The Wonder of Women: Ten nonfiction picture book biographies

The Wonder of Women #nf10for10 event There's a Book for That Picture Book Biographies

Nonfiction 10 for 10 event is back for year two! I welcome any opportunity to celebrate fantastic nonfiction picture books. Thank you to Cathy Mere from Reflect and RefineMandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning  and Julie Balen of Write at the Edge for hosting this meme. Click here to read all of the top ten lists shared.

Nonfiction 10 for 10

On Wednesdays, Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy also hosts the #nfpb2014 event where bloggers can link up to share nonfiction picture book titles. As always, thanks to Alyson for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2014! Go here for this link up.

NFPB 2014

Last year for #nf10for10 I shared favourite nonfiction titles – many that I have used with my class over the last few years in a variety of ways.

This year, I chose to focus on nonfiction picture book biographies that feature inspiring women. I have read numerous biographies to my class this year – including some of the titles below. I am very conscious of making sure my students are exposed to both inspiring women and men. These stories spark so much wonder, discussion and learning.

In honour of wonderful women . . .

Me . . . Jane by Patrick McDonnell

The brilliant Patrick McDonnell won a Caldecott Honor for this title for very good reason. It is an absolute detailed dream of the little girl who grew up to be the inspiring Jane Goodall. Little Jane drags her stuffed monkey Jubilee through the woods, around the farm and all about the great outdoors. We see sketches from Jane’s own nature journals. We learn about her lifetime passion for animals. We hear about her dreams to go to Africa. And then it is so . . . Jane’s dreams really did come true.

The Wonder of Women #nf10for10 event There's a Book for That Picture Book Biographies

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire A Nivola

A wonderful read aloud to share with upper primary (and older) students about finding your passion and making it your life’s work. I love this book for many reasons. The depiction of Earle’s curious childhood in the water, descriptions of moments in her life that truly shaped and changed her, beautiful and enticing illustrations and this very important message: “You can’t care if you don’t know.” In this story, this message applies to ecology and caring for our natural world but it is a message that applies to so many things. One worth thinking a lot about.

The Wonder of Women #nf10for10 event There's a Book for That Picture Book Biographies

Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell written by Tanya Lee Stone and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman

I love the style of this book – the visual style and the appealing narration. It makes the story both interesting and accessible for young readers. And what a story! An important biography about determination, changing general opinion and beliefs and following a dream. While I want all of my students to hear this story (I have purchased my own copy for my picture book biography collection), there are some children that I specifically have in mind who will rejoice in the messages of this book.

The Wonder of Women #nf10for10 event There's a Book for That Picture Book Biographies

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Maker’s Strike of 1909 written by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet

A fabulous story made even more spectacular by Melissa Sweet’s illustrations. This book tells the story of Clara Lemlich who was instrumental in the labour movement in the garment industry in the early 1900s. Introduces children to themes of work place safety, worker’s rights and individual strength and resolve.

The Wonder of Women #nf10for10 event There's a Book for That Picture Book Biographies

The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkins and illustrated by Jill McElmurry

I will admit that I bought this book because I was captured by its gorgeous cover and I knew it was about an inspirational woman who transformed an entire city. Love it for its passionate celebration of nature. For its gorgeous illustrations. Or for its important historical journey back in time beginning in the 1860s with a little girl named Katherine Olivia Sessions. A little girl who brought lush, green life to the city of San Diego. A woman who studied science when other women and girls did not. A woman who took what she had learned it and applied it in the most important of ways and brought a city to life. And oh, that cover . . .

The Wonder of Women #nf10for10 event There's a Book for That Picture Book Biographies

Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills written by Renee Watson and illustrated by Christian Robinson

Not only a glimpse into the life of Harlem Renaissance singer Florence Mills but a story of courage, commitment and the power to make change.

The Wonder of Women #nf10for10 event There's a Book for That Picture Book Biographies

 Miss Moore Thought Otherwise: How Anne Carroll Moore created Libraries for Children written by Jan Pinborough and illustrated by Debby Atwell

Well. . . Anne Carroll Moore now has superhero status as far as I am concerned. Loved this story of how one woman acted as a champion for children’s access to books, libraries and beautiful spaces. Moore opened the first children’s room in the New York Public Library. She made that this was truly a place for children full of art, natural collections, story tellers and most importantly books and children to read and celebrate them.

The Wonder of Women #nf10for10 event There's a Book for That Picture Book Biographies

 Miss Dorothy and her Bookmobile written by Gloria Houston and illustrated by Susan Condie Lamb

Such an inspiring story about Dorothy Thomas, an absolute book hero. Dorothy’s dreams of a fine brick building where she could be librarian never materialized. But her role in bringing books to a community was huge. True testament to how books change lives and connect community.

The Wonder of Women #nf10for10 event There's a Book for That Picture Book Biographies

Queen of the Falls by Chris VanAllsburg 

How could a 62 year old woman plan and execute a stunt such as going over Niagara Falls in a barrel? Here is the story of Annie Edson Taylor, determined to make her fortune by being the first person to go over the falls.  A compelling and sad story. This blurs nonfiction and fiction as it is told by master story teller VanAllsburg but I feel it has enough connection to Taylor and the events surrounding this stunt to make it fit the nonfiction category.

The Wonder of Women #nf10for10 event There's a Book for That Picture Book Biographies

Helen’s Big World The Life of Helen Keller  written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Matt Tavares

What an incredibly inspirational book about Helen Keller and her brilliant teacher Annie Sullivan. This book has quotations by Keller on every page. Beautifully, beautifully illustrated. What an amazing relationship between teacher and student. What a tribute to the power of education. So much to this book.

The Wonder of Women #nf10for10 event There's a Book for That Picture Book Biographies

Thanks again to Cathy, Julie and Mandy for the inspiration and hosting this event!

Happy reading and sharing everyone! Hurray for nonfiction picture books!

33 thoughts on “The Wonder of Women: Ten nonfiction picture book biographies

  1. Just got the Miss Dorothy one from the library, Carrie. I know most of these, but still adore Me…Jane, for the story of course, & the format showing some of her journals, etc. These are all very good-do you have a favorite among these?

    • I have been thinking all day about which of these might be my favourite (saw your comment just as I was heading out the door this a.m.) And you know, on this list I just can’t name a favourite. Love so many of these titles for the high inspiration factor. I learned something important from each of them.

  2. Love, love, love!!!! Great theme and books. The only one I haven’t read is Miss Dorothy and Harlem’s Little Blackbird. I must fix that right away! 🙂 I mentioned this to Mandy, too, because she talked about girls – this list reminds me of the A Mighty Girl website!

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  4. love love love your list! A number of these that I want to get my hands on, but our library is limited and I can’t justify buying all of them. I also really appreciate that you were able to put together such a themed list.

    • Thanks Michelle. I hear you on the buying – I took many out from the library but ended up purchasing a few. It’s hard to know what needs to be part of a personal collection and what doesn’t. I really think about whether it is a title I will read multiple times and for multiple themes. And sometimes, I just can’t resist . . .

  5. I just love that you focused on women for this nonfiction challenge. I have filled up my Amazon cart so that my six year old daughter will have these books for inspiration. A million thank yous to you.

  6. Such a great collection! I keep seeing TREE LADY all over the internet and really need to hunt it down. I had never heard of LIFE IN THE OCEAN or MISS DOROTHY, but those sound like two I definitely need to know! Thanks so much!

  7. Carrie,
    As a mom of two daughters, I’m pleased to see the number of growing picture book titles with strong women characters. I’m glad authors have taken the time to share their amazing stories. I’m so glad you could join the round-up. You always share titles I can’t wait to read!


  8. Pingback: Monday February 24th, 2014 | There's a Book for That

  9. Hi–You might also be interested in the Amelia Bloomer Project. It’s a committee of the American Library Association’s Feminist Task Force which produces an annual, annotated bibliography of feminist titles for young readers. Current nominations and lists from previous years are on their blog:

  10. Pingback: Nonfiction Picture Book Wish list: July 2014 | There's a Book for That

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