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Positive Feminist Book Recommendations For Children

by Jennifer Bab on September 10, 2020

I’m a big fan of exposing kids to inspiring role models through literature. Below are some reading suggestions for young children and young readers with a focus on strong, positive female role models -- real people and fictional characters -- all of whom I believe demonstrate and inspire MOXIE.  Happy reading!

 

YOUNG CHILDREN 

  • I Am series by Brad Meltzer (featuring sheroes such as Marie Curie, Billie Jean King, Anne Frank, Jane Goodall, Lucille Ball and the Bronte sisters). It focuses on traits making heroes great and each hero’s childhood influences. This series includes both male and female inspiring role models. There is also a Strong Girls gift set and Heroes For My Daughter edition which includes many extraordinary women in one book. (Bonus: activities posted online as well as a PBS series). 

  • She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton -- featuring 13 trailblazing women with grit and fortitude, including Harriett Tubman, Helen Keller, Florence Griffith Joyner, Claudette Colvin, Ruby Bridges, Sally Ride and Sonia Sotomayor. 

  • Little Feminist Board Book Set by Mudpuppy.  This set of board books introduces little ones to female change agents, organizing them in four different categories:  Artists, Leaders, Activists and Pioneers.

  • My Feminist ABC’s by duopress. E is for Equal Rights, F is for Feminism, G is for Girl Power and also for Grit.  Little ones learn the feminist alphabet. Never too young to start instilling feminist values.

  • ABC What Can She Be? Girls Can Be Anything They Want to Be, From A to Z by Sugar Snap Studio. This is an oversized book that uses the ABC's to show the littlest girls all the possibilities for her future (A is for astronaut for starters). 

  • A is for Awesome: 23 Iconic Women Who Changed the World by Eva Chen.  Simple book for your littlest girl where A is for Amelia Earheart, B is for Beyonce and so on, all the way to eXtraordinary You―and the Zillion of adventures you will go on. . .It will get your youngest daughter familiar with iconic names and their basic accomplishment(s) so she will want to learn more about them as she grows up.

  • This Little Trailblazer: A Girl Power Primer by Joan Holub. Empowering your littlest girl by expressing that "little trailblazers cause great big changes!".  It features 10 pioneer women (and lists a dozen more at the end for you to explore together with your daughter).

  • Dream Big by Joyce Wan. An oversized book instilling toddlers to do great things by dreaming big. It pays tribute to a handful of trailblazing women for inspiration.

  • I Look Up To series by Anna Membrino. Running on the mantra “if you can see it, you can be it,” this series introduces young girls to amazing women including, RBG, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Serena Williams, Misty Copeland, Malala Yousafzai.

  • Little Leaders/Legends series by Vashti Harrison. From bold women in black history to visionary women from around the world. Board book adaptations are available for the youngest. [8 and up for young reader versions].

  • Free To Be You And Me by Marlo Thomas and friends. Written 30 years ago and very relevant in today’s world, empowering kids to embrace themselves and their differences and have empathy for others who are different too. 

  • The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper. An American fairytale that never goes out of style, just like optimism and hard work -- values taught in the book -- never go out of style. Originally published in 1930, this story and its lessons are timeless.

  • Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty and other similar books by this popular author. This is one of a handful of (picture) books by Beaty about girls pursuing their passions, persistence and celebrating failure. They are crowd favorites (and NYTimes Best Sellers) for a reason, demonstrating that the only failure is not trying. (Bonus: companion activity books).

  • DC Super Heroes:  My First Book Of Girl Power Board Book by Georgia Rucker and Julie Merberg -- girls are strong and bold -- and yes, they have superpowers!  Even the youngest girls should learn that they have superpowers too (let moxie be among theirs!)

  • Rebel Girls Series (and Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls). By Rebel Girls; introduces girls to extraordinary women of history.  [3 and up for Goodnight Stories that you read to her; 7 and up if she’s reading it herself].

  • Herstory: 50 Women and Girls Who Shook Up The World  by Katherine Halligan featuring 50 powerhouse females from around the world, demonstrating that girls can accomplish anything [4 and up if you’re reading to her; 7 and up if she’s reading it herself]

  • I Am A Warrior Goddess by Jennifer Adams. The warrior goddess embodies kindness, generosity, love and gratitude. (Interesting side note: The author wrote this book to honor her mom who lost her battle with breast cancer without losing her 'kindness and love and grace.') [4 and up]

  • Hidden Figures various adaptations for all ages [4 and up] Inspiring true story about black women working at NASA. (Bonus:  the feel-good film Hidden Figures).

YOUNG READERS

  • Who Is/Who Was series. Fabulous series (one of my daughter’s absolute favorites!) and prolific (over 200 titles)! Book subjects are not limited to women, but they include many, from Harriet Tubman to Gloria Steinem. Be sure to also grab a copy of What Is The Women’s Rights Movement.  [8 and up] (Bonus: The Who Was show on Netflix - educational and fun!)

  • See above Little Leaders/Legends, Rebel Girls, Herstory and Hidden Figures.

  • Grace For President by Kelly DiPucchio NYTimes Bestseller about a girl’s fight for the title and aims to educate children about the electoral college system. Given upcoming elections, this is a very timely read!  It breaks down stereotypes of gender and race and celebrates using one’s voice, strength and determination. [5-9].

  • Shakespeare Can Be Fun series by Lois Burdett -- A wonderful way to introduce your young ones to the classics AND moxified heroines like Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing. [7 and up].

  • Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery -- adventures of Anne Shirley as an effervescent, positive, soulful young woman who overcame a ton of adversity, including being orphaned at a young age and being severely bullied throughout her adolescence. She overcame setbacks with creativity, imagination, grace, sense of humor, gratitude and kindness. Anne is a terrific (moxie) role model for everyone; her exciting adventures will keep your daughter enthralled and inspired.  [8 and up] (Bonus: Netflix series Anne with an E).

  • Girls Think of Everything - Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Catherine Thimmesh -- Unleash her creativity and notion that anything is possible with examples of the many inventions and discoveries made by women to make all our lives better (including chocolate chip cookies!) [9-12]

  • Lives of Extraordinary Women by Kathleen Krull  (part of the Lives of series that includes explorers, artists, scientists -- each book with women representation).  Chock full of interesting facts about notable women. [10-12]

  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott -- beloved American classic that tells the story of the four March sisters growing up in Boston during and after the Civil War, as they wait for their father to return home. Generations of readers have enjoyed this book and its characters (some argue that gender roles are outdated by today’s standards -- and others view the characters as progressive and beyond their years -- you decide!). [10 and up]

  • Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. These fantasy novels, full of witchcraft and wizards, are as popular as they get. . .We especially love Hermione Granger -- she’s got moxie in spades. [12 and up, but much earlier if you read to your child] (Bonus: Harry Potter movies)

  • The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S Lewis. A series of fantasy books featuring four siblings who discover a magical world of mythical beasts and talking animals. Lucy is the youngest of the four and the most sensitive, spiritual and spirited of all; she is fearless. [8 and up] (Bonus:  a set of Narnia movies good for the whole family!) 

  • Poem And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou -- a personal favorite - reflecting the strength of a positive female spirit -- rising above all with “sassiness” intact! (Bonus:  Listen to Maya Angelou on Youtube recite it herself!!)

  • I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy [8-10] and Notorious RBG Young Readers’ Edition: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg [8-12] by Irin Carmon.  (Bonus:  On The Basis of Sex movie).  A cultural icon who embodies equality and balancing the scale of justice. Every girl should know RBG’s story -- one of overcoming obstacles and consistently demonstrating grit, persistence, integrity, wit, and grace.

  • The Book of Heroines; Tales of History’s Gutsiest Gals by Stephanie Warren Drimmer (National Geographic Kids)  Fabulous collection of biographies featuring many women who changed the world -- just read a few pages at a time to learn about and get inspired by inspirational female figures with a broad range of backgrounds and contributions to the world. [8-12]

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