I have wanted to put together a huge book list of all the books for young feminists that have strong women and girls I have reviewed over the years but have worried so much about the title. I didn’t want to turn anyone off by using the term feminist. I’m just over it, though. The reality is that I am a feminist. I am raising my children as feminists, so why in the world have I not used this title already? Today I am in celebration of International Women’s Day.
After saying that I hope even if you don’t label yourself a feminist you will read through this list to find important books about women and girls to read to your sons and daughters. This list is by no means just for girls, young feminists can be boys too!
Here is my list of must have book for young feminists!
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Malala Yousafzai: Warrior with Words by Karen Leggett Abouraya tells the story of one of the great heroes of our time, Malala. Malala was a young girl in Pakistan when she stood up for education as the Taliban was stripping rights away from people in her Pakistani village. She stood up for every child’s right to education while the Taliban was banning education for girls. Malala inspired many and angered the Taliban, who sent a gunman to kill her. She didn’t die, and the fear the Taliban hoped would silence her didn’t quiet her, it motivated her.
That is what bravery is; facing danger without showing fear. She survived and speaks out still for the rights of all children to get an education. I can’t read this book without tears flowing. Obviously, very young children will not be ready for this book. I have read it with my son who is nine and my daughter who is five. There is no right or wrong time to share this book. Read it and chose a time when you think your child will be able to understand and appreciate the importance of Malala’s message.
A Picture Book of Amelia Earhart (Picture Book Biography) by David A. Adler had both my 7-year-old and I totally enthralled. This book does a great job of painting the picture of early 20th century North America and how women were treated. Amelia’s whole life is covered, and the book even touches on the conspiracy theories about her death. I loved how much of Amelia’s independent spirit came through in the quotes that the author shared. My absolute favorite tidbit about Ms. Earhart is actually in the author’s note and is about her mother. Did you know her mother was the first woman to summit Pike’s Peak? That fact opened up a huge conversation with my son about parental role models.
A Picture Book of Harriet Tubman (Picture Book Biography) by David A. Adler. Often when I am reviewing a book with my kids, I will jot down notes. This book had only one note. “Amazing!!!” I have always known the bare facts about Harriet Tubman and her involvement in The Underground Railroad. But I loved being able to learn more at the same time as my son. Our eyes both got wide as we read her incredible story of strength and leadership. My son loved this book as well, and I appreciate how the author gives details without getting lost in them. My son told me “She was crazy brave!” and I agree. This is a wonderful book about a real American hero.
Mama Played Baseball by David A. Adler This baseball story is told through the eyes of a little girl who watches everything change during World War Two. Her dad goes off to war, and her mom tries out for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, and makes the cut! The story is simple, and I was left wanting more but understood why the author ended it when he did. It’s a great book to explain the basics of what baseball was like on the homefront during World War Two.
Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen is about more than ballet; it’s about overcoming being different, accepting your body and even standing up for yourself. Sassy is tall, too tall to partner with any of the boys in her ballet studio and sticks out like a sore thumb. When a chance to audition for a summer ballet program in Washington D.C. arises other dancers in her studio make her doubt her talent. So often adults can see how awkward and different children are. How striking and unique they are. But getting the child to see that can be impossible.
This book is all about a child discovering that being different isn’t bad. That those differences are all she needs to stand out in a great way. It was a little long for my daughter who was three when we reviewed it. But she sat the whole time enjoying it all the same.
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans was a childhood favorite, and I remember being a little girl and thinking I want to be just like Madeline because she was so brave. She wasn’t afraid of anything and what always struck me was how proud she was of her scar. Something that little girls are told by society to hide because it makes us less than perfect physically yet Madeline hikes up her nightgown and shows it off. Of my childhood heroines, Madeline was right up there with Anne Shirley, Annie, and Brigitta from Sound of Music. As a teacher and parent, I adore Bemelmans’ rhymes which at times are a stretch but in a way that gets kids thinking about what does and doesn’t rhyme.
Supersister by Beth Cadena wasn’t full of x-ray vision or super powers either but my son adored it. Kids are unpredictable. This story though is sweet and also has a little bit of mystery to it, which upon reflection could be one reason my son liked it so much. Supersister is a little girl who is brave and helpful demonstrated by how she lovingly ties her mom’s shoes for her before zooming off to school. Okay so I preach about pre-reading books, but rarely do it and reading this I was so worried the mom was going to be in a hospital bed, and that’s why she needs her daughter to tie her shoes.
I lean towards the dramatic, so I doubt you’d even be thinking that and my son didn’t either. Nothing tragic has happened to mom, she is just very very pregnant. Supersister is practicing her role as a caregiver and older sister! Cute book for new siblings especially!
Amelia to Zora: Twenty-Six Women Who Changed the World by Cynthia Chin-Lee is a great book to read bit by bit. The book is an alphabet book but is not for toddlers or even preschoolers. This is a wonderful book for elementary aged kids, and I’d suggest you read it the way my son and I did; choose 2-3 women to focus on every night and spend some time discussing their stories. The women included in this book are diverse, from all different countries, but one thing they all have in common is that they defied the odds, they stood up even when no one else would and they have the bravery to be themselves.
Princess Smartypants by Brenda Cole is the antithesis of the classic, beautiful, frail princess stories, but it still ends with happily ever after. Princess Smartypants does her own thing and doesn’t understand why her family is so obsessed with finding her a husband. She bends to their wishes but still does things her way. I think this is a great message about happiness and confidence for girls and balances out some of the other princess stories. She was happy just the way she is and didn’t need a spouse to feel complete.
The Story Of Ruby Bridges: Special Anniversary Edition by Robert Coles is a book all children need to read. Ruby Bridges may not have had a choice about her place in history, but she bore the burden with incredible bravery all at the age of six. This book does a wonderful job at telling the story of how Ruby Bridges was the first African-American child to enroll in a previously all-white elementary school. The hatred and threats she dealt with and the grace in which she did.
Of all the biographies about the civil rights movement, this is my favorite because children can relate to Ruby, they can relate to walking into school, and to the feelings of anxiety. They will never have to face what she did, but it’s easier to put themselves in her shoes than those of leaders and adult activist. This is a great book to introduce children to this part of American history.
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney is a book about a woman Miss. Rumphius, who follows her heart and travels the world, lives by the sea and then does exactly what her grandfather tells her she must do, makes the world more beautiful. What I adore about this book isn’t just that the main character is so very sure of herself in that quiet way that only really confident people can be it’s that it’s a call to action. How are you going to make the world a more beautiful place? Her grandfather didn’t suggest that she had to make a beautiful home or make a beautiful family he placed the full weight and expectations of going out into the world and making it better.
Ladybug Girl Dresses Up! by Jacky Davis is one positive girl book that my daughter adored. In this board book, Lulu dresses up in a handful of different costumes including both “girl” ones and “boy” ones. She is equally happy in a princess dress as she is as a pirate costume. The one costume she loves above all the rest is her Ladybug Girl one because as Ladybug Girl she can do anything. The message I want to send to my daughter more than any other, she can do anything even if she may have to work as hard as a superhero.
Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio is fantastic. The very best part of this book is on the first page when the main character a little girl named Grace exclaims “Where are the girls?” in response to her teacher hanging up a poster of all the presidents. If I wasn’t in a tent in the backyard while reading this with my son, I would have stood up and given Grace a standing ovation. I can’t wait to read this to my daughter. I love how shocked she is, and I was really happy that my son was surprised as well. Grace decides to run for president in the mock election for her grade at school and be the change.
My love for this book doesn’t end with the wonderful example of basic feminism because next up the author tackles something oh so tricky; The Electoral College. The author does a great job explaining what can be a very confusing system used for American presidential elections, and I bet more than a few parents reading this to their kids will get something out of it too. The story of Grace and her own campaign is sweet as well, but the brilliance of this story are the complex lessons broken down so well for a young audience.
Spaghetti in A Hot Dog Bun: Having the Courage to Be Who You Are by Maria Dismondy is about bullying, but it’s also about doing the right thing and not losing yourself especially when it’s hard. We both really liked this story about a little girl who is teased mercilessly by a classmate and how she deals with it. What we liked so much was that the bully was really mean, and the bullying seemed to come from nowhere. I think that is so important because when you are getting bullied, it’s hard to make sense of it, and often there is no clear reason for being a target. The dialog that this opened for us was so enlightening, and this book offers parents and teachers many chances to talk about the complex issues of bullying.
The dialog that this opened for us was so enlightening, and this book offers parents and teachers many chances to talk about the complex issues of bullying. The thing about this book is that it’s not even so much about bullying but about not losing confidence in yourself and who you are in the face of a bully. Lucy struggles with being teased, but ultimately she helps her bully when he needs it even though he doesn’t deserve her help. She does the right thing and gains confidence in herself in the process.
Princess Pigsty by Cornelia Funke is a fantastic story about a little princess who is different. She is so disgusted with being perfect and pretty that she chucks her crown into the pond. I loved this book and cheered throughout. When she refuses her father’s orders, he punishes her by sending her to the pigsty but she loves it and feels more at home there than in her royal chambers. I also love that her sisters who are girly, prim and proper aren’t too bullyish and seem to love their traditional roles. There is room for all sorts of princesses in this family, well eventually there is. Good book!
The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke is a tale about a princess named Violet, who was raised with her three older brothers by her father after her mother dies in childbirth. Her brothers are trained to be knights, and she too learns to joust, ride horses and fight with swords. Her brothers (like most) tease her and tell her that she’ll never be as strong as them. It’s a maid who tells her that she won’t be as strong, but she can be smarter. That message stood way out for me and is why I think this is such a great book.
When her father sets up a tournament for knights to win Violet’s hand in marriage, she takes things into her own hands. She shows everyone how she is smarter than all the other knights. That with hard work trains to win her own hand. I love this book not only as a great empowering one for girls. But also to show boys that girls don’t have to fit a specific mold either.
Rosa by Nikki Giovanni is not so much a biography, but it is most definitely a historical account of one woman who changed a nation. We all know the story of Rosa Parks but no matter how well you know the facts, reading a children’s book about it makes me cry. The author has done a fantastic job setting the stage, explaining how Rosa Parks was not your typical heroine, she was just a seamstress, just like everyone else. This is imperative to the message that one woman can stand up for what is right and make big changes. I also appreciated that the author included so much about the women who spearheaded the bus boycott. I am in my 30s, and I feel inspired reading this as a woman, to think of the power it can have over young girls excites me.
Mary Walker Wears the Pants: The True Story of the Doctor, Reformer, and Civil War Hero by Cheryl Harness is an amazing story of Mary Walker. She was one of the first female doctors in the United States, Civil War surgeon and prisoner of war, and Medal of Honor recipient. If you have never heard of her don’t feel bad, I hadn’t either, but I am glad I have now. This was an awesome book to read with my daughter who like Mary marches to the beat of her own drummer, and thank goodness they do. Mary Walker carved many paths in more than just the world of medicine, and her story needs to be shared.
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes is a lovely book about having confidence in who you are, losing confidence and regaining it in the end. Chrysanthemum is a little mouse who loves her name until she goes to school and is picked on for it being out of the ordinary. Who can”’t relate to this? I know I can. Thankfully my son has yet to experience this all too common, but still so heartbreaking experience. I love that I have a book like this to share with him and open up about it before it happens. Ultimately Chrysanthemum learns to love her name again and regains the confidence in being herself that she once had. Another fantastic book from a consistently wonderful author.
Shelia Rae, The Brave by Kevin Henkes In this story Sheila is a brave little mouse, he even taunts her little sister Louise calling her names when she isn’t as brave as her. However soon the tables are turned. When Shelia gets lost it’s her very own scaredy cat sister who shows the bravery. I think a lot of younger siblings can relate to this story, I know I can. Having an older sister who very much like Shelia is the natural leader among the two of us. It’s nice to see the little sister saving the day for once. Readers can see how brave both the girls were and that it’s ok to let someone help you when you need it. This is one of my daughter’s favorite books.
Brontorina by James Howe is possibly one of my favorite books on the planet. I cry every single time I read it. My daughter loved this book. And while the lesson about creating inclusive environments went over her head the lesson about being true to yourself and doing something that has never been done before didn’t. The story is about a dinosaur who wants to be a ballerina. And while a studio initially allows her to dance it’s clear that she is just too big. The story doesn’t end there. With some help from friends who support her dream, they find a way to include everyone.
Librarian on the Roof! by M.G. King made me cry. The true story is about a librarian who did what she needed to do to raise enough money to make a functional children’s section in the oldest library in Texas. What she did was stay on the roof of that library for a week, and it worked. I loved the message that libraries are vital, that books open doors, and that providing access to information to those who can’t afford to get it on their own is a worthwhile cause. This book made me want to cheer, it had me spouting off lessons left and right to my kids, and it absolutely captivated all three of us.
Go read this book and learn more about RoseAleta Laurell the real librarian on the roof. Maybe she hasn’t changed history the way that some of these other women did but she is such a hero and put books in children’s hands, and that will change history, I am certain.
Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara is on my must buy list! A little girl moves into a house and soon finds out it is haunted. Luckily she is a witch and knows just what to do. The ghosts in the story seem mischievous but never scary, and even when she washes them in the washing machine, they are still smiling. This may not be the first book you think of when you think of strong girls, but it should be. This little girl takes care of her problems herself with confidence and ability. I loved the simple black and orange colors and had to look at the copyright twice because I was certain this was written sometime in the 30s, nope 2008.
Halloween is a time when so many young girls dress in costumes that make them feel powerful, strong and beautiful and this book is a great companion to that subtle message of you can do anything and be anyone you want.
Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman by Kathryn Krull Do you know who Wilma Rudolph was? She was the African-American Olympian, who became the first American woman ever to win three gold medals at one Olympic Games. But her story is even more amazing that that. She also suffered from Polio as a child and was told she’d never run. Her determination stands out and inspires. I have mentioned many times how my grandmother was an Olympic medalist, so this story hits a personal chord for me. I am awed and amazed by how far women have come from their first Olympic games in 1928.
The Red Piano by Andre Leblanc made me sob. This biography is about Zhu Xiao-Mei a young pianist growing up during China’s Cultural Revolution. In a work camp during the day but at night she sneaks out to a local village and into a home where a piano is hidden. It’s more than just her love of music it’s her determination not to be broken by the authorities that shine through. When the piano is found in the village, it’s chopped for firewood, and she is punished further. When Chairman Mao dies the work camps start emptying but Zhu Xiao-Mei is the last to leave.
The book isn’t clear about what happens next, and if you aren’t familiar with Zhu Xiao-Mei ‘s career as an international concert pianist you may miss the greatest part of this story, not only did she get to leave the work camp, the authorities didn’t win, her passion was greater than their force. That made me sob. My son responded like most eight-year-olds would, “She must really like the piano. She owned the bad guys in the end!” Yes, she did.
DK Readers: The Story of Anne Frank (Level 3: Reading Alone) by Brenda Ralph Lewis impressed me. I struggle with how to tell such a horrifying story to young children. I should explain that this book is not geared for preschoolers, it’s a school age book, but still it’s a daunting task. This book helps break down the facts while including details about this young girl’s personal and family life. This balance of historical facts and Anne’s family life is the key to why this book works. There is so much horror to digest that the little details like how Anne was a bit of a troublemaker and talked too much in class helps to tune the reader back into the very personal story.
I think this is a fantastic precursor to reading Anne Frank: The Diary Of A Young Girl, it will give all the needed background for your older child to fully comprehend and appreciate the diary itself.
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell is a fabulous book about a little girl who is bullied mercilessly. Molly Lou Melon is all the things that her bully picks on her about she does sound funny, she is very short, and she does have buck teeth, but she is also confident and strong and celebrates them in the face of being bullied. I particularly love that her confidence comes from her grandmother who tells her to stand tall and be proud of who she is. This is exactly the message I want to yell from the rooftops to kids. Celebrate who you are! Children love the super fun illustrations by David Catrow, which always remind me of Seuss so much so that I have referred to Molly Lou as Cindy Lou Who more than once over the years. If you have never read this book, you really must!
Basketball Belles: How Two Teams and One Scrappy Player Put Women’s Hoops on the Map by Sue Macy is the story of the very first basketball game played by college women. The game took place in 1896 and while we shake our heads at what these athletes were wearing at the time it was shocking. I am not a basketball player but to imagine women not being able to play simply because they are women bothers me even if it doesn’t shock me. Books like this that include activities that my own children do are important to share, it’s important to show them how many things women had to fight to do.
Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became an Inventor by Emily Arnold McCully is a book that all little girls should read. I think I may buy 20 copies and give them to every girl that invites either one of my kids to their birthday parties. The reason I think this book is so wonderful isn’t because it’s about some woman that is on a coin. (no disrespect Susan) But because I had never heard of Mattie but I should have, we all should have. Many of her inventions are still in use today…like the paper bag that stays upright.
She made history many of us just didn’t know it. Her story of invention, entrepreneurship, and strength of character are stunning. She stands up for herself, learns from her mistakes, and follows her passion even though it’s not the easy or even the “only kinda hard” road. All the way she faces challenges and just keeps going. This is far more inspiring than any girl power book that I have read before, and it’s true.
Freckleface Strawberry by Julianne Moore is one of the few celebrity books you will see me giving a good review; I really love this book. It doesn’t talk down to kids, and the humor is funny for parents and kids alike. I like that she struggles with her freckles but comes to accept them. Part of being strong and confident is being comfortable with who you are inside and out. I also appreciate that her freckles do not go away as she got older. So often we simply tell kids that it will get better when they are older. When the truth is we deal with it better.
by Marissa Moss is about Ida Lewis, the daughter of a lighthouse keeper who steps up and takes over his work when her father ill. Her first rescue is at the age of 16 and over the next 39 years, she made much more. Rowing out in rough waters to save lives was just what she did and was why she was referred to as the bravest woman in America.
Stephanie’s Ponytail is my favorite Robert Munsch book. I feel a little like I am cheating on The Paper Bag Princess, but I love Stephanie’s confidence. The story is about Stephanie whose friends, and even teachers start copying how she wears her ponytail. She moves it to the side, to the top of her head even right in front of her face and they keep copying her. So she outsmarts them all with shocking results. I like this book and while reading it to a class, I would re-arrange my own hair to match Stephanie’s and have the class in hysterics when my ponytail ended up block my view of the book. The message though is about being your own person, a powerful one for little boys and girls.
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch is one of my very favorite books. It’s a wonderful story about a princess taking things into her own hands and saving herself and the prince! This has become one of my daughter’s favorite bedtime books and when her brother finds out we are reading it he finds a way to her bed. Elizabeth is just so smart and determined and sure of who she is. She loves Ronald at the start but sees him for who he is after busting her tail to save him. Some parents have shared their dislike of Elizabeth’s outburst at the end calling Ronald a bum. But it was justified, he treated her horribly. People say things when they are angry, and you can easily use it to teach your child about anger. That said Ronald is a bum.
Molly, by Golly!: The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter by Dianne Ochiltree is a story I had never heard before we found this book at the library but am so glad I know it now. Molly was an African American cook who provided meals for the firefighters in a town in New York. When a fire broke out, and most of the firefighters were ill, she put on the gear and stood side by side with the men to help fight the fire. She is the first known female firefighter.
What I love about this story is that Molly didn’t grab the gear and start fighting because she wanted to be the first. She did it because there was a need and she was capable of helping. Being the first woman to be a firefighter was brave, and Molly kept volunteering with the department for years after the first fire.
Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries who Shaped Our History . . . and Our Future! (City Lights/Sister Spit) by Kate Schatz The only thing that this book is missing is a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th volume. I love this book and not just because it has rad in the title. This book is a collection of true groundbreakers. Women who were forced to be brave because they chose to follow their dreams in a world that wasn’t ready for them to. To stand up for others and to force change when it would have been easier just to go with the flow.
There are 25 amazing American women featured and a shout out to the nameless women who make brave choices every single day. My son really liked this book because like me he loves biographies and history. We read a handful of letters each night because the entries are long, and it gave us time to talk. I read a few pages to my daughter but their entries were too long and detailed to hold her attention. This book is good for children 6 and up. I think tweens and teens would also really like this stylish and important book.
Susan B. Anthony: Fighter for Freedom and Equality (Biographies (Picture Window Books)) by Suzanne Slade is a great introduction to Susan B. Anthony and why she is so much more than just a lady on coins. Although we often think of her as a suffragette, she was also a champion of human rights and abolitionist. She fought for women’s right to vote to know that she would never get the right. This book explains all that in terms kids can understand and relate to.
Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote by Tanya Lee Stone made me teary-eyed. If you aren’t familiar with Elizabeth Cady Staton grab this book. Not only will it catch you up on the life of this women’s rights activist. It will also let you feel her sense of justice and determination. I wrote down the quote “wasn’t interested in easy”. Which was about her father saying she should have been born a boy so she would fit in better. But is a great quote for anything and anyone.
Eleanor: Quiet No More by Doreen Rappaport is an inspiring look at Elanor Roosevelt’s life and legacy. Readers learn about Eleanor’s childhood. How she orphaned and sent away to school in England where she experienced independence for the first time. It covers her romance and marriage with FDR in a sweet, loving way that won’t make your child cringe about “mushy” things. But they will understand that there were real life and partnership. There is ample information about her work over the years as a politician’s wife as well as the First Lady. My favorite part of the book were all the fantastic quotes woven into the biography. It connects the reader to her and not just her story.
Suki’s Kimono by Chieri Uegaki has been on my shelf for years. I really really like this book, the message is fantastic! Suki loves her Kimono and she doesn’t care that her sisters think it’s not cool to wear it to school. Her grandma gave it to her, and she likes it. I love that she is depicted as confident but not 100% sure of herself. It allows readers to really connect. Recognizing those times when we are putting up a brave face even if inside we aren’t so sure. Being yourself is hard, and the author connects to that while still creating a lovely strong heroine.
Harlem’s Little Blackbird by Renee Watson is the story of Florence Mills. I am so glad I grabbed this book from the library. I am not sure I’d have learned about her without it. Florence was an entertainer in a very segregated world. While she was welcome to entertain, she wasn’t often welcome in other places. She had a voice that quieted crowds and dance moves to match. But what stood out to me was her commitment to others. She opted to make opportunities for others instead of making herself an even bigger star.
What makes her brave is she was outspoken about equality. She used her influence as an entertainer to do so. It was a brave move, and that is the message that comes across in this book. That being kind is brave, helping others can be a brave act. And following your dreams requires most of us to put aside fear and go for it.
Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington is another favorite in our house. My son loves this author, and I like how simple but informative this book is. Your little reader will learn about the basics of what happens at an apple orchard. But you can take it further if you want. On many of the pages, there are chances to learn more. Like the page about sorting and classifying, where there are apples ready to count 1-10, and sorted by colors. I love the last page that says that Annie is so happy to have her own apple farm.
I loved that message and thought it’s a lot more powerful than some may think. Women on farms in most books are “farmer’s wives”. I love that there is no one but Annie doing her own thing. Not all strong women have to speak up to be strong. Simply being independent and successful is a great example of strength.
I Want to be a Cowgirl by Jeanne Willis is a story about a little city girl who doesn’t want to grow up to have tea parties. cook, clean or sew. She doesn’t want to be a girly girl at all; she wants to be a cowgirl. I love the sentiment in this book. How adamant she is about knowing what she wants. The lengths she goes to be a cowgirl using bananas as six-shooters and turning her dad’s rug into chaps! I like the message about following your own dreams. Not what society tells us we should be, and the rhyming text is perfectly suited for this sassy tale.
Hilda Must Be Dancing by Karma Wilson is a lovely story about a big hippo that loves to dance, although her neighbors aren’t as keen. See Hilda is big and when she dances she shakes and rattles everything. It’s noisy and disruptive and is making her friends very angry. They suggest that she try new hobbies. But knitting and singing won’t do it’s simply not in her heart. Hilda needs to move and groove! I love that a solution is found that makes everyone happy. Hilda doesn’t have to give up her passion. That she isn’t so selfish as to simply say “too bad” to her friends either.
Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx/La juez que creció en el Bronx(Spanish Edition)
Jonah Winter is yet another book that makes me tear up. I have a soft spot for women who defy the odds against them. Sonia Sotomayor did just that and in this biography, readers learn just how many she had stacked against her. I can’t imagine how many times she heard that her dreams were too big. That is something that is not unique to her. Children are told they can’t be this or that. Much more than we think, unfortunately. Maybe not explicitly but it’s implied all too often.
We don’t have to tell our children they are amazing all the time, but we should listen to their dreams. I love this book, and so does my daughter. We like that its text is in English and Spanish. We try to figure out some of the Spanish words while we read it. I like that it begins with her as a young girl. Someone my daughter can relate to even if her environment is very different, her age makes and instant connection. This book leaves me thinking about how brave it is to follow your dreams. Especially when only a few people expect you to come even close to reaching them.
Not All Princesses Dress in Pink by Jane Yolen. This book is not so much about being different and facing adversity. It’s being yourself even if the world has decided you should fit perfectly into the mold, it’s given you. When we think of princesses, we think pink, sparkly and dry clean only! These princesses can’t be pigeonholed; they do what’s in their heart not what’s expected of them just because they are princesses. The princesses have all different interests, all different looks and I love that there are some with glasses too. Strong girls being themselves isn’t too different but for a book about princesses it is and it’s refreshing to read.
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For more quick tips on helping your child learn to read check out my book; Raising A Rock-Star Reader. It is packed with fun ideas for families, book lists, and advice for parents.
I love your book lists! Thank you.
What a wonderful list! My library has most of these, but the ones we don’t I’ve added to my next order. Thank you!
If you haven’t seen it, definitely check out Olivia and the Fairy Princesses. The ending always cracks me up.
Also, Karen Cushman’s Catherine, Called Birdy, has a fantastic herione, and lots of historical detail.
Thank you for this post! I was so excited to click on it after reading the title. I’m definitely bookmarking this one and making a library list. 🙂
What a valuable list. I’m definitely going to make sure my daughter AND my sons are exposed to these books. Thank you!
Terry Yordan says
Please add Mighty Millie you your list about strong girls. It is by Felicity Chastney and Rachel Brown. A delightful rhyming book about standing up to bullies.
Jayneen Sanders says
Thanks for this wonderful list! You might also like a new children’s book just out called ‘Pearl Fairweather, Pirate Captain’ found at http://www.e2epublishing.info
Imogene’s Last Stand, by Candace Fleming, is a delightful book about a young history buff who makes it her mission to fight the mayor’s plan to demolish the town’s historical society to make way for a shoelace factory. Imogene is a smart, spunky kid, unabashedly passionate, persistent, and she sprinkles her speech with quotations from famous historical figures.
I hate that you titled this about being feminist. I love these books and have a lot of them. But I don’t want to ever raise my girls to be “feminist.” Not what it seems to mean now away days anyway. I would rather say this is a list of books to empower girls (and boys) to dream big and be confident in their ability to create change.
Allison McDonald says
I totally get your reaction but I feel differently. I think the word feminist is used by people in an inaccurate way but it is still a wonderful movement, an important movement and I think I named this list exactly what it is. I have another book list for Strong Girls here —>https://www.notimeforflashcards.com/2012/09/picture-books-about-strong-girls.html
Kristy, I know what you mean, because I used to cringe at the word “feminist” when I was younger. Until a friend asked me whether I thought women should be able to vote, have the same opportunities as men, etc. It’s less than 100 years ago that women couldn’t teach in Australia after they were married.
And then I had a daughter.
My daughter is going to rock at life. I want every opportunity open to her. I don’t want her to miss out on anything because she’s a girl.
Not sure what it’s like where you’re living, but in Australia there are jobs where having a family is still a career-killer. Educationally we are encouraging girls to study STEM, but the reality is that if you are working in Science research, your career relies on grants and networking. Recent studies have shown that taking a year off to start a family makes it impossible for most women to start back where they left off. I don’t want to say to my daughter, in ten years time when she needs to make decisions about University, “don’t study Science, it’s not a good career for women.” I want the industry to change, gradually over time, so it IS a good career for women. (And it is, gradually, but more support is needed from Government for big change.) There have been big changes in the requirements for female pharmacists on maternity leave recently, because so many couldn’t get back into the field after having kids.
My workplace is extremely family friendly. I could be earning an extra 20K a year doing the same job, but the flexibility I get was worth the compromise. Imagine if EVERY workplace was family friendly and women didn’t need to make those choices. (This would also be great for Dads!)
To me, being a feminist means voting for people who will make gradual changes to make life better for working women. And speaking out when I see something that isn’t fair. Because it IS harder to be a woman, and it IS harder to be a working mother, and it doesn’t need to be.
So yeah, I’m a feminist, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
Love your comment.
Feminist definitely has a bad rap. We should all be fininists, man, woman and child alike.
For me It teally just means making sure that women ( and all people ) have the same rights.
I hate labels.
I like your idea about a better title.
My daughter loves Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, but it’s for an older audience – probably over eight.
It has one-page bios with gorgeous pictures about strong women from history. She has her favourites that she’ll tell us about. Sometimes grown-ups will be talking, and she’ll recognise a name from her book and contribute to the conversation.
Bloom by Doreen Cronin! It is so good, my favorite line? â€œThere is no such thing as an ordinary girl!â€
Also, what I love about feminism is itâ€™s diversity. I get to define what it means to me. Itâ€™s about equality and better life for women while for my friend it is about abolishing the name of the boyfriend tee. I donâ€™t have to be offended over a t-shirt to be a feminist. I think on some level most everyone can be considered a feminist- itâ€™s not a dirty word.
Thank you for the wonderful list…. that was a lot of work to put together!!!!!!
just wish the re ommendations include age or grade recommendations. Iâ€™m always looking for books for my grandkids that show strong female role models and people that stand up for injustices.