Hey, girls! Did you know that February is Black History (or as we like to say around here, Herstory) Month? Unfortunately, traditional history books and classes have often overlooked the achievements of Black Americans. The books featured this month will help fill in the gaps — and give you inspiration all year long!
Whether you want to know a little or a lot about amazing Black women from herstory, these books collecting women’s life stories have you covered!
- My top pick in this section is definitely Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison. No matter what your passion, you’ll find a Black woman in these pages who has forged a path ahead. Read about politician Shirley Chisolm who ran for president in 1972, science fiction writer Octavia Butler, astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison, and 37 other Black women who followed their dreams to greatness. Each biography includes a cartoon illustration of the woman featured.
- “At some point, someone probably will tell you no, will tell you to be quiet and may even tell you your dreams or impossible,” Chelsea Clinton writes in She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World. “Don’t listen to them.” This book is a great way to get a brief overview of Black trailblazers’ lives or to introduce younger siblings and friends to them. Five of the women featured in the book are Black, including some you may have heard of such as Harriet Tubman and Oprah Winfrey; and others who may be less recognizable to you, like Claudette Colvin who refused to give up her seat on a bus when she was just 15, inspring Rosa Parks to do the same; and Ruby Bridges, a brave little girl who was one of the first Black students to attend a school that had been only for Whites before then.
- Black women aren’t just making history in America, though. In Fearless Women by Toby Reynolds & Paul Carver and 100 Women Who Made History by Stella Caldwell, Clare Hibbert, Andrea Mills, and Rona Skene, you can read about women such as Leymah Gbowee, who led a peace movement to help end the Second Liberian Civil War; Fatuma Noor, a Somali journalist who focused on telling stories the mainstream news overlooked; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia’s female president; and more, including often-overlooked American history-makers like Sarah Breedlove, the first woman millionaire in the U.S.!
Want to dive deeper into one amazing Black woman or girl’s story? Then check out these titles.
- In March Forward, Girl: From Young Warrior to Little Rock Nine, Melba Pattillo Beals shares her story of being one of the first African American girls to attend an integrated school. But even before that, she was ready to make waves. She was frustrated that she couldn’t drink from the “whites only” water fountains or that she didn’t feel safe even at church. And when adults told her to be patient and know her place, she pushed back toward equality.
- If you follow the sports world, you probably know about tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams. But did you know that both had a desire to win from an early age, that their father coached them in tennis, or that they have BOTH achieved World Number One ranking in both singles and doubles? You can learn all this and more in Who Are Venus and Serena Williams by James Buckley Jr., an illustrated book that follows the sisters’ lives and achievements.
- To learn more about Ruby Bridges’ achievements from her own perspective, pick up her book, Through My Eyes, where she describes what it was like to be a six-year-old girl escorted through mobs and protesters to become the first Black child to attend an all-White school.
- The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson details how, at nine years old, Audrey was the youngest protester ever arrested at a civil rights rally. She joined marches, sit-ins, and other opportunities for activism toward equality even though she KNEW she might end up in jail for it, proving that you are never too young to take a stand.
What about you? Do you know of fiction or non-fiction books that highlight important moments or women from Black Herstory? Who is your favorite Black woman or girl hero? Share your thoughts in the comments below!