Audacious Women & Fearless Females

Ages 4-8

  Curator Rebekah K.

Curator Rebekah K.

Why I Created This Guide

As a child, I wanted to be everything when I grew up. I wanted to be a fireman, a librarian, a race car driver, a farmer, a teacher, and just like my grandmothers. Though some of my dreams have changed over time, I’ve set out to accomplish the still-relevant dreams with boldness while staying far, far away from those fires.

Everyday, I drive along an airport roadway that celebrates Bessie Coleman. This road passes the airfield Amelia Earhart took off from on her flight to Hawaii.

Both of my grandmothers were riveters during World War II.

Together, these women, and many others, inspire me to be bold, to be fearless, to take risks. Who inspires you to be audacious?

Did You Know?

  • A woman invented windshield wipers? Mary Anderson patented windshield wipers in 1903.

  • A woman invented the first computer software program for business? Grace Hopper led the group that created computer language for businesses, called COBOL.

  • A woman invented KevlarⓇ? Stephanie Kwolek invented this synthetic material, five times stronger than steel, that is used in helmets, skis, and safety equipment for soldiers.

  • A woman invented the technology that made cell phones possible? Actress Hedy Lamarr developed the technology to send messages in unbreakable code. This technology became the foundation of cell phone transmission.

  • A woman added shelves to the door of your refrigerator? Engineer Lillian Gilbreth worked to make kitchens efficient. One of her solutions was to add shelves to the inside of refrigerator doors.


Talkin’ About Bessie by Nikki Grimes

Bessie Coleman’s friends and family paint a vivid and poetic portrait of the first African American aviatrix. Bessie didn’t just happen to be the first African American woman to become a pilot, she determined to be the first. The story moves chronologically and builds emotionally to the last entry, where Bessie speaks of the joy of flying. On the last page, Grimes comments on Coleman's life. Lewis' paintings, subdued in tone and color, reflect the spirit of the verse through telling details and sensitive, impressionistic portrayals. (Booklist /  Zoobean)


I Am Amelia Earhart by Brad Meltzer

Amelia Earhart was a girl who loved adventure, and never let anybody stop her from trying new things. Even things that girls had never done before — like flying all the way across the Atlantic Ocean! She worked harder than anyone else and she never gave up on her dreams. Eventually she broke flying records and proved to the world that women can soar just as high as men. (Publisher/ Zoobean)

If your child is interested in learning more about Amelia Earhart, ask him or her, “What did we learn about Amelia Earhart?” and “What do we want to know about her?” Then look for the answers to his or her questions in more biographies from your public library.

Before Reading:

  • Fold some paper airplanes or easy origami airplanes and talk about flight. Talk about how airplanes are made and some flights you have taken together. You can begin by asking questions such as, “Who do you suppose first thought about building an airplane?” and “What does an airplane need?”

  • Make a personal connection by asking, “What is your favorite part about riding in an airplane?”

  • Then tell your child that you want to introduce him or her to the first African American female pilot, the determined, audacious Bessie Coleman or to the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, Amelia Earhart.

Interactive Reading: Ask your child to look for the characteristics that made either of these women so daring. Point out segments, such as the words of Bessie’s mother when she says of Bessie’s love of reading, “Somehow, I foreknew the grand use she would make of it one day.” Then ask your child, “How do you think that learning to read and enjoying reading helped Bessie later, when she had other hard things to do?”

To help make biographies memorable and meaningful, make a connection between books you’ve read together about pilots by asking questions such as, “What do Amelia Earhart and Bessie Coleman have in common?” If you’ve read about other pilots or astronauts, such as Maggie Gee, Sally Ride, Ruth Elder, or Mae Jemison, ask, “What do you think these female pilots would say to each other about their accomplishments?” and “What advice do you think these pilots would give us today?”

Extend the Reading

Ask your child, “What do you think makes airplanes fly?” Explain that engineering and physics help us understand flight. Use an engineering app, like TinkerBox to learn about engineering concepts like lift, thrust, and weight by creating machines. Use a physics app, like Simple Physics, to introduce concepts of physics while building structures and solving problems.


Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh

When Sylvia Mendez is told she has to attend Hoover, the rundown Mexican school, instead of the school near her family’s farm, her father fights for her right to attend the best school for her. With the support of civil rights advocates, the Mendez family desegregated California schools seven years before the federal government ended school segregation. (Zoobean)

Extend the Reading Watch Sylvia Mendez receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. If you and your child are familiar with the life of Ruby Bridges, help him or her make connections between the two by asking, “What did Sylvia Mendez and Ruby Bridges do that was simliar?” “What made these two girls able to do what was bold and audacious?” and “What lesson(s) do you want to remember from the lives of Sylvia and Ruby?”



The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life With the Chimps by Jeanette Winter

Jane was always a watcher. As a child, she observed nature. As a young adult, she bravely traveled to Tanzania to work with animals. As a result of her work, Jane Goodall audaciously asks each of us to protect her beloved chimpanzees and the environment, for the good of the animals and humans. (Zoobean)

Before Reading Introduce Jane Goodall’s work in Tanzania with the short video, Walk in the Footsteps of Jane Goodall, narrated by Ms. Goodall. Explain that Ms. Goodall’s work has provided us with the first observations and insights into the world of the chimpanzee and that her work continues to show us the need for making the world a better place for the people and animals with whom we share our environment.

Extend the Reading Explore the Jane Goodall Institute website or National Geographic Kids where you can learn about the habitat, communication, and diet of chimpanzees.

  • Before you use these websites, ask your child, “What do we know about chimpanzees?”

  • After your child has shared what he or she knows, work together to create a list of questions to answer. For example, you could ask, “Do we know everything chimpanzees eat?” If the answer is not, note that this is a question to be answered. For each question, ask your child what he or she thinks the answers will be.

  • Then, explore the websites for answers. While exploring, you may add more questions. Afterward, ask, “What have we learned about chimpanzees?” “Were all of our questions answered?” “What was the most interesting information you learned?” and “Did anything surprise you?”

On your next trip to the library, pick up a book about chimpanzees to answer any unanswered questions.



Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell by Tanya Lee Stone

Nearly two hundred years ago, women were not doctors and nurses. Elizabeth Blackwell didn’t dream of becoming a doctor until her friend suggested she study medicine. Her friend believed Elizabeth was smart enough and strong enough to be a doctor. People said she couldn’t go to medical school; but, she bravely became the first woman in America to go to medical school. People said she couldn’t be a doctor; but, determined Elizabeth became an excellent doctor. The field of medicine has certainly changed a great deal because of one audacious female. (Zoobean)

Before Reading

Show your child the cover and read the title Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? Ask your child, “Can women be doctors?”  “Why would this book’s title say that women can’t be doctors?”

Make personal connections to your lives by asking, “Do we know any doctors who are women?” “Can you describe the female doctors we know?” “What do you think our doctor was like as a child?” and “What kind of person makes a great doctor?” If your child is having difficulty, ask if great doctors are shy, selfish, kind, etc. Provide both positive and negative character qualities and discuss which qualities help a doctor be helpful.

Interactive Reading

Restate the qualities of a great doctor that you and your child have discussed. For example, “We think that doctors are kind, smart, and helpful.” Then, introduce Elizabeth Blackwell by saying, “Elizabeth Blackwell was America’s first female doctor. Let’s look for these same characteristics in her life. We want to see if she is helpful and smart.” When you locate a quality that made Elizabeth Blackwell a great doctor ask, “How do you think that her determination as a child helped make Elizabeth Blackwell a great doctor?” At the end of the book ask, “What lesson do we learn from Elizabeth Blackwell’s life?”

Extend the Reading

If you and your child are interested in learning more about the medical field, use an app like This is My Body - Anatomy for Kids to introduce the human body and how it works.

If you enjoyed Schoolhouse Rock, you might enjoy sharing “The Body Machine.”   

Before using the app or watching the video, ask your child, “What do we know about what happens inside of our bodies?” and “What questions can we look for the answers to in this app or video?” As you watch, ask your child to look for the answers to his or her questions. Afterward, ask, “What did we learn?” “Which of our questions did we answer?” and “Are there any questions we need to research?”

Talk About It

From each of these women, we can learn about the ability of tenacity and self-assurance to help us boldly, audaciously snag our dreams.

Extend the conversation and practice summary skills as you go about your day with 3-2-1. Start by asking your child, “What three (3) things did you learn about Bessie Coleman, Jane Goodall, Sylvia Mendez, or Elizabeth Blackwell?” “What are two (2) FIFI (Facts I Find Interesting) that you want to remember to share with someone else?” and “What is one (1) question you have about this person?” Pick up some biographies from the library to find answers to some of your questions.


Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty

Rosie fears being a failure. You would, too, if someone laughed at your inventions. Great-Great Aunt Rose she inspires Rosie to overcome her fear of failing by helping her see that every bold attempt is a success. Great-Great Aunt Rose built airplanes during World War II but she never got to fly. When Great-Great-Aunt Rose wants to fly, Rosie builds her a device. Even though she only flew for a few minutes, Great-Great-Aunt Rose, the builder of airplanes, gets to achieve her dream of flying and Rosie learns to be audacious. (Zoobean)

Before Reading Show your child the book cover, read the title, and ask, “Based on these pictures, what do we know about Rosie?” “What do you suppose this book will be about?” and “What could Rosie do with all of these items on the cover?”

Extend the Reading Become an engineer, just like Rosie Revere. Can you build a structure using only paper?  

You Will Need

  • Paper

  • 2 Markers, 2 pencils, or 6 books

  • 100 pennies or more

  • Scissors

  • A Ruler

  • Glue

  • Your science journal


What to Do

  • Fold, cut, or glue together paper to create the deck (flat span) of your bridge

  • Set two pencils or markers or 2 stacks of 3 books each 6 inches apart for the bridge supports

  • Lay the deck of your bridge with one support at each end

  • Set pennies on the bridge one or two at a time to see how much weight your bridge will hold

  • Try again with different cuts, folds, and layers of paper to determine what makes the strongest bridge

  • Record the results in your science journal

  • If your child is not happy with the results, consider folding the paper with accordion pleats or in a U shape channel


Questions to Ask

  • How many pennies did each bridge hold before it fell?

  • Which bridge did we think would hold the most pennies?

  • Which bridge held the most pennies?

  • How did different cuts, folds, and layers affect the bridge?

Sources: Zoobean /  ZOOM


Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell

When faced with a big, mean bully in a new school, Molly Lou knows exactly what to do. She meets him standing tall, with a big smile, and proud walk, just like her grandmother taught her. Will Molly Lou win over the boy who calls her “shrimpo?” (Zoobean)

Before Reading If your child is familiar with another book about teasing or bullying, such as Chrysanthemum by Keven Henkes, Llama Llama and the Bully Goat by Anna Dewdney, Don’t Laugh at Me by Steve Seskin, or Hooway for Wodney Wat by Helen Lester, ask your child to think of the way one of the characters was treated unkindly. You can start by asking, “How did the other characters treat Chrysanthemum when she first went to school?” “What did the other students say about Chrysanthemum’s name?” and “How did Chrysanthemum feel when the other students were unkind to her?” After listening to your child, ask him or her, “What advice would you give Chrysanthemum for dealing with the students who are unkind?” If you are concerned about how your child would react to similar treatment, continue the conversation by sharing ways you think could help or your own experience with the unkindness of others. Then introduce Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by saying, “Molly Lou Melon got some pretty helpful advice from her grandmother about how to deal with unkind people. Let’s see how that advice works for her.”

Check out Parents article Preschool Play vs. Bullying? about what to look for if you’re concerned about bullying. Talk with your friends and the parent’s association at your child’s school about concerns you have. Together, you can find solutions for helping your children communicate their needs and resolve differences.


Extend the Reading

Check out Big Bird’s dilemma when he finds out he’s too big and too yellow to join the Good Bird’s Club. How do his friends help him feel confident about himself again? By reminding him of how wonderful he is, just the way he is. Are you “Happy to be Me?”



My Brave Year of Firsts by Jamie Lee Curtis

Frankie does some amazing things. She’s brave. She’s audacious. Frankie learns that the everyday things she does, like making new friends and trying new things, are challenges that require bravery. Even when she messes up, Frankie is learning to be brave and audacious. These are the things that make Frankie amazing. (Zoobean)

Before Reading Look at the cover of My Brave Year of Firsts. Ask your child to compare the title and the cover art by asking, “What parts of the cover fit the title?” “What part of the picture shows us Frankie is brave?” and “What parts of the picture helps us guess what some of Frankie’s firsts will be?”

Interactive Reading After reading about one or two of Frankie’s new challenges, set the book down and share what her experience reminds you of. For example, you could say, “When Frankie learned to tie her shoes, it reminded me of the time you were very determined and spent an entire afternoon working on learning to tie your shoes.”

“When Frankie tells a life, it reminds me of the book The Empty Pot. How is Frankie like the children in The Empty Pot? Did Frankie and the boy in The Empty Pot do anything different when they could choose to lie or tell the truth?”

Or, “Frankie and Doug-Dennis both tells lies. How are they similar? What happened because of their lies?”

You can draw comparisons to real life, books, and movies that you and your child are familiar with.


The Forgiveness Garden by Lauren Thompson

Enemies hate others. Enemies want revenge. Revenge makes people hate each other more. When Karune throws a rock, Sama is hurt. Instead of more hate and more revenge, this audacious girl turns to forgiveness to show two families that they can end their hate and revenge. (Zoobean)

Before Reading Before you read The Forgiveness Garden, you may wish to view this short clip about the Garden of Forgiveness in Beirut, Lebanon. Images of the civil war in Lebanon could be disturbing for young children. After viewing, you can share with your children how Alexandra Asseily is working to create a Garden of Forgiveness in the city of Beirut, where there has been war for many years. This garden has been the inspiration for Lauren Thompson’s The Forgiveness Garden.

Then, with your child, you can talk about conflict and how we can hurt each other physically and with our words. Ask your child, “Can you think of a story where the characters could not get along with someone each other?” and “Did they hurt each other physically or with their words?” Discuss the way that conflict was resolved and ask, “If you could talk to those characters, what would want to say to them?”

You can continue this conversation by talking about a conflict in your own life, maybe a childhood school story, and how you resolved the conflict.

Extend the Reading After reading The Forgiveness Garden discuss the question at the end of the book. “What did they say?”

Make a personal connection by joining the conversation. You can start by asking, “What would you want to say to Karune, Sama, and their villages?”



Ruby’s Wish by Shirin Yim Bridges

Ruby’s wish is that she wants to go to the university, just like the boys in the family. In China, when Ruby was a child, girls got married, they didn’t go to the university. Ruby works hard and earns her education. Because of Ruby’s audacity in China, she earned her education. Eventually, Ruby moved to America where her grandchildren got their own educations and became authors and artists. One of them, Shirin Yim Bridges, shared Ruby’s bold story with us. (Zoobean)

Enjoy a read aloud of Ruby’s Wish anytime.

Before Reading Tour China with Big Bird to learn about Ruby’s home. Then introduce Ruby’s Wish, the story of an audacious girl far, far away in China.

Interactive Reading Choose one of the above books to explore what makes each of these characters brave and audacious. With any of these books, you can begin by asking your child to look for the challenges the heroine faces (conflict in a stories plot) & how she deals with them. You can introduce the characters by saying, “The main character in this book faces some challenges. Let’s watch for the challenges and see how she deals with them.” Once you and your child have identified a challenge in the book, ask, “How do you think she will react to this challenge?” Afterward, summarize the challenge and the character’s reaction, then ask, “What lesson did the character learn from this challenge?” and “What lesson did we learn from this character?”

About Rebekah K.

An insomniac since 1979, Rebekah has filled her nights with books & history. Rebekah's earliest memories are of watching documentaries, reading books, and playing Candy Land late at night with her dad. Is it any wonder that she doesn't consider being a librarian and teacher a job? During her fifteen years, in college and K-12 libraries and 10 years in English, ESL, and History classrooms, she has spent her days talking about books and history, sometimes at the same time. Rebekah says, "I love pairing readers with books that are a perfect fit. I feel like I have won a war when a reluctant reader returns to tell me they hated reading; but, after reading a book I recommended, they stay up with a flashlight to read until the page is blurry."