Black History Month: New Children’s Biographies about Remarkable Women

February 16, 2017 | Kate S.

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What better way for you to teach and inspire your children than to read about some of the most remarkable women in history? These strong women show(ed) amazing perseverance and dedication to their respective crafts, while struggling against numerous barriers and prejudice. 

While there are many inspiring stories, here are some of the most recently published biographies to check out:

Ella Fitzgerald   Fancy Party Gowns the story of fashion designer Ann Cole Lowe   Hidden Figures
The Legendary Miss Lena Horne   Mae Jemison   Maya Angelou

Ella Fitzgerald: American jazz singer written by Grace Hansen. Ages 4-8

Learn about one of the most talented and powerful singers of all time in this great biography for young readers. Simple sentences accompany photographs. A nice introduction to her life and career.

Fancy party gowns: the story of fashion designer Ann Cole Lowe written by Deborah Blumenthal illustrated by Laura Freeman. Ages 4-8

Did you know that Ann Cole Lowe designed Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress? Not many people did, because she wasn’t publicly acknowledged as the designer. Ann Cole Lowe was a popular fashion designer during the 1920s-1960s considered “society’s best kept secret”, as she was rarely credited for her work. Despite facing numerous barriers, she persisted because of her love of design.

Hidden figures: the untold true story of four African-American women who helped launch our nation into space written by Margot Lee Shetterly. Ages 8-12

This special edition for young readers brings to life the stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden, four African-American female mathematicians who were known as “human computers”. They calculated the numbers that launched rockets and astronauts into space. Despite their groundbreaking success, these women went uncelebrated and endured segregation and racism from their white colleagues.

The legendary Miss Lena Horne written by Carol Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon. Ages 4-8

A fascinating and beautifully illustrated picture book about actor and singer Lena Horne, who became an important civil rights activist. This book celebrates her achievements, and highlights the struggles and prejudice that she faced throughout her life and career.

Mae Jemison written by Laurie Calkhoven illustrated by Monique Dong. Ages 6-8

Part of a new series of biographies about people you “should meet”, this Level 3 beginning reader is perfect for young readers. It tells the story of the first African-American female astronaut, Mae Jemison. Jemison is also a physician, engineer and professor who has won numerous awards.

Maya Angelou written by Lisbeth Kaiser illustrated by Leire Salaberria. Ages 6-8

This book is part of the "Little People, Big Dreams" series, which discusses the lives of outstanding people and their achievements, who all began life as a little child with a dream. The book begins with Angelou’s traumatic childhood and discusses her work as a singer, actress, civil rights campaigner and writer. It’s a nice little book that doesn’t go into too much detail, with simple but effective illustrations.