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Throughout March, cultural institutions, government organizations, and community groups are celebrating and honoring the achievements and contributions that women of all backgrounds have made throughout the history of the United States by remembering those who struggled for gender equity and by recognizing today’s history-makers and barrier-breakers.

The origins of Women’s History Month can be traced back to California, where the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission of the Status of Women organized the first-ever Women’s History Week in March 1978. Then in 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued a proclamation nationally recognizing Women’s History Week (March 2–8) for the first time ever, stating, “men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often, the women were unsung, and sometimes, their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength, and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well.” President Carter also quoted historian Gerda Lerner in his original proclamation: “Women’s history is women’s right—an essential, indispensable heritage from which we can draw pride, comfort, courage, and long-range vision.”

New York is rich with women’s history—for example, the first female doctor in the United States, Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, founded her practice, the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, in what is now Greenwich Village in Manhattan during the mid-1800s. Later, as the fight for women’s right to vote ramped up across the country, New York City served as the headquarters of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. In fact, many of the most prominent suffragists lived and worked in our state, including at the now-famous Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. Women then continued to make history in the City after the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment, as female authors, artists and musicians came to prominence during the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s and 30s, including sculptor Augusta Savage, and Broadway performer, Florence Mills. Then, when the second wave feminist movement kicked off during the 1960s and 70s, many of the movement’s leaders, such as Gloria Steinem and NYC Congresswomen Bella Abzug and Shirley Chisholm, called New York City their home as they renewed the fight for equal rights.

“Women’s history is women’s right—an essential, indispensable heritage from which we can draw pride, comfort, courage, and long-range vision.”

– Gerda Lerner, Historian

By recognizing Women’s History Month year after year, we honor Gerda Lerner’s celebration of “an essential, indispensable heritage” and help new generations of Americans understand the context and significance of women’s stories and accomplishments in broader U.S. history, including the long record of women’s activism and the fight for universal rights. This year’s theme for Women’s History Month is “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories,” which “honors women in every community who have devoted their lives and talents to producing arts, pursuing truth, and reflecting the human condition decade after decade.”

In celebration and support of this valuable heritage, we’ve put together the following list of books that families and educators can read aloud or assign to their students in grades 3-K through 12 throughout March and beyond. We hope students enjoy and learn from these outstanding titles—some of these texts are historical and non-fiction, while others are original works of fiction that feature female protagonists and/or feminist perspectives. Many of these books are readily available via the City’s public libraries (NYPL, BPL, and QPL), as well as through the Citywide Digital Library on Sora that’s open to NYC Public School students—check them out at your convenience, and let us know what you think about these works!

Have book recommendations you’d like to share? Please let us know in the comments section below!

Grandmother sitting on a bed reading a book to their granddaughter.

Many of the books placed on our booklists are great for read-alouds—see if you can find your child’s next favorite book below! (Photo by Mikhail Nilov. Used under Creative Commons license. Original can be found on Pexels.)


Women’s History Month Booklist for Young Readers

Early Elementary School (Grades 3-K through 2)

  • Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 by Helaine Becker; illustrated by Down Phumiruk
  • Cubs in the Tub: The True Story of the Bronx Zoo’s First Woman Zookeeper by Candace Fleming; art by Julie Downing
  • Dinosaur Lady: The Daring Discoveries of Mary Anning, the First Paleontologist by Linda Skeers; art by Marta Álvarez Miguéns
  • Eleanor, Quiet No More: The Life of Eleanor Roosevelt by Doreen Rappaport; art by Gary Kelley
  • Fall Down Seven Times, Stand Up Eight: Patsy Takemoto Mink and the Fight for Title IX by Jen Bryant; art by Toshiki Nakamura
  • Lights! Camera! Alice! The Thrilling True Adventures of the First Woman Filmmaker by Mara Rockliff; art by Simona Ciraolo
  • Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai; art by Kerascoët
  • The Power of Her Pen: The Story of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne by Lesa Cline-Ransome; art by John Parra
  • Secret Engineer: How Emily Roebling Built the Brooklyn Bridge by Rachel Dougherty
  • Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist by Jess Keating; art by Marta Álvarez Miguéns
  • Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride by Andrea Davis Pinkney; art by Brian Pinkney
  • Sylvia and Marsha Start a Revolution: The Story of the Trans Women of Color Who Made LGBTQ+ History by Joy Michael Ellison; art by Teshika Silver
  • Under My Hijab by Hena Khan; art by Aaliya Jaleel
  • Yayoi Kusama: From Here to Infinity by Sarah Suzuki; art by Ellen Weinstein

Book cover for Candace Fleming's "Cubs in the Tub: The True Story of the Bronx Zoo's First Woman Zookeeper"

Elementary School (Grades 3–5)

  • Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel; art by Melissa Sweet
  • Dorothea Lange: The Photographer Who Found the Faces of the Depression by Carole Boston Weatherford; art by Sarah Green
  • An Equal Shot: How the Law Title IX Changed America by Helaine Becker; art by Dow Phumiruk
  • Fairy Tales of Fearless Girls by Susannah McFarlane; art by Lucinda Gifford, Beth Norling, Sher Rill Ng, and Claire Robertson
  • Listening to the Stars: Jocelyn Bell Burnell Discovers Pulsars by Jodie Parachini; art by Alexandra Badiu
  • Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe by Vivian Kirkfield; art by Alleanna Harris
  • No Truth Without Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Kathleen Krull; art by Nancy Zhang
  • Not One Damsel in Distress: World Folktales for Strong Girls by Jane Yolen; art by Susan Guevara
  • She Made a Monster: How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein by Lynn Fulton; art by Felicita Sala
  • Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story by Paula Yoo; art by Lin Wang
  • A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks by Alice Faye Duncan; art by Xia Gordon
  • Starting from Seneca Falls by Karen Schwabach
  • Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh by Uma Krishnaswami
  • A Strong Right Arm: The Story of Mamie “Peanut” Johnson by Michelle Y. Green
  • Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells: The Daring Life of a Crusading Journalist by Philip Dray; art by Stephen Alcorn

Book cover for "Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story"

Middle School (Grades 6–8)

  • Dress Coded by Carrie Firestone
  • Finish the Fight! The Brave and Revolutionary Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote by Veronica Chambers and the Staff of the New York Times
  • The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette’s Journey to Cuba by Margarita Engle
  • Fly Girls: The Daring American Women Pilots Who Helped Win World War II by P. O’Connell Pearson
  • Go with the Flow by Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann
  • Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX, the Law that Changed the Future of Girls in America by Karen Blumenthal
  • Lifting as We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box by Evette Dionne
  • Maybe He Just Likes You by Barbara Dee
  • The Radium Girls: The Scary but True Story of the Poison that Made People Glow in the Dark (Young Readers’ Edition) by Kate Moore
  • Revenge of the Red Club by Kim Harrington
  • Rolling Warrior: The Incredible, Sometimes Awkward, True Story of a Rebel Girl on Wheels Who Helped Spark a Revolution by Judith Heumann and Kristen Joiner
  • The Woman All Spies Fear: Code Breaker Elizebeth Smith Friedman and Her Hidden Life by Amy Butler Greenfield
  • A Woman in the House (and Senate): How Women Came to the United States Congresss, Broke Down Barriers, and Changed the Country by Ilene Cooper; art by Elizbeth Baddeley
  • The Woman’s Hour: Our Fight for the Right to Vote (Adapted for Young Readers) by Elaine Weiss

Cover for Margarita Engle's book, "The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette's Journey to Cuba"

High School (Grades 9–12)

  • Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: A Graphic History of Women’s Fight for Their Rights by Mikki Kendall; art by A. D’Amico
  • Atomic Women: The Untold Stories of the Scientists Who Created the Nuclear Bomb by Roseanne Montillo
  • Does My Body Offend You? by Mayra Cuevas and Marie Marquardt
  • Fighter in Velvet Gloves: Alaska Civil Rights Hero Elizabeth Peratrovich by Annie Boochever and Roy Peratrovich, Jr.
  • Florence Nightingale: The Courageous Life of the Legendary Nurse by Catherine Reef
  • The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna
  • Girls Save the World in This One by Ash Parsons
  • Great or Nothing by Joy McCullough, Caroline Tung Richmond, Tess Sharpe, and Jessica Spotswood
  • Margot Mertz Takes It Down by Carrie McCrossen and Ian McWethy
  • One for All by Lillie Lainoff
  • Say Her Name (Poems to Empower) by Zetta Elliott; art by Loveis Wise
  • Six Angry Girls by Adrienne Kisner
  • A Tyranny of Petticoats: 15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers & Other Badass Girls by Jessica Spotswood
  • Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts by Rebecca Hall; art by Hugo Martínez
  • Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan

Cover for Lillie Lainoff's "One for All" novel.

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We hope that this booklist helps students and families celebrate Women’s History! For more Women’s History Month coverage, check out our official Women’s History Month webpage, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to The Morning Bell down below!

On behalf of the NYC Department of Education, we wish all of our families a wonderful and memorable Women’s History Month!


Banner photo by the Library of Congress. Original can be found at the Library of Congress’ website.

Official blog for the NYC Department of Education, home of a million students across 1,800+ schools

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