Born Reading: 20 Stories of Women Reading Their Way into History

Born Reading: 20 Stories of Women Reading Their Way into History
Co-Authors / Illustrators
Age Range
Release Date
August 01, 2023
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Once books kick-start their brains, girls change history. Discover the foundation of reading that empowered some of the world’s most influential women in this informative and inspirational illustrated middle grade collection of twenty biographies.

What do Cleopatra, Audre Lorde, and Taylor Swift have in common? They’re all influential women who grew up doing one very important thing: reading.

This collection of short-form biographies tells the story of twenty groundbreaking women and how their childhood reading habits empowered them to change the world. From Cleopatra to Sally Ride to Amanda Gorman, the women featured in this collection are from all throughout history and all kinds of backgrounds. They are women who have and who continue to change the game in STEM, literature, politics, sports, and more. Most importantly, they are women who were born to read.

For some, reading was forbidden, but they taught themselves to read anyway. For some, reading was a struggle, but they practiced and grew to love it. For some, reading was an escape from difficult realities. For all, reading was empowering

Editor review

1 review
Turn the page, change the world!
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Learning Value
Kathleen Krull was the author of so many fantastic biography books, including Big Wig: A Little History of Hair, American Immigration: Our History, Our Stories, Louisa May's Battle, and Frenemies in the Family: Famous Brothers and Sisters Who Butted Heads and Had Each Other's Backs. She had a fun, engaging, and somewhat flippant style that made her books seem like we were reading about friends or neighbors, not famous people who changed the world. Sadly, she died of cancer in 2021, but left many works in progress. Her friend Loh-Hagan polished this collection of short biographies about women who fought against gender stereotypes to make their way in the world.

The women portrayed all had different challenges to overcome, but they did so even when they were told that it wasn't their places or simply that they couldn't. While historical figures like Queen Elizabeth I and Wu Zetian's worlds were very different from the world today, even modern figures like Oprah Winfrey and Taylor Swift faced opposition in their rise to celebrity. Marley Diaz is the youngest person to be included, and young readers might be aware of her #1000BlackGirlBooks initiative.

Good Points
Each of the twenty woman has three to four pages of information, and a fantastic portrait by Lewis. This is arranged in chronological order, which is always helpful. At the end of the book, there are thumbnail biographies of a wide range of other women that will also encourage readers to find out more information about individuals that inspire them to think about their own impact on the world. There's a complete bibliography at the end of the book, which readers will find helpful if they choose to gather more information about their favorite person.

It's never too early to get young girls reading, and this is a great title to add to any young feminist's library that may already include Chambers's Finish the Fight!: The Brave and Revolutionary Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote, Calkhoven's Women Who Changed the World: 50 Amazing Americans, Rubin's The Women Who Built Hollywood: 12 Trailblazers in Front of and Behind the Camera and Favilli's Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Immigrant Women Who Changed the World.
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