5 must-read children’s books about the Women’s Suffrage Movement

You know that phrase “I can’t even” that’s been floating around the past few years?

That’s how I feel about discussing this year’s election.

But when it comes to voting, I can.

And I will.

In the meantime, I’ll be distracting myself with these wonderful picture books about the women who made my vote possible. Let me know in the comments if you have favorites not listed here. In particular, I’d like to find a strong contemporary picture book about Sojourner Truth.

Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles1. Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles by Mara Rockliff

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book has it all! A cross-country road trip, activism for women’s suffrage, great female friendship, and a kitten.
By introducing readers to Nell Richardson and Alice Burke’s 1916 adventure, Mara Rockliff and Hadley Hooper show children that many people were part of a long journey to getting women the vote.
The text and illustrations work together to capture Alice and Nell’s verve and zeal. You’ll have the refrain “Votes for women!” running through your head well after setting the book down.

I Could Do That!: Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote2. I Could Do That!: Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote by Linda Arms White

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well before women won the vote across the U.S., women in Wyoming had a say in their state government. This story shows how Esther Morris helped make that happen with a can-do spirit and a bit of tea time cleverness.

This biography covers the span of Morris’s compelling life. I’d love to see a picture book that focuses in more on how women in Wyoming got the vote and who else was involved.

Elizabeth Started All the Trouble3. Elizabeth Started All the Trouble by Doreen Rappaport

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This fabulous picture book is ostensibly about Elizabeth Cady Stanton, one of the founders of the woman’s suffrage movement in the U.S., but it’s about so much more — and so many more leaders in a long-term battle to win women’s right to vote.
The book begins with Abigail Adams writing to her husband, John, to “Remember the ladies!” in declaring independence from Britain and ends with the recognition that there are still many ways we are still working toward equality. (Can anyone say “equal pay?”)
In between, the reader learns about Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott organizing the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 and numerous other events that led to the passage of the 19th amendment in 1920, which gave women the right to vote. Along the way we meet women like Sojourner Truth, who called out the double discrimination black women faced and Alice Paul, who was imprisoned for seven months for picketing for suffrage.
And yes, all of this happens within 1 picture book! It’s basically a timeline of the women’s suffrage movement, but put together in an action-driven narrative. The text is chock full of historical details that I never heard about till taking women’s studies courses in college. A little much for the youngest readers, but each spread includes several nuggets that upper elementary school kids could dig into separately as part of a report or history project. As an adult, I’m intrigued by the anti-suffrage quotes blaring from newspaper pages in some of the illustrations, and I would love to read some of the archival articles on the topic.
The story is also honest about the trials the activists and organizers faced, and the fact that their successes didn’t happen quickly. After all, Elizabeth started the trouble; It didn’t end with her.
A must-have for any feminist bookshelf for children.

Miss Paul and the President: The Creative Campaign for Women's Right to Vote4. Miss Paul and the President: The Creative Campaign for Women’s Right to Vote by Dean Robbins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fabulous story of Alice Paul and how she won the support of Woodrow Wilson on the way to winning women’s suffrage. Covers a variety of tactics she and the other suffragists used in their campaign, depicted in richly colored illustrations. Also includes the role Woodrow Wilson’s daughter Margaret played in her father’s eventual promotion of votes for women.
If You Lived When Women Won Their Rights5. If You Lived When Women Won Their Rights by Anne Kamma

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A thorough look at the history of the American women’s suffrage movement from the Seneca Falls Convention to the ratification of the 19th amendment. Organized around kid-friendly questions to break up the text. More suitable for an elementary school research project or history unit than bedtime read-aloud.
View all my reviews

Bonus: These two are on my to-be-read list:

Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote

With Courage and Cloth: Winning the Fight for a Woman's Right to Vote With Courage and Cloth: Winning the Fight for a Woman’s Right to Vote

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4 thoughts on “5 must-read children’s books about the Women’s Suffrage Movement

  1. Please help.
    I am looking for auctiondonations for St. mark School in Venice CA. I would love to offer a lot of books dealing that teach human rights like race, women’s rights, refugee causes, etc.
    do you have any suggestions of where to start? Are there publishers or retailers who specialize in this category of books??
    any direction you could offer would be a tremendous help.

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