5 Incredible Books for Children About Women in History

Mother and daughter reading together. (Prostock-studio /Adobe Stock)
By Ancient Origins - April, 19 2022

These days we're starting to see a huge variety of books which bring women and girls to the fore, creating positive female role models to aspire to, rather than the never-ending tales which make it appear as if only men ever did anything of note. As a mother I now revel in the wide selection of books available for my reading time with the girls. We particularly enjoy reading about women throughout history who have achieved great things against all odds. Here are our top five!

1. Brazen. Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World

By Pénélope Bagieu

Originally published on the blog Les Culottées for Le Monde, these comic strips feature the lives of 30 inspiring woman who changed history in some way. In most cases women sidelined in mainstream history. The comic strips were turned into book form in French in 2016 and are now available in English too. The wonderful women span continents, from ancient Greece to modern-day Afghanistan, and include the likes of Zsinga, a 17th century African Queen, Agnodice, the ancient Greek gynecologist, and even Peggy Guggenheim.

2. Passenger on the Pearl: The True Story of Emily Edmonson's Flight from Slavery

By Winifred Conkling

This book takes the true story of Emily Catherine Edmonson and her fated escape attempt on board the Pearl with a group of slaves in 1848 in Washington, D.C., all with the hope of sailing northwards to a live free from slavery. Conkling’s book tells the story of life as a slave as she follows Emily. The book is great for kids as it’s filled with pictures, maps and more, bringing to life a complicated chapter in North American history.

3. Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls

By Francesca Cavallo and Elena Favilli

Inspired by what the authors saw as a lack of role models for girls, Cavallo and Favilli created what has become the highest crowd-funded project in history, raising over one million dollars for this non-fiction revolutionary book project. This fantastic bedtime story book includes 100 stories about 100 incredible women from the past and present, such as Elizabeth I, Marie Curie, Cleopatra, and Artemisa Gentileschi. Each woman is featured with a one-page text and a stunning illustration created by one of 60 female artists from around the world.

4. She Made a Monster: How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein

By Lynn Fulton

This book tells the story of the English novelist Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, who lived between 1797 and 1851, and how she came up with the timeless novel Frankenstein. It all started when the poet Lord Byron set a challenge for a group of friends visiting him in Switzerland to write a ghost story. This is a story to help kids understand the story behind one of the most iconic literary masterpieces ever created and is an interesting story about literary genius.

5. Teen Trailblazers: 30 Fearless Girls Who Changed the World Before They Were 20

By Jennifer Calvert

If you’re looking to inspire your daughter to do great things, this is just the ticket! This book tells the story of 30 young women who achieved incredible feats before their 20th birthdays. As with other collections, it includes a range of personalities from different moments in history, such as Cleopatra and Joan of Arc, and modern-day women such as Jazz Jennings and Frida Kahlo. Each one has a four-page spread with an illustration, text, and little information boxes and quotes, ideal for teens.

By Cecilia Bogaard