With it being Women’s History Month, why not take it one step further and look at some amazing African American children books about women!
I’ve pulled together a number of book lists focusing on fabulous women to share with my boys over the years. But it’s time to have just a list of wonderful African American women.
You can find these African American Children Books about Women at your local library or purchase through the affiliate links provided for your convenience.
African American Children Books About Women
My Name Is Truth: The Life of Sojourner Truth: Here is the remarkable true story of how former slave Isabella Baumfree transformed herself into the preacher and orator Sojourner Truth, as told by acclaimed author Ann Turner and award-winning illustrator James Ransome. An iconic figure of the abolitionist and women’s rights movements, Sojourner Truth famously spoke out for equal rights roughly one hundred years before the civil rights movement.
This beautifully illustrated and impeccably researched picture book biography underwent expert review by two historians of the period. My Name Is Truth includes a detailed historical note, an archival photo, and a list of suggested supplemental reading materials. Written in the fiery and eloquent voice of Sojourner Truth herself, this moving story will captivate readers just as Sojourner’s passionate words enthralled her listeners.
Rosa: Fifty years after her refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, city bus, Mrs. Rosa Parks is still one of the most important figures in the American civil rights movement. This tribute to Mrs. Parks is a celebration of her courageous action and the events that followed. Award-winning poet, writer, and activist Nikki Giovanni’s evocative text combines with Bryan Collier’s striking cut-paper images to retell the story of this historic event from a wholly unique and original perspective.
Sewing Stories: Harriet Powers’ Journey from Slave to Artist: Harriet Powers learned to sew and quilt as a young slave girl on a Georgia plantation. She lived through the Civil War and Reconstruction, and eventually owned a cotton farm with her family, all the while relying on her skills with the needle to clothe and feed her children.
Later she began making pictorial quilts, using each square to illustrate Bible stories and local legends. She exhibited her quilts at local cotton fairs, and though she never traveled outside of Georgia, her quilts are now priceless examples of African American folk art.
Coretta Scott: Walking many miles to school in the dusty road, young Coretta Scott knew the unfairness of life in the segregated south. A yearning for equality began to grow. Together with Martin Luther King, Jr., she gave birth to a vision of change through nonviolent protest. It was the beginning of a journey—with dreams of freedom for all.
Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters: Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus and sparked a boycott that changed America. Harriet Tubman helped more than three hundred slaves escape the South on the Underground Railroad. Shirley Chisholm became the first black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
A Free Woman On God’s Earth: The True Story of Elizabeth Mumbet Freeman, The Slave Who Won Her Freedom: It is the story of Elizabeth Mumbet Freeman, the enslaved African woman who had the courage and conviction to speak what was in her heart, suing for her freedom in a Massachusetts court of law. In gaining her own freedom, she set the stage for the abolition of slavery in Massachusetts in 1783.
Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman: This is the story of young Harriet Tubman, then called “Minty”. A slave in the Brodas household, she is often punished for her feisty, rebellious spirit, and always, above all, dreams of escape.
Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees: Wangari Maathai received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her efforts to lead women in a nonviolent struggle to bring peace and democracy to Africa through its reforestation. Her organization planted over thirty million trees in thirty years. This beautiful picture book tells the story of an amazing woman and an inspiring idea.
Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman: Before Wilma Rudolph was five years old, polio had paralyzed her left leg. Everyone said she would never walk again. But Wilma refused to believe it. Not only would she walk again, she vowed, she’d run. And she did run–all the way to the Olympics, where she became the first American woman to earn three gold medals in a single Olympiad. This dramatic and inspiring true story is illustrated in bold watercolor and acrylic paintings by Caldecott Medal-winning artist David Diaz.
The Story Of Ruby Bridges: Special Anniversary Edition: Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first African American child to integrate a New Orleans school with this paperback reissue! The year is 1960, and six-year-old Ruby Bridges and her family have recently moved from Mississippi to New Orleans in search of a better life. When a judge orders Ruby to attend first grade at William Frantz Elementary, an all-white school, Ruby must face angry mobs of parents who refuse to send their children to school with her. Told with Robert Coles’ powerful narrative and dramatically illustrated by George Ford, Ruby’s story of courage, faith, and hope is now available in this special 50th anniversary edition with an updated afterword!
Viola Desmond Won’t Be Budged: In 1946, Viola Desmond bought a movie ticket at the Roseland Theatre in Nova Scotia. After settling into a main floor seat, an usher came by and told her to move, because her ticket was only good for the balcony. She offered to pay the difference in price but was refused: “You people have to sit in the upstairs section.” Viola refused to move. She was hauled off to jail, but her actions gave strength and inspiration to Canada’s black community. Vibrant illustrations and oral-style prose tell Viola’s story with sympathy and historical accuracy.
Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom (Caldecott Honor Book): This poetic book is a resounding tribute to Tubman’s strength, humility, and devotion. With proper reverence, Weatherford and Nelson do justice to the woman who, long ago, earned over and over the name Moses.
Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald: When Ella Fitzgerald danced the Lindy Hop on the streets of 1930s Yonkers, passersby said good-bye to their loose change. But for a girl who was orphaned and hungry, with raggedy clothes and often no place to spend the night, small change was not enough. One amateur night at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, Ella made a discovery: the dancing beat in her feet could travel up and out of her mouth in a powerful song —and the feeling of being listened to was like a salve to her heart. With lively prose, Roxane Orgill follows the gutsy Ella from school-girl days to a featured spot with Chick Webb’s band and all the way to her number-one radio hit “A-Tisket, A-Tasket.” Jazzy mixed-media art by illustrator Sean Qualls brings the singer’s indomitable spirit to life.
Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker (Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Books): In exuberant verse and stirring pictures, Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson create an extraordinary portrait for young people of the passionate performer and civil rights advocate Josephine Baker, the woman who worked her way from the slums of St. Louis to the grandest stages in the world. Meticulously researched by both author and artist, Josephine’s powerful story of struggle and triumph is an inspiration and a spectacle, just like the legend herself.
Nobody Owns the Sky: The Story of “Brave Bessie” Coleman: As a young black woman in the 1920s, Bessie Coleman’s chances of becoming a pilot were slim. But she never let her dream die and became the first licensed African-American aviator. Reeve Lindbergh honors her memory with a poem that sings of her accomplishment. With bold illustrations by Pamela Paparone, NOBODY OWNS THE SKY will inspire readers to follow their dreams.
Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century: Born in a small town in Mississippi in 1927, the daughter of a midwife and a sawmill worker, Leontyne Price might have grown up singing the blues. But Leontyne had big dreams—and plenty to be thankful for—as she surrounded herself with church hymns and hallelujahs, soaked up opera arias on the radio, and watched the great Marian Anderson grace the stage.
While racism made it unlikely that a poor black girl from the South would pursue an opera career, Leontyne’s wondrous voice and unconquerable spirit prevailed. Bursting through the door Marian had cracked open, Leontyne was soon recognized and celebrated for her leading roles at the Metropolitan Opera and around the world—most notably as the majestic Ethiopian princess in Aida, the part she felt she was born to sing.
Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells: The Daring Life of a Crusading Journalist: In 1863, when Ida B. Wells was not yet two years old, the Emancipation Proclamation freed her from the bond of slavery. For her family and others like them, it was a time of renewed faith in America s promise of freedom and justice for all. Blessed with a strong will, an eager mind, and a deep belief in this promise, young Ida never turned away from the challenges she faced.
She insisted on holding her family together after the death of her parents. She defied convention and went to court when a railroad company infringed on her rights. And she used her position as a journalist to speak out about injustice. But Ida’s greatest challenge arose after one of her friends was lynched. How could one headstrong young woman help free America from the shadow of lawlessness that loomed over the country?
She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story: Effa always loved baseball. As a young woman, she would go to Yankee Stadium just to see Babe Ruth’s mighty swing. But she never dreamed she would someday own a baseball team. Or be the first—and only—woman ever inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
From her childhood in Philadelphia to her groundbreaking role as business manager and owner of the Newark Eagles, Effa Manley always fought for what was right. And she always swung for the fences.
Nothing but Trouble: The Story of Althea Gibson: Althea Gibson, born in 1927, was the first African American ever to compete in and win the Wimbledon Cup. Everyone agrees: her mama, her daddy, her teacher, even the policeman. But when Buddy Walker, the play leader on Althea’s street in Harlem, watches her play paddle tennis, he sees something more: pure possibility. Buddy buys Althea her very own stringed tennis racket, and before long, she’s on her way to becoming a great athlete – and to proving that she’s more than just trouble.
Oprah: The Little Speaker: At age three, Oprah began performing in churches, becoming known to adoring crowds as the Little Speaker. When she was asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she answered, “I want to be paid to talk.” Here is the story of Oprah Winfrey’s childhood, a story about a little girl on a Mississippi pig farm who grew up to be the “Queen of Talk.” The host of the Emmy Award–winning Oprah Winfrey Show , she currently directs a media empire that includes television and movie productions, magazines, a book club, and radio shows. An author’s note is included.
If you like African American children books about women, you can find more inspiring book lists on The Jenny Evolution!