“Courage in Her Cleats: The Story of Soccer Star Abby Wambach” by Kim Chaffee, illustrations by Alexandra Badiu
As a child, Abby never wanted to be left out of any competition, especially soccer. This fun and engaging story follows Abby through both successes and setbacks, because while even pro athletes miss goals, face losses and can get injured, determined Abby has always been tougher than her toughest challenge.
“Little Rosetta and the Talking Guitar: The Musical Story of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the Woman Who Invented Rock and Roll” by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow
This beautifully illustrated picture-book biography of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the woman who invented rock and roll, tells an inspiring story of music, community and a drive to succeed. Watch little Rosetta dance around her home to her mother's music, and be given the chance to make music all of her own. Rosetta's dreams become reality in this inspiring story that will encourage your children to pursue their own goals and introduce them to a pioneering Black artist whose contribution to music history is only now being discovered.
“Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles” by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Hadley Hooper
With their yellow car, tiny cat and trunk of very useful things, two smiling women set out from New York City to tour the country and spread the message that women deserve the right to vote. Alice and Nell attended parties, got stuck in icy streams, went to all-yellow lunches and got lost in Arizona. They returned home with a full-grown cat to a warm welcome.
Featuring delightful illustrations, this book is a joyful adventure tale. It’s a fun book to read out loud to little ones, who will enjoy finding the cat on each page. Several pages of back matter will help answer questions about the funny-looking car, the strange idea that women shouldn’t vote and queries about how the book was researched.
“Mamie on the Mound: A Woman in Baseball’s Negro Leagues” by Leah Henderson, illustrated by George Doutsiopoulos
Mamie Johnson always loved playing baseball, and when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, she hoped to play, too. However, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League wasn’t ready to give African American players like her an opportunity.
But Mamie chased her dream anyway. At age 19, the 5-foot-4-inch pitcher earned a spot playing in the mostly male Negro Leagues. With the Indianapolis Clowns, she struck out batters at Comiskey Park and Yankee Stadium. After three seasons on the field, Mamie, the first female pitcher in professional baseball history, returned home. She raised a son, had a successful nursing career, and continued playing and coaching baseball for the rest of her life.
“Mary Wears What She Wants” by Keith Negley
The imaginative pink-and-blue art is the real star of this short and sweet book about Mary Edwards Walker. Although there is a blurb about the Civil War surgeon at the end of the book, the story is set in Mary’s childhood, when she decides to wear pants to school.
Although crowds questioned her and picket signs taunted her, Mary defended herself and her decision, saying, “I don’t wear men’s clothes, I wear my own clothes.”
“The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown” by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Sarah Jacoby
The important thing about Margaret Wise Brown is that she wrote books — even though her books (including “The Runaway Bunny” and “Goodnight Moon”) were not recommended by the children’s librarian at the New York Public Library. But Margaret also fell in love with a woman called Michael and a man named Pebble. She spent her first fortune on flowers, skinned her rabbits and swam naked in cold water. “There are people who will say a story like this doesn’t belong in a children’s book,” writes author Barnett, “but it happened.”
This picture book is an anthem for women and girls who want to live their own weird, beautiful lives, doing all the nonsensical and important things that might just make them happy.
“We Are Water Protectors” by Carole Lindstrom, illustrated Michaela Goade
“In Ojibwe culture, women are the protectors of the water and men are the protectors of the fire,” author Carole Lindstrom explains in her author’s note. In her lyrical tale, a young girl rallies her people together to stand up against the black snake (drawn as an oil pipeline with a snake head) to protect the water, land and Earth. The final scene is of people gathered in protest, complete with “No DAPL” and “Stand with Standing Rock” signs.
Winner of the 2021 Caldecott Medal award, this book is gorgeously illustrated. Each page is luscious and vibrant, celebrating the Earth with color, just as the text celebrates it with words.
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Up next: Middle-grade books