Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day are the perfect occasion to bring the inspiring stories of remarkable women into your upper elementary classroom. To help, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite biographies for kids. Each of these literary nonfiction books will introduce your third and fourth grade students to incredible women who have made groundbreaking contributions to the world. I hope that these biographies for kids can be used to inspire, engage, and educate your students about the amazing women in history, and the impact they have had on our world.
Biographies for Kids About Women in Science
Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist by Jess Keating
Shark Lady tells the inspiring story of Eugenie Clark, who “dared to dive, defy, discover, and inspire.” Eugenie Clark fell in love with sharks the first time she saw them and spent her life devoted to learning about them. She earned several degrees and made countless discoveries along the way.
No list of biographies for kids about women is complete without this title. This picture book allows us to share the story of four black women who helped NASA launch men into space with our elementary level readers.
Breaking Through the Clouds: The Sometimes Turbulent Life of Meteorologist Joanne Simpson by Sandra Nickel
This biography for kids tells the story of Joanne Simpson and her determination as she became the first woman to earn a doctorate in meteorology and make important discoveries about the way weather works.
This is an inspirational story of a determined visual thinker who connects with animals in a special way. Her story is told as a rhyming tale and is accompanied by a complete biography, a timeline, and a note from Temple herself.
Unforgotten: The Wild Life of Dian Fossey and Her Relentless Quest to Save Mountain Gorillas by Anita Silvey
Dian Fossey made it her life’s mission to study and protect mountain gorillas. This powerful and detailed biography from National Geographic Kids is filled with beautiful photographs and text features.
Dr. Patricia Bath persevered through racism, poverty, and sexism to become a doctor. Another book in the Amazing Scientists series by Julia Finley Mosca, this story is told in rhyme and is accompanied by a complete biography, a timeline, and a note from Dr. Bath herself. You may also be interested in the third book in the series, The Girl With a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague.
Josephine and Her Dishwashing Machine: Josephine Cochrane’s Bright Invention Makes a Splash by Kate Hannigan
You and your students will enjoy this story about the entrepreneur and inventor of the dishwasher.
Biographies for Kids About Women in Government and Civil Rights
This autobiographical book tells Malala’s story and shares her inspiring message with our younger readers.
This biography tells the story of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and her lifetime of disagreeing. Read this with your kids to teach them the importance of disagreement with injustice and standing up for what’s right for people as you learn about her life.
This book share the story of a Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Chasing Freedom: The Life Journeys of Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony, Inspired by Historical Facts by Nikki Grimes
This is a historical fiction that imagines the experiences of these two inspiring women based on facts about their lives. This book would be a great paired text with biographies about the two or nonfiction books about the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, and the Women’s Suffrage Movement.
This biography tells the story of the first woman to serve in a presidential cabinet. You probably know about President FDR’s New Deal, but did you know that Frances Perkins was the mastermind behind it?
This moving biography for kids shares the story of the first Black person, and first South Asian American ever elected Vice President of the United States and her belief in freedom and justice for all.
Biographies for Kids About Women Athletes and Adventurers
Inspire your young readers with this story of Wilma Rudolph, a Black Olympic runner who overcame polio and went on to win three gold medals.
The GOAT gymnast Simone Biles has won 25 World Champion medals by age 22. Her story is full of energy, determination, and sacrifice. Read this biography to show your students how her hard work has opened doors for female athletes around the world.
I included this literary nonfiction book in the “adventurer” section because it tells the story of a thrilling night they stole away from a White House dinner, commandeered a jet, and took off on an adventure in their evening gowns.
Emma Gatewood completed the Appalachian Trail at age 67. Her story shows that true grit and girl power is capable of overcoming challenges at any age.
Biographies for Kids About Women in the Arts and Design
This biography tells the story of the woman who wrote “Freight Train” at age eleven, a famous folk song that has since been covered by Peter, Paul, and Marry; Bob Dylan; and the Grateful Dead, among many others.
You’ll enjoy this picture book biography of Beverly Cleary, the creator of Ramona, Beezus, Henry, Ralph S. Mouse, and so much more. This is a perfect companion to an author study or to share after reading one of her books to your class.
The daughter of a clay artist and a poet, Maya Lin is the woman who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. This is the story of how grew from studying the spaces around her such as her backyard to the visionary behind the national memorial.
Need a tool to help your students dig deeper into these biographies for kids?
These literary nonfiction interactive notebook pages are the perfect resource to help your students understand the biographies listed above. They include activities that will help your students:
- Understand the genre itself,
- Determine key ideas from the text to make inferences about the person,
- Locate key facts presented in the text,
- Determine the author’s point of view,
- Analyze why the person is important/how the person has made an impact on society, and
- Discuss the lessons we can learn from the text.
These pages have been designed to be fun and interactive, so your students will remain engaged as they learn more about biographies and the people in them.
Click here to learn more about these literary nonfiction interactive notebook pages.
What Are You Reading?
I’d love to know your thoughts on the biographies listed above. Any favorites? What biographies for kids are you reading to celebrate Women’s History Month? Comment below and let us know.