On March 8, women and their allies across the country are participating in a nationwide general strike intended to highlight the socio-economic contributions of women while demanding political action that will guarantee gender equality and justice in the workplace and beyond. As a so-called grown-up, it's easier to understand the significance of the women's movement and its continued resistance efforts, but if you're trying to explain things to a little one, you might want to share these empowering children's books with young readers on A Day Without a Woman. Featuring stories about activism, social justice, and political reform, these picture books will help readers, young and old, understand what it means to make a difference.
Growing up can be difficult no matter where or when you do it, but coming of age in a climate of political and social unrest like the one we live in today poses a whole new set of challenges for our youth. Kids not only have to figure out who they are, but they also have to try and understand what's happening in the hostile world around them. With so much fear and change, it's easy for a young person to feel lost and overwhelmed in a sea of angry commentary and protest signs.
Luckily, there are two things that can help them better understand: you and books. Reading stories about political change, social activists, and historical movements that have shaped our country's past can help young readers understand what their future could hold.
Ready to resist with the little ones in your life? Then here are 13 empowering children's books to share with young readers for A Day Without a Woman. These stories will inspire you as much as they do the ones you read them to.
1'Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation' by Duncan Tonatiuh
Every school-age child has learned about the Brown vs. Board of Education decision that ended segregation in America, but nearly a decade before that, there was another little girl who took the same bold step towards racial equality. Separate is Never Equal tells the inspiring story of Sylvia Mendez, an American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage who was denied entry to a "Whites only" school because of her race. Instead of accepting her fate, Sylvia and her family organized the Hispanic community to take a stand against segregated education, and their bravery helped change the history of California.
2'Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Markers' Strike of 1909' by Michelle Markel
Perfect to read on a day of general striking, Brave Girl tells the incredible true story of Clara Lemlich, a Ukrainian immigrant who became the leader of the Uprising of 20,000, a monumental strike of shirtwaist workers in New York in 1909. Beautifully illustrated and powerfully written, this illustrated biography depicts exactly how hard some people are willing to work to bring about change.
3'Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer' by Carole Boston Weatherford
In this illustrated collection of poems and spirituals, readers learn all about one of the greatest champions of equal voting rights: Fannie Lou Hamer. Voice of Freedom celebrates her life and accomplishments in vibrant collages and beautifully lyrical text, while reminding readers that with hope and determination, real change can happen.
4'I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark' by Debbie Levy
If you have a young reader in need of a feminist role model, hand over I Dissent, a picture book about the incredible life of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Using the inspirational judge's own written dissents, this book explores the importance of arguing against unfairness and inequality and proves that when you stand up for what's right, justice can prevail.
5'The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist' by Cynthia Levinson
Young readers may think activism is an adults-only activity, but The Youngest Marcher will show them that fighting for equality doesn't have an age requirement. Bold and moving, this picture book tells the story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a nine-year-old civil rights marcher and the youngest known child to be arrested in Birmingham in 1963. A touching story about bravery, it's the perfect read for kids who want to participate in the next protest with you.
6'Malala: Activist for Girls' Education' by Raphaële Frier
By now, there are dozens of books about the incredibly inspiring life of Malala Yousafzai, but this picture book is especially suited for a moment like A Day Without a Woman. Beautifully illustrated and clearly written, Malala tells the brave young girl's story, from the time she was just a kid fighting for the rights for young school girls to her Nobel Peace Prize at age 18.
7'I Am Jazz' by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
A Day Without Women is about protecting and ensuring the rights of all people. That's why I Am Jazz, a sweet and educational picture book about trans activist Jazz Jennings is an ideal read for March 8 and beyond. Empowering and insightful, this is a simple yet powerful book that all children should read.
8'Dolores Huerta: A Hero to Migrant Workers' by Sarah Warren
In this picture book based on the extraordinary true story of activist Dolores Huerta, readers learn that bravery, kindness, hand work, and dedication can change not only your life, but the world around you. Dolores Huerta focuses on the activist's work to change and improve the lives of migrant workers, Spanish-speaking students, and the children and families of the immigrant population. Told in sparing prose alongside breathtaking watercolor and pastel paintings, this book sends a powerful message about hope and the possibility for change.
9'Lillian's Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965' by Jonah Winter
In this powerful picture book, readers follow along with Lillian, an elderly black woman, as she makes her way to the voting booth. While on her own journey, she recalls in vivid detail the journey her ancestors took that gave her the right to cast a ballot, from the day her great-great-grandparents were sold as slaves to marches in Selma. Compelling and empowering, Lillian's Right to Vote is an wonderful picture book that will make kids fall in love with history and social justice.
10'A is for Activist' by Innosanto Nagara
It's never too early to teach children about getting involved, which is what makes A is for Activist the perfect protest book for young readers. An alphabet book featuring everything from "Advocate. Abolitionist. Ally" to "Environmental justice is the way!", this fun and catchy read will help even the youngest activists tap into their potential.
11'We March' by Shane W. Evans
In this historical picture book, author Shane W. Evans recreates the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. From the first steps at the Washington Monument to Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, We March celebrates the civil rights contributions of the 1960s, and honors the continued efforts of today.
12'We Came to America' by Faith Ringgold
A beautiful collection of immigration stories, Faith Ringgold's We Came to America celebrates the diversity that makes the United States so amazing. Featuring beautiful and colorful illustrations alongside lyrical tales of every nationality, race, and religion, this book is a must-read for children trying to understand the diverse world around them, and why it's so important to protect and defend.
13'What Do You With an Idea?' by Kobi Yamada
While it's not about any particular social justice issue or historical movement, Kobi Yamada's What Do You Do with an Idea? is a brilliant read for A Day Without a Woman, because it celebrates the possibility behind ideas. An encouraging and inspiring story about what to do when you want to accomplish something that seems too far out of reach, this motivational picture book will get kids excited about making a difference.