This list of historical biographies are the Top Picture Books for Women’s History Month we recommend for home and classroom libraries.
Hop on the bike with Bessie Stringfield, the motorcycle queen of Miami, in this powerful picture book from Coretta Scott King medalist Charles R. Smith, Jr. and debut picture book illustrator Charlot Kristensen.
The folks they lined up to meet the Motorcycle Queen, seated sidesaddle on her motorbike machine.
In 1929, 18-year-old Bessie Stringfield hopped on her motorcycle and headed out on an adventure, an unusual choice for a young Black woman at the time. Paying her way by winning motorcycle races, she criss-crossed the country through small towns, big cities, and wide open spaces.
But not everyone was happy to see Bessie’s brown face peeking out from underneath her helmet. And more than once, Bessie found herself making some quick exits on the back of her bike to escape Jim Crow. A trailblazer in the world of women’s racing and motorcycling, Bessie Stringfield was a figure who will inspire all children to pursue their dreams.
From the first line, award-winning author Charles R. Smith Jr.’s poetry evokes emotion, excitement, fear, and wonder in equal measures. Charlot Kristensen portrays Bessie and the American landscape with vivid imagery that is sure to capture the attention of young readers.
A much-needed story about a Black woman who paved the way for future generations, for fans of The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson and My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero and Zeke Peña.
BESSIE THE MOTORCYCLE QUEEN
Written by Jr. Charles R. Smith and Illustrated by Charlot Kristensen
Published by Orchard Books
From NYT bestselling author Tracey Baptiste comes a singular picture book that is both a biography about Claudette Colvin, the teen whose activism launched the Montgomery bus boycott, and a celebration of collective action.
When fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin boarded a segregated bus on March 2, 1955, she had no idea she was about to make history. At school she was learning about abolitionists like Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth, which helped inspire her decision to refuse to give up her seat to a white woman, which led to her arrest, which began a crucial chain of events: Rosa Park’s sit-in nine months later, the organization of the Montgomery bus boycott by activists like Professor Jo Ann Robinson and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the Supreme Court decision that Alabama’s bus segregation was unconstitutional–a major triumph for the civil rights movement.
Because of Claudette’s brave stand against injustice, history was transformed. Now it’s time for young readers to learn about this living legend, her pivotal role in the civil rights movement, and the power of one person reaching out to another in the fight for change.
Written by and Tracey Baptiste and Illustrated by Tonya Engel
Published by Dial Books/ Penguin Random House
IDA B. WELLS, VOICE OF TRUTH:
Educator, Feminist, and Anti-Lynching Civil Rights Leader
Ida B. Wells, Voice of Truth is an inspiring picture book biography of the groundbreaking journalist and civil rights activist as told by her great-granddaughter Michelle Duster and illustrated by Coretta Scott King Award Honoree artist Laura Freeman.
Ida B. Wells was an educator, journalist, feminist, businesswoman, newspaper owner, public speaker, suffragist, civil rights activist, and women’s club leader.
She was a founder of the NAACP, the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, the Alpha Suffrage Club, and the Negro Fellowship League. She wrote, spoke, and traveled, challenging the racist and sexist norms of her time.Faced with criticism and threats to her life, she never gave up.
This is her extraordinary true story, as told by her great-granddaughter Michelle Duster and beautifully brought to life by Coretta Scott King Award Honoree artist Laura Freeman.