Best Children's Books About Female role models

The Ultimate List of the Top 32 Books with Strong Female Role Models

Updated Jan. 19, 2019

One reason that we love to read is because we identify with the characters in books. We get to dive into their world and learn with them. If you think about the last five books you read, what did you learn from those characters? We've come up with a list of books with female role models that can inspire and benefit girls and boys alike! These ladies are strong, determined, brave, smart, and powerful. While the children's book market has started to make a better effort to publish books with more women power, it can still be hard to find them--especially good ones that you will come to love. We've sorted through the bunch and have come up with our favorites for you, but comment below if you have any you love that aren't on our list!

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls book
#1
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls
Written by Elena Favilli and illustrated by Francesca Cavallo
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-10
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book! It is a bit more expensive than others, but in my opinion, it's completely worth it to have in my library. I think everyone should read this book and learn about the amazing women who have stood up for their rights and changed the world! With each women highlighted, there's a stunning illustration of the woman along with a short story about her, who she is/was, and what she accomplished. This book is so inspiring and I learned about so many women I hadn't heard of before that have been so influential. I seriously cannot say enough good things about this book, it is one of my absolute favorites.

A children's book that reinvents fairy tales, inspiring girls with the stories of 100 great women from Elizabeth I to Serena Williams.

This Little Explorer book
#2
This Little Explorer
Written by Joan Holub and illustrated by Daniel Roode
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

I love this book! Definitely one of my favorites, containing little bios for important people in history. This book has great content and facts without making the text too long. Plus, the illustrations are amazing! The only thing that could make this book better for me would be for a few more influential women to be included in the main portion of the book, but I love the women that are included and think they are fantastic role models for girls and boys alike! Plus, there are more explorers in the back to learn about (women and men)! :)

Learn all about the most influential explorers who searched the world far and wide in this engaging and colorful board book perfect for pioneers-in-training! Little explorers discover a great big world. The follow up to This Little President, now even the youngest adventurers can learn about the greatest explorers in history with this bright and playful board book. Highlighting ten memorable pioneers, parents and young discoverers alike will love sharing this fun historical primer full of age-appropriate facts and bold illustrations.

Rosie Revere, Engineer book
#3
Rosie Revere, Engineer
Written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Rosie may seem quiet during the day, but at night she’s a brilliant inventor of gizmos and gadgets who dreams of becoming a great engineer. When her great-great-aunt Rose (Rosie the Riveter) comes for a visit and mentions her one unfinished goal—to fly—Rosie sets to work building a contraption to make her aunt’s dream come true. But when her contraption doesn’t fly but rather hovers for a moment and then crashes, Rosie deems the invention a failure. On the contrary, Aunt Rose insists that Rosie’s contraption was a raging success: you can only truly fail, she explains, if you quit. From the powerhouse author-illustrator team of Iggy Peck, Architect comes Rosie Revere, Engineer, another charming, witty picture book about believing in yourself and pursuing your passion. Ada Twist, Scientist, the companion picture book featuring the next kid from Iggy Peck's class, is available in September 2016.

Anne of Green Gables (Puffin in Bloom) book
#4
Anne of Green Gables (Puffin in Bloom)
Written by L.M. Montgomery
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12
Thoughts from Mom of Boys

Anne of Green Gables is such a fun tale! Her imagination is simply fascinating and so intriguing. It makes me want to learn all kinds of new words and enjoy fancy places. Of course, she creates many of these places through her thoughts and that was so fun to think that if life is ever boring we can make it brighter by thinking it so.

Puffin in Bloom is a charming assortment of classic novels with coming-of-age themes, aimed at the young reader. Bond, a stationary artist with Rifle Paper Co. renowned for her floral patterns, puts her signature touch on the covers in this line, because just as a flower blossoms, a young child comes into her own.

The Paper Bag Princess book
#5
The Paper Bag Princess
Written by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This one is a classic in my book, turning the tale of a damsel in distress (which, don't get me wrong, can still be excellent) right on its head. The illustrations are so expressive and I love that not only does Princess Elizabeth throw fashion to the wind and use her smarts to outwit the dragon (without violence!), but also takes her new-found confidence and realizes that her prince is actually not as great as she once thought he was.

Over five million copies in print! When the fiercest dragon in the whole world smashes Princess Elizabeth’s castle, burns all her clothes, and captures her fiancé, Prince Ronald, Elizabeth takes matters into her own hands. With her wits alone and nothing but a paper bag to wear, the princess challenges the dragon to show his strength in the hopes of saving the prince. But is it worth all that trouble? Readers the world-over have fallen in love with this classic story of girl power. Now a newly designed Classic Munsch edition will introduce the tale to a new generation of young feminists.

Chrysanthemum book
#6
Chrysanthemum
Written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

She was a perfect baby, and she had a perfect name. Chrysanthemum. When she was old enough to appreciate it, Chrysanthemum loved her name. And then she started school. "I'm named after my grandmother," said Victoria. "You're named after a flower." Chrysanthemum wilted. Life at school didn't improve. In fact, it got worse. Then the students were introduced to their music teacher, Mrs. Twinkle. Mrs. Delphinium Twinkle. And suddenly, Chrysanthemum blossomed....

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon book
#7
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon
Written by Patty Lovell and illustrated by David Catrow
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Even when the class bully at her new school makes fun of her, Molly remembers what her grandmother told her and she feels good about herself.

Amelia Earhart book
#8
Amelia Earhart
Written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara and illustrated by Mariadiamantes
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

A great board book introduction to an amazing woman who pushed the boundaries. It's simple and truthful without making morbid the fact that Amelia never made it back :) Plus, the illustrations are super cute!

Meet Amelia, the fearless female flier! Now available as a board book in the Little People, Big Dreams series, this inspiring and informative little biography follows the life of Amelia Earhart, from her childhood as a tomboy to becoming the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean to her eventual disappearance. With stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, this empowering series celebrates the important life stories of wonderful women of the world. From designers and artists to scientists, all of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. These books make the lives of these role models accessible for children, providing a powerful message to inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world!

Willow book
#9
Willow
Written by Rosemarie Brennan, Denise Brennan-Nelson and illustrated by Cyd Moore
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

In Miss Hawthorn's art class, neatness, conformity, and imitation are encouraged, but when Willow brings imagination and creativity to her projects, even straight-laced Miss Hawthorn is influenced.

Coco Chanel book
#10
Coco Chanel
Written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara and illustrated by Ana Albero
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

I think this darling board book is a great introduction to Coco Chanel. I love that it talks about her being herself and living her dreams. It also does a good job of telling the story of her journey to becoming a fashion designer.

Meet Coco Chanel, the world famous fashion designer! Now available as a board book in the Little People, Big Dreams series, this inspiring and informative little biography follows the life of the iconic first lady of fashion, from her early life in an orphanage – where she is a genius with needle and thread – to her time as a cabaret singer, hat maker and, eventually, international fashion designer. With stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, this empowering series celebrates the important life stories of wonderful women of the world. From designers and artists to scientists, all of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. These books make the lives of these role models accessible for children, providing a powerful message to inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world!

Malala's Magic Pencil book
#11
Malala's Magic Pencil
Written by Malala Yousafzai and illustrated by Kerascoet
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Malala's first picture book will inspire young readers everywhere to find the magic all around them. As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil. She would use it to make everyone happy, to erase the smell of garbage from her city, to sleep an extra hour in the morning. But as she grew older, Malala saw that there were more important things to wish for. She saw a world that needed fixing. And even if she never found a magic pencil, Malala realized that she could still work hard every day to make her wishes come true. This beautifully illustrated volume tells Malala's story for a younger audience and shows them the worldview that allowed Malala to hold on to hope even in the most difficult of times.

Stephanie's Ponytail book
#12
Stephanie's Ponytail
Written by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

I grew up loving this book, and there are so many things I love about the strong Stephanie! She knows what she likes and isn't afraid to be different. I love that she isn't phased by teasing from other kids because of her confidence in herself and her likes. She's also not afraid to think outside of the box, use her creativity, and try something new. Plus, the ending is hilarious. You might also find yourself with a new repertoire of hairstyles. ;)

Another laugh-out-loud book from the author of The Paper Bag Princess! Everyone is copying Stephanie’s ponytail! No matter which way she wears it, the list of copycats keeps growing. But when Stephanie declares her next hair style, she tries to shake all of her followers loose. A newly designed Classic Munsch picture book introduces this tale of trend-setting hairdos to a young generation of readers.

The Worst Princess book
#13
The Worst Princess
Written by Anna Kemp and illustrated by Sara Ogilvie, Anna Kemp
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Bored of your run-of-the-mill princesses? Tired of traditional princess-finds-her-prince tale? Looking for a princess with a bit more bite? Then this is the book for you. Forget about pretty dresses, fairytale wedding and grand balls, Princess Sue is all about adventure, mischief and making unusual friends. She really is the worst princess!

A Wrinkle in Time book
#14
A Wrinkle in Time
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-14
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

I love how brave the children are in trying to save their father, and I love the great female leads in this story. While I think this interesting classic should be read, it's not my personal favorite and I felt like there were just a few things that weren't resolved in the story.

Meg Murry and her friends become involved with unearthly strangers and a search for Meg's father, who has disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government.

Pride & Prejudice book
#15
Pride & Prejudice
Written by Jennifer Adams and illustrated by Alison Oliver
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3

Introduce your little bibliophile to the romantic world of Jane Austen in Pride & Prejudice: A BabyLit® Counting Primer. Stroll through 1 English village to meet 2 rich gentlemen and discover what happens when the 5 Bennet sisters encounter 4 marriage proposals! Alison Oliver’s charming illustrations accompany Jennifer Adams’ clever, simple text to make this take on a beloved classic perfect for little ones.

Maya Angelou book
#16
Maya Angelou
Written by Lisbeth Kaiser and illustrated by Leire Salaberria
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In the Little People, Big Dreams series, discover the lives of outstanding people from designers and artists to scientists. All of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. The book follows Maya Angelou, from her early traumatic childhood to her time as a singer, actress, civil rights campaigner and, eventually, one of America's most beloved writers. This inspiring and informative little biography comes with extra facts about Maya's life at the back.

Dear Girl, book
#17
Dear Girl,
Written by Paris Rosenthal, Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Holly Hatam
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A #1 New York Times bestseller which Today show co-anchor Hoda Kotb calls, “a beautiful, beautiful book” New York Times bestselling author of I Wish You More, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and her daughter Paris Rosenthal collaborate to bring you the heartwarming and inspiring Dear Girl, Dear Girl, is a remarkable love letter written for the special girl in your life; a gentle reminder that she’s powerful, strong, and holds a valuable place in the world. Through Amy and Paris’s charming text and Holly Hatam’s stunning illustrations, any girl reading this book will feel that she's great just the way she is—whether she enjoys jumping in a muddy puddle, has a face full of freckles, or dances on table tops. Dear Girl, encourages girls to always be themselves and to love who they are—inside and out. Dear Girl, This book is for you. Wonderful, smart, beautiful you. If you ever need a reminder, just turn to any page in this book and know that you are special and you are loved. —Amy and Paris A perfect gift for all occasions.

Sheila Rae, the Brave book
#18
Sheila Rae, the Brave
Written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes, the nationally bestselling and celebrated creator of Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, Owen, and Kitten's First Full Moon, Shelia Rae, the Brave is a warm, humorous, and loving story of sibling sympathy and support. Just because Sheila Rae is older, she doesn't always know better! "I am very brave," Sheila Rae said, patting herself on the back. She wasn't afraid of anything—not thunder, not lightning, not the big black dog at the end of the block. And when she wanted to walk home a new way and Louise wouldn't, she called her sister a scaredy-cat and set out alone. But all the bravado in the world failed to help when Sheila Rae found herself lost. Luckily, her sister was not far behind. "Children will love it."—School Library Journal Supports the Common Core State Standards

Counting with Frida / Contando con Frida (Lil' Libros: English - Spanish) book
#19
Counting with Frida / Contando con Frida (Lil' Libros: English - Spanish)
Written by Ariana Stein, Patty Rodriguez and illustrated by Citlali Reyes
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-4

A Lil' Libros Bilingual Counting Book Introduce your little one to the life of one of Mexico's most iconic painters, Frida Kahlo, while teaching them their numbers, 1 to 10, in English and Spanish. Count una casa azul (one blue house), tres flores (three flowers), and cinco retratos (five portraits).

She Persisted book
#20
She Persisted
Written by Chelsea Clinton and illustrated by Alexandra Bolger
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Chelsea Clinton introduces tiny feminists, mini activists and little kids who are ready to take on the world to thirteen inspirational women who never took no for an answer, and who always, inevitably and without fail, persisted. Throughout American history, there have always been women who have spoken out for what’s right, even when they have to fight to be heard. In early 2017, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s refusal to be silenced in the Senate inspired a spontaneous celebration of women who persevered in the face of adversity. In this book, Chelsea Clinton celebrates thirteen American women who helped shape our country through their tenacity, sometimes through speaking out, sometimes by staying seated, sometimes by captivating an audience. They all certainly persisted. She Persisted is for everyone who has ever wanted to speak up but has been told to quiet down, for everyone who has ever tried to reach for the stars but was told to sit down, and for everyone who has ever been made to feel unworthy or unimportant or small. With vivid, compelling art by Alexandra Boiger, this book shows readers that no matter what obstacles may be in their paths, they shouldn’t give up on their dreams. Persistence is power. This book features: Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Clara Lemlich, Nellie Bly, Virginia Apgar, Maria Tallchief, Claudette Colvin, Ruby Bridges, Margaret Chase Smith, Sally Ride, Florence Griffith Joyner, Oprah Winfrey, Sonia Sotomayor—and one special cameo.

The Secret Garden book
#21
The Secret Garden
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Thoughts from The Goodfather

The Secret Garden is one of my favorite stories from my childhood. I love Mary's self discovery and her help to Colin and ultimately Mr. Craven along the way. I love the way she gains color in her cheeks as she experiences the joy of playing and working outside and nurturing a garden and befriending a robin, joys that Martha and Dickon help her discover. I love that she feels the happiness that comes as she moves from a very self-centered character to thinking of others and putting their needs and wellbeing above her own. She also is lovingly forthright and frank with Colin, which helped him develop, too.

After losing her parents, young Mary Lennox is sent from India to live in her uncle’s gloomy mansion on the wild English moors. She is lonely and has no one to play with, but one day she learns of a secret garden somewhere in the grounds that no one is allowed to enter. Then Mary uncovers an old key in a flowerbed – and a gust of magic leads her to the hidden door. Slowly she turns the key and enters a world she could never have imagined.

Matilda book
#22
Matilda
Written by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

From the bestselling author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The BFG! Matilda is a sweet, exceptional young girl, but her parents think she’s just a nuisance. She expects school to be different but there she has to face Miss Trunchbull, a kid-hating terror of a headmistress. When Matilda is attacked by the Trunchbull she suddenly discovers she has a remarkable power with which to fight back. It’ll take a superhuman genius to give Miss Trunchbull what she deserves and Matilda may be just the one to do it!

Harriet The Spy book
#23
Harriet The Spy
Written by Louise Fitzhugh
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

"The 50th annivesary edition of Harriet the Spy includes tributes to this timeless coming-of-age story from Judy Blume, Rebecca Stead, and other notable authors." - Seira Wilson, Amazon Editor This special 50th Anniversary Edition of the classic and ground-breaking coming-of-age novel, Harriet the Spy, includes tributes by Judy Blume, Meg Cabot, Lois Lowry, Rebecca Stead, and many more, as well as a map of Harriet's New York City neighborhood and spy route and original author/editor correspondence. Using her keen observation skills, 11-year-old Harriet M. Welsch writes down in her notebook what she considers the truth about everyone in and around her New York City neighborhood. When she loses track of her notebook, it ends up in the wrong hands, and before she can stop them, her friends read the sometimes awful things she's observed and written about each of them. How can Harriet find a way to keep her integrity and also put her life and her friendships back together? “I don’t know of a better novel about the costs and rewards of being a truth teller, nor of any book that made more readers of my generation want to become fiction writers. I love the story of Harriet so much I feel as if I lived it.” —Jonathan Franzen, author of Freedom and The Corrections

I Am Rosa Parks book
#24
I Am Rosa Parks
Written by Brad Meltzer and illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Recounts Rosa Parks' daring effort to stand up for herself and other African Americans by helping to end segregation on public transportation.

Olivia book
#25
Olivia
Written and illustrated by Ian Falconer
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

It's everyone's favorite pig...it's OLIVIA! The Caldecott Honor Book and New York Times #1 bestseller is now available in a sturdy format perfect for pig-loving toddlers everywhere!

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected] with your book and list suggestion.