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The Best Upper Elementary Books for Women’s History Month

Use these Women’s History Month books and activity ideas to introduce and discuss influential women who have made a difference in history and our world. Each book idea includes an important woman in history along with a discussion question and easy to implement activity for upper elementary kids.

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Women’s History Month kicks off on March 1st! This is a great time to incorporate nonfiction stories and biographies that offer your students a look at some very important and influential women in history.

Each read aloud and story allows for thought-provoking discussions to be had in your classrooms. It is so important for young readers to understand how much women have contributed to what our world is today. Below, you will find some of my favorite books that discuss the lives of incredible women in history. 


Dinosaur Lady: The Daring Discoveries of Mary Anning, the First Paleontologist By Linda Skeers

This story is all about Mary Anning and her love for discovering bones and the fossils of dinosaurs even before the word “dinosaur” was being used! Mary began exploring at a young age and although she pioneered what paleontology is today, in her time, she was not allowed to join the Geological Society of London, attend, lecture, or even teach classes about her work at the university only because she was a woman. 

Discussion question: 

How do you think Mary Anning felt when she was making these discoveries but wasn’t allowed to teach or lecture about them in the university? 

Activity: 

Students can draw Mary Anning in the center of a paper. Depending on your class’ abilities, students may draw or write about the different discoveries Mary made in her lifetime. Use the book’s timeline to guide students, if necessary. 


Life Doesn’t Frighten Me, Poem By Maya Angelou with paintings by Jean-Michael Basquiat

“Life Doesn’t Frighten Me” is a poem by Maya Angelou about courage and bravery. This poem that was made into a book helps students learn about Maya through her powerful words. A child’s life can be frightening, but this poem helps the reader see that even they can overcome scary things. 

Discussion Question:

How do you handle something that frightens you? 

Activity: 

Use this activity before or after reading the words from Maya Angelou’s poems. Students can learn about her life and accomplishments by using this Women’s History Close Reading resource and accompanying questions. 


Lola Out Loud: Inspired by the Childhood Activist Dolores Huerta by: Jennifer Torres 

This story is inspired by Dolores Huerta herself. It shows how even the smallest of voices can still make a difference. In Lola Out Loud, Dolores witnesses the injustice in her community and decides to do something about it. Dolores Huerta is an important woman and civil-rights activist that began standing up for what she believes in from a young age. 

Discussion Question:

Why did Dolores feel so strongly about the injustices she saw? 

Activity:

Students use the ideas shared throughout the book to write and describe or draw a picture of what they would do if they witnessed injustice in their neighborhood or community. 


A Picture Book of Anne Frank by David A. Adler 

The author of this book introduces and describes the awful experiences of Jewish people during the Holocaust through the eyes of Anne Frank, in a way that young readers can understand. This biography of Anne Frank shows her and her family’s life during World War II and how they felt while they hid in a secret apartment for two years. 

Discussion Question:

Do you think it was important for Anne Frank to keep a diary describing her feelings while she was in hiding? Why or why not?

Activity:

After reading Anne Frank’s story, students can write her name on a piece of paper and create an acrostic poem where each letter of her name describes a character trait of Anne. 


The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps by Jeanette Winter 

The amazing story of Jane Goodall and her love of animals is told through this story. The reader follows Jane’s journey from when she first started observing animals to how she helped and advocated for the endangered chimpanzees. 

Discussion question: 

Why do you think the chimps allowed Jane to get near them?

Activity:

After reading the story, students can use the information they read about to complete a pennant based on Jane Goodall using this resource. If they need more information about Jane, they can read the passage that accompanies the pennant. 

Read alouds are such a great way to introduce students to extraordinary people in history and of course, Women’s History Month is no different. If you would like to incorporate more women as part of your Women’s History Month instruction, check out my resources which include reading passages about some of the above mentioned women in the stories in addition to Marie Curie, Mother Teresa, Mae Jemison, Sonia Sotomayor, and Oprah Winfrey.

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