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Courageous Women

Join us as we look back through the years into our Best Of lists. We aim to find titles on specific topics to create starter book lists for you and your kids!

The Best Of Lists aim to provide recommendations to educators, librarians, parents, guardians, and kids for the best children’s books each year. Some are selected by kids across the US and others by educators, check them all out.


A collection of female empowerment books featured on our Best Of lists

Children’s Choices List.

  • Lailah’s Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story by Reem Faruqi; illus. by Lea Lyon (Tilbury House, ChC2016)
  • Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova by Laurel Snyder; illus. by Julie Morstad (Chronicle, ChC2016)
  • Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly; illus. by Betsy Peterschmidt (Greenwillow, ChC2016)
  • Madeline Finn and the Library Dog by Lisa Papp (Peachtree Press, ChC2017)
  • Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn’t Sit Still by Karlin Gray; illus. by Christine Davenier (Houghtin Mifflin Harcourt BYR, ChC2017)
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequality by Jonah Winter; illus. by Jeanette Winter (Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster, ChC2018)
  • Kate Warne: Pinkerton Detective by Marissa Moss; illus. by April Chu (Creston, ChC2018)
  • Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education by Raphaële Frier; illus. by  Aurélia Fronty (Charlesbridge, ChC2018)
  • Ariana Grande by Jim Gigliotti (Bearport, ChC2019)
  • Grandma Gatewood Hikes the Appalachian Trail by Jennifer Thermes (Abrams BYR, ChC2019)
  • She Made a Monster: How Mary Shelley Created Frakenstein by Lynn Fulton; illus. by Felecita Sala (Knof BYR, ChC2019)
  • Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly; illus. by Laura Freeman (HarperCollins Children’s, ChC2019)

Young Adults’ Choices List.

  • What Girls are Made Of by Elana K. Arnold (Lerner Publishing Group, YAC2018)
  • Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson; illus. by Emily Carroll (Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, YAC2019)
  • Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defined All Odds and Made Aviation History (Young Readers’ Edition) by Keith O’Brien (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt BYF, YAC2020)
  • On the Come Up by Angie Thomas (Blazar + Bray, YAC2020)
  • Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson (Penguin Young Readers/Viking BFYR, YAC2020)
  • Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan (Bloomsbury YA, YAC2020)

Notable Social Studies Trade Books List.

  • Ida M. Tarbell by Emily McCully (Clarion Books/HMH, NSSTB2015)
  • I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World by Malala Yousafzai with Patricia McCormick (Little Brown, NSSTB2015)
  • The Girls from the Tar Paper School: Barbara Rose Johns and the Advent of the Civil Rights Movement by Teri Kanefield (Abrams, NSSTB2015)
  • Florence Nightingale: THe Courageous Life of the Legendary Nurse by Catherine Reef (HMH For Young Readers, NSSTB2017)
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton: Some Girls Are Born to Lead by Michelle Markel, Illus. LeUyen Pham (HarperCollins Children, NSSTB17)
  • I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy, Illus. Elizabeth Baddeley (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, NSSTB2017)
  • Irena’s Children: YRE A True Story of Courage by Tilar J. Mazzeo (S&S/Margaret K. McElderry Books, NSSTB2017)
  • Miss Mary Reporting: The True Story of Sportswriter Mary Garber by Sue Macy, Illus. C.F. Payne. (S&S/Paula Wiseman Books, NSSTB2017)
  • She Stood for Freedom, The Untold Story of a Civil Rights Hero: Joan Trumpauer Mulholland by Loki Mulholland and Angela Fairwell, Illus. Charlotte Janssen (Shadow Mountain Publishing, NSSTB2017)
  • Women in Blue: 16 Brave Officers, Forensics Experts, Police Chiefs and More by Cheryl Mullenbach (Chicago Review Press, NSSTB2017)
  • Before She Was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome (Holiday House, NSSTB2018)
  • Bold Women of Medicine: 21 Stories of Astounding Discoveries, Daring Surgeries, and Healing Breakthroughs by Susan M. Latta (Chicago Review Press NSSTB2018)
  • Caroline’s Comets: A True Story by Emily Arnold McCully (Holiday House NSSTB2018)
  • Kate Warne, Pinkerton Detective by Marissa Moss (Creston Books, NSSTB2018)
  • Margaret and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing by Dean Robbins (RHCB, Knopf BFYR, NSSTB2018)
  • She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton (PYR, Philomel Books, NSSTB2018)
  • Super Women: Six Scientists Who Changed the World by Laurie Lawlor (Holiday House, NSSTB2018)
  • Women Who Dared: 52 Stories of Fearless Daredevils, Adventurers, and Rebels by Linda Skeers (Sourcebooks, NSSTB2018)
  • Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 by Helaine Becker (Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, Henry Holt and Co. BYR, NSSTB2019)
  • Dreamers by Yuyi Morales (Holiday House, Neal Porter Books, NSSTB2019)
  • Nothing Stopped Sophie: The Story of Unshakeable Mathematician Sophie Germain by Cheryl Bardoe (LBBYR, NSSTB2019)
  • So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth’s Long Walk Toward Freedom by Gary D. Schmidt (Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, Roaring Book Press, NSSTB2019)
  • Spring After Spring: How Rachel Carson Inspired the Environmental Movement by Stephanie Roth Sisson (Macmillan Children’ Publishing Group, Roaring Book Press, NSSTB2019)
  • Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams by Lesa Cline-Ransome (S&S, NSSTB2019)
  • Skyward: The Story of Female Pilots in WWII by Sally Deng (Nobrow/Flying Eye, NSSTB2019)
  • Instructions Not Included: How a Team of Women Coded the Future by Tami Lewis Brown and Debbie Loren Dunn (Disney Hyperion, NSSTB2020)

Outstanding Science Trade Books List.

  • Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark (Creston, OSTB2016)
  • Mrs. Carter’s Butterfly Garden by Steve Rich (NSTA Kids, OSTB2016)
  • Sally Ride by Tam O’Shaughnessy (Roaring Brook Press, OSTB2016)
  • Girl Code by Andrea Gonzalez and Sophie Houser (HarperCollins, OSTB2018)
  • The Girl Who Thought in Pictures by Julia Finley Mosca; illus. by Daniel Rieley (Innovation Press, OSTB2018)
  • Margaret and the Moon by Dean Robbins; illus. by Lucy Knisley (Knof BYR, OSTB2018)
  • Super Women by Laurie Lawlor (Holiday House, OSTB2018)
  • 25 Women Who Thought of it First by Jill Sherman (Capstone, OSTB2019) 
  • The Girl With a Mind for Math by Julia Finley Mosca; illus. by Daniel Rieley (Innovation Press, OSTB2019)
  • Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed; illus. by Stasia Burrington (HarperCollins, OSTB2019)
  • A Computer Called Katherine by Suzanne Slade; illus. by Veronica Miller Jamison (Little, Brown BYR, OSTB2020)
  • Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life: Hollywood Legend and Brilliant Inventor by Laurie Wallmark; illus. by Katy Wu (Sterling Children’s Books, OSTB2020)
  • What Miss Mitchell Saw by Hayley Barrett; illus. by Diana Sudyka (Beach Lane Books, OSTB2020)

Best STEM Books List.

  • Caroline’s Comets by Emily Arnold McCully (Holiday House STEM2018)
  • Shark Lady by Jess Keating; illus. by Marta Álvarez Miguéns (Sourcebooks STEM2018)
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