15 Middle Grade Nonfiction Titles About Dynamic Women for Women's History Month and Beyond

Who runs the world? Girls! March is Women's History Month. Share these diverse stories of brave, fierce, powerful women of the past and present with tweens to inspire them throughout the year.

Who runs the world? Girls! March is Women's History Month. Share these diverse stories of brave, fierce, powerful women of the past and present with tweens to inspire them throughout the year.


VIP: Dr. Mae Jemison: Brave Rocketeer by Heather Alexander. illus. by Jennifer Bricking. Harper. ISBN 9780062978080. 
Gr 3-7–This title profiles Mae Jemison (b. 1956), the first Black woman to travel to space. Alexander provides numerous examples that highlight Jemison’s intelligence, perseverance, and bravery as a young child and throughout her life. VERDICT This middle grade biography captures the ambition and perseverance of Jemison and would be a welcome resource for any library.

Who Was Her Own Work of Art?: Frida Kahlo: An Official Who HQ Graphic Novel by Terry Blas. illus. by Ashanti Fortson. Penguin Workshop. ISBN 9780593384664. 
Gr 6 Up–No modern Mexican painter is more widely known than Frida Kahlo. Born at the dawn of the 20th century, Kahlo, who is of German and Mexican descent, experienced a life-changing accident in her late teens that would affect most of her adult life and would be intrinsically linked to her artwork. VERDICT An absorbing read with a well-crafted narrative and eloquent art.

Speak Up, Speak Out! The Extraordinary Life of Fighting Shirley Chisholm by Tonya Bolden. National Geographic. ISBN 9781426372377. 
Gr 6-10–Shirley Chisholm is largely known for being the first Black candidate for a major-party nomination for President of the United States, and the first woman to run for the Democratic party’s nomination. This slim but thorough biography of the Brooklyn native proves that she was making a difference in the lives of others long before and long after. VERDICT Purchase this engaging biography to fill too-wide gaps in American history.

[Read: 10 Collective Biographies for Women’s History Month]

 Susie King Taylor: Nurse, Teacher & Freedom Fighter by Erica Armstrong Dunbar & Candace Buford. Aladdin. ISBN 9781665919944. 
Gr 4-8–Presented in first person, this unique biography details the life of Black Civil War nurse Susie King Taylor. This true account is rife with adventure, near misses with death, and brushes with the Confederate army and slave owners alike. VERDICT A fabulous addition to all libraries and an important part of history not to be missed. Highly recommended.

Breakthrough: Katalin Karikó and the mRNA Vaccine by Stephanie Sammartino McPherson. Lerner/Twenty-First Century. ISBN 9798765607947. 
Gr 7 Up– What is synthetic mRNA, and who developed it? This work follows Katalin Karikó’s life and trajectory as a scientist. VERDICT This biography is timely as Karikó (along with Weissman) recently won the 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Accessible writing and thorough research make this a great science resource for middle and high school students. Recommended.


The Woman Who Split the Atom: The Life of Lise Meitner by Marissa Moss. Abrams. ISBN 9781419758539. 
Gr 4 Up–The story of a brilliant physicist’s life intertwined with Nazi Germany and the development of the nuclear bomb. Lise Meitner loved physics, and her discoveries were some of the most respected and celebrated in the 20th century. VERDICT An excellent biography that is a first purchase and deserves a place on every nonfiction book list for children.

Growing Up Elizabeth May: The Making of an Activist by Sylvia Olsen with Cate May Burton. Orca. ISBN 9781459823709. 
Gr 4-8–This book about environmentalist and politician Elizabeth May (b. 1954) highlights her activism throughout her life, from her childhood spent with her activist mother, to her high school years raising awareness for environmental causes, to serving as a Green Party member in Canada’s Parliament. VERDICT Consider for purchase where environmental issue books circulate well.

Becoming Beatrix by Amy M O’Quinn. Chicago Review. ISBN 9781641604406. 
Gr 4-8–An overly detailed but still fascinating biography about the creator of the “Peter Rabbit” tales. O’Quinn gives readers a well-rounded account of the author-illustrator. VERDICT Purchase where there’s a need for more biographies of women writers, scientists, artists, and conservationists.

[Read: A Woman’s Place Is in a Graphic Novel: Outstanding Works for Young Readers Center Women in History]

 The Girl Who Sang: A Holocaust Memoir of Hope and Survival by Estelle Nadel & Bethany Strout. illus. by Sammy Savos. Roaring Brook. ISBN 9781250247773. 
Gr 7 UpThe Girl Who Sang is a powerful story of survival where readers are given the privilege of following Enia’s life before, during, and after surviving the Holocaust. In some ways, survival signaled only the beginning of Enia’s struggles. VERDICT A must-have. The graphic novel format will appeal to those whose first choice might not be history or biography, and all others will be invited to consider the full-life experiences of Holocaust survivors.

Augusta Savage: The Shape of a Sculptor’s Life by Marilyn Nelson. Little, Brown/Christy Ottaviano. ISBN 9780316298025. 
Gr 6 Up–Influential Harlem Renaissance artist Augusta Savage (1892–1962) rarely had the money to cast her art in bronze. Instead, what survives of her work, collected in major museums all over the country, is made of humble materials like plaster and clay. VERDICT A master poet breathes life and color into this portrait of a historically significant sculptor and her remarkable story.


Becoming: Adapted for Young Readers by Michelle Obama. Delacorte. ISBN 9780593303740. 
Gr 6 Up–The groundbreaking autobiography from former first lady Michelle Obama now has a young readers’ edition available so kids can marvel at the historic rise of one of America’s beloved public figures. VERDICT This timeless narrative is a must-have for any library collection and is sure to be popular wherever it’s shelved.

Vision: My Story of Strength by Precious Perez. Norton. ISBN 9781324052296. 
Gr 4-8–For young readers who are looking for hope in the face of adversity but are uninterested in sappy, sorrowful tales, hand them this autobiography of musician and recording artist Precious Perez. VERDICT A straightforward, no-nonsense biography that is nonetheless the triumphant story of a young person’s success.

Harriet Tubman: Toward ­Freedom by Whit Taylor. illus. by Kazimir Lee. Little, Brown. ISBN 9780759555501. 
Gr 6 Up–Taylor and Lee tell the story of Harriet Tubman, a girl who was once afraid of everything but who eventually led a multitude of people to freedom through the most harrowing of circumstances. VERDICT This moving graphic novel brings Tubman to vivid life. A strong addition to graphic biography sections.

Baseball’s Leading Lady: Effa Manley and the Rise and Fall of the ­Negro Leagues by Andrea Williams. Roaring Brook. ISBN 9781250623720. 
Gr 6-9–An important hole in baseball literature is addressed in this nonfiction recollection of businesswoman Effa Manley’s role in the rise and fall of the Negro Leagues. VERDICT A detailed history of Negro League baseball focusing on Effa Manley’s life and a supplemental addition to middle school sports collections.

 Star Child: A Biographical Constellation of Octavia Estelle Butler by Ibi Zoboi. Dutton. ISBN 9780399187384. 
Gr 5 Up–Told through poetry, narrative, photographs, newspaper clippings, handwritten notes, story drafts, childhood sketches, quotes, report cards, and war propaganda, this stunning biography is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece of literature. VERDICT This must-read biography belongs on every library shelf and will redefine the way readers engage with biographical texts.

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