Trailblazing Women

You may not know their names, but these women are worth knowing. Freshen up your Women’s History Month displays with these picture books about lesser-known female trailblazers.

I had no idea who Maria Merian was when I saw this book. The cover illustration was enough to pique my interest: a simply dressed girl surrounded by flowers and butterflies that seemed to swirl or dance around her. This picture book is a lovely and appropriate way to introduce readers to this very interesting woman who did not allow the superstitions of her day to keep her from studying and drawing the insects that seemed to appear from nowhere each summer.

Soar, ElinorFrom the first time she flew in a plane, Elinor Smith knew she wanted to be a pilot. She wasted no time achieving her dream. In 1927, at age 16, she became the youngest person to receive a pilot’s license. Smith passed away just last March, and much of this biography is based on personal interviews. The author, herself a pilot inspired by Smith, writes about that experience as “a dream come true” in an author’s note about her source material. No doubt, this story will continue to inspire girls to take to the sky.

Tillie the Terrible SwedeWhat’s so terrible about riding a bicycle? When the bicycle craze swept America in the 1890’s, Tillie Anderson knew she wanted to ride, but she was told that ‘bicycles aren’t for ladies’ as though that were the end of it. Tillie wasn’t about to let anything so silly as a little criticism stop her from the “speedy, scorchy, racy” type of riding she wanted to do. Soon she was riding her bicycle in races and setting records while wearing a scandalous costume of her own design. Terrible, indeed!

Happy Women’s History Month!


Soar, Elinor! by Tami Lewis Brown. 2010.

 Summer Birds : The Butterflies of Maria Merian by Margarita Engle. 2010.

Tillie the Terrible Swede : How One Woman, a Sewing Needle, and a Bicycle Changed History by Sue Stauffacher. 2011.

Blogger:  Mindy R