Welcome to our annual editors top 10 of the year! Through the rest of the year, we’ll be sharing 10 of our favorite things (no offense, Oprah) of this past year and we hope you love them too. Of course we love everything we’ve shared, but these things are all extra special to us. – Liz and Kristen
Ever since we started this site, we’ve tried to seek out the best books that honor, celebrate, and bring to life important women through history. What’s exciting is that right now, there are so many more to choose from — and so many anthologies to bring us even more of their stories all in one book.
Because we can’t pick just one favorite title, high on our list of Top 10 Editors Picks of the year is the entire category of biographical anthologies of amazing women, past and present. Not entirely coincidentally, they all happen to be written by women too. Imagine that.
This year brought us Herstory: 50 Women and Girls Who Shook Up the World by Katherine Halligan (also at very top) and we love it as much as our kids do. This anthology is cleverly organized by each woman’s sphere of influence, sorting women who those who “Believe and Lead,” “Hope and Overcome,” “Imagine and Create,” and more.
Another favorit4e is Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl’s Rad Girls Can: Stories of Bold, Brave, and Brilliant Young Women (also featured in our favorite gift ideas for kids under $15) which was a follow-up to the original Rad Women A to Z. Kids love reading the accomplishments of other kids and finding issues that excite them too, whether they’re inspired by Malala Yousafzai’s devotion to girls’ education, or 13-year-old Trisha Prabhu’s invention of an app to combat cyberbullying.
Another treasure: Susan Hood’s Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women who Changed the World, which offers engaging, very readable bios of young women all written in poetic form, brought to life with illustrations from 13 different women including Sophie Blackall, Oge Mora and Sara Palacios.
For a look at more women of the present you’ll want to know better, check out Blair Imani’s Modern HERStory: Stories of Women and Nonbinary People Rewriting History which isn’t specifically for kids, though ours really enjoy it. Especially if you’re a white parent (or aunt or grandparent) and are used to bios centered around white women’s history, this is a great book to read with your kids to present not just new stories, but to see those stories presented through a different perspective.
Of course we have to include She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History, Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger’s best-selling, celebratory follow-up to their wildly successful 2017 release, She Persisted. This time, the book focuses on women beyond our own shores, from names your children will probably know (Marie Curie, J.K. Rowling) to fascinating stories of lesser-known women — at least in the US — like 17th century Spanish poet Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Kenyan Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai, and Canadian modern civil rights hero, Viola Desmond.
But wait, there’s more…
In addition to so many remarkable, readable anthologies about famous women, we urge you to check out some of the many exquisite picture book biographies for children about individual women as well.
It’s a great way to get a deeper look at some of the women that your children want to know more about — or maybe don’t even know at all just yet.
In our post about 6 terrific children’s books about African-American singers and songwriters, we all adored the 2018 release from Laura Viers’s Libb and Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten. Other biographies about women for children that we loved this year include Deborah Hopkinson’s Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen (illustrated by Qin Leng) as well as Free As a Bird: The Story of Malala, which is both written and illustrated by Lina Maslo
We called Isabel Thomas’s Little Guides to Great Lives the next cool biography series to buy your kids, with the first set of titles dedicated to historical figures including Amelia Earhart, Marie Curie, and Frida Kahlo. Keep an eye out for a book on Anne Frank slated for this coming spring.
Speaking of women in STEM, if your kids were taken with the Hidden Figures movie, they’ll definitely want to read Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Shetterly and Laura Freeman, released at the beginning of the year. From there, move onto the delightful Mae Jemison bio, Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed and Stasia Burrington.
We can’t even wait to see what 2019 brings.