Happy March! Before we celebrate the fast approach of springtime, it’s important to recognize the arrival of National Women’s History Month and the rich contributions of countless women to our history and culture. In this month’s guide, you’ll learn about one of the many important women who made history in Tacoma. We’ve also included a list of picture books to help children learn and discuss a few of many historical figures and role models!

Did you know?

Helen B. Stafford

Helen B. Stafford moved to Tacoma in 1926, where, after struggling to find employment due to discrimination based on her race, she became a community leader and was actively involved in many local civic and cultural organizations, including the NAACP, the Tacoma Urban League, the YWCA, and much more. In 2005, the city opened Helen B. Stafford Elementary to honor Stafford and her work toward securing equal rights and freedoms for minorities in Tacoma.

To learn more about Stafford and her many contributions to Tacoma history, education, visit the Tacoma Public Library website, where you can find curated writings and works by Stafford.

In February’s Playful Guide, we highlighted a pair of Tacoma women that influenced the lives of many children in very different generations: Dr. Dolores Silas and Dr. Nettie Craig Asberry! Read more about these important historical figures in our February Playful Guide.

Picture Books for March

There are lots of picture books for those of all ages to learn about the women who have made history and helped to build our country. We’ve highlighted some of our top picks below, so consider checking some of these stories out from your local library!

Harlem’s Little Blackbird

Harlem’s Little Blackbird

by Renee Watson

This book tells the story of Florence Mills, an American cabaret singer, dancer, and comedian born to parents who were both former slaves. Mills knew at an early age that she loved to sing, and performed on the stages of 1920s Broadway, where she inspired everyone from songwriters to playwrights. Knowing firsthand how prejudice shaped her world and the world of those around her, Mills broke many racial barriers and was a significant figure in the fight for civil rights.

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin

by Julia Finley Mosca

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures introduces us to Dr. Temple Grandin, who’s unique ways of thinking allowed her to connect with animals in a special way, leading to her groundbreaking inventions and improvements upon farming practices and studies on animal behavior, as well as her practice of becoming a spokesperson and advocate for the autistic community.

Ready to Fly

Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina

by Lea Lyon, Alexandria LaFaye

This story teaches us about Sylvia Townsend, who, despite her dreams of dancing ballet, is unable to attend ballet classes due to the color of her skin. However, after visiting her local bookmobile and a friendly librarian, Sylvia finds books about ballet, and the determined seven-year-old begins to teach herself the basics of classical ballet.

Mother of Sharks

Mother of Sharks

by Melissa Cristina Márquez

Mother of Sharks blends fantastical imagery and nonfiction to tell the autobiographical story of Melissa Cristina Márquez, a marine biologist and conservationist from Puerto Rico who loves the ocean more than anything. Márquez, known as the Mother of Sharks, shares her incredible story not only to dispel myths about the misunderstood lives of sharks and other marine creatures but also to pave the way for Latinas in STEM.

Dinosaur Lady

Dinosaur Lady: The Daring Discoveries of Mary Anning, the First Paleontologist

by Linda Skeers

Read about the story of Mary Anning, who loved scouring the beach near her home in England for shells and fossils and whose discoveries helped create a brand-new field of study: paleontology, or the study of dinosaurs and other ancient life!

Further Reading

Looking for more great titles? Ask your local librarian for recommendations, or check out this Women’s History book list from Tacoma Public Libraries!

In the Community

All over Pierce County, community members are honoring Women’s History Month with amazing educational exhibits, activities, and more. The following events are family friendly and require no registration, but make sure to keep an eye out for even more events near you!

Click each image to be redirected to the event website.

Matriarch Exhibition

Matriarch: Portraits Of Indigenous Women in the Pacific Northwest Fighting For Our Collective Future

Washington State History Museum | February 24 – May 20, 2024

This exhibition at the Washington State History Museum is located in the Community Gallery, which is open to all during museum hours at no cost.

Women's History Month Scavenger Hunt

Women’s History Month Scavenger Hunt

Tacoma Public Library: Fern Hill, Kobetich, Moore, Mottet, South Tacoma, Swasey, and Wheelock branches | March 1 – 30, 2024

Learn about and celebrate women in art with a fun scavenger hunt at Tacoma Public Library branches!