12 Picture Books and Middle Grade Titles For Women's Equality Day

August 26 is Women's Equality Day, commemorating the passing of the 19th Amendment, which gave white women the right to vote. Share these 12 books with young readers who want to learn more about women's suffrage.

August 26 is Women's Equality Day, commemorating the passing of the 19th Amendment, which gave white women the right to vote. Share these 12 books with young readers who want to learn more about women's suffrage.


Picture Books

Covers: The Voice That Won the Vote; The Voice of Liberty; and The Big Day

The Voice That Won the Vote: How One Woman’s Words Made History by Elisa Boxer. illus. by Vivien Mildenberger. Sleeping Bear. ISBN 9781534110496. 
Gr 1-5–Engaging cartoon illustrations and snappy text make this story about women’s suffrage perfect for very young children. The familiar heroines of the movement (Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul) are included only in a timeline, as the book’s main characters are Harry Burn, a little-known lawmaker, and Febb Burn, his mother. In August of 1920, American women looked to Tennessee, hoping it would become the necessary 36th state to ratify the 19th amendment. But the first round of voting resulted in a tie. When Representative Burn changed his vote, he changed history. 

The Voice of Liberty by Angelica Shirley Carpenter. illus. by Edwin Fotheringham. South Dakota State Historical Society. ISBN 9781941813249. 
Gr 2-4–A group of activist women, led by Katherine “Katie” Devereux Blake, Lillie Devereux Blake, and Matilda Joslyn Gage, protested for suffrage at the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty in 1886. This well-paced read-aloud is informative but presents one moment in the history of women’s suffrage through the lens of white women’s suffrage. An additional purchase for larger collections.

The Big Day by Terry Lee Caruthers. illus. by Robert Casilla. Star Bright. ISBN 9781595729132. 
K-Gr 2–Tansy and Big Mama are preparing for a big day; they get dressed and head to the voting ward. Tansy takes part in a historical day as Big Mama becomes the first Black woman to cast her vote in Knoxville, TN. Based on the life of Agnes Sadler, the book highlights the long fight for voting rights for every person in the United States even after Sadler’s vote.

Covers: Equality's Call; and Fight of the Century

Equality’s Call: The Story of Voting Rights in America by Deborah Diesen. illus. by Magdalena Mora. S. & S./Beach Lane. ISBN 9781534439580. 
K-Gr 2–This introduction to the history of voting rights in the United States includes a catchy and powerful refrain: “A right isn’t right/Till it’s granted to all.” Charming mixed-media illustrations convey the slow but steady forward momentum of progress. Double-page spreads depict increasingly large crowds of people fighting for equal rights over the years. A useful presentation of an important topic that will be a valuable curriculum resource and also encourage parent-child conversation.

Fight of the Century: Alice Paul Battles Woodrow Wilson for the Vote by Barb Rosenstock. illus. by Sarah Green. Boyds Mills/Calkins Creek. ISBN 9781629799087. 
Gr 2-5–Rosenstock explains the history of women’s suffrage and the eventual ratification of the 19th amendment in the form of a boxing match between activist Alice Paul and President Woodrow Wilson. The diligence and coordination of Paul and her supporters and their battle to win public support, especially in light of World War I, are portrayed in an enticing and accessible manner. The narrative framework works well to depict the struggles the suffragettes faced. 


Middle Grade

Covers: Finish the Fight; Lifting as We Climb; Vote!; and Women Win the Vote!

Finish the Fight!: The Brave and Revolutionary Women Who Fought for the Right To Vote by Veronica Chambers & the Staff of the New York Times. HMH/Versify. ISBN 9780358408307. 
Gr 4-8–The New York Times staff collaborated to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment and provide a feminist look at prominent leaders of the women’s suffrage movement. This collection of remarkable women will make for a thorough primary source for middle grade research projects. The book’s social justice lens is an obvious strength. 

 Lifting as We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box by Evette Dionne. Viking. ISBN 9780451481542. 
Gr 5-7–Dionne clearly presents the difficult battle for women’s suffrage that African American women endured before Congress passed the Nineteenth Amendment on June 4, 1919. The trek to the ballot box for African American women was a difficult one, with many grim realities to overcome before and after the amendment’s ratification. Beginning with the start of the abolitionist movement in the 1830s and continuing to the present day, Dionne demonstrates why women anti-slavery advocates (African American and white) felt the need to band together to fight the sexism of the national abolitionist establishment.

Vote!: Women’s Fight for Access to the Ballot Box by Coral Celeste Frazer. Twenty-First Century. ISBN 9781541528154. 
Gr 6 Up–Frazer has summarized nearly 180 years of history into a thorough primer about the fight for women’s suffrage. The author concludes this masterly summary of suffragism by including the fight for African American voting rights and the recent voter suppression tactics used throughout the country. The back matter of the book is a gold mine for students seeking differing angles regarding women’s suffrage.

Women Win the Vote!: 19 for the 19th Amendment by Nancy B Kennedy. illus. by Katy Dockrill. Norton. ISBN 9781324004141. 
Gr 5-8–Kennedy offers a chronological glimpse into the lives of 19 suffragettes. Although the first 12 women profiled did not live to see the passing of the 19th Amendment, they did help lay important groundwork for the activists that came after them. Each woman is given a four-page spread, with colorful pages and bold line illustrations surrounding a black-and-white portrait. Each vignette features a side panel discussing a topic related to the women’s rights movement such as the diversity in religion among the early suffragettes and women’s roles in Native American cultures. 

Covers: Good Girls Don't Make History; Women's Right to Vote; and The Women's Hour

Good Girls Don’t Make History by Elizabeth Kiehner. illus. by Micaela Dawn. Quatro/Wide Eyed Editions. ISBN 9780711271647. 
Gr 6-9–Opening at a modern-day polling place, a brown-skinned mother and daughter wait in a long line to cast their vote. The mother reminds her daughter that while waiting in line is frustrating, voting is doing and that nearly 100 years ago, women had just been granted their voting rights. Told in flashbacks between present and historical vignettes, the book details the evolution of the women’s rights movement and the fight for the right to vote.

Women’s Right To Vote by Kate Messner. illus. by Dylan Meconis. Random. ISBN 9780593120347. 
Gr 3-7–Messner’s middle grade nonfiction title aims to shatter common misconceptions about how women achieved the right to vote in the United States. Most people learn that the fight for women’s rights was started at the Seneca Falls convention in New York in 1848; however, the women’s suffrage movement began much earlier. Messner details the parts of women’s suffrage that are often overlooked.

 The Woman’s Hour: Our Fight for the Right To Vote by Elaine Weiss. Random. ISBN 9780593125182. 
Gr 5 Up–This book details the struggle for women’s suffrage. Weiss presents a fast-paced and engaging resource, with action volleying back and forth between the major players in the struggle. The text acknowledges that securing the vote for women was complicated by racism and that although the 19th Amendment was passed, Black voter suppression continued to be an issue. An entertaining work of narrative nonfiction that takes readers back in time.

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