March is Women’s History Month and an excellent opportunity to share diverse books about women pioneers.
Here are 18 must-have mentor texts that share the stories of trailblazing women!
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Clara Lemlich is the star of Brave Girl. This book takes the reader through how Clara, an immigrant from Ukraine who spoke no English when she came to America, lead the strike of over 20,000 women garment makers in the 1900s. This book covers the poor treatment of immigrants in the early 20th century, and its message of equality is just as important today as it was back then.
Do you know the amazing story of Hedy Lamarr? Hedy was known to many as a beautiful movie star in the 1930s, but her close friends knew a secret, Hedy was an inventor! She was a true problem-solver and without her drive, the world as we know it may not be the same. I highly recommend this book to share the importance that anything is possible. Hedy’s life defies traditional standards and shows kids that you can be glamorous and famous, but you can also be headstrong, determined, and innovative.
Maria Tallchief grew up on the Osage Indian Reservation and was a talented pianist and dancer. Tradition states that women on the reservation were not allowed to dance, but Maria’s parents knew she was special! At twelve, Maria was forced to choose between her beloved piano and dancing. As you can see, she chose the latter and never looked back. Maria’s journey to becoming a prima ballerina is detailed in Tallcheif: America’s Prima Ballerina.
Mae Jemison was just a little girl from the southside of Chicago with a dream. Some may say she reached for the stars, and she landed upon them! Mae Among the Stars details Mae’s journey as the first black woman to travel to space. Mae’s dedication, intelligence, and ingenuity will leave your students in awe! Mae has done several interviews regarding her journey to space which you can find on YouTube.
A is for Awesome is a boardbook that shares brief stories of 23 women who changed the world. Students will be captivated by the illustrations in this book and will find familiar faces and some who they may not yet know. This is a cute, quick read that is great for introducing a women’s biography project if you’re working on one this school year!
Wangari Maathai’s story is just unbelievable. She is a Nobel Peace Prize winner who founded the Greenbelt Movement. Wangari grew up in Kenya which was once covered in green as far as you could see. As Wangari grew, the land changed. More and more greenery was removed every year. Wangari left her homeland and traveled to America to attend college. When she returned from college, the removal of trees had left the people of Kenya starving and the land barren. She knew she had to do something, and that she did! The illustrations and story within this book will leave students inspired!
Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code is a great book to represent women in STEM within your classroom library. Grace Hopper is known as the mother of computer code. Students will be amazed to learn that their tablets and video games wouldn’t exist without Grace! This biographical tale of Hopper’s life shares a tale of a woman who was one of a kind in her field.
Some students will be shocked to learn that Malala’s story is so recent. Born in Pakistan, Malala was eager to learn, so much so that she secretly attended school and advocated for the education of young girls in the country. Malala believed that girls deserved the same education that boys received. This upset many people, and they tried to silence Malala’s activism. This did not stop her though, In fact, it inspired her to continue her activism. Free as a Bird is one of those books that make you say, “Wow!”
Maggie Gee was inspired by her favorite pilot, Amelia Earhart. However, in the 1930s, it was very rare for a woman to become a pilot. Maggie didn’t let that stop her though. She was dedicated and became one of only two Chinese American women to serve in the Airforce in WWII.
Most students will have seen or heard of the Vietnam Memorial Wall, but they may not know much about the architect behind the piece. Maya Lin was the daughter of a clay artist and a poet. She learned at a young age that it was important to think critically but also to work with her hands. Maya is considered a visionary, and this book will entertain all your students, but especially your artistically inclined ones.
Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden are the Hidden Figures in this fantastic children’s rendition of this iconic story. These ladies battled the adversity of being black women in high power roles during the 1960s. Their calculations helped America achieve its first journey to space. This is a tale of four African American women who overcame gender and racial barriers to succeed in highly challenging STEM-based careers.
Temple Gradin was diagnosed with Autism at a young age. The prognosis was that she may never learn to communicate, but she surely proved the doctors wrong. Temple has become one of the most renowned women in modern science. An animal lover, Temple has created innovative ways to improve farms around the globe. The Girl Who Thought In Pictures is a great book to introduce students to figures different than their neurotypical peers.
The story of Wilma Rudolph is simply astounding. Wilma not only overcame polio as a child but went on to become one of the most winning black female Olympians. Wilma’s family was told she would never walk again when she was just 5 years old. That didn’t stop Wilma though. Not only did she learn to walk with braces, she eventually worked so hard that she no longer needed them. Wilma’s story will surely have your students at the edge of their seats. This is a great book to teach character traits!
Mary Anning’s life is one that sounds like it could be straight out of a Hollywood film. As a baby, Mary was struck by lightning. The rare events didn’t stop there though. As a young child, Mary found a fossilized sea monster which was considered a significant discovery for the time. Mary Anning went on to be a renowned paleontologist and this book beautifully illustrates her journey through its illustrations and narration.
The Watcher details Jane Goodall’s life from her childhood in London all the way up through today. Students will enjoy hearing about Jane’s time in Tanzania where she lived within the now endangered chimpanzee habitat. I love sharing this book with students as it is so relevant to today. Jane is still active as ever promoting sustainable lifestyles, and of course, the protection of chimpanzees.
Amalia Hernández was inspired by dancers ever since she was a little girl. She knew that someday it would be her dressed in a beautiful gown, spinning away on the stage. Amalia began studying ballet and modern dance but what she really loved were the folk dances of her childhood. As she grew older, Amalia began traveling throughout Mexico and studying the styles of dance from each region. This inspired Alamia to open her own dance studio named el Ballet Folklórico de México.
Before hitting the mats, Simone Biles spent time in foster care as a young girl. At six, she was adopted along with her sister by her grandparents. It was her grandparents who introduced her to gymnastics, and as we know, the rest is history! Simone has been a part of one of the most awarded gymnastic teams in Olympic history.
Emma Lilian Todd was one of those kids who just loved to tinker. She was constantly taking things apart and putting them back together. As an adult, Emma worked in the US patent office. Here, she would daydream about creating inventions. One of those inventions happened to be a flying machine. Emma’s dreams would soon become reality. The beautiful watercolor illustrations will keep students captivated while they enjoy this story by Kristen Larson.
Need a perfect pairing to go with these mentor texts? My Women’s History Month Literacy Set Print and Digital Distance Learning contains:
- 12 passages that focus on Main Idea, Text Evidence, Cause and Effect, Inferences, Close Reading, and Point of View
- 3 Main Idea matching pages
- 32 mini-biography shades of meaning (vocabulary) task cards
- A poetry activity
- A timeline activity
Why you’ll love it?
- The materials are easy to prep and to use.
- The print and digital formats give you lots of options for teaching and learning
- The digital version is NO PREP and some of the unit is self-grading in Google Forms (Task Cards, Context Clues, Figurative Language, Main Idea Matching)
- You’ll be able to integrate reading and social studies.
- Students love to learn using thematic materials!
- This literacy set hits standards while being engaging.
- It includes many reading and writing skills with different types of resources to keep learning fun!
- There are so many ways to use this resource, as guided reading, reading workshop, independent work, homework, literacy centers, substitute plans, and more!!!
Are you interested in more classroom ideas? Check out these blogs!