20 Picture Books for Women’s History Month in Chinese and English!

Great picture books for Women's History Month in English and Chinese for children

I love sharing stories about inspiring leaders with my children, including great picture books for Women’s History Month in Chinese and English. For centuries, women have been working hard to prove that they can make a difference both inside and outside of the home. Currently, I am taking a break from my career as a physician to be home with my children. However, both my daughter and son need to learn about real women thriving in various roles!

Girl reading picture books for Women's History Month in Chinese and English!

The books here are geared for ages 3-9 years of age, but I personally still love most picture books as an adult! I learned about some of these heroines for the first time with my children.

Try this: 15 Ways to Encourage Your Child to Read

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Why are books for Women’s History Month important?

Ever year, March is the designated Women’s History Month to honor female contributions in United States history.

Brief history behind Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month initially began as a week-long American celebration in 1981, eventually supported by Congress to be designated as as full month. As the Washington Post reports: “While today’s textbooks certainly include more diverse perspectives than a generation ago, textbooks still generally present our shared national history as a story by and for white men….Women’s History Month was designed to bridge these gaps in knowledge, with the understanding history always has political ramifications in the present.”

Women History Month aims to improve representation in school books

In 2017, research from the Women’s History Museum revealed that United States social studies standards “do not reflect current trends or ideals in girls’ education. While there is an increasing public interest in motivating girls to embrace science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, social studies standards provide few historic examples of women or their achievements in these fields.” White women are most commonly named in their role with voting rights, followed by Black women in Abolitionist and Civil Rights movements. No Asian American women are included.

International Women’s Day

Globally, International Women’s Day falls on March 8th with similar goals to celebrate female achievements, raise awareness about persistent inequality, and support charities and organizations.

Women’s History Month books in Chinese and English

Since we’re raising bilingual kids, we want them to learn about important topics in both Mandarin Chinese and English. I’ve included the ISBN and links to popular online bookstores that carry these books, but I hope you can find some in your local library as well!

Some of these books have Mandarin narration with the Luka Reading Robot; for other books, we use our Youdao Reading Pen to translate unfamiliar Chinese words.

物理天后 推翻宇宙定律的吳健雄 Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom
物理天后 推翻宇宙定律的吳健雄 Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom

物理天后 推翻宇宙定律的吳健雄 Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom

My 7-year-old daughter is fascinated by science, and this book became a new favorite of hers the moment we got it. Born in China over 100 years ago during a time when few females went to school, Dr Wu Chien Shiung was encouraged by her parents to pursue her passion for science. Eventually, she immigrated to the United States for her PhD and countless contributions to physics while facing sexism and racism.

Author Teresa Robeson does a wonderful job weaving in Dr. Wu’s science work in an approachable way for children. Rebecca Huang’s Illustrations beautifully capture Dr. Wu’s journey from qipao to white lab coat.

Read this: The Best 100 Picture Books That Celebrate Asians in English and Chinese

Malala Yousafzai

We have 2 books about Malala, and I’ll compare them below.

马拉拉的神奇画笔 Malala's Magic Pencil
马拉拉的神奇画笔 Malala’s Magic Pencil

马拉拉的神奇画笔 / 馬拉拉的魔法鉛筆 Malala’s Magic Pencil

Malala herself wrote this beautiful story about the magic of the pen, the power of the human voice. She begins the story about a television show that inspired her to dream of a magic pencil. As she grows up, she realizes the magic is her own voice and bravery to speak up. The shooting isn’t mentioned, but Malala alludes to it on one page: “My voice became so powerful that the dangerous men tried to silence me. But they failed.”

I teared up watching Malala’s introduction of her book in this YouTube video! My daughter loves this book!

Malala, a Brave Girl from Pakistan / Iqbal, a Brave Boy from Pakistan

TRIGGER WARNING: Shooting and death

Author-illustrator Jeanette Winter book set up this book in such a unique way in that one side features Malala Yousafzai while the other side focuses on Iqbal Masih. Both are young and brave children in Pakistan who speak out for human rights.

Between detailed author’s notes on both sides of the book, we learn about how the Taliban is aggressive and bans girls from school. Malala speaks up, but the Taliban targets and shoots her. Miraculously, she survives to tell her story.

On the other hand, Iqbal is a young boy who is sold by his impoverished parents to a factory with child labor. When he eventually becomes free, he bravely speaks out about his experience. At the young age of 12, he is shot while riding his bike.

观察者 / 黑猩猩的好朋友:珍‧古德 The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps

观察者 / 黑猩猩的好朋友:珍‧古德 The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps

Another lovely book by Jeannette Winter that celebrates the passion and work of Jane Goodall! The book emphasizes the power of observation: Ms. Goodall grows to love animals by watching the animals around her home for hours on end. When Goodall grows up, she saves money to travel to Africa to study chimpanzees. Troubled by forests being destroyed and chimps being poached, she travels around the world to advocate for animals.

  • Where to buy:
    • Simplified Chinese ISBN: 9787550267091
    • Traditional Chinese ISBN: 9789865811372
    • English ISBN: 9780375867743

Explore this: Why Kids Love The Montessori Animals and Continents Activity (Chinese, Korean, English)

和平树 / 和平樹 Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa - Chinese picture book
和平树 / 和平樹 Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa

和平树 / 和平樹 Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa

Nobel Peace Prize winner, Wangari Maathai, was an environmentalist. Growing up, Wangari’s hometown in Kenya was filled with trees. Years later when she visits her home, she is devastated to see the destruction of entire forests. She begins to plant her own tree, and her passion for environmental activism grows.

用圖像思考的女孩:動物科學家天寶‧葛蘭汀的故事 The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin

Julia Finley Mosca is one of our favorite picture book biographers! Told in rhyme, this book details Dr. Temple Grandin’s life at a level that’s appropriate and interesting for children. Dr. Grandin was a scientist with autism, and her special way of thinking helped her connect with animals and invent improvements for farms worldwide.

Explore this: The Best Human Anatomy Toys and Science Gifts for Kids!

眼光獨到的女孩: 派翠西亞‧巴斯醫師的故事 / The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes: The Story of Dr. Patricia Bath
眼光獨到的女孩: 派翠西亞‧巴斯醫師的故事 / The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes: The Story of Dr. Patricia Bath

眼光獨到的女孩: 派翠西亞‧巴斯醫師的故事 The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes: The Story of Dr. Patricia Bath

This inspiring story is based on Dr. Patricia Bath’s life experience. Dr. Patricia Bath is an ophthalmologist, laser scientist and inventor, and she pursued her talent and dreams while facing racism. Like author Julia Finley Mosca’s other books, this book also rhymes in English.

有數學頭腦的女孩:工程師瑞‧蒙特固的故事 / The Girl with a Mind for Math
有數學頭腦的女孩:工程師瑞‧蒙特固的故事 / The Girl with a Mind for Math

有數學頭腦的女孩:工程師瑞‧蒙特固的故事 The Girl with a Mind for Math

Throughout her life, Raye Montague faced racism and eventually overcame many challenges pursue her career as a navel engineer. In English, the story is written with rhyme. We do not have this book in Chinese, so I’m not sure if it rhymes in this language. Please share your review in the comments if you’ve read Chinese version!

The Water Princess - Children's picture book about Africa
水公主 The Water Princess

水公主 / The Water Princess

International fashion model Georgie Badiel’s spent her childhood in Africa, walking for miles to collect water for her family. She wonders why water is so far and not clear. experience with working hard to collect clean water. The end of the book shows real photographs of children in Africa collecting water. This is one of my daughter’s favorite books. These experiences eventually inspire her to create the Georgie Badiel Foundation, a charity that provides clean water, sanitation, and education to a country in West Africa.

自由的苹果 An Apple for Harriet Tubman

自由的苹果 An Apple for Harriet Tubman

In the 1800s, Harriet Tubman spent long hours picking apples that she was not allowed to eat. But she was determined to be free someday and grow her own apple trees. Eventually, she escaped to the North and repeatedly risked her life to return and lead many African Americans to freedom.

TRIGGER WARNING: Some pages in this book have illustrations that suggest whipping.

普通人改变世界 Ordinary People Change the World

普通人改变世界 Ordinary People Change the World

The Chinese set of biographical picture books includes the following female leaders (in addition to male heroes):

  • Amelia Earhart 我是阿梅莉亚·埃尔哈特
  • I am Lucille Ball 我是露西尔·鲍尔
  • I am Rosa Parks 我是罗莎·帕克斯
  • I am Helen Keller 我是海伦·凯勒
  • I am Jane Goodall 我是珍妮·古道尔

The style of these picture books remind me of comic books, with cartoonish illustrations and speech bubbles. The downside is small font in the Chinese version.

In English, this series of books includes more heroes and heroines sold individually or as a set, and the font is more readable.

小弗里达 Little Frida: A Story of Frida Kahlo
小弗里达 Little Frida: A Story of Frida Kahlo

小弗里达 Little Frida: A Story of Frida Kahlo

Born in Mexico, Frida Kahlo was known for her talent in painting portraits, self-portraits, and cultural art. There are many picture books about Frida Kahlo, and we like this version because she is shares details of her overcoming illness and discovering art.

Related: 10+ Picture Books for Hispanic Heritage Month in Chinese, English, Spanish

Women’s History Month Books in English

Shark Lady: How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist

Author Jess Keating’s biographical picture book celebrates Eugenie Clark’s love of sharks. Eugenie Clark was a Japanese-Caucasian-American marine biologist who devoted her life to studying sharks. The bold animal pictures are attractive for my toddler son, while the personal and science facts inspire both of my children.

  • Where to buy
    • English ISBN: 9781492642046

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

Both Dinosaur Lady and Shark Lady are among my children’s favorites. If you have children who are resistant to people’s history (like my son), try this book! Author Linda Skeers highlights Mary Anning’s passion for dinosaurs that begins with discovering a fossil and blossoms with a career as a paleontologist.

  • Where to buy
    • English ISBN: 9781728209517

Related: English and Chinese Dinosaur Books for Kids of All Ages!

The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee

The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee

Author Julie Yeung and Illustrator Julie Kwon do a wonderful job sharing Hazel Ying Lee’s inspiring story. Hazel was the first Chinese American female pilot in the United States military during World War II. In addition to Hazel’s family worrying about the dangerous job, she also faced discrimination for being Asian. But Hazel was braved and loved being in the sky. After she died in a plane crash, her family struggled to find a proper burial due to their race.

  • Where to buy:
    • English ISBN: 9780759554955
Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines by Jeanne Walker Harvey

Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines

This stunning picture book about Chinese American architect Maya Lin’s reveals her talent and passion as well as the power of a name. However when her design for the Vietnam Memorial is selected, she overcomes backlash and scrutiny. Beautiful illustrations by Dow Phumiruk.

  • Where to buy
Asian Americans Who Inspire Us by Analiza Quiroz Wolf

Asian Americans who Inspire Us

This is a great collection of Asian American trailblazers, both female and male, including a variety of talents:

  • Maya Lin
  • Kristi Yamaguchi
  • Yo-Yo Ma
  • Ellison Onizuka
  • Lisa and Laura Ling
  • Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz
  • Duke Kahanamoku
  • Patsy Takumoto Mink
  • Tammy Duckworth
  • Sal Khan
  • Andrew Youn
  • David Ho
  • Margaret Chung
  • Grace Lin
  • Haing Ngor

Each person has a 6 pages dedicated to a summary of their story with attractive colorful illustrations. The exception is that Lisa and Laura Ling and Larry Itliong and Phillip Vera Cruz share sections.

Just a couple minor critiques: The biographies lack important dates, so we would have to look up when certain people were alive for context of challenges in attending medical school in the early 1900s for example. A few sections have redundant grammar structure (eg, 4 consecutive sentences beginning with “He”).

  • Where to buy:
    • English ISBN: 9781073718184

Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation

Sylvia Mendez was a Mexican American child who was discriminated at school due to race and skin color. Her parents work hard for justice so that children like Sylvia Mendez can go to any school, which eventually led to the 1947 California ruling against public-school segregation.

  • Where to buy
    • English / ISBN: 9781419710544
Inspiring favorite English and Chinese picture books for Women's History Month

What are your favorite English and Chinese books for Women’s History Month?

If you end up reading this book, let me know what you think in the comments below!

We’d love to hear about your learning experience and if you agree or disagree with our review! What other books do you recommend?

More reading resources for bilingual kids

Happy Women’s History Month!

2 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for including Queen of Physics in your review! I’m delighted to hear that your daughter loves the book and loves science. I hope she will maintain that love and become a scientist one day!

    1. Hi Teresa! It’s such an honor to see your message here! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a note – my daughter will be so excited to see this tomorrow :-). She truly loves the Queen of Physics book!

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