In the world of literature, picture books have an unparalleled ability to capture hearts and minds, to inspire and educate. Here are some fun books about strong women who changed the world. From pioneering scientists to American spies, these women have left an indelible mark on history.
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The Queen of Chess: How Judit Polgar Changed the Game
By Laurie Wallmark
Recommended for ages: 6-9
This picture book by Laurie Wallmark tells the remarkable story of Judit Polgar, a Hungarian woman who in 1991 became the world’s youngest chess grandmaster at age 15. Judit learned to play chess when she was just five years old. Her parents loved chess and she and her sisters would spend 5-6 hours playing chess daily.
This picture book comes alive with beautiful illustrations by Stevie Lewis. It also includes a timeline in the back and a page explaining the mathematics of chess.
This book is an excellent addition to any home library. It is perfect for boys, girls, chess lovers, and anyone else looking for books about strong female leaders.
More to Learn about Chess and Judit Polgar
You can follow Judit Polgar on Instagram: judit.polgar.official
Chef Edna: Queen of Southern Cooking by Melvina Noel illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera
Chef Edna tells the real-life story of Edna Regina Lewis. Born in Freetown, Virginia in 1916 Edna grew up with a love for cooking as she watched her mom cook and bake for their large family and their wider community.
At age 15 Edna left her beloved community and headed to New York to find work. Edna’s father had died and she needed work to help provide for her family. People began to notice Edna’s beautiful seamstress work and sought her services. Edna was fond of bright colors and traditional African designs which caught people’s attention. But Edna’s first love was cooking. Eventually, she became co-owner of a restaurant, The Nicolson.
This book is a great way to introduce children to Edna Lewis and the legacy she left behind. The pages are filled with beautifully painted illustrations by Cozbi A. Carbana.
You can enjoy more of Edna Lewis’s recipes with her cookbook The Taste of Country Cooking.
PBS has an excellent article about Edna Lewis that you can find here.
Sisters in Science: Marie Curie, Bronia Dluska, and the Atomic Power of Sisterhood
By Linda Elovitz Marsha and Anna and Elena Balbusso
This book tells the remarkable story of sisters Marie and Bronia who grew up in Poland. Both parents were teachers and filled their home with books, music, and science. Their mother’s early death had a profound effect on the girls. Bronia wanted to be a doctor and Marie a researcher. Unfortunately, girls were not allowed to attend the university in Warsaw.
Luckily for them, a secret school, called The Flying University met in different homes (changing all the time) so girls, too, could further their educations.
This book tells the incredible story of two sisters’ determination,, the importance of keeping your word, and how Marie Curie became the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize. I obviously knew who Marie Curie was, but I wasn’t aware of her sister, Bronia, who made equally important contributions to the world. This book is a great introduction to these strong women and sisters in science.
By Sarah Glenn Marsh Illustrated by Sarah Green
Anna Strong tells the story of the Culper Ring a group of spies that George Washington used beginning in 1778. Major Benjamin Tallmadge developed a secret code so American spies could send messages the British couldn’t read.
Anna was chosen to be a spy for one reason…no one would suspect a woman!
The end of the book includes instructions on how to use the Culper Ring Code and make Invisible Ink! It also has a lengthy Author’s Note and Alrtist’s Note giving more details on each woman’s contribution to the book.