Not sure how it happened, but the holiday season is upon us, so we asked Natalie Nelson, illustrator of The King of the Birds to choose some of her favorite picture books by women. These books are perfect for the little readers on your list—but who are we kidding, we’d love to have these on our shelves as well.
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When Autumn and Kendra told me that many of their listeners had asked for picture book suggestions written and/or illustrated by women, I jumped at the chance to create such a list. Like nearly every other industry, the children’s literature world boasts a stunning inventory of female authored and illustrated books, but who still wins a disproportionate number of awards, accolades, and honors? The men.
So here is an insanely small list of some of my favorite all-female-created books from the last few years. If you want more suggestions, check out Laurel Snyder’s blog or Josh Funk’s ongoing Twitter thread of picture books illustrated by women.
Francesca Sanna has a talent for sharing the immigrant experience in a remarkably relatable way. This book follows a young girl through her first day of school in a new country. I also highly recommend the author’s first picture book, The Journey, about a family’s decision to leave their home amidst the tumult of war.
A sweet and ever-so-slightly dark tale of a hungry lion and some adorable animals.
Gorgeous mixed media illustrations and informative verse about one of America’s most courageous women of the Civil Rights Movement.
A beautiful illustrated tribute to diversity, inclusion, and hospitality.
Expressive, vibrant illustrations and rhyming verse encouraging readers to own their emotions when they feel them.
100 bedtime stories about 100 extraordinary women from the past and present, illustrated by 60 female artists from around the world. A no-brainer for every reading woman.
I adore this book, for its superbly surreal illustrations and gentle yet timely message: we are all more alike than we think we are.
The review from Kirkus said it best: “A rallying cry to be enthusiastically true to oneself.”
Arsenault’s drawings are one-of-a-kind, and this loose tribute to Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa Bell will charm readers of all ages. How could I not put this one on the list?