Happy International Women's Day! Though there is no doubt we should remember amazing women who had a major impact in history all year round, what better occasion is there than Women's History Month to share some of the many beautiful and inspiring biographies of women in art, science or other fields. Here are 12 beautiful picture books in German that tell their stories for kids.
(All of them are available to rent from us, of course.)
Isabel Sánchez Vegara / Mariadiamantes
AMELIA EARHART (Little People, Big Dreams)
Amelia was the first woman to cross the Atlantic, first with another pilot and a mechanic, later by herself,. She was the first person, man or woman, to fly solo across the Pacific Ocean. In 1937 she attempted to fly across the world - and after reporting she was running low on fuel she vanished.
Illustrated with beautiful graphical pictures, this story focuses on Earhart's courage and achievements, while not shying away of her tragic ending. It is a perfect read aloud sticking to the basic story (though more information is to be found at the end of the book if your child wants to learn more), but works great as a book for a curious, beginning reader as well.
4 years and up
Monica Brown / John Parra
FRIDA KAHLO UND IHRE TIERE
The unconventional Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is known throughout the world for her self portraits. In many of her paintings of herself she also included animals - Frida Kahlo was close to animals since her early childhood, among them a parrot, monkeys, dogs, turkeys, an eagle and a fawn... This book works great for little kids and the adult reader alike. The children will love the stunning illustrations of animals and Frida as a kid and her bond with the animals. The adults or slightly older kids will follow the story of her life, about her illness as a kid and her terrible suffering after an accident when aged 18, turning her pain into art.
4 years and up
Laurel Snyder / Julie Morstadt
DER SCHWAN. DAS LEBEN DER ANNA PAWLOWA
Anna Pavlowa was born in Czarist Russia as a daughter of a laundry woman. at the end of the 19th century. Spellbound after seeing a performance of ballet, she wanted to be a ballerina herself. After having to wait for two years to be accepted, she quickly excelled at the Imperial school of Ballett, despite having what was considered then an imperfect, too slight body. She turned her weakness into a strength, and found a new style of dancing, that was more expressive and poetic, and became one of the most famous ballerina's of her time. With her fame and wealth she helped poor people later in life and died too young. The illustrations beautifully render the historic Russian cityscape and winter scenery just as much as the pure poetry of (her) dance. A book that will entrance any young ballet lover.
SYBILLA UND DER TULPENRAUB. DIE WILDE KINDHEIT VON MARIA SYBILLA MERIAN
In the 17th century, tulips very rare and immensely precious. So when little Sibylla stole the tulips from a neighbouring garden, the count who owned them was outraged. Too appease him, Sybilla showed him drawings she had made of them and he quickly recognized how incredibly precise and stunning the illustrations were, not only for a kid but in absolute terms. Later in life Sibylla, born in Germany, would continue to observe and draw flowers and insects as a scientist and travels places such as Dutch Surinam to observe insects. She was one of the first naturalists to observe insects directly - David Attemborough believes she is one of the most influential contributors to entomology. This picture book focuses maybe a little less on her life achievements, and can be read as a story of a child's pertinacity, bullied by other kids for her weird interest and for being an outsider, though there is of course an appendix with more information for all who want to learn more about her.
5 years and up
Malala Yousafzai/ Kerouset
MALALAS MAGISCHER STIFT
Children's rights activist Malala Yousafzei was born in 1997 in Pakistan and started as an 11 year old to blog about the atrocities of the Taliban. When she was 15 she barely survived an attempt by the Taliban to assassinate her. She was the youngest person to ever receive the Peace Nobel Price in 2017. This is her first picture book in which she tells how as a little girl she would watch a show about a boy with a magical pen as a super power. She dreams of a magical pen herself, but then realizes this will never happen. Seeing other poorer kids searching for food in garbage, she realizes she is privileged as she is one of few girls going to school. Just then there are evil men who declare girls should be no more allowed to learn at school, so she writes words that are heard in the world.
5 years and up
ADA LOVELACE UND DER ERSTE COMPUTER
Ada Lovelace was born in 19th England century as the daughter of a mathematician and the poet Lord Byron. Her parents separated when she was still small and her mother focused on a logic and routines, but Ada had inherited her father's fantasy and a love for horses, , though she was fascinated by the ground breaking technical inventions of the time. When she was 16, she met Charles Baggage, the inventor of the "analytical machine", the predecessor of the computer. Ada develops a complex program for the machine, making her the first computer programmer ever. Though it never run, it is an amazing feat!
5 years and up
JANES TRAUM VOM DSCHUNGEL UND DEN TIEREN
As a small kid Jane, always carrying her little lovey, a monkey with her, is fascinated by animals and plants. When she watches a chicken lay an egg, she knows she just knows the world is full of magic. She also realizes there is more out there than in her parents garden, she dreams of going to Africa. And later as an adult, she does just that: she lives with gorillas in Africa, observing and studying their behavior.
A very cute, but quiet book about Jane Goddal that grows if you as a parent add some of your telling and observations.
4 years and up.
Ancient Egypt and Cleopatra are fascinated for adults and kids alike. This picture book aims to spark an interest for this time and the amazing biography of the last active ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt with pictures, showing her life as a princess, the beauty and richness, as well as how smart and how well read she was. It obviously depicts the time in general as well. Since this is a book for small kids and the particular period was very gruesome, with many wars that Cleopatra eventually lost, this is not a good pick if you are looking to teach your child a very true depiction of the time, as all the atrocities are left out as well as the fact that Cleopatra committed suicide to avoid a brutal slaughtering by the Romans. But that would be too challenging for a 4 year old anyway.
4 years and up.
Isabel Sanchez Vagara /Ana Albero
COCO CHANEL (Little People, Big Dreams)
Coco Chanel is another amazing biography of a girl and woman that overcame adversity and made history pursuing her dream. The iconic fashion designer grew up in an orphanage in France, but even as a child was a genius with a needle and a thread. As an adult she first made her way as a cabaret singer, hat maker and eventually fashion designer, that revolutionized the attire of women at the time.
4 years and up
Claira A. Nivola
BÄUME FÜR KENIA. DIE GESCHICHTE DER WANGARI MAATHAI
As a child in colonial Kenya of the early 20th century, Wangari watches her mother in the garden, we see the blue sky and the beauty of Kenya, the profusion of its fauna. Wangari is sent to study to the United States, when she returns twenty years later, most trees have been cut, even the fig trees considered magical, to facilitate commercial farming, but making the earth poorer. Wangari is outraged and starts a campaign to planting tress in Kenya, teaching poor women to plant and grow trees.. Thirty million trees later the Kenyan earth thrives again. In 2004 Wangari Maathai received the Peace Nobel Price. A picture book with an important ecological message and striking illustrations.
4 years and up
Many women's biographies tell us the tale of a women defying odds and adversity, of persistence and courage. Marie Curie's life definitely is no exception. Born into Warsaw in the 19th century - at the time part of the Russian empire, where girls were not allowed to learn to read or go to school - she taught herself to read and was lucky enough to be able to participate at the Flying College, a clandestine university for women at the time. Later she followed her sister to Paris, France, where she studied physics and mathematics and met her later husband Pierre Curie. Together with him she discovered new chemical elements, Polonium and Cadmium. When her husband dies in an accident in 1906, she is a single mother of two small children and dependent of other people's help. But soon later she becomes the first female professor and later is awarded the nobel price twice! She not only pursued academics, but throughout her life was interested in the practical implications of her discoveries, working with hospitals and doctors. Unfortunately one learned of the dangers of plutonic radiance only late and she died of radiation sickness. This book is aimed at slightly older kids, it is not a mere picture book and the illustrations are more cartoon like. But it is a very informative book of a woman all should learn about
6 years and up