Although March is Women's History Month, it goes without saying that anytime is a good time to read about some of the amazing contributions of women throughout history to the present day. One way to mix things up is to read great poems for Women's History Month! After all, it's also a great way to get ready for April: National Poetry Month!
Collected here are a variety of resources for reading poetry by women and about women. I highly recommend spending time with your child memorizing one of your favorite women's history poems. The rewards are many. Amy of Sunlit Pages has some great tips on how to memorize poems with children if you are just getting started.
I've compiled a book list, and a list of contemporary poems by women with links to the complete poem as well as video of the poet when available. In addition, I included a printable of some classic poems by women so you can read poetry at breakfast, tea time or dinner. At the end, you can find a list of further resources.
And if you aren't convinced that poetry will enhance your lives, I challenge you to read these 8 ways poetry calms kids and brings joy to daily life.
Poems about Women
Read about stellar women in history–in verse! The following books feature poems that tell the stories of women throughout history. Each one has a different format so you can find just the right way to read poems for Women's History Month that suit your family.
Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World, ed. by Susan Hood. I adore this book!!! This is a collection of poems about trailblazing young women. Each poem features a different subject, poet and illustrator. Spectacular. Ages 6 and up.
All By Herself by Ann Whitford Paul. Another collection of poems about strong women throughout history. Some names will be well known, others will be new to you. Ages 6 and up.
Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science by Jeannine Atkins. This verse novel tells the story of Maria Merian, Mary Anning and Maria Mitchell. Ages 8 and up.
Picture Books about Female Poets
These picture book biographies of women poets will inspire your kids. The books range in age recommendations, which I have listed below.
Rise!: From Caged Bird to Poet of the People, Maya Angelou by Bethany Hegedus. The story of Angelou's journey as freedom fighter and poet. Best for ages 8 and up.
My Uncle Emily by Jane Yolen. A sweet story about Emily Dickinson and the importance of truth, narrated by Dickinson's nephew, Gilbert. Ages 6 and up.
A Voice of Her Own: The Story of Phillis Wheatley, Slave Poet by Kathryn Lasky. Stolen from African and enslaved as a young girl, Wheatley became America's first published African-American poet. Ages 7 and up.
Emma's Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty by Linda Glaser. Do your kids know that the words of Lady Liberty were written by a women? This is the story of how that came to be.
Books by Female Poets
For each of the authors I have chosen to feature here, there are dozens more. Seek out more women poets in the "more resources" section below!
What Are You Glad About? What Are You Mad About?: Poems for When a Person Needs a Poem by Judith Viorst. Did you know the author of Alexander and the No Good Very Bad Day was a poet? Now you do. Ages 5 and up.
Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reverso Poems by Marilyn Singer. Poems read backwards and forwards tell two different sides of one story. Your kids will be fascinated. Ages 4 and up.
Cast Away: Poems for Our Time by Naomi Shihab Nye. The Young People's Poet Laureate's collection of timely poems will speak loudest to teens. Ages 11 and up.
Meet Danitra Brown by Nikki Grimes. I keep recommending this book because I love it so much. It's a collection of exuberant poems narrated by a young girl, Zuri Jackson, about her best friend, Danitra. A joyful ode to a friend. Ages 5 and up.
More Poetry Resources for Women's History Month
The following is a list of links to some of my favorite contemporary poems for Women's History Month which I think will appeal to kids, especially teens and tweens. All of these poems are excellent choices for memorization.
- "We Real Cool" by Gwendolyn Brooks. Listen to Brooks read her poem here.
- "Phenomenal Woman" by Maya Angelou
- "Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou. Watch Angelou recite her poem here.
- "How to Triumph Like a Girl" by Ada Limón
- "The Floral Apron" by Marilyn Chin. Watch Chin read her poem here.
- "Remember" by Joy Harjo. Watch the poet read her poem here.
Many classic poems for Women's History Month are not readily accessible to modern children because of their length, style, subject matter or vocabulary. I've cherry picked a few which I believe tween and teen poetry fans will enjoy, including poems by Emily Dickinson, Emma Lazarus and Alice Dunbar-Nelson. Fill out the form below to get the free printable.
The following links are good resources for even more women's history month poetry:
- Poems and essays by and about women poets at poets.org (general)
- Poems for kids for women's history month at poets.org
- Celebrating Women's History Month at Poetry Foundation
- Your local library!
Happy poetry reading!