Literature for Women's History Month

Although March is Women's History Month, I don't like to just celebrate women in the month of March. I feel that traditionally mostly white male authors are taught and that's not fair. I like to incorporate a variety of authors throughout the entire school year.

I know that some schools have very rigid book lists. If you work in a school like that I encourage you to incorporate as many multicultural and female authors as you can into your classroom library. Even if you can't teach these books as whole class novels, you can incorporate them into independent reading. If you don't have a classroom library maybe you could add some female authors that have written poetry or short stories.

Here are some female authors I've incorporated into my classroom:


Mary Shelley: The novel Frankenstein is either taught in a 12th grade British Literature class or AP Literature because of the complexity of the text. I've only taught this novel once in an AP Literature course but I hope to delve deeper into the novel in the future.

Sylvia Plath: I love to teach the semi-autobiographical novel The Bell Jar. I've used this book a few times with seniors. Even though the book was written many decades ago I feel like some of the internal struggles that the narrator has are still struggles that people today have. I've also taught many of Plath's poems when I taught a creative writing course.

Laurie Halse Anderson: I've taught two of her novels in the past: Speak and Catalyst. Speak is a great novel to use with 9th graders as the protagonist is their age. The protagonist of the novel Catalyst is in 12th grade and she's dealing with the stress of applying to college. I think that teenagers like seeing characters their own age because it's more relatable.

Lorraine Hansberry: I've taught the play A Raisin in the Sun numerous times with both 9th and 10th graders. I think that this play is important to teach because of the historical context of racism in the late 1950's.

Sandra Cisneros: I've taught The House on Mango Street a few times. I've used the book in entirety with 9th graders and I've used pieces of it with a creative writing class. My students really enjoy this book. There are some controversial topics in the book but these are topics that students need to talk about.

Alice Sebold: I've taught the novel The Lovely Bones several times with both 11th and 12th graders. Although the book is very sad, it is well-written and unique. My students enjoyed it and they really liked the movie version of the book.

S.E. Hinton: I've taught the novel The Outsiders a few times with 9th grade classes. This book can be used with both middle school or high school students. Working in the inner city I found that my students could relate to many of the issues in this book.

Sharon Draper: I've taught the novel Tears of a Tiger with 9th grade classes but this book could easily be used with middle school students as well. The characters are teenagers and the situations they face are situations that students can easily relate to.

R.J. Palacio: The book Wonder can be used with a variety of grade levels. I've used this book with 9th graders but it is usually taught with younger grades. Wonder is a great book to use when discussing anti-bullying.

Suzanne Collins: The book The Hunger Games can be taught with any grade 7-12. Some people might be cautious about using the novel with younger students because there is a lot of death in the book but most students are probably familiar with the book already because of the popularity of the film.


Maya Angelou: I've taught the memoir I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings once with seniors. It's both heart-wrenching and well-written. I would use this book with older students because there is a lot of abusive situations in the memoir. I also love teaching many of her poetry both in conjunction with the memoir or as stand alone lessons.

Short Stories

Shirley Jackson: I've taught both the short story "The Lottery" and the short story "Charles" by Shirley Jackson. Both stories can be used with a variety of grade levels and have interesting themes.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman: I've taught the short story "The Yellow Wallpaper a few times. I think it works well with either 11th or 12th graders because of the level of vocabulary. I usually pair this short story with the short story "A Rose for Emily" (not written by a female author but still deals with feminist issues) and the poem "Barbie Doll."

Flannery O'Conner also has a lot of great short stories for upper grades.


This is a list of some female poets I like to incorporate into my curriculum:

Emily Dickinson
Sylvia Plath
Anne Sexton
Maya Angelou
Nikki Giovanni
Marge Piercy

I have a few other female authors listed in this blog post I wrote about Literature for Black History Month.

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