We love seeing children’s books that feature witty and strong female characters. If you grew up on books like Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy and Beverly Clearly’s Ramona, then you know how inspiring it is to see a girl hero who is intelligent, curious, and courageous. This past year we've seen some incredible children's books that feature female protagonists come out.
So we've put together a list of eight empowering illustrated books that show women and girls acting with courage, intelligence, and persistence. Whether it's for your grandchild, niece, daughter, or students, without a doubt they'll be inspired (and maybe you will be too!).
1. Malala's Magic Pencil
We are huge fans of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafai, who stood up fearlessly for girls' education when she was just 15. Her children's book Malala's Magic Pencil shows the captivating story of a girl who wishes for a magic pencil to make a difference in the world, then comes to discover she is capable of making change on her own. Beautifully written and illustrated for kids ages 4-8, this picture book shows the ripples that are possible with just a vision and perseverance. We loved it so much we created the Malala’s Worldview Gift Set.
2. Little Leaders: Bold Women In Black History
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History dives into the true stories of forty African American women who worked to achieved great things despite the obstacles and barriers. With empowering quotes from influential women like poet Maya Angelou and civil rights activist Ruby Bridges, this illustrated book is an inspiring and educational read that teaches kids ages 8 and up the power of perseverance and dedication. Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History definitely belongs on every classroom bookshelf and girl's nightstand.
3. Ada Twist, Scientist
We love the illustrations and fun discoveries in Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty! In a very visual story, little ones see the female protagonist Ada as she explores her world through science and embarks on a journey of knowledge and curiosity. We find Ada Twist, Scientist to be one of the most captivating children's books out there dedicated to girls and women in science. Plus, when your girls are finished reading it, they can check out Andrea Beaty's other incredible award-winning book Rosie Revere, Engineer!
4. The Paper Bag Princess
For a picture book that came out in 1980, The Paper Bag Princess is full of girl power, courage, and surprising twists. Author Robert Munsch turns the 'princess in need of rescuing' idea completely on its head, engaging young readers with a fictional heroine who is on a quest to save a prince from a dragon. With her wits and bravery, she has everything she needs to succeed and choose her path, even if all she has to wear is a paper bag.
5. Grace for President
For all the girls (and adults) out there who wonder when we'll have our first female president, Grace for President is a truly empowering book that's worth the read. Written to engage both girls and boys, the story shows a determined Grace who wants to become the first female president of the United States and courageously runs for president in her the elementary school election. Her hard-work and dedication to be a 'first' is inspiring.
6. Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls
Illustrated by 60 female artists and featuring the stories of 100 iconic women throughout history, Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls is brimming with creativity and inspiration for any girl who has a dream or passion. Readers see women like rockstar Joan Jett, artist Frida Khalo, and scientist Rita Levi Montalcini courageously pursue their passions and grow to make wonderful achievements in their fields. When you're done with Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, be sure to check out volume 2!
7. The Pink Hat
The Pink Hat by Andrew Joyner is a whimsical and lively story of a young girl who joins the march for women's equality, as a tribute to the historic women's march of 2017. Adorably illustrated, you see as a pink hat travels from owner to owner until it eventually ends up with a little girl. The Pink Hat comes to symbolize solidarity and change, and is a reminder to all readers that you are never too young to start shaping the future you want. Gift this fun book to your little niece, nephew, daughter, or son to celebrate girls and women's rights and share the power of grassroots movements.
8. Little People, Big Dreams: Rosa Parks
The story of Rosa Parks is one that continues to inspire adults and little ones to be positive changemakers in the world! Little People, Big Dreams: Rosa Parks tells the story of the bold activist Rosa Parks who fought for equality, beginning with her as a child with a vision for a better world. We love how Lisbeth Kaiser captures young readers' attention with her engaging writing style that kids ages 5-8 can relate to and understand.
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