80 Picture Book Biographies About Bold Black Women & Girls

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80 Picture Book Biographies About Bold Black Women & Girls


Women’s History Month is one of our favourite times of the year! We just love searching the internet up and down for multicultural children’s books about amazing women and girls.

You’ll be sure to find plenty of gems on this list of picture books biographies about bold Black women & girls!

80 Picture Book Biographies About Bold Black Women & Girls

Babies & Toddlers

Dream Big, Little One
by Vashti Harrison

Best Multicultural Picture Books of 2018: Dream Big, Little One

“Dream big, little one. / There’s so much you can do.” From Mae Jemison to Bessie Coleman, Dream Big, Little One features 18 trailblazing Black women in American history. This board book edition of instant bestseller Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History is the perfect goodnight read to inspire big dreams. ~ Babies & Toddlers

Be Bold, Baby: Michelle Obama
by Alison Oliver

Be Bold, Baby: Michelle Obama encourages the youngest readers to be bold, brilliant and authentic. This vibrantly illustrated board book shows the former First Lady’s most motivational and powerful moments and quotes. Each book in the series ends with a mirror. ~ Babies & Toddlers

Ella: My First Ella Fitzgerald
by Isabel Sanchez Vegara

Best Multicultural Picture Books of 2019: Ella

With stylish and quirky illustrations, Ella introduces the youngest dreamers to the First Lady of Song, from her early singing days on the streets of Harlem to her success as a jazz legend. Part of the Little People, Big Dreams series, this board book version of the international bestseller Ella Fitzgerald~ Babies & Toddlers

More books about female artists: 40 Multicultural Children’s Books About Fabulous Female Artists

Rosa: My First Rosa Parks
by Lisbeth Kaiser

New Multicultural Children's Books February 2019: Rosa

Another inspiring new board book in the Little People, Big Dreams series! In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man on a segregated bus, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Her courageous decision had a huge impact on civil rights, eventually leading to the end of segregation on public transport. ~ Babies & Toddlers



The Power of Her Pen: The Story of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne
by Lesa Cline-Ransome

“Somebody had to do the fighting, somebody had to speak up.” Ethel Payne always had an ear for stories. Her yearning for truth, justice even led her to the White House briefing room, where she broke barriers as the only black female journalist. Ethel wasn’t afraid to ask the tough questions of presidents, elected officials, or anyone else in charge, earning her the title “First Lady of the Black Press.”. The Power Of Her Pen is the inspiring story of a fearless and determined journalist who shined a light on some of the darkest moments in history. ~ Preschool

Related: 26 Multicultural Picture Books about Inspiring Women & Girls

The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes: The Story of Dr. Patricia Bath
by Julia Finley Mosca

Meet Dr. Bath — the scientist who never lost sight of her dreams! Growing up during the Civil Rights Movement, Patricia Bath was determined to become a doctor. Despite the racism, poverty, and sexism that threatened this goal, she persevered. With rhyming text and vivid pictures, The Doctor With An Eye For Eyes tells the inspiring story of the scientist who found a game-changing treatment for blindness. ~ Preschool

Related: 50+ Multicultural STEAM Books for Children

Brave Ballerina: The Story of Janet Collins
by Michelle Meadows

New Black History Children's Books 2019: Brave Ballerina

“This is the girl / who danced in the breeze / to the swoosh, swoosh, swoosh / of towering trees.” This lyrical picture book tells the story of Janet Collins, the first Black principal dancer at the Metropolitan Opera House. In the 1930s and 40s, Collins was determined to become a ballerina, despite facing racial discrimination. When she was accepted into the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo on the condition that she paint her skin white for performances, Janet refused. Brave Ballerina will inspire young readers to go after their dreams without compromising their values. ~ Preschool

Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Make You a Pie: A Story About Edna Lewis
by Robbin Gourley

“But I have never tasted meat, / nor cabbage, corn, or beans, / nor milk or tea that’s half as sweet / as that first mess of greens.” Long before the natural-food movement gained popularity, Edna Lewis championed purity of ingredients, regional cuisine, and farm-to-table eating. Born in 1916, she was of the first renowned Black female chefs.With lyrical text and beautiful watercolour illustrations, Bring Me Some Apples And I’ll Make You A Pie traces the roots of Edna’s appreciation for the bounties of nature through the seasons. Includes five kid-friendly recipes. ~ Preschool

Beyoncé: Shine Your Light
by Sarah Warren

“Beyoncé was quiet. / A push-an-empty-swing kind of quiet. / That’s how most of the world saw her, until . . . one teacher looked closer.” With dazzling illustrations and powerful text, Beyoncé: Shine Your Light celebrates the icon’s rise from a shy little girl to a world-famous superstar. ~ Preschool

Related: 40 Multicultural Children’s Books About Fabulous Female Artists

Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina
by Lea Lyon & Alexandria LaFaye

After seeing Swan Lake on TV, all seven-year-old Sylvia wants is to become a ballerina. In 1950s America, however, there aren’t many ballet schools that accept children of colour. But with the help of the local bookmobile librarian Sylvia finds a book about ballet and starts teaching herself the basics of classical ballet. With lyrical text and appealing illustrations, Ready To Fly tells the empowering story of a determined young girl who makes her dreams come true against all odds. Includes a foreword from Sylvia Townsend, and a brief history of the bookmobile. ~ Preschool

Althea Gibson: The Story of Tennis’ Fleet-of-Foot Girl
by Megan Reid

In 1940’s Harlem Althea Gibson was the quickest, tallest, most fearless athlete — she just couldn’t sit still! The fleet-of-foot girl reigned supreme at every sport, from stickball with the boys and basketball with the girls to paddle tennis with anyone who would hit with her. But Althea wanted more: She knew she could be a tennis champion. Against all odds she eventually becoming the first black person to win a trophy at Wimbledon. With exuberant illustrations, Althea Gibson: The Story of Tennis’ Fleet-of-Foot Girl chronicles this spirited athlete’s journey. ~ Preschool

Fast Enough: Bessie Stringfield’s First Ride
by Joel Christian Gill

New Multicultural Children's Books February 2019: Fast Enough

We love Bessie Stringfield! Such a cool lady! Bessie Stringfield was the first African-American woman to travel solo across the U.S. on a motorcycle. Fast Enough combines a fictional story of young Bessie with historical facts about her as an adult. Bessie Stringfield was the first Black woman to travel solo across the United States on a motorcycle. She was a true adventurer, daring to ride to places unsafe for African Americans in the 1930s and ’40s. ~ Preschool

More books about amazing women & girls: 26 Multicultural Picture Books about Inspiring Women & Girls

The Story Of Ruby Bridges
by Robert Coles

Multicultural Children's Books for Black History Month: The Story Of Ruby Bridges

In 1960 a judge orders little Ruby to attend first grade at William Frantz Elementary, an all-white school in New Orleans. Surrounded by Federal Marshalls, Ruby faces angry mobs of segregationists as she walks through the school door on her first day (and many after). Being the only student in her class she is taught by a supportive teacher. With simple text and engaging watercolor illustrations, The Story of Ruby Bridges is a moving picture book about a little girl’s calm perseverance and gracious forgiveness in the ugly face of hate and racism. ~ Preschool

Ice Breaker: How Mabel Fairbanks Changed Figure Skating
by Rose Viña

In the 1930s, only white figure skaters were allowed in public ice rinks and to compete for gold medals, but Mabel Fairbanks wouldn’t let that stop her. With skates two sizes too big and a heart full of dreams, Mabel beat the odds and broke down colour barriers through sheer determination and athletic skill. Ice Breaker tells the fascinating story of the first African-American woman to be inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame. ~ Preschool

Mae Among the Stars
by Roda Ahmed

New Picture Books about Black History: Mae Among The Stars

“When Little Mae was a child, she dreamed of dancing in space. She imagined herself surrounded by billions of stars, floating, gliding, and discovering.” Based on the life of Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to travel in space, Mae Among The Stars tells the story of how Mae’s curiosity, intelligence, and determination, matched with her parents’ encouraging words, paved the way for her incredible success at NASA. ~ Preschool

Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa
by Jeanette Winter

Multicultural Picture Books about Strong Female Role Models: Wangari's Trees of Peace

“People are fighting over water, over food…/ we plant the seeds of peace.” Wangari’s Trees of Peace tells the inspiring story of Kenyan environmentalist, Women’s Rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai. When Wangari returns home from studying in the US, she is shocked to see whole forests being cut down, so he starts planting trees and soon inspires great change. ~ Preschool

More books about the environment: 22 Multicultural Children’s Books for Earth Day

The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read
by Rita Lorraine Hubbard

Imagine learning to read at the age of 116! The Oldest Student follows the life of Mary Walker who did just that. Born into slavery in 1848, Mary was freed at age 15, and married and expecting her first child at age 20. By age 68, she had worked numerous jobs, including cooking, cleaning, babysitting, and selling sandwiches. At 114, she was the last remaining member of her family. And at 116, she learned to read. With stunning illustrations by Oge More, this is the inspirational story of a woman whose long life spanned from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement. ~ Preschool

Related: 55 Multicultural Picture Books About Strong Female Role Models

Nina: Jazz Legend and Civil-Rights Activist Nina Simone
by Alice Brière-Haquet

New Picture Books about Black History: Nina

Nina is a stunning picture book about jazz legend and civil rights activist Nina Simone, one of the greatest voices of the 20th century. In the form of a lullaby to her daughter, the book introduces young readers to  Simone’s early life, her career and her activism, and the struggles she faced as a Black woman. The poignant story is perfectly complemented by the vivid black-and-white illustrations. ~ Preschool

More Books about Jazz: 18 Multicultural Children’s Books about Jazz

Elementary School

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks
by Cynthia Levinson

Multicultural Picture Books about Strong Female Role Models: The Youngest Marcher

9-year-old Audrey Faye Hendricks was the youngest known child to be arrested for a civil rights protest. Wanting to be able to do things like anybody else, she joined a march against segregation laws in Alabama in 1963. The Youngest Marcher is an inspiring picture book that shows that you’re never too little to make a difference. ~ Elementary School

Queen of the Track: Alice Coachman, Olympic High-Jump Champion
by Heather Lang

When Alice Coachman was a girl, most white people wouldn’t even shake her hand. Yet when the King of England placed an Olympic medal around her neck, he extended his hand to Alice in congratulations. Standing on a podium in London’s Wembley Stadium in 1948, Alice was a long way from the fields of Georgia where she ran barefoot as a child. With a record-breaking leap, she had become the first African-American woman to win an Olympic gold medal. Queen Of The Track is an inspirational picture book of perseverance and unwavering ambition. ~ Elementary School

by Misty Copeland

Multicultural Picture Books about Inspiring Women & Girls: Firebird

In her debut picture book, famous African American ballet soloist Misty Copeland enters a poetic dialogue with a young aspiring dancer who is lacking confidence. Copeland encourages the young girl to believe in herself and follow her dreams. “I was a dancer just like you,” Misty tells her, “a dreaming shooting star of a girl with work and worlds ahead.” Stunningly illustrated, Firebird is an inspirational picture book for any girl wanting to follow her dream. ~ Elementary School

Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott
by Dee Romito

Georgia Gilmore was a cook at the National Lunch Company in Montgomery, Alabama. When the bus boycotts broke out in Montgomery after Rosa Parks was arrested, Georgia organized a group of women who cooked and baked to fund-raise for gas and cars to help sustain the boycott. Called the Club from Nowhere, Georgia was the only person who knew who baked and bought the food, and she said the money came from “nowhere” to anyone who asked. Pies From Nowhere highlights a hidden figure of the civil rights movement whose passion for baking helped the Montgomery Bus Boycott achieve its goal. Includes one of Georgia’s delicious recipes. ~ Elementary School

I Am a Promise
by Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce

Shelly Ann’s grandmother tells her early on that she is a promise. With this encouragement, the young runner goes on to become a six-time Olympic medal winner and the fastest woman in the world in 2012. I Am Promise tells Shelly Ann’s story from her childhood a tough inner-city community Kingston, Jamaica, through her development as a young athlete, to her first Olympic gold medal in the 100-meter sprint in 2008. An inspiring read that will encourage young readers to believe in themselves and follow their dreams! ~ Elementary School

Harriet Tubman // Wilma Rudolph // Maya Angelou
by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara

New Multicultural Children's Books June 2019 New Multicultural Children's Books June 2019

These are our favourite books in the critically acclaimed Little People, BIG DREAMS series! Harriet Tubman tells the story of the Underground Railroad conductor who helped thousands of slaves escape to freedom; Wilma Rudolph is the story of the remarkable sprinter and Olympic champion; and Maya Angelou puts the spotlight on the famous poet.These inspiring picture books feature stylish and quirky illustrations and a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile. ~ Elementary School

More books about inspiring women: 26 Multicultural Picture Books about Inspiring Women & Girls // 55 Multicultural Picture Books About Strong Female Role Models // 30 Diverse Children’s Anthologies About Trailblazing Women

Sisters: Venus & Serena Williams
by Jeanette Winter

New Multicultural Children's Books April 2019

Before they were famous tennis stars, Venus and Serena Williams were sisters with big dreams growing up in Compton, California. In the early mornings, they head to the tennis courts, clean up debris, and practice. They compete in their first tournament and they both win. Sisters is an inspiring picture book about two of the greatest tennis players of all time who followed their dream despite adversity and health challenges. ~ Elementary School

A Computer Called Katherine
by Suzanne Slade 

Best Multicultural Picture Books of 2019

Katherine knew it was wrong that African Americans didn’t have the same rights as others. She knew it was wrong that people thought women could only be teachers or nurses. And she proved everyone wrong by zooming ahead of her classmates, starting college at fifteen, and eventually joining NASA. Vibrantly illustrated A Computer Called Katherine is the inspiring true story of NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson whose calculations helped pioneer America’s first manned flight into space and to the moon. ~ Elementary School

More books about female trailblazers: 30 Diverse Children’s Anthologies About Trailblazing Women

A Voice Named Aretha
by Katheryn Russell-Brown

Long before Aretha Franklin became the Queen of Soul, she was a shy little girl with a voice so powerful it made people jump up, sway, and hum along. When she moved to New York City to start her career, it took years of hard work before she had a hit song. In the turbulent 1960s, she sang about “Respect” and refused to perform before segregated audiences. Vibrantly illustrated A Voice Named Aretha is the inspiring story of the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. ~ Elementary School

Related: 40 Multicultural Children’s Books About Fabulous Female Artists

Sewing Stories: Harriet Powers’ Journey from Slave to Artist
by Barbara Herkert

Multicultural Picture Books about Strong Female Role Models: Sewing Stories

As a young slave on a Georgia plantation, Harriet Powers learned to sew and quilt. She lived through the Civil War and Reconstruction, and eventually owned a cotton farm. Using each square to illustrate Bible stories and local legends, she began making pictorial quilts which she exhibited her at local cotton fairs. With lyrical text and colourful patchwork illustrations, Sewing Stories tells the story of this important African American folk artist. ~ Elementary School

Harlem’s Little Blackbird
by Renee Watson

Multicultural Picture Books about Inspiring Women & Girls: Harlem's Little Blackbird

Florence Mills, an African American singer born in 1896, was known as Harlem’s Little Blackbird. The picture book follows Mills from singing with her mother to breaking into the musical world. Despite her success, Mills declined the role of a lifetime and chose to perform in all-black musicals only. An empowering book about an amazing woman who is remarkable for her talent as well as her generosity and faith. ~ Elementary School

Mamie on the Mound: A Woman in Baseball’s Negro Leagues
by Leah Henderson

Mamie “Peanut” Johnson dreamed of playing professional baseball. She was talented, but she wasn’t welcome in the segregated All-American Girls Pro Baseball League. But then a greater opportunity came her way in 1953 when she was signed to play for the Negro Leagues’ Indianapolis Clowns, becoming the first female pitcher to play on a men’s professional team. Mamie On The  Mound is a captivating story of passion and persistence. ~ Elementary School

Before She was Harriet
by Lesa Cline-Ransome

New Picture Books about Black History: Before She Was Harriet

Many picture books about Harriet Tubman have been written but as far as I know, none has focused on the many names she was known by. As General Tubman, she was a Union spy. As Moses, she led hundreds to freedom on the Underground Railroad. As Minty, she was a slave whose spirit could not be broken. Written in verse and illustrated with expressive watercolour paintings, Before She Was Harriet is a beautiful tribute to one of the most humble, courageous and compassionate figures in Black History.  ~ Elementary School

More Multicultural Books about Iconic Women: 32 Multicultural Picture Books About Strong Female Role Models

Sweet Dreams, Sarah
by Vivian Kirkfield

New Multicultural Children's Books April 2019

After the abolition of slavery, Sarah E. Goode opened her own furniture. She soon recognized the need for multifunctional furniture for her poorer customers who didn’t have much space. With hard work and determination, Sarah succeeded in inventing her unique cupboard bed and getting it patented. Sweet Dreams, Sarah is the inspiring story of one of the first African-American women to get a U.S. patent. ~ Elementary School

Vision of Beauty: The Story of Sarah Breedlove Walker
by Kathryn Lasky

Multicultural Picture Books about Strong Female Role Models: Vision of Beauty

Born just after slavery ended and orphaned at age seven, Sarah Breedlove Walker went on to become the richest African American woman of her time. Going bald as a young woman from years of poor nutrition and hard labour, she created a formula to restore the health of both hair and scalp and built her business into the Mme. C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company, one of the biggest companies in America. Rich in historical detail and with expressive illustrations, Visions of Beauty is the rags-to-riches tale of a powerful role model for girls and women of all races. ~ Elementary School

Serena: The Littlest Sister
by Karlin Gray

New Multicultural Children's Books May 2019

Serena Williams is one of the biggest names in sports, but she grew up the littlest of five sisters. While sharing a room and playing tennis with her older sisters, Serena had to figure out how to be her own person―on and off the court. Boldly illustrated Serena: The Littlest Sister is an inspiring biography about family, determination and finding your own path. ~ Elementary School

More books about siblings: 20 Multicultural Picture Books about new siblings

Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson
by Leda Schubert

New Picture Books about Black History: Trailblazer

Trailblazer is the little-known story of Raven Wilkinson, the first African American woman to dance for a major classical ballet company. With engaging text and cartoon-style illustrations, this inspiring picture book tells of Wilkinson’s determination and struggles as she pursues her childhood dream of becoming a ballerina. Includes a foreword by Misty Copeland, a personal note from Wilkinson, a glossary of ballet terms, and a bibliography. ~ Elementary School

Libba: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten
by Laura Veirs

New Picture Books about Black History: Libba

“Like a train plays rhythms on the track, / Libba made the notes go up and down.” As a young girl, Elizabeth Cotten taught herself how to play her brother’s guitar even though it wasn’t strung right for her (she was left-handed). By age eleven, she had written “Freight Train,” a folk song that became a huge international success. With lyrical text and evocative drawings, Libba tells the story of one of the most celebrated American folk musicians of all time. ~ Elementary School

More Books about Inspiring Women: 26 Multicultural Picture Books about Inspiring Women & Girls

The Legendary Miss Lena Horne
by Carole Boston Weatherford

Multicultural Picture Books about Strong Female Role Models: The Legendary Miss Lena Horne

“You have to be taught to be second class; you’re not born that way.” Born into a family of teachers and activists. Lena Horne followed her dream to become an actress, despite facing racial discrimination, and many stereotypes. The Legendary Miss Lena Horne is an inspiring and beautifully illustrated picture book that celebrates the life of the pioneering African American actress and civil rights activist. ~ Elementary School

Art From Her Heart: Folk Artist Clementine Hunter
by Kathy Whitehead

Multicultural Picture Books about Strong Female Role Models: Art From Her Heart

Imagine being an artist who isn’t allowed into your own show. That’s what happened to folk artist Clementine Hunter. Her paintings of southern farm life went from hanging on her clothesline to hanging in museums, yet because of the colour of her skin, a friend had to sneak her in when the gallery was closed. With lyrical writing and striking illustrations, Art From The Heart introduces children to the life and work of this amazing self-taught artist. ~ Elementary School

The Little Piano Girl: The Story of Mary Lou Williams, Jazz Legend
by Ann Ingalls

Multicultural Picture Books about Inspiring Women & Girls: The Little Piano Girl

Another stunning picture book biography about a female jazz legend! Mary Lou Williams started playing the piano when she was only four years old; at eight she became a professional musician. One of the most powerful women in jazz, Williams wrote and arranged music for Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. The Little Piano Girl tells the story of her childhood in Pittsburgh. ~ Elementary School

Mahalia Jackson: Walking with Kings and Queens
by Nina Nolan

Multicultural Children's Books About Fabulous Female Artists: Mahalia Jackson

With gorgeous illustrations, Mahalia Jackson captures the fascinating story of how the African American singer became the Queen of Gospel. Growing up under difficult circumstances, singing gospels always lifted the young girl’s spirits and made her feel special. Despite hardships, Mahalia went on to share her powerful voice with the world. Includes a timeline and further reading section. ~ Elementary School

Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees
by Franck Prévot

Multicultural Picture Books about Inspiring Women & Girls: Wangari Maathai

This beautiful picture book tells the story of Kenyan environmentalist and political activist Wangari Maathai. After studying in the US in the 1970s, she founded the Green Belt Movement in Kenya, a non-governmental organization focused on environmental conservation and women’s rights. Her NGO planted over thirty million trees in thirty years. Wangari Maathai received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. ~ Elementary School

Little Melba and Her Big Trombone
by Katheryn Russell-Brown

Multicultural Picture Books about Inspiring Women & Girls: Little Melba and her Big Trombone

Little Melba and Her Big Tombrone tells the story of music-loving Melba Doretta Liston who taught herself to play the tombrone. Despite facing race and gender discrimination, unsung hero Melba became a famous trombone player and song arranger for jazz legends Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Billie Holiday, to name but a few.  ~ Elementary School

In Her Hands: The Story of Sculptor Augusta Savage
by Professor Alan Schroeder

Multicultural Picture Books about Inspiring Women & Girls: In Her Hands

In 1890s Florida, all young Augusta wants to do is sculpt little clay figures. Overcoming many obstacles, she moves to New York City to follow her dream of becoming an artist. With captivating warm paintings, In Her Hands is a compelling picture book biography of the unique Harlem Renaissance sculptor. ~ Elementary School

She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story
by Audrey Vernick

Multicultural Picture Books about Inspiring Women & Girls: She Loved Baseball

Growing up in the early 1900s in Philadelphia, Effa Manley loved playing baseball. She later founded the African American Newark Eagles Team and became a tireless champion for her player’s rights, from fair salaries in the integrated major-league teams to their recognition in the Baseball Hall of Fame. She Loved Baseball is a vibrant tribute to the first – and only – woman ever inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. ~ Elementary School

Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald
by Roxane Orgill

Multicultural Picture Books about Inspiring Women & Girls: Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat

Orphaned, with raggedy clothes and often no place to spend the night, Ella Fitzgerald dances on the streets for small change. One amateur night at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, she discovers her singing voice. Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat follows Ella from her tough childhood and youth all the way to her number-one radio hit “A-Tisket, A-Tasket.” ~ Elementary School

Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century
by Carole Boston Weatherford

Multicultural Picture Books about Strong Female Role Models: Leontyne Price

Born in Mississippi in 1927, Leontyne Price surrounded herself with church hymns and hallelujahs, soaked up opera arias on the radio, and watched the great Marian Anderson on stage. While racism made it unlikely that a poor black girl from the South would pursue an opera career, Leontyne’s wondrous voice and unconquerable spirit prevailed. Leontyne was soon recognized and celebrated for her leading roles at the Metropolitan Opera and around the world. Leontyne Price is a stunning picture book biography about the iconic African American opera star. ~ Elementary School

Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells: The Daring Life of a Crusading Journalist
by Philip Dray

Multicultural Picture Books about Strong Female Role Models: Yours for Justiice

When Ida B. Wells was not yet two years old, the Emancipation Proclamation freed her from slavery. Strong willed and compassionate, Ida grew up never turning away from challenges. She held her family together after the death of her parents, went to court when a railroad company infringed on her rights and used her position as a journalist to speak out about injustice. But Ida’s greatest challenge arose after one of her friends was lynched. Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells tells the inspirational story of this important figure in American history. ~ Elementary School

Oprah: The Little Speaker
by Carole Boston Weatherford

Multicultural Picture Books about Strong Female Role Models: Oprah

At age three, Oprah began performing in churches, becoming known to adoring crowds as the Little Speaker. When she was asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she answered, “I want to be paid to talk.” Oprah: The Little Speaker is the story of Oprah Winfrey’s childhood, a story about a little girl on a Mississippi pig farm who grew up to be the “Queen of Talk.” ~ Elementary School

Swing Sisters: The Story of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm
by Karen Deans

Multicultural Picture Books about Inspiring Women & Girls: Swing Sisters

Swing Sisters is a vibrant tribute to the famous all-female jazz band International Sweethearts of Rhythm, founded in a home for African American orphans in 1939. When they left the home and moved to Washington,The Sweethearts took on musicians of many races and nationalities and – despite facing race and gender discrimination – became an international sensation. ~ Elementary School

Coretta Scott
by Ntozake Shange

Multicultural Picture Books about Inspiring Women & Girls: Coretta Scott

Stunningly illustrated with Nelson’s trademark full-page portraits, Coretta Scott follows the life of the ‘First Lady of Civil Rights’, from walking many miles to school in the segregated south to the peaceful march on Washington. Together with her husband, Martin Luther King Jr., Scott gave birth to a vision of change through peaceful protest. ~ Elementary School

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker
by Patricia Hruby Powell

Multicultural Picture Books about Strong Female Role Models: Josephine Baker

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker is a detailed portrait (104 pages!) of the legendary performer and civil rights activist. In lively free-verse, complemented by colourful acrylic illustrations, the picture book tells of the struggles and triumphs of this extraordinary woman and important figure of the Harlem Renaissance who worked her way from the slums of St. Louis to the grandest stages of the world. ~ Elementary School

More books about the Harlem Renaissance: 15 Children’s Books about the Harlem Renaissance

Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman
by Kathleen Krull

Multicultural Picture Books about Inspiring Women & Girls: Wilma Unlimited

Wilma Unlimited is a dramatic and inspiring picture book biography about ‘the world’s fastest woman’, Wilma Rudolph. With polio paralyzing her left leg at age 5, Wilma vowed not only to walk again but to run. And run she did! In 1960 the African American athlete became the first American woman to win three gold medals in a single Olympiad. ~ Elementary School

Nobody Owns the Sky: The Story of “Brave Bessie” Coleman
by Reeve Lindbergh

Multicultural Picture Books about Inspiring Women & Girls: Nobody Owns The Sky

Told in verse, Nobody Owns The Sky tells the story of Bessie Coleman, the first licensed African American aviator. Chances of becoming a pilot were slim for a young black woman in the 1920s, but ‘Brave Bessie’ persevered. The bright folk-art style illustrations detail Bessie’s world, from the Texas cotton fields of her childhood to Chicago’s vibrant African American community during World War I, and Paris in the 1920s. ~ Elementary School

A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks
by Alice Faye Duncan

New Black History Children's Books 2019: A Song For Gwendolyn Brooks

“Sing a song for Gwendolyn Brooks. / Sing it loud – a Chicago blues.” Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, Gwendolyn Brooks’ passion was reading and writing. She ultimately published 20 books of poetry, two autobiographies, and one novel, and became the first Black author to win the Pulitzer Prize. A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks celebrates the life and work of this witty poet whose poems captured the urban Black experience and the role of women in society. ~ Elementary School

More poetry books: 26 Multicultural Poetry Books for Children aged 0 to 10

One Plastic Bag
by Miranda Paul

Multicultural Picture Books about Strong Female Role Models: One Plastic Bag

One Plastic Bag tells the inspiring story of Isatou Ceesay, the “Queen of Plastic Recycling of The Gambia”. Concerned about the amounts of plastic bags that were littering her village, Isatou started collecting them and crocheting them into purses. Her project became known internationally and brought environmental change as well as economic empowerment to the women in her community. ~ Elementary School

More books about the environment: 22 Multicultural Children’s Books for Earth Day

Molly, by Golly!: The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter
by Dianne Ochiltree

Multicultural Picture Books about Inspiring Women & Girls: Molly by Golly

Set in New York City during the 1818 blizzard, Molly, by Golly! chronicles the story of African American Molly Williams who became the first female firefighter in US history. Working as a cook for the fire department, Molly helps put out a house fire when many of the firefighting volunteers are sick with influenza, earning the nickname Volunteer Number 11. ~ Elementary School

Mama Africa!: How Miriam Makeba Spread Hope with Her Song
by Kathryn Erskine

Multicultural Children's Books About Fabulous Female Artists: Mama Africa!

“Music gets deep inside me and starts to shake things up!” Grammy Award-winning South African singer Miriam Mabeka rose to fame at the height of apartheid, the cruel South African segregation system. Known as Mama Africa, she raised her voice to help fight these injustices at jazz clubs in Johannesburg; in exile, at a rally beside Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.; and before the United Nations. With call-and-response style text and bold illustrations, Mama Africa! offers an intimate view of Mabeka’s fight for equality. ~ Elementary School

More books set in South Africa: 23 Children’s Books set in South Africa

Mumbet’s Declaration of Independence
by Gretchen Woelfle

Multicultural Picture Books about Inspiring Women & Girls: Mumbet's Declaration of Independence

“All men are born free and equal.” When slave Elizabeth “Mumbet” Freeman learns about this provision of The Massachusetts Constitution of 1780, she decides to fight for her right to freedom. Mumbet’s Declaration of Independence tells the story of this courageous woman who challenged the legality of owning another person and paved the road to ending slavery. ~ Elementary School

Born to Swing: Lil Hardin Armstrong’s Life in Jazz
by Mara Rockliff

New Picture Books about Black History: Born To Swing

From a young age, Lil Hardin loved jamming — at home, at church, and even at her first job in a music store. Unusual for a woman back then, she earned a spot playing piano in Chicago’s hottest band and achieved fame as a bandleader and composer, playing with some of the greatest jazz legends, including her husband Louis Armstrong. With dynamic illustrations and vivid text, Born to Swing captures Lil Hardin’s rhythm and passion beautifully. Includes archival images, a list of some of her songs and recordings, a timeline, an author’s note, and a bibliography.  ~ Elementary School

When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson
by Pam Munoz Ryan

Multicultural Picture Books about Inspiring Women & Girls: When Marian Sang

“With one breath she sounded like rain,/ sprinkling high notes in the morning sun./ And with the next she was thunder,/ resounding deep in a dark sky.” When Marian Sang traces the life of an extraordinary African-American diva whose debut with the Metropolitan Opera was delayed until she was 57 due to discrimination and racism. ~ Elementary School

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom
by Carole Boston Weatherford

Multicultural Picture Books about Inspiring Women & Girls: Moses

Moses is a poetic and moving portrait of one of the most inspiring figures of the Underground Railroad. After God tells her He means for her to be free, slave Harriet Tubman leaves her family and flees north. Nelson’s dramatic paintings depict her perilous journey, arrival in Philadelphia, and many later trips to guide others to freedom, earning her the name Moses. ~ Elementary School

Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13
by Helaine Becker

Young Katherine counted everything, from the steps up to church to the number of spoons she washed. Boundless, curious, and excited by calculations, she longed to know as much as she could about math and the universe. From Katherine’s early beginnings as a gifted student to her heroic accomplishments at NASA, Counting on Katherine tells the bold story of the mathematical genius who made sure that Apollo 13 returned home safely.  ~ Elementary School

What Do You Do with a Voice Like That?: The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan
by Chris Barton

From a young age, Barbara Jordan stood out for her big, bold, booming, crisp, clear, confident voice. It was a voice that made people sit up, stand up, and take notice. It was that voice that took her to places few African American women had been in the 1960s: first law school, then the Texas state senate, then up to the United States congress. What Do You Do With A Voice Like That? tells the inspiring story of a woman who persevered through adversity to give voice to the voiceless and to fight for civil rights, equality, and justice. ~ Elementary School

Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe
by Deborah Blumenthal

Multicultural Picture Books about Strong Female Role Models: Fancy Party Gowns

“Wisps of cloth would fall from their worktables like confetti, / and Ann would scoop them up and turn them into flowers / as bright as roses in the garden.” Fancy Party Gowns is a beautiful picture book about Ann Cole Lowe, a little-known black fashion designer who – despite hardship and discrimination – pursued her passion and went on to design party gowns for America’s high society, including Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress. ~ Elementary School

The Girl With a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague
by Julia Finley Mosca

Best Multicultural Picture Books of 2018: The Girl With A Mind For Math

After visiting a German submarine in the early 1940s, young Raye is determined to become an engineer. Despite facing gender and racial discrimination, the gifted mathematician persisted and gained her well-deserved recognition as a pioneer who changed the course of ship design forever. With rhyming text and cartoon-style illustrations, The Girl With a Mind for Math makes the remarkable story of Raye Montague accessible for young readers. Includes a complete biography, fun facts, a timeline of events, and a note from Montague herself. ~ Elementary School

More STEAM books: 50+ Multicultural STEAM Books for Children

Ona Judge Outwits the Washingtons: An Enslaved Woman Fights for Freedom
by Gwendolyn Hooks

Born into slavery at Mount Vernon, Ona seized the opportunity to escape when she was brought to live in President Washington’s mansion in Philadelphia. Ona fled to New Hampshire and started a new life. But the Washingtons wouldn’t give up easily and started a years-long manhunt. With vivid prose and expressive illustrations, Ona Judge Outwits The Washingtons captures the fascinating story of this brave woman. ~ Elementary School, Middle School

Stompin’ at the Savoy: The Story of Norma Miller
by Alan Govenar

Multicultural Children's Books About Fabulous Female Artists: Stompin' At The Savoy

Growing up behind New York’s Savoy Ballroom during the 1920’s Jazz Age and Harlem Renaissance, Norma Miller knew early in life that she wanted to be a dancer. At 12 years old, Norma brought the house down at the Savoy for the first time, swing-stepping with Twist Mouth George, one of the premier dancers of the day. Through extensive interviews with Norma Miller, Stompin’ at the Savoy tells the story of how the feisty dancer rose to international fame with humourous style and vibrant illustrations. ~ Elementary SchoolMiddle School

More books about jazz: 18 Multicultural Children’s Books about Jazz

More books about the Harlem Renaissance: 15 Children’s Books about the Harlem Renaissance

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