Women Who Changed the World

With Women’s History Month approaching in March, now is a great time to learn about some extraordinary women who changed the course of history as we know it. Champions of science, art, politics, medicine, education, and so much more, these women challenged societal norms by proving their strength, wit, and perseverance. Explore the list of books below to discover the many life-changing contributions incredible women have made throughout history.

To discover more amazing women who dedicated their lives to challenging the status quo, search our catalog using a combination of subject terms like “women” + “biography” + “juvenile.”

Blumenthal, Deborah.
Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe. 2017.
Ann Cole Lowe learned to sew by watching her mother and grandmother work in their family shop. As an African-American woman in early 1900s Alabama, Ann faced constant hardships enacted by a racist society, but she persevered by graduating design school and going on to become an acclaimed designer for some of the country’s most famous women. (She designed First Lady Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress!)
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Copeland, Misty.
Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina. 2016.
With a late start to ballet and family drama that relocated her to various homes and schools, Misty Copeland defied all odds by becoming the first female African-American principal ballerina in the American Ballet Theatre’s history. In this autobiography, Copeland discusses her challenging journey to becoming one of America’s most successful ballerinas.
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Frier, Raphaele.
Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education. 2017.
Incredibly brave and resilient, Malala Yousafzai triumphed over hate and violence when she survived an attempted assassination at the hands of a terrorist group determined to stop women from getting an education. This biography recounts Malala’s miraculous story and how she continues to use her platform to promote equal education for all children around the world.
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Hopkins, H. Joseph.
The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever. 2013.
A lifelong lover of nature, Katherine Olivia “Kate” Sessions became the first woman to graduate from the University of California with a science degree. Surrounded by pine trees and redwoods her entire life, Katherine was horrified to find a landscape almost entirely void of trees when she moved to San Diego. Determined to bring life back into the dry earth, Kate trailblazed a movement to plant and create beautifully lush parks throughout the city that are still flourishing today.
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Levy, Debbie.
I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark. 2016.
As a young girl, Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought for equality and justice for all. As the second female Supreme Court Justice in American history, she overcame prejudices in the jaded political system and continues to triumph for the inalienable rights of American citizens today. This biography of the “Notorious RBG” will inspire readers of all ages.
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Robbins, Dean.
Margaret and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing. 2017.
Margaret Hamilton always loved numbers. Her favorite subjects in school were geometry, algebra, and calculus, and she loved using math to solve “real world” problems all around her. Her love of math sent her to the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology and onto becoming one of the key coders for NASA’s most important missions, like putting a man on the moon.
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Smith, Matthew Clark.
Lighter than Air: Sophie Blanchard, the First Woman Pilot. 2017.
In 18th century France, Sophie Blanchard dreamed of participating in the “balloonomania” craze and taking to the skies in a hot air balloon. Not only did she achieve this dream, but she also became the first woman to ever navigate her own flight completely independently.
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Stanley, Diane.
Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer. 2016.
As daughter of the brilliant mathematician Lady Annabella Byron and the famous Romantic poet Lord Byron, Ada Lovelace grew up with an education focused on both the sciences and the liberal arts. Her academically balanced upbringing led Ada to connect both numbers and writing and turn this duo into the first computer program ever written — 100 years before the first computer was even created!
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Stone, Tanya Lee.
Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell. 2013.
In the early 19th century, the concept of a “female doctor” was completely absurd. Women were supposed to grow up to be wives, mothers, or teachers. Determined to challenge the status quo and achieve her dream, Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to graduate from medical school in the United States. As a social reformer and a champion for women in the medical field, she changed the course of medical history forever.
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Weatherford, Carole Boston.
Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement. 2015.
As one of the most resilient and effective voices in the Civil Rights Movement, Fannie Lou Hamer battled horrific racism and violence as she fought for equality throughout her entire life. During the Freedom Summer of 1964, Hamer gave a televised speech during the Democratic National Convention recounting her experience of assault and beatings while imprisoned for protesting. Despite efforts from President Johnson to interfere with its broadcasting, her speech helped spur the nation’s support of the Freedom Democrats.
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