Posted by: montclairlibrary | March 29, 2015

Women’s History Month

8 Picture Books about Trail-blazing Women, a List by the Friends of Montclair Library

March is Women’s History Month, and we’re squeaking in under the wire here with a list of picture books featuring trailblazing women with an Oakland/East Bay connection. Check it out:

Rosie the Riveter: While “Rosie” isn’t a single person, this cultural icon represents the women who worked in shipyards and factories during World War II, including the Kaiser shipyards in Richmond, often taking on jobs that had traditionally been considered “men’s work.” To learn more about the Rosies, read Rosie the Riveter: Women Working on the Home Front in World War II by Penny Colman (J 331.40973 COLMAN).

Amelia Earhart: Amelia was the first person to fly solo from Honolulu, Hawaii to Oakland, California, and she left from Oakland Airport for her final attempted round-the-world flight in 1937. Read about her spunky personality in Amelia and Eleanor Go For a Ride by Pam Muñoz Ryan (J PICBK RYAN), a fictionalized account of the night Amelia Earhart flew Eleanor Roosevelt over Washington, D.C. in an airplane.

Lillian Gilbreth: Did you know that the pioneering industrial engineer Lillian Gilbreth was born right here in Oakland? And that she invented things we take for granted around the kitchen, like the shelves inside refrigerator doors and the foot-pedal trash can? Learn more in Spic-and-Span!: Lillian Gilbreth’s Wonder Kitchen by Monica Kulling (J BIO GILBRETH). (This one’s not at Montclair, but worth requesting.) If you enjoy reading about the Gilbreths, check out the books or movies Cheaper by the Dozen (also available as a movie) and Belles on Their Toes (not at Montclair).

Isadora Duncan: Isadora, known as “The Mother of Modern Dance,” grew up in Oakland, where she found school too stiffling and “dropped out at the age of ten to be self-educated at the Oakland public library under the guidance of poet-laureate Ina Coolbrith,” according to Find out about this free spirit’s life in Isadora Dances by Rachel Isadora (J BIO DUNCAN).

Gertrude Stein: Modernist author and poet Gertrude Stein lived in Oakland as girl.
Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude by Jonah Winter (J BIO STEIN) is a story inspired by Gertrude’s modern and groundbreaking writing and the whimsical world of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas.

Julia Morgan: Julia was the first woman architect licensed in California, and designed many local buildings, including some on the campuses of UC Berkeley and Mills College. One of her most famous commissions was Hearst Castle, the subject of Julia Morgan Built a Castle by Celeste Davidson Mannis (J BIO MORGAN).

Dorothea Lange: Dorothea, known for her stunning Depression-era photographs and her coverage of Japanese internment camps, moved to the Bay Area in 1918 and spent the rest of her life in Berkeley. Read about her extraordinary life in In Real Life: Six Women Photographers by Leslie Sills (J 927.7 SILLS).

Ina Coolbrith: We couldn’t find any picture books about Ina, a literary powerhouse who was the first librarian of the Oakland Free Library and a mentor to Jack London, among others. But a good substitute might be Miss Moore Thought Otherwise: How Anne Carroll Moore Created Libraries for Children by Jan Pinborough (J BIO MOORE), about the woman who created the first children’s room at the New York Public Library. (Adults can read more about Coolbrith in The Bohemians: Mark Twain and the San Francisco Writers Who Reinvented American Literature by Ben Tarnoff, in the Montclair Library Adult New Books section under 810.99794 TARNOFF.)


  1. Terrific list! Thanks, Jeni. I ordered the Isadora bio after reading you! Cheers, Beatrice

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