Growing Reader

Forward Into the Future: Stories and Activities to Celebrate Women’s History Month with Young Readers

by Melissa Taylor

Photo credits: Malala Yousafzai (Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images News), Wilma Rudolph (Mondadori Portfolio/Getty Images), Celia Cruz (Waring Abbott, Michael Ochs/Getty Images), Ruby Nell Bridges (Bettmann/Getty Images), Jane Goodall (Dean Pictures, Corbis Documentary/Getty Images)

Help bring Women’s History Month to life by teaching your 5- to 8-year-old child about some amazing women from history and today. For each person of significance, read a picture book and try the related activity ideas. We hope that learning about these role models and connecting with their experiences will inspire your children to break down barriers and face life’s challenges with courage and grit.


Watch this interview with Ruby Bridges as an adult. Discuss how Ruby felt as the only African American child in her school.

Observe books, toys, and movies you read, play with, and watch and see if all races, ethnicities, and genders are equally represented. Do you notice more of one group than others? What do you think needs to change?

Watch the Ruby Bridges movie from 1998.


You’ll need a blank sheet of white paper and a crayon with no paper covering. Use these to make bark rubbings by putting the paper on the tree trunk and rubbing the crayon over the bumpy surface. Talk about your observations of different designs for different trees.

“Adopt” a tree near your house. Watch it throughout the year. Notice how it changes with the seasons. Draw a picture of it every month for a science journal on your special tree. Discuss how Rachel Carson also observed trees.

Take a nature walk. As you walk, observe and collect interesting things such as pine cones, sticks, stones, and so forth. Use these natural items to make a nature collage.


Watch Celia Cruz sing “Contrapunto Musical” and dance along.

Salsa is a style of music and dancing. Listen to more salsa music on Pandora and see which artists you like the best. Don’t forget to dance along!

Make homemade rhythm instruments using recycled containers, beads or beans, wax paper, and rubber bands. Create your own salsa music.

Celia Cruz spoke Spanish. If you don’t know any Spanish, learn some beginning Spanish words. Try Rockalingua and Basho & Friends videos or Gus on the Go and Spanish School Bus apps.


Visit an aeronautics museum in your area. See if you can find a plane that looks like one Amelia Earhart flew.

Have a paper airplane contest. What design flies the farthest? Get folding ideas here.

Put together a balsa wood airplane. Go to the park and pretend you’re Amelia Earhart flying across the world.


Visit a zoo. Draw pictures and take photographs of the primates. Take notes on your observations.

Watch a short Jane Goodall video about how chimps use tools like humans or Disney Nature’s “Chimpanzee” movie.

Pretend play Jane Goodall with your stuffed animals. Add props to make it more realistic such as binoculars, notepad and pencils, and a camera.

Volunteer to help animals at an animal shelter or search for a local community project at Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots website.


Use a photograph to inspire your own self-portrait. On a blank sheet of paper, use pencil to sketch your face. Color in with crayon or paint. Then add flowers or other plants around your face.

Color a Frida coloring page here and here.

Download, read, and play the Frida’s World app.

Visit a Latino art museum.


Using the Braille alphabet on the back jacket cover of Annie and Helen, write a word or sentence about Helen Keller using Braille dots.

Blindfold your child and lead them around the house, making sure to give clear directions so they don’t bump into things or fall. Talk about how it felt for them to experience this.

See “The Miracle Worker” play or movie.

Search for an Alabama state quarter to see Helen Keller’s image on it. Start a quarter collection.


Order a butterfly garden through Insect Lore. Make daily observations (drawings or notes) on your caterpillars as they go through metamorphosis.

Visit a butterfly and insect garden or museum in your area.

Plant a butterfly garden to attract butterflies and moths to your yard. Watch and see who visits the different plants.


Take a bus ride. Sit at the very back and imagine that you’ve been forced to sit there. Then, move to the front. Talk about the emotions you feel and how Rosa Parks might have felt.

Reenact Rosa’s bus ride with LEGOs or dolls. Act out what happened at the beginning, middle, and end of her famous bus ride.

Unscramble a Rosa Parks picture and color it in. Optional: Use bright colors for a pop art look. Download the directions and picture here.


Have a race day! First be your regular human self and try to run as fast as Wilma. Then pretend to be different animals (bears, crabs, frogs, elephants) while you race. The rule is you must move like that animal during the race.

Did you know that kids can enter races? Find a local fun run and race with your family or friends.

Consider joining a group like Girls on the Run, a group that seeks to inspire girls to be healthy and confident through an interactive curriculum and, of course, running.

Which other athletes does Wilma remind you of? List other inspiring athletes and Olympians that come to mind and how they show some of the same skills and determination as Wilma.

Pretend play with family or friends (or LEGO people) a democratic judicial system. One person gets to be the judge, two people get to be lawyers, and other people can be the people participating in a trial. Lawyers present their arguments to the judge. Topic ideas: speeding ticket, jaywalking, or theft.

Make a “Family Rules” sign for your house. Have everyone contribute to the list of rules then sign at the bottom. Discuss if you have more of a democracy or a monarchy in your family. Who decides what’s fair?

Discuss the difference between fair and equal. Use the example of different age children having different bedtimes. Then read these books for more discussion about fair vs. equal:


Use fancy lettering and bright colors to create a poster of one of Malala’s famous quotes. Discuss what the quote means.

Malala grew up in Pakistan. Visit a Pakistani restaurant or make a Pakistani food dish.

Make a thank you card or drawing for a teacher to show gratitude that you and all children in this country can attend school.