Tag Archives: strong women

Not One Damsel in Distress: World Folktales for Strong Girls

Written by: Jane Yolen

Illustrated by: Susan Guevara

For Ages: 8-12 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Historical Figures, Strong Women, Courage, Historical Fiction, Independent Thought.

Summary: This book is a compilation of stories about strong historical women. Nana Miriam, Li Chi, Burd Janet, and Mizilca are just a few of the figures covered. Jane Yolen collected and retells these stories to inspire future generations of young girls to be heroes. Each of the stories has an illustration of the hero, but the book is mostly print. Each story is a few pages, a good length for a short story time or bedtime story.

Reflection Questions:

  • Which one of these heroes is your favorite?
  • Are any of these stories from near where you live?
  • Have you heard any of these stories before?
  • How are you a hero?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Find more stories about strong women that aren’t in this book. They could be from your community, your country, or a place that isn’t featured in Yolen’s book at all!
  • Write your own story, with yourself as the hero! Develop a problem that only you can solve and help save the day.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

jane yolen
Jane Yolen
is an author of children’s books, fantasy, and science fiction, including Owl Moon, The Devil’s Arithmetic, and How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? She is also a poet, a teacher of writing and literature, and a reviewer of children’s literature. She has been called the Hans Christian Andersen of America and the Aesop of the twentieth century. Jane Yolen’s books and stories have won the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, two Christopher Medals, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards, the Golden Kite Award, the Jewish Book Award, the World Fantasy Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Association of Jewish Libraries Award among many others. This website presents information about her over three hundred books for children. It also contains essays, poems, answers to frequently asked questions, a brief biography, her travel schedule, and links to resources for teachers and writers. It is intended for children, teachers, writers, storytellers, and lovers of children’s literature.

susan guevara
Photo by Norman Mauskopf

Susan Guevara is a visual storyteller. She tells her tales with illustrations, paintings, drawings and sculptures. For 27 years her work as a children’s picture book illustrator has been recognized many times, often for its contribution to literature set in Latino culture. Her recognition includes a 2005 New York Times Ten Best Illustrated books of the Year recipient, a two time Pura Belpré Illustrator Award winner, the first Tomás Rivera Award winner and most recently, a Pura Belpré Honor Award winner for her last book, Little Roja Riding Hood by Susan Middleton Elya. Her illustrations for Chato’s Kitchen by Gary Soto contributed to the book being recognized as one of the Best 100 Books of the Last 100 Years by the New York Public Library.

The Flying Girl

Written by: Margarita Engle

Illustrated by: Sara Palacios

For ages: 3-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Women in STEM, Historical Figures, Trailblazer.

Summary: This simple rhyming book tells the tale of how a teenage girl became the first woman to fly an airship. Aída became fascinated with flight when she saw an airship fly over her town, and began taking lessons after tracking down the pilot Alberto. Aída’s family was scandalized when they learned of her dreams to be a pilot, but she was undeterred. Alberto one day offered her a ride on his airship but Aída demanded that she be the pilot! Amazingly enough, Alberto conceded and she soared over the city like she had seen Alberto do on that fateful day which inspired her lifelong love of flight. When she lands, the townspeople are horrified that a woman was flying the airship and surround her shouting! Alberto however, is ecstatic for her and tells her she’s an inspiration for girls all over the world.

In the back of the book is also a more extensive life history of Aída de Acosta. This book is fabulous, and introduces young children to an individual that most of them have never heard of before!

Reflection Questions:

  • Has anyone ever told you that you couldn’t do something because you were a boy or girl?
  • How did that make you feel?
  • How do you think Aída felt after she had flown an airship for the first time?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Learn about women inventors!  Even though Aída did not necessarily invent the airship, she was on the frontlines of its development and the first woman to ever fly one.  Maybe you can even find an inventor or pilot to come visit your classroom!
  • Draw up your own plans of a flying machine.  What makes your invention revolutionary?  How can it help people get from place to place? Have an “Invention Convention” with your class and have everyone share their ideas.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

margaret-engleMargarita Engle is the 2017-2019 national Young People’s Poet Laureate, and USBBY’s 2019 nominee for the Astrid Lindgren Award, the world’s largest children’s literature honor. She is the Cuban-American author of many verse novels, including the Newbery Honor winner, The Surrender Tree, and PEN USA Award winner, The Lightning Dreamer. Her verse memoir, Enchanted Air, tells the story of her childhood summers in Cuba, where she developed a deep bond with her mother’s extended family, Cuban culture, and tropical nature. Margarita’s books have received multiple Pura Belpré Awards and Honors, Américas Awards, Jane Addams Awards and Honors, Walter Award Honors, and the Claudia Lewis Poetry Award. Books for younger children include All the Way to Havana, and the Charlotte Zolotow Award winner, Drum Dream Girl.

sara_palaciosSara Palacios studied Graphic Design at Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Mexico DF, and has an Associate Degree in Graphic Production Techniques from the School of Design, INBA  (National Institute of Fine Arts) in Mexico. She also has an Associate Degree in Illustration from the Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana, as well as a BFA and MFA in Illustration from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. She has been a part time faculty member at the Academy of Art University since 2014. She is the recipient of the 2012 Pura Belpré Illustration Honor Award and the 2013 Tejas Star Book Award.

Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World

Written by: Susan Hood

Illustrated by: 13 Extraordinary Women

For Ages: 4-12 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Strong Women, Trailblazers, Activism, STEM, Diversity.

Summary: This book is awesome. It profiles 14 women and young girls that changed the world, and features a different artist illustrating each person. The women featured range from activists, a paleontologist, an astronaut, and scientists. Poetry on each page let’s the reader know the achievements of figures like the Secret Agent Nearne sisters, Frida Kahlo, and Annette Kellerman. This is a great book for a short story time, bedtime story, and as a jumping off point for a more in-depth unit about any of the topics covered.

Reflection Questions:

  • Which of these people have done things that you would like to do someday?
  • What picture in the book do you like the best? What kind of art mediums are used, and could you use the same ones to make an art piece too?
  • How would you like to help people one day? How do you help people now?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Choose an art style that one of the illustrators uses and make some art featuring a personal hero in your life. What does this person do that inspires you?
  • Think about some of the challenges these women faced when chasing their dreams, and think about what you want to achieve in your life. What do you think some of the challenges you will face might be?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

susan hoodSusan Hood is the award-winning author of many picture books for young readers, including Ada’s Violin and Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World. She is the recipient of the 2017 E.B. White Honor Award, the 2017 Christopher Award, the 2017 Américas Award and the 2017 Bank Street Flora Steiglitz Straus Award, given to “a distinguished work of nonfiction that serves as an inspiration to young people.” Before launching a full-time writing career, Susan was the Children’s Content Director of Nick Jr. Magazine, where she edited original stories by the winners of the Caldecott Medal, the Coretta Scott King Book Award and the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award. Before that, Susan was a children’s book editor at Sesame Workshop, and a children’s magazine editor at Scholastic and Instructor Magazine for early childhood educators. While working as an editor, Susan wrote hundreds of children’s books for ages 1-8, including board books, concept books, interactive books, nonfiction and beginning readers. She has published books with Disney, Fisher Price, Penguin Putnam, Scholastic, Sesame Workshop and Simon & Schuster, among others. In addition to writing for children, she has written for parents and early childhood educators in The New York Times, Nickelodeon’s ParentsConnect, Sesame Street Parent’s Guide, Working Mother and more.Susan lives with her family in Connecticut and enjoys spending the summer sailing with her husband along the New England coast. She is all too familiar with ocean storms and trouble at sea. Those experiences informed Susan’s first middle grade novel—Lifeboat 12—debuting September, 2018. Visit Susan at susanhoodbooks.com.

sophie blackallSophie Blackall is the illustrator of many acclaimed picture books, including Mr. and Mrs. Bunny—Detectives Extraordinaire! by Polly Horvath, The Mighty Lalouche by Matthew Olshan, and The Baby Tree. Her artwork has also appeared in murals as part of the New York City MTA’s “Arts for Transit” program. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.




emily winfield martin


Emily Winfield Martin makes paintings, books & etceteras. She works in a tiny nook of a studio filled with treasures & old wind-up toys. Her work is inspired by fairy tales, music, myths, illustration from the late 19th through mid 20th century, her favorite films, and the natural world. She likes sea monsters and seashell-colored poppies & lives among the giant fir trees of Portland, OR.



Shandra StricklandShadra Strickland studied design, writing, and illustration at Syracuse University, and completed her M.F.A. at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She won the Ezra Jack Keats Award and Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent in 2009 for her work in her first picture book, Bird, written by Zetta Elliott. Shadra is passionate about promoting positivity through her work, and her ultimate goal as a picture book author and illustrator is to teach children how to live their dreams. Her style is a whimsical blend of reality and imagination, and she loves to create stories that children can see themselves in. Shadra travels the country conducting workshops and sharing her work with children, teachers, and librarians. She currently teaches illustration at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.

melissa sweetMelissa Sweet  has illustrated over 100 books as well as many toys, puzzles, games for eeBoo. Her work has been in magazines, on greeting cards and as drawings on her living room walls. She has written four books: Carmine: A Little More Red, a New York Times Best Illustrated book; Tupelo Rides the Rails; Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade, a Sibert Award winner (for informational books) and a NCTE Orbis Pictus winner (for nonfiction).  Her most recent book, Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White, was a New York Times Best Seller and garnered an NCTE Orbis Pictus award. Melissa has illustrated three books by author Jen Bryant: A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos WilliamsThe Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus, both garnered Caldecott Honors. A Splash of Red: The Art of Horace Pippin, was a Sibert Award and Orbis Pictus Award winner.

LeUyen Pham


LeUyen Pham has voted in every single presidential election since she turned eighteen. She is the author and illustrator of A Piece of Cake, All the Things I Love About You, and Big Sister, Little Sister. She has illustrated many other picture books, including the New York Times bestsellers Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio and Freckleface Strawberry by Julianne Moore. LeUyen lives with her husband and sons in California.


oge mora

Oge Mora is a painter residing in Providence, RI. She grew up in Columbus, Ohio and graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) with a degree in Illustration. She’s a fan of all things colorful, patterned, or collaged, and she enjoys creating warm stories that celebrate people coming together. Her very first picture book, Thank You, Omu! debuts in Fall 2018.


julie morstadJulie Morstad is the author and illustrator of many beautiful picture books, including Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli, Julie makes her home in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she lives with her husband and three children.


lisa brownLisa Brown draws things like illustration and comics, writes things like books and book reviews, and teaches things to kids and college students. Her debut picture book, How to Be, was one of the Thirteen Best Children’s Books for Family Literacy. Since then she has published a ton more books, including Vampire Boy’s Good Night and The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming, a New York Times bestseller by elusive author Lemony Snicket. She co-authored Picture the Dead, an illustrated young adult novel, with acclaimed writer Adele Griffin, and created the award-winning Baby Be of Use series of board books for McSweeney’s. Lisa draws the Three Panel Book Review cartoon strip, and is a comics contributor at The Rumpus. She teaches illustration at the California College of the Arts, and is a long-time workshop instructor and field trip leader at the 826 Valencia tutoring center. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and son, but can usually be found wandering around the internet.

selina alkoIt is no wonder that award-winning writer-illustrator Selina Alko now spends her days melding words and mixed-media art to convey stories of hope and inspiration—as well as an alternative viewpoint. Growing up in Vancouver, British Columbia with a Turkish father who spoke seven languages and taught painting, and a mother who worked in the family’s century old metal recycling business, she was surrounded by the melody of words and stories from different places, and varied visual possibilities; her affinity for working with words and art was established early on, as was an interest in establishing a creative family environment that encouraged personal expression. The skills her parents imparted to her as a child, the creative environment that supported them, and the diverse world view she was privy to have inspired and fueled her ever since, and they are evident in her books such as The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage which she co-created with her husband Sean Qualls; Why Am I Me? by Paige Britt and co-illustrated with Qualls; and B is for Brooklyn which she wrote and illustrated herself. Selina continues to find inspiration in the world around her whether it’s the streets of Brooklyn where she has lived for more than 20 years, her native Canada, or the small but universal experiences of a child as she watches her kids grow up. When she’s not working on a new project, Selina enjoys reading, collaging in her sketchbook and dance-walking in Prospect Park.

hadley hooper

Hadley Hooper lives in Denver and works as an illustrator and painter. She is groundskeeper, gallery coordinator and co-owner of Ironton Studios. She is co-founder and board member of the River North Art District, RiNo for short. Her illustration work is repped by Marlena Agency and her paintings can be found at Goodwin Fine Art.  She lives in an old house in a now-trendy Denver neighborhood with Hugh Graham and Maddie the dog.

isabel roxasIsabel Roxas is an illustrator, designer, ceramicist and avid reader. She was born in Manila, Philippines, was raised on luscious mangoes, old wives’ tales, and monsoon moons. She now works in the backroom of an art gallery in Manhattan where she writes and illustrates stories, designs books and creates small objects in clay and resin. She has illustrated several books for young readers, including Goodnight Songs by Margaret Wise Brown (Sterling Books, 2014), Let Me Finish! by Minh Lê (Disney-Hyperion) and Day at the Market by May Tobias-Papa (Adarna House, 2008), winner of the Philippine National Book Award. Isabel is a frequent contributor to Babybug and Ladybug Magazine. Her work has been recognized by American Illustration, HOW Magazine and 3×3 Magazine of Contemporary Illustration.Her latest picture book, The Littlest Viking written by Alexandra Penfold (Knopf) is available in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @studioroxas and Instagram @studioroxas.

erin robinsonCreative Visionary Erin Robinson is a Fashion Designer by trade but also a trained fine artist from Parsons School of Design and the Corcoran School of Art. Her daydreamy, magical imagination is inspired by travel, color, texture, the feminine shape and the many shades and coifs of Brooklyn. She works in a variety of mediums that include watercolor, ink, markers, charcoal, stencil, collage as well as digital artistry. She is an EMMY nominated illustrator for The Obama Story in the News and Documentary category.  What an achievement! The New York Times and Washington Post keep this artist busy!

sara_palaciosSara Palacios studied Graphic Design at Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Mexico DF, and has an Associate Degree in Graphic Production Techniques from the School of Design, INBA  (National Institute of Fine Arts) in Mexico. She also has an Associate Degree in Illustration from the Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana, as well as a BFA and MFA in Illustration from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. She has been a part time faculty member at the Academy of Art University since 2014. She is the recipient of the 2012 Pura Belpré Illustration Honor Award and the 2013 Tejas Star Book Award.