In honor of Women’s History Month, we’ve gathered a selection of books for young readers that showcase female innovators and changemakers from around the world.

Courage in Her Cleats: The Story of Soccer Star Abby Wambach

Kim Chaffee, illus. by Alexandra Badiu. Page Street Kids, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-64567-629-4. Ages 4–8.

Chaffee uses thwumps, whizzes, and whooshes to communicate soccer player Abby Wambach’s (b. 1980) energy and skill in this upbeat tribute to the player’s resilience. Goals and games are lost and won as fast-moving prose narrates the hurdles and triumphs experienced by Wambach as an Olympian; a refrain, “But Abby was tougher,” emphasizes the athlete’s fierce determination. 


Cut! How Lotte Reiniger and a Pair of Scissors Revolutionized Animation

C.E. Winters, illus. by Matt Schu. Greenwillow, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-306739-4. Ages 4–8.

A “snip, snip, snip!” refrain fittingly compels this chronicle of German animator Charlotte “Lotte” Reiniger (1899–1981). Fond of making scherenschnitte-style paper silhouettes, she channels her passion for film into creating jointed puppets and putting on shows for classmates. Acting school provides an opening to the movie industry, and she’s soon making stop-motion animation with silhouette figures. See Winters’s conversation with Fiona Robinson, fellow Reiniger biographer and picture book author.


Eleanor Roosevelt: Her Path to Kindness

Helaine Becker, illus. by Aura Lewis. Little, Brown/Ottaviano, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-316-31641-5. Ages 5–9.

This whirlwind biography of Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962) highlights how her difficult early years served in the development of the fundamentals behind her later work. Opening with Roosevelt’s dramatic rescue from the sinking SS Britannic as a toddler, ensuing scenes describe an anxious childhood marked by further trauma after her parents and brother die. A British boarding school and travel offer an emotional turning point, leading to Roosevelt’s embrace of volunteer work back home.


The Fire of Stars: The Life and Brilliance of the Woman Who Discovered What Stars Are Made Of

Kirsten W. Larson, illus. by Katherine Roy. Chronicle, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4521-7287-3. Ages Ages 5–8.

English astronomer Cecilia Payne (1900–1979) shines in this homage, which unfolds as a dual narrative that maps Payne’s life to a star’s phases of formation. While her family’s move to London initially feels lonely, Payne takes refuge in her school’s dusty lab, and eventually lands a scholarship to Cambridge, where she learns about a new field: astrophysics. The book received a starred review from PW.


How Do You Spell Unfair?: Macnolia Cox and the National Spelling Bee

Carole Boston Weatherford, illus. by Frank Morrison. Candlewick, Apr. 11 $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5362-1554-0. Ages 7–10.

In this thoughtfully conceived picture book, Boston Weatherford centers MacNolia Cox (1923–1976), who achieved celebrity status in 1936 after becoming the first African American to win the Akron, Ohio, spelling bee, thus qualifying for the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. The narrative fittingly works in vocabulary words to tell the tale. As Cox and her mother set out on their trip to the U.S. capital, where segregation sets them apart from white contestants, words such as famous and excited give way to terms like racism and unfair. The book received a starred review from PW.


Jovita Wore Pants: The Story of a Mexican Freedom Fighter

Aida Salazar, illus. by Molly Mendoza. Scholastic Press, $19.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-338-28341-9. Ages 6–9.

The defiant courage of Mexican freedom fighter Jovita Valdovinos (1911–1996), Salazar’s distant great-aunt, drives this expressive tribute, which begins with a child who prefers trousers to skirts. When Valdovinos’s Papá joins the Cristeros—“the revolutionaries fighting for their rights against the Federation”—she longs to accompany him. After her brothers and father are killed, Valdovinos dons overalls, renames herself Juan, and reignites the revolution, leading a peasant army for six years until a truce is reached.


Milloo’s Mind: The Story of Maryam Faruqi, Trailblazer for Women’s Education

Reem Faruqi, illus. by Hoda Hadadi. HarperCollins, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-305661-9. Ages 4–8.

With euphonious prose, Faruqi commemorates the accomplishments of her grandmother, educator Maryam “Milloo” Faruqi (1920–2012), known for founding Happy Home Schools in Karachi, Pakistan. When her teacher fails to show up one day, she takes over the class, and when her parents suggest that she leave school, she takes a stand. The book received a starred review from PW.


Sisters in Science: Marie Curie, Bronia Dluska, and the Atomic Power of Sisterhood

Linda Elovitz Marshall, illus. by Anna and Elena Balbusso. Knopf, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-593-37758-1. Ages 4–8.

The bond between physicist Marie Curie (1867–1934) and sister Bronia Dluska (1865–1939) forms the backbone of this fascinating double biography. After their mother and a sister die, the siblings determine to help the world, attending a secret university for young Polish women and making a pact to take turns studying at the Sorbonne, paying each other’s way. Further examples of their partnership and family focus offer a through line, while cause-and-effect narration details Curie’s scientific contributions leading up to and beyond her Nobel Prizes.


A Take-Charge Girl Blazes a Trail to Congress: The Story of Jeannette Rankin

Gretchen Woelfle, illus. by Rebecca Gibbon. Calkins Creek, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-66268-012-0. Ages 7–10.

“Take-charge girl” Jeannette Rankin (1880–1973) inspires in this lively, quote-filled picture book about her journey to become the first U.S. congresswoman. Early scenes of Rankin’s Montana upbringing highlight her can-do attitude, leading into descriptions of her later charitable work in San Francisco and New York City, where the hardships she witnesses galvanize her to campaign for women’s suffrage and to run for office.