Women’s History Month is coming up in March, but before we get there, check out these picture book titles that honor women during National Women Inventor’s Month (February), National Girls and Women in Sports Day (February 7), and International Day of Women and Girls in Science (February 11). Some names may be familiar, but we are sure you’ll find some new women who inspire.

All titles are available through the Debra S Fish Early Childhood Resource Library, a branch of the St. Paul Public Library.

Children’s Titles

The Watcher Book cover image of girl looking through binoculars(Age Focus: 3 – 8 years)

Recipient of Best Book of the Year by the Boston Globe, Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, and the Bank Street College of Education

Acclaimed picture book biographer Jeanette Winter has found her perfect subject: Jane Goodall, the great observer of chimpanzees. Follow Jane from her childhood in London watching a robin on her windowsill, to her years in the African forests of Gombe, Tanzania, invited by brilliant scientist Louis Leakey to observe chimps, to her worldwide crusade to save these primates who are now in danger of extinction, and their habitat. Young animal lovers and Winter’s many fans will welcome this fascinating and moving portrait of an extraordinary person and the animals to whom she has dedicated her life.

The Doctor with an eye for eyes (Age focus: 4 – 9 years)

Recipient of Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Selection, NSTA Best STEM Books for K-12 Selection, and A Mighty Girl Book of the Year

As a girl coming of age during the Civil Rights Movement, Patricia Bath made it her mission to become a doctor. When obstacles like racism, poverty, and sexism threatened this goal, she persevered–brightening the world with a game-changing treatment for blindness!

The fastest girl on earth! Meet kitty o’neil, daredevil driver! (age focus: 3 – 8 years)

Kitty O’Neil was a force to be reckoned with. She became deaf as a child and grew up loving sports and action. Kitty jumped, ran, raced, and swam, all while learning to read lips and communicating through sign language. Eventually, Kitty took a job as a stuntwoman, doing the most dangerous job on set and even filming stunts for films like Wonder Woman!

Still, Kitty wanted more thrills. She became a racecar driver and sought to do what no woman had done before. She chose the aptly named Motivator and trained like a true champion. In 1976, Kitty and the Motivator broke the land speed record, racing at over 600 miles per hour! Kitty was a hero to fans everywhere and proved that she was truly unstoppable.

Maya and the beast (age focus: 3 – 8 years)

Young Maya is shy and often feels fragile and scared because of her asthma—except when she’s in the water. It’s the one place where she feels strong. While everyone else in her town is scared of “the Beast,” the giant wave heard all around the world as it crashes into the shoreline, Maya finds the noise comforting, the curves of the wave soothing. If she could only tame it, then everyone could see all the beauty it has to offer. With a pink surfboard and a determined heart, Maya will be the first girl to meet the Beast head-on.

Professional surfer Maya Gabeira, known for surfing Guinness World Record–breaking big waves, shares her story of resilience, defying expectations of women in sports, and daring to achieve the impossible.

Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom (Age Focus: 5 – 8 years)

Recipient of 2020 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature Picture Book, and an NCTE Orbis Pictus Recommended book

Meet Wu Chien Shiung, famous physicist who overcame prejudice to prove that she could be anything she wanted.

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.

Melia and Jo (Age Focus: 4 – 7 years)

Melia is scientific and loves to create things in her backyard laboratory, but something is missing. Her inventions just aren’t quite right. Enter Jo, her new friend with an artistic spirit. When you add the arts to sciences, something magical happens!


Trudy’s Big Swim: How Gertrude Ederle Swam the english channel and took the world by storm (age focus: 6 – 9 years)

On the morning of August 6, 1926, Gertrude Ederle stood in her bathing suit on the beach at Cape Gris-Nez, France, and faced the churning waves of the English Channel. Twenty-one miles across the perilous waterway, the English coastline beckoned. Lyrical text, stunning illustrations and fascinating back matter put the reader right alongside Ederle in her bid to be the first woman to swim the Channel—and contextualizes her record-smashing victory as a defining moment in sports history. Timeline, bibliography, source notes.

Joan procter, dragon doctor (age focus: 3 – 10)

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!

When Joan grew older, she became the Curator of Reptiles at the British Museum. She went on to design the Reptile House at the London Zoo, including a home for the rumored-to-be-vicious Komodo dragons. There, just like when she was a little girl, Joan hosted children’s tea parties–with her Komodo dragon as the guest of honor.

Lion on the inside: how one girl changed basketball (age focus: 5 – 8 years)

Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir first picked up a basketball at the age of three, and she’s been playing ever since. Living in a practicing-Muslim household, as she grew older, Bilqis followed her religious beliefs. She began wearing a hijab and practiced modesty on the court by covering all skin except her hands. Bilqis had a very successful high school career, scoring over 3000 points and breaking both men’s and women’s scoring records in Massachusetts. She played college basketball at the University of Memphis for four years and graduated magna cum laude with a degree in exercise science. Her goal was to continue playing professionally in Europe, but the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) rule prohibiting headgear larger than five inches ended that dream. Unwilling to play without her hijab, Bilqis chose faith over basketball and became an advocate. Working alongside other Muslim players, Bilqis raised her voice for the next generation and effectively forced FIBA to lift the ban.

Who says women can’t be computer programmers: the story of ada lovelace (age focus: 6 – 9 years)

Known as “The Enchantress of Numbers” by many inventors and mathematicians of the 19th century, Ada Lovelace is recognized today as history’s first computer programmer. Her work was an inspiration to such famous minds as Charles Babbage and Alan Turing. This is her story.