Extraordinary Black Women in American History

Kids can learn a lot from real-life heroes who stood up for justice and equality, made a name for themselves in their chosen fields, and made their country and the world a better place. This list offers picture books, biographies, memoirs, and nonfiction stories of women who had the strength and perseverance to overcome obstacles, break barriers, and make history, from Harriet Tubman to Rosa Parks, first African American female astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison to first Black U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris. For other inspiring stories, check out Books with Stories of Extraordinary Women and Civil Rights Books.

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race Poster Image
BOOK

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race

age 4+

Picture book intro to important, inspirational story.

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Jazz Age Josephine Poster Image
BOOK

Jazz Age Josephine

age 4+

Jazzy bio of Josephine Baker inspiring, bittersweet.

By: Jonah Winter (2012)
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Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice Poster Image
BOOK

Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice

age 4+

Inspiring, colorful story of senator's lifetime of work.

By: Nikki Grimes (2020)
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Mae Among the Stars Poster Image
BOOK

Mae Among the Stars

age 4+

Simple bio of first African American female astronaut.

By: Roda Ahmed (2018)
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Rosa Poster Image
BOOK

Rosa

age 4+

Spectacular illustrations spotlight Parks' historic protest.

By: Nikki Giovanni (2006)
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I Am Harriet Tubman: Ordinary People Change the World Poster Image
BOOK

I Am Harriet Tubman: Ordinary People Change the World

age 5+

Courage, doing the right thing are themes in thrilling bio.

By: Brad Meltzer (2018)
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The First Step: How One Girl Put Segregation on Trial Poster Image
BOOK

The First Step: How One Girl Put Segregation on Trial

age 6+

Inspiring, educational story of 1800s civil rights heroes.

By: Susan E. Goodman (2016)
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Nina: A Story of Nina Simone Poster Image
BOOK

Nina: A Story of Nina Simone

age 6+

Bold story of famed singer's life and civil rights activism.

By: Traci N. Todd (2021)
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Painting of Coretta Scott King held by three children.
BOOK

She Persisted: Coretta Scott King

age 6+

Inspiring true story of the civil rights legend.

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Ida B. Wells: Discovering History's Heroes Poster Image
BOOK

Ida B. Wells: Discovering History's Heroes

age 7+

Inspiring biography of courageous civil rights pioneer.

By: Diane Bailey (2019)
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The Legendary Miss Lena Horne Poster Image
BOOK

The Legendary Miss Lena Horne

age 7+

Solid intro to singer, movie star, civil rights activist.

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Counting the Stars: The Story of Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician Poster Image
BOOK

Counting the Stars: The Story of Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician

age 8+

Beautiful, detailed Katherine Johnson bio for older kids.

By: Lesa Cline-Ransome (2019)
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Finish the Fight: The Brave and Revolutionary Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote Poster Image
BOOK

Finish the Fight: The Brave and Revolutionary Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote

age 8+

Inspiring history of the suffrage movement's women of color.

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Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History Poster Image
BOOK

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History

age 8+

Inspirational bios of trailblazing African American women.

By: Vashti Harrison (2017)
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Madam C.J. Walker Builds a Business Poster Image
BOOK

Madam C.J. Walker Builds a Business

age 8+

Inspiring bio of wealthy Black female entrepreneur in 1800s.

By: Rebel Girls (2019)
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Women Who Broke The Rules: Coretta Scott King Poster Image
BOOK

Women Who Broke The Rules: Coretta Scott King

age 8+

A detailed, accessible biography of a civil rights icon.

By: Kathleen Krull (2016)
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Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me 'round: My Story of the Making of Martin Luther King Day Poster Image
BOOK

Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me 'round: My Story of the Making of Martin Luther King Day

age 9+

Lyrical memoir in verse traces fight for MLK Day.

By: Kathlyn J. Kirkwood (2022)
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This Is Your Time Poster Image
BOOK

This Is Your Time

age 9+

Powerful true tale of girl who desegregated school in 1960.

By: Ruby Bridges (2020)
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Betty Before X Poster Image
BOOK

Betty Before X

age 10+

Inspiring, intimate story of activist's early years.

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