugenie Clark fell in love with sharks from the first moment she saw them at the aquarium. She couldn’t imagine anything more exciting than studying these graceful creatures. But Eugenie quickly discovered that many people believed sharks to be ugly and scary―and they didn’t think women should be scientists.
Determined to prove them wrong, Eugenie devoted her life to learning about sharks. After earning several college degrees and making countless discoveries, Eugenie wrote herself into the history of science, earning the nickname “Shark Lady.” Through her accomplishments, she taught the world that sharks were to be admired rather than feared and that women can do anything they set their minds to.
An inspiring story by critically acclaimed zoologist Jess Keating about finding the strength to discover truths that others aren’t daring enough to see. Includes a timeline of Eugenie’s life and many fin-tastic shark facts!”
A Girl Called Genghis Khan: How Maria Toorpakai Wazir Pretended to Be a Boy, Defied the Taliban, and Became a World Famous Squash Player by Michelle Lord, Illustrated by Shehzil Malik (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Meet Maria Toorpakai Wazir, a Pakistani girl who loved sports and longed for the freedom that boys in her culture enjoyed. She joined a squash club to pursue her dream, and was taunted, teased, and beaten—but still continued playing. Then, when Maria received an award from the President of Pakistan for outstanding achievement, the Taliban threatened her squash club, her family, and her life. Although forced to quit the team, she refused to give up. Maria kept practicing the game in her bedroom every day for three years! Her hard work and perseverance in the face of overwhelming obstacles will inspire all children.”
Billie Jean!: How Tennis Star Billie Jean King Changed Women’s Sports by Mara Rockliff, Illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley (Bookshop | Amazon)
“From award-winning author Mara Rockliff and New York Times-bestselling illustrator Elizabeth Baddeley comes this extraordinary picture book about one little girl who loved sports and grew up to be one of the greatest and best-known tennis players of all time.
Anything Billie Jean did, she did it ALL THE WAY. When she ran, she ran fast. When she played, she played hard. As a top women’s tennis player, Billie Jean fought for fairness in women’s sports, and when she faced off against Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes, the most famous tennis match in history, she showed the world that men and women–and boys and girls–are equal on and off the court.”
Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer by Traci Sorell, Illustrated by Natasha Donovan (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Mary Golda Ross designed classified airplanes and spacecraft as Lockheed Aircraft Corporation’s first female engineer. Find out how her passion for math and the Cherokee values she was raised with shaped her life and work.
Cherokee author Traci Sorell and Métis illustrator Natasha Donovan trace Ross’s journey from being the only girl in a high school math class to becoming a teacher to pursuing an engineering degree, joining the top-secret Skunk Works division of Lockheed, and being a mentor for Native Americans and young women interested in engineering. In addition, the narrative highlights Cherokee values including education, working cooperatively, remaining humble, and helping ensure equal opportunity and education for all.”
“A biography in rhyme relates the story of Olympic swimmer and Syrian refugee Yusra Mardini.”
Dolores Huerta: A Hero To Migrant Workers by Sarah Warren, Illustrated by Robert Casilla (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Dolores is a teacher, a mother, and a friend. She wants to know why her students are too hungry to listen, why they don’t have shoes to wear to school. Dolores is a warrior, an organizer, and a peacemaker. When she finds out that the farm workers in her community are poorly paid and working under dangerous conditions, she stands up for their rights.
This is the story of Dolores Huerta and the extraordinary battle she waged to ensure fair and safe work places for migrant workers. The powerful text, paired with Robert Casilla’s vibrant watercolor-and-pastel illustrations, brings Dolores’s amazing journey to life. A timeline, additional reading, articles, websites, and resources for teachers are included.”
Pirate Queen: A Story Of Zheng Yi Sao by Helaine Becker, Illustrated by Liz Wong (Bookshop | Amazon)
“The most powerful pirate in history was a woman who was born into poverty in Guangzhou, China, in the late 1700s. When pirates attacked her town and the captain took a liking to her, she saw a way out. Zheng Yi Sao agreed to marry him only if she got an equal share of his business. When her husband died six years later, she took command of the fleet.
Over the next decade, the pirate queen built a fleet of over 1,800 ships and 70,000 men. On land and sea, Zheng Yi Sao’s power rivaled the emperor himself. Time and again, her ships triumphed over the emperor’s ships.”
Wilma’s Way Home by Doreen Rappaport, Illustrated by Linda Kukuk (Bookshop | Amazon)
“As a child in Oklahoma, Wilma Mankiller experienced the Cherokee practice of Gadugi, helping each other, even when times were hard for everyone. But in 1956, the federal government uprooted her family and moved them to California, wrenching them from their home, friends, and traditions. Separated from her community and everything she knew, Wilma felt utterly lost until she found refuge in the Indian Center in San Francisco. There, she worked to build and develop the local Native community and championed Native political activists. She took her two children to visit tribal communities in the state, and as she introduced them to the traditions of their heritage, she felt a longing for home.
Returning to Oklahoma with her daughters, Wilma took part in Cherokee government. Despite many obstacles, from resistance to female leadership to a life-threatening accident, Wilma’s courageous dedication to serving her people led to her election as the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation. As leader and advocate, she reinvigorated her constituency by empowering them to identify and solve community problems.”
Queen Of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom by Teresa Robeson, Illustrated by Rebecca Huang (Bookshop | Amazon)
“When Wu Chien Shiung was born in China 100 years ago, most girls did not attend school; no one considered them as smart as boys. But her parents felt differently. Giving her a name meaning “Courageous Hero,” they encouraged her love of learning and science. This engaging biography follows Wu Chien Shiung as she battles sexism and racism to become what Newsweek magazine called the “Queen of Physics” for her work on beta decay. Along the way, she earned the admiration of famous scientists like Enrico Fermi and Robert Oppenheimer and became the first woman hired as an instructor by Princeton University, the first woman elected President of the American Physical Society, the first scientist to have an asteroid named after her when she was still alive, and many other honors.”
Mae Among The Stars by Roda Ahmed, Illustrated by Stasia Burrington (Bookshop | Amazon)
“A great classroom and bedtime read-aloud, Mae Among the Stars is the perfect book for young readers who have big dreams and even bigger hearts.
When Little Mae was a child, she dreamed of dancing in space. She imagined herself surrounded by billions of stars, floating, gliding, and discovering.
She wanted to be an astronaut.
Her mom told her, “If you believe it, and work hard for it, anything is possible.”
Little Mae’s curiosity, intelligence, and determination, matched with her parents’ encouraging words, paved the way for her incredible success at NASA as the first African American woman to travel in space.
This book will inspire other young girls to reach for the stars, to aspire for the impossible, and to persist with childlike imagination.”
Joan Proctor Dragon Doctor by Patricia Valdez, Illustrated by Felicita Sala (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Back in the days of long skirts and afternoon teas, young Joan Procter entertained the most unusual party guests: slithery and scaly ones, who turned over teacups and crawled past the crumpets…. While other girls played with dolls, Joan preferred the company of reptiles. She carried her favorite lizard with her everywhere–she even brought a crocodile to school!”
Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions Of Trees by Franck Prevot, Illustrated by Aurélia Fronty (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Wangari Maathai changed the way the world thinks about nature, ecology, freedom, and democracy, inspiring radical efforts that continue to this day. This simply told story begins with Green Belt Movement founder Wangari Maathai’s childhood at the foot of Mount Kenya where, as the oldest child in her family, her responsibility was to stay home and help her mother. When the chance to go to school presented itself, she seized it with both hands. She traveled to the US to study, where she saw that even in the land of the free, black people were not welcome.
Returning home, Wangari was determined to help her people and her country. She recognized that deforestation and urbanization was at the root of her country’s troubles. Her courage and confidence carried her through adversity to found a movement for peace, reconciliation, and healing.”
Queen of Tejano Music: Selena by Silvia López, Illustrated by Paola Escobar (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Selena Quintanilla’s music career began at the age of nine when she started singing in her family’s band. She went from using a hairbrush as a microphone to traveling from town to town to play gigs. But Selena faced a challenge: People said that she would never make it in Tejano music, which was dominated by male performers. Selena was determined to prove them wrong.
Born and raised in Texas, Selena didn’t know how to speak Spanish, but with the help of her dad, she learned to sing it. With songs written and composed by her older brother and the fun dance steps Selena created, her band, Selena Y Los Dinos, rose to stardom! A true trailblazer, her success in Tejano music and her crossover into mainstream American music opened the door for other Latinx entertainers, and she became an inspiration for Latina girls everywhere.”
Flying High: The Story of Gymnastics Champion Simone Biles by Michelle Meadows, Illustrated by Ebony Glenn (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Before she was a record-breaking gymnast competing on the world stage, Simone Biles spent time in foster care as a young child. Nimble and boundlessly energetic, she cherished every playground and each new backyard.
When she was six years old, Simone’s family took shape in a different way. Her grandparents Ron and Nellie Biles adopted Simone and her sister Adria. Ron and Nellie became their parents. Simone was also introduced to gymnastics that same year, launching a lifelong passion fueled by remarkable talent, sacrifice, and the undying support of her family.
From her athletic early childhood to the height of her success as an Olympic champion, Flying High is the story of the world’s greatest gymnast from author Michelle Meadows and illustrator Ebony Glenn.”
Grace Hopper: Queen Of Computer Code by Laurie Wallmark, Illustrated by Katy Wu (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Who was Grace Hopper? A software tester, workplace jester, cherished mentor, ace inventor, avid reader, naval leader—AND rule breaker, chance taker, and troublemaker. Acclaimed picture book author Laurie Wallmark (Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine) once again tells the riveting story of a trailblazing woman. Grace Hopper coined the term “computer bug” and taught computers to “speak English.” Throughout her life, Hopper succeeded in doing what no one had ever done before. Delighting in difficult ideas and in defying expectations, the insatiably curious Hopper truly was “Amazing Grace” . . . and a role model for science- and math-minded girls and boys. With a wealth of witty quotes, and richly detailed illustrations, this book brings Hopper’s incredible accomplishments to life.”
Girl On A Motorcycle by Amy Novesky, Illustrated by Julie Morstad (Bookshop | Amazon)
“One day, a girl gets on her motorcycle and rides away. She wants to wander the world. To go . . . Elsewhere. This is the true story of the first woman to ride a motorcycle around the world alone. Each place has something to teach her. Each place is beautiful. And despite many flat tires and falls, she learns to always get back up and keep riding.
Award-winning author Amy Novesky and Governor General’s Award-winning illustrator Julie Morstad have teamed up for a spectacular celebration of girl power and resilience.”
Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life: Hollywood Legend and Brilliant Inventor by Laurie Wallmark, Illustrated by Katy Wu (Bookshop | Amazon)
“To her adoring public, Hedy Lamarr was a glamorous movie star, widely considered the most beautiful woman in the world. But in private, she was something more: a brilliant inventor. And for many years only her closest friends knew her secret. Now Laurie Wallmark and Katy Wu, who collaborated on Sterling’s critically acclaimed picture-book biography Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code, tell the inspiring story of how, during World War Two, Lamarr developed a groundbreaking communications system that still remains essential to the security of today’s technology.”
One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul, Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon (Bookshop | Amazon)
“The inspiring true story of how one African woman began a movement to recycle the plastic bags that were polluting her community.
Plastic bags are cheap and easy to use. But what happens when a bag breaks or is no longer needed? In Njau, Gambia, people simply dropped the bags and went on their way. One plastic bag became two. Then ten. Then a hundred.
The bags accumulated in ugly heaps alongside roads. Water pooled in them, bringing mosquitoes and disease. Some bags were burned, leaving behind a terrible smell. Some were buried, but they strangled gardens. They killed livestock that tried to eat them. Something had to change.
Isatou Ceesay was that change. She found a way to recycle the bags and transform her community. This inspirational true story shows how one person’s actions really can make a difference in our world.”
Cubs in the Tub: The True Story of the Bronx Zoo’s First Woman Zookeeper by Candace Fleming, Illustrated by Julie Downing (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Fred and Helen Martini longed for a baby, and they ended up with dozens of lion and tiger cubs! Snuggle up to this purr-fect read aloud about the Bronx Zoo’s first female zoo-keeper.
When Bronx Zoo-keeper Fred brought home a lion cub, Helen Martini instantly embraced it. The cub’s mother lost the instinct to care for him. “Just do for him what you would do with a human baby,” Fred suggested…and she did. Helen named him MacArthur, and fed him milk from a bottle and cooed him to sleep in a crib.
Soon enough, MacArthur was not the only cub bathed in the tub! The couple continues to raise lion and tiger cubs as their own, until they are old enough to return them to zoos. Helen becomes the first female zookeeper at the Bronx zoo, the keeper of the nursery.
This is a terrific non-fiction book to read aloud while snuggling up with your cubs! Filled with adorable baby cats, this is a story about love, dedication, and a new kind of family.
Gorgeously patterned illustrations by Julie Downing detail the in-home nursery and a warm pallet creates a cozy pairing with Candace Fleming’s lovely language.”
Shadow Warrior: Based on the True Story of a Fearless Ninja and Her Network of Female Spies by by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, Illustrated by Celia Krampien (Bookshop | Amazon)
“It’s 1558, and warlords across Japan are battling for territory and control. Into this setting, award-winning author Tanya Lloyd Kyi weaves the stories of three people: Mochizuki Chiyome, a young woman determined to become a ninja whose plans are thwarted by an arranged marriage; Takeda Shingen (The Tiger), a fierce warlord seeking a new weapon to outsmart his enemies; and Aki, an orphaned tavern girl whose destiny is changed by a mysterious woman. As their stories intersect, the three characters become key players in an elaborate network of undercover female ninjas who will eventually shift the balance of power in Japan. Based on the true story of Mochizuki Chiyome and her all-female spy network, Shadow Warrior takes readers on a journey through feudal Japan, from villages to castles to battlefields. Stunning illustrations by Celia Krampien, interspersed with archival Japanese art, vividly depict the rigors of ninja training, the struggles of village life, the intensity of battle, and the thrill of accomplishing a secret mission.”
Grace Banker And Her Hello GirlsAnswer the Call by Claudia Friddell, Illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Follow Grace Banker’s journey from her busy life as a telephone switchboard trainer in New York to her pioneering role as the Chief Operator of the 1st Unit of World War I telephone operators in the battlefields of France. With expert skill, steady nerves, and steadfast loyalty, the Signal Corps operators transferred orders from commanders to battlefields and communicated top-secret messages between American and French headquarters. After faithfully serving her country —undaunted by freezing weather and fires; long hours and little sleep, and nearby shellings and far off explosions — Grace was the first and only woman operator in the Signal Corps to be awarded the Army’s Distinguished Service Medal.”
You can also read my full review of Grace Banker and Her Hello Girls Answer the Call for more detail.
Brave Ballerina: The Story of Janet Collins by Michelle Meadows, Illustrated by Ebony Glenn (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Janet Collins wanted to be a ballerina in the 1930s and 40s, a time when racial segregation was widespread in the United States. Janet pursued dance with a passion, despite being rejected from discriminatory dance schools. When she was accepted into the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo as a teenager on the condition that she paint her skin white for performances, Janet refused. She continued to go after her dreams, never compromising her values along the way. From her early childhood lessons to the height of her success as the first African American prima ballerina in the Metropolitan Opera, Brave Ballerina is the story of a remarkable pioneer as told by Michelle Meadows, with fantastic illustrations from Ebony Glenn.”
Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride by Andrea Pinkney, Illustrated by Brian Pinkney (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Born into slavery, Belle had to endure the cruelty of several masters before she escaped to freedom. But she knew she wouldn’t really be free unless she was helping to end injustice. That’s when she changed her name to Sojourner and began traveling across the country, demanding equal rights for black people and for women. Many people weren’t ready for her message, but Sojourner was brave, and her truth was powerful. And slowly, but surely as Sojourner’s step-stomp stride, America began to change.”
I hope you all enjoyed the list, and maybe even found a few places or people that are new to you or your young readers.
What are your favorite books to read and share for Women’s History Month? Be sure to share any favorites I missed in the comments below!
In 2007 The United Nations declared that February 20th would be celebrated every year as World Day Of Social Justice. Today is all about promoting the need for social justice, which include human rights, poverty, gender equality, unemployment, and more. In honor of this observance, I want to share a few of my favorite titles to inspired the next generation of change makers.
I tried to include something for all age groups (with the exception of young adult, because that’s just not my area of expertise). I should also note that I tried to steer away from picture book biographies for this list, because there are so many amazing stories of people fighting for change that I couldn’t pick favorites. This list is focused on titles that will encourage young readers to raise their voice, and speak up for the issues that are most important to them.
That being said, let’s get into my 10 picks for World Day of Social Justice.
Please Note: This post contains affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission from purchases made, with no additional cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you.
“In this empowering new picture book, beloved author Peter H. Reynolds explores the many ways that a single voice can make a difference. Each of us, each and every day, have the chance to say something: with our actions, our words, and our voices. Perfect for kid activists everywhere, this timely story reminds readers of the undeniable importance and power of their voice. There are so many ways to tell the world who you are… what you are thinking… and what you believe. And how you’ll make it better. The time is now: SAY SOMETHING!”
Get Up, Stand Up by Bob Marley, Adapter by Cedella Marley, and Illustrated by John Jay Cabuay (Bookshop | Amazon)
“A heartfelt and meaningful book that brings Bob Marley’s music to life in a new way: As a young girl goes on with her day in school, she comes across several instances of teasing and intimidation. But with loving action and some help from her friends, she’s able to make things right for herself and others. This cute children’s book includes the impactful lyrics of Bob Marley’s song ‘Get Up, Stand Up’ that has inspired millions of listeners around the world with messages of peace, love, and truth.”
Peaceful Fights For Equal Rights by Rob Sanders, Illustrated by Jared Andrew Schorr (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Protesting. Standing up for what’s right. Uniting around the common good—kids have questions about all of these things they see and hear about each day. Through sparse and lyrical writing, Rob Sanders introduces abstract concepts like “fighting for what you believe in” and turns them into something actionable. Jared Schorr’s bold, bright illustrations brings the resistance to life making it clear that one person can make a difference. And together, we can accomplish anything.”
Equality’s Call by Deborah Diesen, Illustrated by Magdelena Mora (Bookshop | Amazon)
“A right isn’t right till it’s granted to all…
The founders of the United States declared that consent of the governed was a key part of their plan for the new nation. But for many years, only white men of means were allowed to vote. This unflinching and inspiring history of voting rights looks back at the activists who answered equality’s call, working tirelessly to secure the right for all to vote, and it also looks forward to the future and the work that still needs to be done.”
“With a spare, inspiring text and gorgeous watercolor illustrations, this is a timeless and important book for activists of all ages. This hardcover picture book is perfect for sharing and for gifting.
Sometimes people march to resist injustice, to stand in solidarity, to inspire hope.
Throughout American history, one thing remains true: no matter how or why people march, they are powerful because they march together.”
Love Is Powerful by Heather Dean Brewer, Illustrated by LeUyen Pham (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Mari is getting ready to make a sign with crayon as the streets below her fill up with people. “What are we making, Mama?” she asks. “A message for the world,” Mama says. “How will the whole world hear?” Mari wonders. “They’ll hear,” says Mama, “because love is powerful.” Inspired by a girl who participated in the January 2017 Women’s March in New York City, Heather Dean Brewer’s simple and uplifting story, delightfully illustrated by LeUyen Pham, is a reminder of what young people can do to promote change and equality at a time when our country is divided by politics, race, gender, and religion.”
If You’re Going To A March by Martha Freeman, Illustrated by Violet Kim (Bookshop | Amazon)
“As more and more children attend the growing number of marches across the country, this cheerful guide serves as a great reference tool and conversation starter for youthful participants. Inspired by author Martha Freeman’s own experiences, this picture book addresses many of the questions kids might have: What should I wear? How will I get there? Where will I be able to go to the bathroom? Is it okay to dance? (Yes, it is!). All the while the text stays focused on the fact that the right to assemble is a Constitutional part of our life as Americans . . . whatever our political point of view.”
Together We March by Leah Henderson, Illustrated by Tyler Feder (Bookshop | Amazon)
“March through history and discover twenty-five groundbreaking protest movements that have shaped the way we fight for equality and justice today in this stunningly illustrated and sweeping book! For generations, marches have been an invaluable tool for bringing about social change. People have used their voices, the words on their signs, and the strength in their numbers to combat inequality, oppression, and discrimination. They march to call attention to these wrongs and demand change and action, from a local to a global scale. Whether demanding protective laws or advocating for equal access to things like voting rights, public spaces, and jobs, the twenty-five marches in this book show us that even when a fight seems impossible, marching can be the push needed to tip the scales and create a movement. This gorgeous collection celebrates this rich and diverse history, the often-overlooked stories, and the courageous people who continue to teach us the importance of coming together to march today.”
No Voice Too Small by Lindsey H. Metcalf, Keila Dawson, and Jeanette Bradley (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Mari Copeny demanded clean water in Flint. Jazz Jennings insisted, as a transgirl, on playing soccer with the girls’ team. From Viridiana Sanchez Santos’s quinceañera demonstration against anti-immigrant policy to Zach Wahls’s moving declaration that his two moms and he were a family like any other, No Voice Too Small celebrates the young people who know how to be the change they seek. Fourteen poems honor these young activists. Featuring poems by Lesléa Newman, Traci Sorell, and Nikki Grimes. Additional text goes into detail about each youth activist’s life and how readers can get involved.”
Kid Activists by Robin Stevenson, Illustrated by Allison Steinfeld (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Every activist started out as a kid—and in some cases they were kids when their activism began! But even the world’s greatest champions of civil liberties had relatable interests and problems–often in the middle of extraordinary circumstances. Martin Luther King, Jr. loved fashion, and argued with his dad about whether or not dancing was a sin. Harvey Milk had a passion for listening to opera music in different languages. Dolores Huerta was once wrongly accused of plagiarizing in school. Kid Activists tells these childhood stories and more through kid-friendly texts and full-color cartoon illustrations on nearly every page. The diverse and inclusive group encompasses Susan B. Anthony, James Baldwin, Ruby Bridges, Frederick Douglass, Alexander Hamilton, Dolores Huerta, Helen Keller, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Iqbal Masih, Harvey Milk, Janet Mock, Rosa Parks, Autumn Peltier, Emma Watson, and Malala Yousafzai.”
I hope this list helps you all find a few extra titles to encourage your young readers to speak up for the issues closest to their hearts.
What are your favorite books about activism and social justice? Be sure to leave them in the comments below!
Galentine’s Day is the brilliant creation of Leslie Knope, a lovable character on the show Parks and Rec. While the horrible behavior of two actors on the show may have ruined re-watching the show for me, I won’t let them take away Galentine’s Day. Galentine’s Day comes every year on the day before Valentine’s Day, and it’s a day dedicated to showing your love for all the women and girls in your life that support you day to day. So in the spirit of celebrating women, I want to share A Girl’s Bill Of Rights by Amy Mucha with you all.
This picture book is all about girls standing up for their right to confidence, freedom, and consent. A Girl’s Bill Of Rights reads a bit like a lyrical affirmation, and to be honest, it has a few lines I should probably be speaking into the mirror every once in a while. This book pushes back on the many societal expectations women, girls, and other femmes are faced with, like the pressure to avoid making people “uncomfortable” with your feelings, or to shy away from being proud of your achievements.
Despite the depth of the subject matter, the illustrations by Addy Rivera Sonda are so fun, and I love that they depict such a diverse cast of characters.
I also love that A Girl’s Bill Of Rights can be used to teach children both how they deserve to be treated, and how they should be treating others. While this is a great book for encouraging girls to stand up for themselves and speak up about how they feel, I think it is an equally important read for boys. I can’t wait to start reading this book to my son so he will know from an early age how I expect him to treat women.
If you’re looking for an empowering book to introduce human rights, I would highly recommend A Girl’s Bill of Rights. It is available now wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: These are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you. Your support is always appreciated!)
Amy Mucha is a children’s book author based in Chapel Hill, NC who is passionate about empowering women and girls. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at amybmucha.com.
Addy Rivera Sonda is an illustrator, animal lover, vegan, and avid activist in various animal rights groups like Animal Save, Anti-Speciesist Action, and Casa Animal “Animal House”. To learn more abotu her and her work, please visit her website at addyriverasonda.wixsite.com.
Thank you so much to Beaming Books for sending me a review copy of A Girl’s Bill of Rights. It was an absolute delight to read!
Are you looking for a picture book biography about an inspiring woman serving her country during wartime?
Might I suggest Grace Banker And Her Hello Girls Answer The Call: The Heroic Story of WWI Telephone Operators by Claudia Fridell?
I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t heard of Grace Banker before I read this book, but I can’t wait to share her story with you now!
In 1917, a 25-year-old Grace Banker answered an ad seeking French-speaking telephone operators to join the Signal Corps of the United States Army. Though she couldn’t vote yet, Grace was selected as a chief operator and led a team of thirty-three operators who translated commands and transferred secret codes on the front lines during World War I.
These women were some of America’s first female soldiers and they kept communications open despite the explosions, fires, and poor weather conditions they faced. Their skill and dedication to their work played a vital role in the victory of World War I, though they remain unsung heroes today.
Working closely with Grace Banker’s family, Claudia Friedel and Elizabeth Baddeley have created a biography that feels personal. Quotes from Grace’s diaries are used throughout the book to truly highlight her voice.
The backmatter offers plenty of additional information about Grace and The Service Corps to inform young readers of the historical significance of their achievements, as well as their fight to receive veteran recognition.
Grace Banker And Her Hello Girls Answer The Call is available wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: These are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you. Your support is always appreciated!)
Claudia Friddell is a former elementary school teacher and the author of several non-fiction children’s books. She is passionate about sharing true stories from history, and currently lives in Baltimore with her husband. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at claudiafriddell.com.
Elizabeth Baddeley is the illustrator of many biographies and non-fiction books for children, including the New York Times bestselling I DISSENT: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes her Mark. She currently lives in in Kansas City with her husband and son. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at ebaddeley.com.
Thank you so much to Calkins Creek and Boyds Mills & Kane for providing me with a review copy of Grace Banker And Her Hello Girls Answer The Call. I’m so glad to be able to share such an amazing story.
Today marks the beginning of Black History Month, and I want to share a list of 28 books to read this month (one for every day) that both celebrate and educate about Black History.
Black History Month has its roots in America all the way back to 1926, when historian Carter G. Woodson created “Negro History Week”. This celebration eventually evolved into Black History Month, a month dedicated to recognizing the historical people and events that were all too often left out of the history books.
I have to be honest with you all, this is one of the hardest lists I’ve ever had to write. I really struggled, not because of the subject matter or the holiday itself, but because 28 books just isn’t enough. Narrowing the entire Black experience down to one list is simply an impossible task.
Though there are obviously many more stories to be heard, I tried to include a variety of books from different periods of history that will speak to a variety of young readers with varied interests. I also tried to include historical figures that many people may not have heard of yet.
So, without further ado, here are my choices for Black History Month.
The ABC’s of Black History by Rio Cortez, Illustrated by Lauren Semmer (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Letter by letter, The ABCs of Black History celebrates a story that spans continents and centuries, triumph and heartbreak, creativity and joy.
It’s a story of big ideas––P is for Power, S is for Science and Soul. Of significant moments––G is for Great Migration. Of iconic figures––H is for Zora Neale Hurston, X is for Malcom X. It’s an ABC book like no other, and a story of hope and love.
In addition to rhyming text, the book includes back matter with information on the events, places, and people mentioned in the poem, from Mae Jemison to W. E. B. Du Bois, Fannie Lou Hamer to Sam Cooke, and the Little Rock Nine to DJ Kool Herc.”
Little Leaders: Bold WomenIn Black History by Vashti Harrison (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Featuring 40 trailblazing black women in American history, Little Leaders educates and inspires as it relates true stories of breaking boundaries and achieving beyond expectations. Illuminating narration paired with irresistible illustrations bring to life both iconic and lesser-known female figures of Black history such as abolitionist Sojourner Truth, pilot Bessie Coleman, chemist Alice Ball, politician Shirley Chisholm, mathematician Katherine Johnson, poet Maya Angelou, and filmmaker Julie Dash.
Among these biographies, readers will find heroes, role models, and everyday women who did extraordinary things – bold women whose actions and beliefs contributed to making the world better for generations of girls and women to come. Whether they were putting pen to paper, soaring through the air, or speaking up for the rights of others, the women profiled here were all taking a stand against a world that didn’t always accept them.
The leaders in this book may be little, but they all did something big and amazing, inspiring generations to come.”
Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History by Vashti Harrison (Bookshop | Amazon)
“An important book for readers of all ages, this beautifully illustrated and engagingly written volume brings to life true stories of black men in history. Among these biographies, readers will find aviators and artists, politicians and pop stars, athletes and activists. The exceptional men featured include writer James Baldwin, artist Aaron Douglas, filmmaker Oscar Devereaux Micheaux, lawman Bass Reeves, civil rights leader John Lewis, dancer Alvin Ailey, and musician Prince.
The legends in Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History span centuries and continents, but each one has blazed a trail for generations to come.”
Overground Railroad by Lesa Cline-Ransome, Illustrated by James Ransome (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Climbing aboard the New York bound Silver Meteor train, Ruth Ellen embarks upon a journey toward a new life up North– one she can’t begin to imagine. Stop by stop, the perceptive young narrator tells her journey in poems, leaving behind the cotton fields and distant Blue Ridge mountains.
Each leg of the trip brings new revelations as scenes out the window of folks working in fields give way to the Delaware River, the curtain that separates the colored car is removed, and glimpses of the freedom and opportunity the family hopes to find come into view. As they travel, Ruth Ellen reads from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, reflecting on how her journey mirrors her own– until finally the train arrives at its last stop, New York’s Penn Station, and the family heads out into a night filled with bright lights, glimmering stars, and new possiblity.
James Ransome’s mixed-media illustrations are full of bold color and texture, bringing Ruth Ellen’s journey to life, from sprawling cotton fields to cramped train cars, the wary glances of other passengers and the dark forest through which Frederick Douglass traveled towards freedom. Overground Railroad is, as Lesa notes, a story “of people who were running from and running to at the same time,” and it’s a story that will stay with readers long after the final pages.”
Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968 by Alice Faye Duncan, Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (Bookshop | Amazon)
“This picture book tells the story of a nine-year-old girl who in 1968 witnessed the Memphis sanitation strike – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s final stand for justice before his assassination – when her father, a sanitation worker, participated in the protest.
In February 1968, two African American sanitation workers were killed by unsafe equipment in Memphis, Tennessee. Outraged at the city’s refusal to recognize a labor union that would fight for higher pay and safer working conditions, sanitation workers went on strike. The strike lasted two months, during which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was called to help with the protests. While his presence was greatly inspiring to the community, this unfortunately would be his last stand for justice. He was assassinated in his Memphis hotel the day after delivering his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” sermon in Mason Temple Church. Inspired by the memories of a teacher who participated in the strike as a child, author Alice Faye Duncan reveals the story of the Memphis sanitation strike from the perspective of a young girl with a riveting combination of poetry and prose.”
What Do You Do with a Voice Like That?: The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan by Chris Barton, Illustrated by Ekua Holmes (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Even as a child growing up in the Fifth Ward of Houston, Texas, Barbara Jordan stood out for her big, bold, booming, crisp, clear, confident voice. It was a voice that made people sit up, stand up, and take notice.
So what do you do with a voice like that?
Barbara took her voice to places few African American women had been in the 1960s: first law school, then the Texas state senate, then up to the United States congress. Throughout her career, she persevered through adversity to give voice to the voiceless and to fight for civil rights, equality, and justice.
New York Times bestselling author Chris Barton and Caldecott Honoree Ekua Holmes deliver a remarkable picture book biography about a woman whose struggles and mission continue to inspire today.”
Gordon Parks: How The Photographer Captured Black and White America by Carole Boston Weatherford, Illustrated by Jamey Christoph (Bookshop | Amazon)
“His white teacher tells her all-black class, You’ll all wind up porters and waiters. What did she know? Gordon Parks is most famous for being the first black director in Hollywood. But before he made movies and wrote books, he was a poor African American looking for work. When he bought a camera, his life changed forever. He taught himself how to take pictures and before long, people noticed. His success as a fashion photographer landed him a job working for the government. In Washington DC, Gordon went looking for a subject, but what he found was segregation. He and others were treated differently because of the color of their skin. Gordon wanted to take a stand against the racism he observed. With his camera in hand, he found a way. Told through lyrical verse and atmospheric art, this is the story of how, with a single photograph, a self-taught artist got America to take notice.”
The Power Of Her Pen: The Story Of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne by Lesa Cline-Ransome, Illustrated by John Parra (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Ethel Payne always had an ear for stories. Seeking truth, justice, and equality, Ethel followed stories from her school newspaper in Chicago to Japan during World War II. It even led her to the White House briefing room, where she broke barriers as the only black female journalist. Ethel wasn’t afraid to ask the tough questions of presidents, elected officials, or anyone else in charge, earning her the title, “First Lady of the Black Press.”
Fearless and determined, Ethel Payne shined a light on the darkest moments in history, and her ear for stories sought answers to the questions that mattered most in the fight for Civil Rights.”
One Step Further: My Story of Math, the Moon, and a Lifelong Mission by Katherine Johnson, Joylette Hylick, and Katherine Moore, Illustrated by Charlene Pinkney Barlowe (Bookshop | Amazon)
“This inspirational picture book reveals what is was like for a young black mother of three to navigate the difficult world of the 1950s and 60s and to succeed in an unwelcoming industry to become one of the now legendary “hidden figures” of NASA computing and space research.
Johnson”s own empowering narrative is complemented by the recollections of her two daughters about their mother”s work and insights about how she illuminated their paths, including one daughter”s fight for civil rights and another”s journey to become a NASA mathematician herself. The narrative gracefully weaves together Johnson”s personal story, her influence on her daughters” formative years, her and her daughters” fight for civil rights, and her lasting impact on NASA and space exploration. Filled with personal reflections, exclusive family archival photos, and striking illustrations, readers will be immersed in this deeply personal portrayal of female empowerment, women in STEM, and the breaking down of race barriers across generations. Historical notes, photo/illustration notes, and a time line put the story into historical and modern-day context.
The inspirational tale of Johnson”s perseverance is both intimate and global, showcasing the drive of each generation to push one step further than the last. With its evocative family album-style format and novel approach to storytelling, One Step Further is sure to inspire the next generation of rising stars.”
Let The Children March by Monica Clark-Robinson, Illustrated by Frank Morrison (Bookshop | Amazon)
“I couldn’t play on the same playground as the white kids. I couldn’t go to their schools. I couldn’t drink from their water fountains. There were so many things I couldn’t do.
In 1963 Birmingham, Alabama, thousands of African American children volunteered to march for their civil rights after hearing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak. They protested the laws that kept black people separate from white people. Facing fear, hate, and danger, these children used their voices to change the world. Frank Morrison’s emotive oil-on-canvas paintings bring this historical event to life, while Monica Clark-Robinson’s moving and poetic words document this remarkable time.”
In The Garden With Dr. Carver by Susan Grigsby, Illustrated by Nicole Tagdell (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Sally is a young girl living in rural Alabama in the early 1900s, a time when people were struggling to grow food in soil that had been depleted by years of cotton production. One day, Dr. George Washington Carver shows up to help the grown-ups with their farms and the children with their school garden. He teaches them how to restore the soil and respect the balance of nature. He even prepares a delicious lunch made of plants, including “chicken” made from peanuts. And Sally never forgets the lessons this wise man leaves in her heart and mind. Susan Grigsby’s warm story shines new light on a Black scientist who was ahead of his time.”
Song in a Rainstorm: The Story of Musical Prodigy Thomas “Blind Tom” Wiggins by Glenda Armand, Illustrated by Brittany Jackson (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Born blind into a life of slavery, Thomas Wiggins was dismissed as a “useless burden.” But through the loving protection of his family, he went on to become one of the greatest musicians of his time. From Tom’s childhood on a plantation to his performances in the concert halls of Europe, Glenda Armand shares the beautiful and at times heartbreaking story of a long-overlooked musical great, the love that supported him, and the struggle for freedom.”
You can also read my full review of Song In A Rainstorm for more detail.
Harlem’s Little Blackbird by Renee Watson, Illustrated by Christian Robinson (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Born to parents who were both former slaves, Florence Mills knew at an early age that she loved to sing, and that her sweet, bird-like voice, resonated with those who heard her. Performing catapulted her all the way to the stages of 1920s Broadway where she inspired everyone from songwriters to playwrights. Yet with all her success, she knew firsthand how prejudice shaped her world and the world of those around her. As a result, Florence chose to support and promote works by her fellow black performers while heralding a call for their civil rights. Featuring a moving text and colorful illustrations, Harlem’s Little Blackbird is a timeless story about justice, equality, and the importance of following one’s heart and dreams.”
Playing to Win: How Althea Gibson Broke Barriers and Changed Tennis Forever by Karen Deans, Illustrated by Elbrite Brown (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Although stars like Serena Williams cite Althea Gibson as an inspiration, Gibson’s story is not well-known to many young people today. Growing up tough and rebellious in Harlem, Althea took that fighting attitude and used it to go after her goals of being a tennis champion, and a time when tennis was a game played mostly by wealthy white people in country clubs that excluded African Americans.
In 1956, she became the first Black American to win a major championship when she won at The French Open. When she won the celebrated Wimbledon tournament the following year, Gibson shook hands with the Queen of England. Not bad for a kid from the streets of Harlem.
With determination and undeniable skill, Althea Gibson become a barrier-breaking, record-setting, and world-famous sportswoman. This new and updated edition of this inspirational biography contains recent information on the impact of Gibson’s legacy.”
Before She Was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome, Illustrated by James Ransome (Bookshop | Amazon)
“We know her today as Harriet Tubman, but in her lifetime she was called by many names. As General Tubman she was a Union spy. As Moses she led hundreds to freedom on the Underground Railroad. As Minty she was a slave whose spirit could not be broken. As Araminta she was a young girl whose father showed her the stars and the first steps on the path to freedom.
This lush, lyrical biography in verse begins with a glimpse of Harriet Tubman as an old woman, and travels back in time through the many roles she played through her life: spy, liberator, suffragist and more. Illustrated by James Ransome, whose paintings for The Creation won a Coretta Scott King medal, this is a riveting introduction to an American hero.”
The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, Illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Originally performed for ESPN’s The Undefeated, this poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world’s greatest heroes. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others, offering deeper insights into the accomplishments of the past, while bringing stark attention to the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present. Robust back matter at the end provides valuable historical context and additional detail for those wishing to learn more.”
We Are The Supremes by Zoë Tucker, Illustrated by Salini Perera (Bookshop | Amazon)
“This inspiring picture book tells the story of the friendship between Flo, Mary, and Diana, and how by supporting each other they overcame hardship to become international superstars.
It’s 1960, and Flo, Mary, and Diana are three friends with big ambitions. They want to be superstars! But 1960s America was not the easiest place for young black girls from the projects to make it big. They audition for the new Motown Records label, but the manager says NO. Not to be put off, the girls try again, and this time, they succeed. They become…The Supremes!
They travel the world, singing hit after hit. Of course they have falling outs, like all friends do, but with a shared dream to keep their friendship strong, they became the USA’s most successful vocal group ever.”
You can also read my full review of We Are The Supremes for more detail.
The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko, Illustrated by Sean Qualls (Bookshop | Amazon)
“For most children these days it would come as a great shock to know that before 1967, they could not marry a person of a race different from their own. That was the year that the Supreme Court issued its decision in Loving v. Virginia.
This is the story of one brave family: Mildred Loving, Richard Perry Loving, and their three children. It is the story of how Mildred and Richard fell in love, and got married in Washington, D.C. But when they moved back to their hometown in Virginia, they were arrested (in dramatic fashion) for violating that state’s laws against interracial marriage. The Lovings refused to allow their children to get the message that their parents’ love was wrong and so they fought the unfair law, taking their case all the way to the Supreme Court – and won!”
The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (Bookshop | Amazon)
“In the 1930s, Lewis’s dad, Lewis Michaux Sr., had an itch he needed to scratch―a book itch. How to scratch it? He started a bookstore in Harlem and named it the National Memorial African Bookstore.
And as far as Lewis Michaux Jr. could tell, his father’s bookstore was one of a kind. People from all over came to visit the store, even famous people―Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, and Langston Hughes, to name a few. In his father’s bookstore people bought and read books, and they also learned from each other. People swapped and traded ideas and talked about how things could change. They came together here all because of his father’s book itch. Read the story of how Lewis Michaux Sr. and his bookstore fostered new ideas and helped people stand up for what they believed in.”
Patricia’s Vision: The Doctor Who Saved Sight by Michelle Lord, Illustrated by Alleanna Harris (Bookshop | Amazon)
“The inspiring story of Dr. Patricia Bath, a groundbreaking ophthalmologist who pioneered laser surgery—and gave her patients the gift of sight.
Born in the 1940s, Patricia Bath dreamed of being an ophthalmologist at a time when becoming a doctor wasn’t a career option for most women—especially African-American women. This empowering biography follows Dr. Bath in her quest to save and restore sight to the blind, and her decision to “choose miracles” when everyone else had given up hope. Along the way, she cofounded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness, invented a specialized laser for removing cataracts, and became the first African-American woman doctor to receive a medical patent.”
Freedom In Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford, Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (Bookshop | Amazon)
“This poetic, nonfiction story about a little-known piece of African American history captures a human’s capacity to find hope and joy in difficult circumstances and demonstrates how New Orleans’ Congo Square was truly freedom’s heart.
Mondays, there were hogs to slop,
mules to train, and logs to chop.
Slavery was no ways fair.
Six more days to Congo Square.
As slaves relentlessly toiled in an unjust system in 19th century Louisiana, they all counted down the days until Sunday, when at least for half a day they were briefly able to congregate in Congo Square in New Orleans. Here they were free to set up an open market, sing, dance, and play music. They were free to forget their cares, their struggles, and their oppression. This story chronicles slaves’ duties each day, from chopping logs on Mondays to baking bread on Wednesdays to plucking hens on Saturday, and builds to the freedom of Sundays and the special experience of an afternoon spent in Congo Square. This book includes a forward from Freddi Williams Evans (freddievans.com), a historian and Congo Square expert, as well as a glossary of terms with pronunciations and definitions.”
A Ride to Remember: A Civil Rights Story by Sharon Langley and Amy Nathan, Illustrated by Floyd Cooper (Bookshop | Amazon)
“A Ride to Remember tells how a community came together—both black and white—to make a change. When Sharon Langley was born in the early 1960s, many amusement parks were segregated, and African-American families were not allowed entry. This book reveals how in the summer of 1963, due to demonstrations and public protests, the Gwynn Oak Amusement Park in Maryland became desegregated and opened to all for the first time. Co-author Sharon Langley was the first African-American child to ride the carousel. This was on the same day of Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Langley’s ride to remember demonstrated the possibilities of King’s dream. This book includes photos of Sharon on the carousel, authors’ notes, a timeline, and a bibliography.”
When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop by Laban Carrick Hill, Illustrated by Theodore Taylor III (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Before there was hip hop, there was DJ Kool Herc.
On a hot day at the end of summer in 1973 Cindy Campbell threw a back-to-school party at a park in the South Bronx. Her brother, Clive Campbell, spun the records. He had a new way of playing the music to make the breaks―the musical interludes between verses―longer for dancing. He called himself DJ Kool Herc and this is When the Beat Was Born. From his childhood in Jamaica to his youth in the Bronx, Laban Carrick Hill’s book tells how Kool Herc came to be a DJ, how kids in gangs stopped fighting in order to breakdance, and how the music he invented went on to define a culture and transform the world.”
Opal’s Greenwood Oasis by Quraysh Ali Lansana and Najah-Amatullah Hylton, Illustrated by Skip Hill (Bookshop | Amazon)
“The year is 1921, and Opal Brown would like to show you around her beautiful neighborhood of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Filled with busy stores and happy families, Opal also wants you to know that “everyone looks like me.”
In both words and illustrations, this carefully researched and historically accurate book allows children to experience the joys and success of Greenwood, one of the most prosperous Black communities of the early 20th Century, an area Booker T. Washington dubbed America’s Black Wall Street.
Soon after the day narrated by Opal, Greenwood would be lost in the Tulsa Race Massacre, the worst act of racial violence in American history. As we approach the centennial of that tragic event, children have the opportunity through this book to learn and celebrate all that was built in Greenwood.”
You can also read my full review of Opal’s Greenwood Oasis for more detail.
Lift as You Climb: The Story of Ella Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell, Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (Bookshop | Amazon)
““What do you hope to accomplish?” asked Ella Baker’s granddaddy when she was still a child. Her mother provided the answer: “Lift as you climb.”
Long before the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, Ella Baker worked to lift others up by fighting racial injustice and empowering poor African Americans to stand up for their rights. Her dedication and grassroots work in many communities made her a valuable ally for leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and she has been ranked as one of the most influential women in the civil rights movement. In the 1960s she worked to register voters and organize sit-ins, and she became a teacher and mentor to many young activists.
Caldecott Honor winner R. Gregory Christie’s powerful pictures pair with Patricia Hruby Powell’s poignant words to paint a vivid portrait of the fight for the freedom of the human spirit.”
Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks by Suzanne Slade, Illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Gwendolyn Brooks (1917–2000) is known for her poems about “real life.” She wrote about love, loneliness, family, and poverty—showing readers how just about anything could become a beautiful poem. Exquisite follows Gwendolyn from early girlhood into her adult life, showcasing her desire to write poetry from a very young age. This picture-book biography explores the intersections of race, gender, and the ubiquitous poverty of the Great Depression—all with a lyrical touch worthy of the subject. Gwendolyn Brooks was the first Black person to win the Pulitzer Prize, receiving the award for poetry in 1950. And in 1958, she was named the poet laureate of Illinois. A bold artist who from a very young age dared to dream, Brooks will inspire young readers to create poetry from their own lives.”
Sugar Hill: Harlem’s Historic Neighborhood by Carole Boston Weatherford, Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (Bookshop | Amazon)
“Take a walk through Harlem’s Sugar Hill and meet all the amazing people who made this neighborhood legendary. With upbeat rhyming, read-aloud text, Sugar Hill celebrates the Harlem neighborhood that successful African Americans first called home during the 1920s. Children raised in Sugar Hill not only looked up to these achievers but also experienced art and culture at home, at church, and in the community. Books, music lessons, and art classes expanded their horizons beyond the narrow limits of segregation. Includes brief biographies of jazz greats Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Sonny Rollins, and Miles Davis; artists Aaron Douglas and Faith Ringgold; entertainers Lena Horne and the Nicholas Brothers; writer Zora Neale Hurston; civil rights leader W. E. B. DuBois and lawyer Thurgood Marshall.”
Kamala Harris: Rooted In Justice by Nikki Grimes, Illustrated by Laura Freeman (Bookshop | Amazon)
“When Kamala Harris was young, she often accompanied her parents to civil rights marches—so many, in fact, that when her mother asked a frustrated Kamala what she wanted, the young girl responded with: “Freedom!”
As Kamala grew from a small girl in Oakland to a senator running for president, it was this long-fostered belief in freedom and justice for all people that shaped her into the inspiring figure she is today. From fighting for the use of a soccer field in middle school to fighting for the people of her home state in Congress, Senator Harris used her voice to speak up for what she believed in and for those who were otherwise unheard. And now this dedication has led her all the way to being elected Vice President of the United States.
Told in Nikki Grimes’s stunning verse and featuring gorgeous illustrations by Laura Freeman, this picture book biography brings to life a story that shows all young people that the American dream can belong to all of us if we fight for one another.”
I hope you all enjoyed the list, and maybe even found a few places or people that are new to you or your young readers.
What are your favorite books to read and share for Black History Month? Be sure to share any favorites I missed in the comments below!
If you are someone who only reads books about or by Black folks during Black History Month, I want to encourage you to read like every month is Black History Month. I hope you will use this list as a starting point, because there are thousands of other amazing titles that are not included in this list, but are great books to read in any month.