9 Books About Women Who Changed the World


May is the perfect time to celebrate the wonderful women in our lives. Not only the moms, wives, and grandmas we adore, but also the influential women who have shaped the world. Pick up a book or two from this list to learn more about the bravery, endurance, intelligence, and ground-breaking actions of famous women.

Here is the full list as shared on Studio 5 and KSL.com. To see the Studio 5 segment, CLICK HERE.

For younger readers or a quick read

rosie revere

1. “Rosie Revere, Engineer” by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts

Rosie Revere dreams of being an engineer. Tucked in the corners of her room and under her bed are clever inventions made from every day things. But when she starts to doubt her talent, her great-great-aunt Rosie helps her face her fears. A whimsically illustrated and entertaining ode to the women who worked the factories producing aircrafts, tanks, and trucks during World War II.

Content Note: CLEAN

woman in the house

2. “A Woman in the House (and Senate): How Women Came to the United States Congress, Broke Down Barriers, and Changed the Country” by Ilene Cooper, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley

Taking the reader on a journey from before women’s suffrage to a record number of female representatives, this book chronicles the fascinating story of women taking on important rules in our government. The well-written account includes many photos and illustrations and is an inspiring read for young and old.

Content Note: CLEAN

pure grit

3. “Pure Grit: How American World War II Nurses Survived Battle and Prison Camp in the Pacific” by Mary Cronk Farrell

Discover this amazing, little-known story of American nurses serving in the Philippines in the 1940s. Their lives were easy and blissful until World War II engulfed the Pacific. These women quickly learned how to treat battle wounds while bombs were going off all around and endured three years in a prison camp. Despite their hardships, this group of nurses built a strong sisterhood, honored their vocation, and all survived to come home.

Content note: Some details and a few mild pictures of prisoners of war suffering and starving. Also, descriptions of treating war wounds in battle conditions.

just being audrey

 4. “Just Being Audrey” by Margaret Cardillo, illustrated by Julia Denos

We all know Audrey Hepburn as a glamorous, glittering Hollywood star, but off screen she also shined brightly. Growing up in Nazi-occupied Europe, she learned the vital importance of helping those in need. Using her belief in kindness, she became one of the first actresses to use her influence to spread the desire to help impoverished children around the world by working with UNICEF. An inspirational story and a lovely picture book.

 For older readers and more in-depth reading

left to tell

5. “Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust” by Immaculee Ilibagiza

In 1994, Immaculee Ilibagiza was twenty-four years old, visiting her family at their home in Rwanda for Easter. For most of the country’s history there was unrest between two tribes, the Hutu and the Tutsis. When the Hutu president was killed a three-month slaughter began. Several of Ilibagiza’s family members were brutally murdered, and she survived by hiding in a tiny bathroom with seven other women for 91 terrifying days. In this amazing memoir, she brings to light the evil that caused the conflict, but mostly she uplifts and inspires with her faith and hope.

Content Note: Graphic details of the massacre violence, including brutal murders with machetes, mass killings, rape, torture, injuries, tough conditions in hiding, etc.

my life in france

6. “My Life in France” by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme

In 1948, Julia Child and her husband Paul moved to Paris. She spoke no French and knew nothing about the country, but was soon enchanted by the culture, and especially, the food. She began taking classes at the Cordon Bleu, changing her life and the world of food forever. Child, the first big food star, still influences the world with her cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” and her television show, “The French Chef.” A fantastic memoir.

Content note: A few brief sexual references.

henrietta lacks

7. “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot

Henrietta Lacks — it’s a name we should all know and yet we didn’t until this book came out. In the 1950’s, Henrietta was diagnosed with cervical cancer. One of her doctors took a sample of that tumor for lab research. And that one sample changed the world. It led the way for a polio vaccine, better treatment of cancer, and much more. But Henrietta’s family had no idea their mother’s cells were still living on in labs all over the world. An incredibly fascinating story of family and science.

Content note: Brief mention of some sexual abuse and a few uses of foul language, including a couple F-words.


8. “Bossypants” by Tina Fey

In this mega-bestseller, actress, comedian, writer, and producer Tina Fey talks candidly, and of course, funnily, about her life. Starting as a young girl with a dream to be a comedian through her time at “Saturday Night Live” to the perils and joys of being a boss, Tina gives lots of great advice for women working in a man’s world. Always hilarious, this makes a quick and entertaining read.

Content note: Frequent use of foul language, including a lot of F-words, and some crude humor.

west with the night

9. “West With the Night” by Beryl Markham

Ernest Hemingway called Beryl Markham’s book, “a bloody wonderful book,” praising her skills as a writer. In this memoir, Markham details her life defying all expectations of what a woman should do and what a person is capable of doing. As a young girl in the 1920s, she moved to Kenya and grew up with a zebra for a pet, lions as neighbors, and horses for friends. She then spent the rest of her life on adventures, flying planes, training racehorses, and living life to the fullest. She became the first person to fly nonstop from Europe to America. A beautifully written and stirring memoir.

Content note: I haven’t read this one yet, but the time period it was written in suggests it will be none to moderate on content.



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