A quick look at the Australian calendar will tell you that the month of March is all about celebrating, commemorating, and talking all things women.
In addition to being Australian women’s history month and endometriosis awareness month, we also get to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th.
In preparation for this I thought I’d share a few of my favourite books spotlighting wonderful women who’ve done great things and become terrific role models along the way.
Note: There are soooooo many books I could add to this blog post, but I’ve challenged myself to keep it to just nine. I’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments below.
Amazing Australian Women
Amazing Australian Women by Pamela Freeman and Sophie Beer profiles twelve history-shaping women from all over Australia. These include: a businesswomen, an indigenous resistance fighter, a politician, a teachers, a writer, a nurse, a swimmer and an artist. The book contains lots of fascinating information and will leave readers wanting to do more research on each of the amazing women. (It even provides links to further readings about each of the featured women at the back of the book.
Heroes, Rebels and Innovators
Heroes, Rebels and Innovators: Inspiring aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from history by Karen Wyld and Jaelyn Biumaiwai presents the stories of 7 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders from history. 3 of the 7 stories feature women who have made an impact and shaped history in some way. These include freedom fighters and peace bringers. The text is well laid out and each of the stories is a short read.
Our House is on Fire
Our House is On Fire by Jeanette Winter is a narrative non-fiction that tells the story of Greta Thunberg’s call to take climate change seriously. It tells the story of how Greta first became interested in climate change (spoiler alert- it was the influence of a wonderful teacher) and how this knowledge turned into an obsession for her and one for which she felt she couldn’t remain silent. A top learning from this is that people of any age can make a difference!
The Librarian of Basra
The Librarian of Basra, by Jeanette Winter, tells the fascinating true story of an Iraqi librarian who does everything she can to protect her library’s books when war comes to her town. This is a great text to share with students to show them that you don’t have to be a well-known politician, sportsperson or actress to make a difference in the world. This text is told in a narrative format and spark good conversation and a desire to research the war a little further.
Lowitja is an autobiography by Lowitja O’Donoghue- an influential aboriginal woman who became the founding chairperson of ATSIC (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission). This is a well set out text that would be ideal to study as part of a writing unit on autobiographies.
Meet…Nancy Bird Walton
This Meet… series book is written by Grace Atwood and illustrated by Harry Slaghekke. It tells the fascinating story of Australia’s first female commercial pilot, Nancy Bird Walton. It outlines how she defied gender stereotypes to pursue her passion of flying. It also tells how she went on to lead the first ever “Ladies Flying Tour” of outback Australia. There’s a timeline at the back of the book that shows readers there is much more to Nancy’s story than what could be squashed into this book.
Meet… Nellie Melba
Janeen Brian wrote this Meet… series book and Claire Murphy illustrated it. This is another fascinating read about an influential woman in Australia’s history. This book informs the reader about Dame Nellie Melba’s early life and her passionate desire to become a world-famous soprano singer. It outlines the countless obstacles Nellie had to overcome to eventually reach her goal and is a fantastic example of the power of dedication and hard work. This is a great book for reminding students that you can make a difference to the world through art and music.
The Water Princess
This stunning book, written by Susan Verde with pictures by Peter H. Reynolds tells the story of a young African girl living in a town with no clean drinking water. Every day Gie Gie and her mother have to take the long walk to the nearest well to bring back water for their family. This story was inspired by the Burkino Faso-born model Georgie Badel, who grew up and went on to create a foundation to bring clean drinking water to the villages in her country.
Little People, Big Dreams- Jane Austen
This series features so many wonderful women! The Jane Austen book tells the story of how Jane came to fall in love with writing and how she developed the idea for her famous novel, Pride and Prejudice. These books are a great little read and accessible to all age groups.
What are your favourite books featuring wonderful women? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.