In the United States, March — Women’s History Month — is dedicated to celebrating women who have, and continue to, change the world and break down barriers. Women are often left out of history books, but fortunately there are plenty of quality books that cover a variety of areas that women have been pioneering. Whether it is science or sports or civil rights, women are on the front lines and making a difference in this world.
Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries who Shaped Our History… and Our Future!
Kate Schatz, Illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl
Every child has some variation on the A-Z books, whether the letters are taught using foods or animals. But this A-Z book teaches you the ABCs with female pioneers such as Angela Davis, Billie Jean King and Carol Burnett. Each spread features a beautiful illustration of the letter and its respective female icon, followed by a one-page biography. This book would be a great gift to add to any child’s library or adult’s coffee table.
Along similar lines, “Women in Science” is a beautifully illustrated book that highlights 50 women from various STEM fields. This book covers women who have worked in a number of fields including engineers, physicists, astronauts, doctors and biologists. This is another collection that is perfect for children and adults alike.
In this captivating nonfiction book, Karen Abbott highlights four women who were spies during the Civil War: Belle Boyd, who shot a Union soldier and became a courier and spy for the Confederates; Emma Edmonds, who cut off her hair to enlist for the Union; Rose O’Neale Greenhow, who used her daughter to gather and send information to Confederate generals; and Elizabeth Van Lew, who created an espionage ring under the disguise of Southern manners. This gripping page turner is perfect for readers who might be hesitant to pick up nonfiction as the story of the Civil War is intertwined with these women and the dangerous work they did.
Andrea Gonzales and Sophie Houser
Andrea Gonzales and Sophie Houser met during a summer session of Girls Who Code in New York and immediately bonded. After discussing the stigma behind menstruation, they decided to create the video game Tampon Run. In this memoir, Gonzales and Houser discuss how the game came to be, what it was like for them once the game went viral, and provide a behind-the-scenes look at the tech and gaming industry.
In this collection, 44 women contribute essays, drawings and more with their perspectives on what it means to be a woman and feminist. The book features contributions from a number of celebrities including Mindy Kaling, Roxane Gay, Laverne Cox, Matt Nathanson and Laurie Halse Anderson. Whether you are a lifelong feminist or are just starting to dip your toes into the water, this is a great collection that will provide plenty to think about.
In 1951, Henrietta Lacks was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She was a poor, black, Southern woman and when she went in to have the cancer removed, the doctors kept some of the cancer cells without her or her family’s consent or knowledge. These cells, now known as HeLa cells, ended up being used to help develop the polio vaccine, uncover the effects of the atom bomb, and utilized in the development of in vitro fertilization, cloning and gene mapping. However, the Lacks family was unaware of any of this until relatively recently. Rebecca Skloot uncovers the hidden history of these cells, the Lacks family, and the legal battles over whether we own and should have control over our own genetic material.
- Save the date! Rebecca Skloot will be the keynote speaker at YWCA Lake County’s 95th Anniversary Luncheon on May 18.
Molly Schiot created the Instagram account @TheUnsungHeroines [LINK] in 2014 as a way to highlight extraordinary female athletes. Many of the women competed in a pre-Title IX era and were forced to face extreme prejudices in order to compete and to be taken seriously. The book features historic sports icons such as Althea Gibson, sportswriter Lisa Olson, and present-day stars such as Abby Wambach.
In this epic book, Gail Collins provides the history of women’s lives in the United States from the late 1500s to modern day. The book covers women’s lives after traveling over to the United States on the Mayflower through to fighting for suffrage and civil rights. Collins covers a number of topics including what women cared about, the work they did in society, and the changing attitudes in society toward women’s involvement in education and politics. Collins, the first female editorial page editor at The New York Times, fills in many of the gaps and holes in our own knowledge about U.S. History.