You Can Do ANYthing! : Women Who Tried, Dared, & DID!

Back in the mid-1970s, I was debating what I wanted to do after high school. My options seemed to be limited to nursing or secretarial work, and I was not thrilled about either of them. I enjoyed working with children and thought teaching would be fun, but that required college, and since no one in my family had ever been to college, that was an uphill battle before my parents gave in.

Then my English teacher asked me what my plans were. When I said teaching, he protested, “Why do you want to be a teacher?” Then he said something nobody had ever told me before: “You can do anything you want. Be ANYthing.”

I was stunned.

I’m glad we are moving to a time when girls aren’t shocked to hear these words. That little girls already know it in their hearts, and if they don’t, they have someone to encourage them. That girls set their minds on the stars or the stage, on the tennis court or the Supreme Court, on being elected their town’s mayor or their country’s President.

Below are books about girls who followed their dreams, fought for their causes, and laid the foundation for women of all ages to expand their horizons. For an extended list of books, check out my post on the MackinVIA Community site.

Me? I didn’t wander from the stereotypical female professions. I became an elementary teacher and taught school and later got my MLIS degree (when I was 45). I love working with children and teaching and sharing books, so I am quite happy with my choices. But though my career is traditional, my teacher’s words have often encouraged me to go beyond the familiar in other areas, and I’m very grateful to him.

And though I doubt he remembers our conversation, I just want to say: Thanks, Mr. Stein from Baldwin-Woodville High School, for making a difference.



Girl Running : Bobbi Gibb and the Boston Marathon by Annette Bay Pimentel (ill. by Micha Archer). 9781101996683. 2018. Gr K-3.

I Can Be Anything! Don’t Tell Me I Can’t by Diane Dillon. 9781338166903. 2018. Gr PK-3.

Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor : The Woman Who Loved Reptiles by Patricia Valdez (ill. by Felicita Sala). 9780399557255. March 2018. Gr PK-3.

Pocket Full of Colors : The Magical World of Mary Blair, Disney Artist Extraordinaire by Amy Guglielmo & Jacqueline Tourville (ill. by Brigette Barrager). 9781481461313. 2017. Gr K-2.

Who Says Women Can’t Be Computer Programmers? : The Story of Ada Lovelace by Tanya Lee Stone (ill. by Marjorie Priceman). 9781627792998. 2018. Gr K-3.




A Lady Has the Floor : Belva Lockwood Speaks Out for Women’s Rights by Kate Hannigan (ill. by Alison Jay). 9781629794532. 2018. Gr 3-6.

Long-Armed Ludy and the First Women’s Olympics by Jean L.S. Patrick (ill. by Adam Gustavson). 9781580895460. 2017. Gr 1-4.

Miss Mary Reporting : The True Story of Sportswriter Mary Garber by Sue Macy (ill. by C.F. Payne). 9781481449915. 2016. Gr 1-4.

No Truth Without Ruth : The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Kathleen Krull (ill. by Nancy Zhang). 9780062560117. 2018. Gr 1-4.

Shaking Things Up : 14 Young Women Who Changed the World by Susan Hood. 9780062699459. 2018. Gr 2-5.


Streetcar to Justice : How Elizabeth Jennings Won the Right to Ride in New York by Amy Hill Hearth. 9780062673602. 2018. Gr 4-6.

Women Who Dared : 52 Fearless Daredevils, Adventurers, & Rebels by Linda Skeers (ill. by Livi Gosling). 9781492653271. 2017. Gr 4-7.




The Girl Wo Drew Butterflies : How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science by Joyce Sidman. 9780544717138. 2018. Gr 5-8.

Irena’s Children : Young Readers Edition by Mary Cronk Farrell. 9781481449915. 2016. Gr 7-10.

Lillian Wald : America’s Great Social and Healthcare Reformer by Paul M. Kaplan. 9781455623495. 2018. Gr 7-10.

March Forward, Girl : From Young Warrior to Little Rock Nine by Melba Pattillo Beals. 9781328882127. 2018. Gr 6-9.

More Girls Who Rocked the World : Heroines from Ada Lovelace to Misty Copeland by Michelle Roehm McCann. 9781582706405. 2017. Gr 5-8.


Super Women : Six Scientists Who Changed the World by Laurie Lawlor. 9780823436750. 2017. Gr 5-8.

Ten Days a Madwoman : The Daring Life and Turbulent Times of the Original “Girl” Reporter Nellie Bly by Deborah Noyes. 9781616204150. 2016. Gr 6-9.




Because I Was a Girl : True Stories for Girls of All Ages edited by Melissa de la Cruz. 9781250154460. 2017. Gr 7-12.

Brazen : Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Penelope Bagieu. 9781626728691. 2018. Gr 7-12.

Hillary Rodham Clinton : A Woman Living History by Karen Blumenthal. 9781250060143. 2016. Gr 9-12.

Photographic : The Life of Graciela Iturbide by Isagel Quintero & Zeke Pena. 9781947440005. March 2018. Gr 9-12.

Radioactive! : How Irene Curie & Lise Meitner Revolutionized Science and Changed the World by Winifred Conkling. 9781616204150. 2016. Gr 7-10.

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