When I was growing up, history classes seemed to feature an endless stream of Great Men, and it was not until university that I discovered the exhilarating world of women’s history. October marks Women’s History Month in Canada, and it’s a time to celebrate the impact that women have had in shaping the history of our nation and beyond. With that in mind, consider reading one of these 10 women-centred children’s books to your daughters (and sons!) at bedtime, to raise up the next generation of little feminists.
The A-Z of Wonder Women, by Yvonne Lin | Available here
This small hardcover book is a dictionary of short biographies of inspiring women, organized in the sequence of the alphabet—for example, Benazir Bhutto (1953-2007), first democratically elected female leader of a Muslim country, and Grace O’Malley (1530-1603), Irish pirate extraordinaire.
It Began With a Page, by Kyo Maclear and Julie Morstad | Available here
This picture book tells the story of the legendary children’s book creator Gyo Fujikawa growing up as a young Japanese immigrant in America, and how she turned to drawing to escape the isolation she felt among the white children at school and through the troubles of WWII.
Alis the Aviator, by Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail and Kalpna Patel | Available here
Here, children are introduced to Alis the Aviator, aka Dr. Alis Kennedy, one of the first Indigenous women in Canada to become a commercial pilot. Alis the Aviator walks readers through a list of important planes from history—once again, in the order of the alphabet.
Dr. Jo: How Sara Josephine Baker Saved the Lives of America’s Children, by Monica Kulling and Julianna Swaney | Available here
This beautifully illustrated picture book brings to life the story of Sara Josephine Baker, who is inspired to become a doctor after the tragic death of her father and brother. She became a trailblazer in the medical field, revolutionizing how doctors approach treating children and babies.
5-Minute Stories for Fearless Girls, by Sarah Howden and Nick Craine | Available here
Important and fearless women make their appearance in this collection of short stories, such as Misty Copeland, the first African-American principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre, Viola Desmond, the civil rights activist whose portrait now graces our $10 bill, and Tanya Tagaq, an award-winning Inuk throat singer.
Malala’s Magic Pencil, by Malala Yousafzai and Kerascoët | Available here
Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize at 17 years old for her inspiring work advocating for girls’ education rights. In her first picture book, she introduces herself to readers and walks them through her childhood, hopes, and dreams.
Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World, by Vashti Harrison | Available here
In her follow-up to the popular Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, author Vashti Harrison celebrates the lives of women from around the world who were visionaries in their fields. It includes artists, scientists, and inventors such as Sister Corita Kent, a 20th-century American nun who created prints and watercolours to promote social justice, and Hypatia of Alexandria, an ancient Egyptian philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician.
A Computer Called Katherine, by Suzanne Slade and Veronica Miller Jamison | Available here
This picture book introduces children to Katherine Johnson (you may know her from the film Hidden Figures), the pioneering mathematician that worked for NASA, broke gender and racial barriers, and helped put the first American in space and the first person in the world on the moon.
Herstory: 50 Women and Girls Who Shook Up the World, by Katherine Halligan and Sarah Walsh | Available here
This hardcover tome features the lives of 50 women who shaped history, spanning the centuries from medieval military leaders like Saint Joan of Arc to 20th-century politicians like Indira Gandhi, the first and only female prime minister of India.
Our House Is on Fire, by Jeanette Winter | Available here
This picture book tells the story of teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg who has inspired a worldwide student climate change movement.