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Female Role Models: Books For Kids

One reason that we love to read is because we identify with characters in books. We enter their worlds and learn with them. If you think about the last five books you read, what did you learn from the characters?

This list highlights books with positive female role models from whom we can all learn empowering lessons. These strong female characters can inspire and benefit all children across many ages, from toddlers to middle school aged kids! These ladies are strong, determined, brave, smart, powerful, and more.

While the children's book market has started to make a better effort to publish progressive books with more women power, it can still be hard to find them—especially good titles that you will come to love. We've sorted through the bunch and have come up with our favorites for you. We think these are the best books to show the positive impact of being a good role model. You can use our subtopics and filter the list by book type—board, picture, and chapter—to find the titles that most interest you. Comment below if you have any you love that aren't on our list!

Top 10 Books About Female Role Models

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.

The Secret Garden book
#3
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.

Madeline book
#4
Madeline
Written and illustrated by Ludwig Bemelmans
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

“In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines the smallest one was Madeline.” Nothing frightens Madeline—not tigers, not mice, not even getting sick. With its endearing, courageous heroine, cheerful humor, and wonderful, whimsical drawings of Paris, the Madeline stories are true classics that continue to charm readers even after 75 years!

This Little Trailblazer: A Girl Power Primer book
#5
This Little Trailblazer: A Girl Power Primer
Written by Joan Holub and illustrated by Daniel Roode
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-5

Learn all about influential women who changed history in this engaging and colorful board book perfect for trailblazers-in-training! Paving the way to a future that’s bright. Helping the world with their skills, smarts, and might. Little trailblazers cause great big changes. In this follow up to This Little President and This Little Explorer, now even the youngest readers can learn all about great and empowering female trailblazers in history! Highlighting ten memorable women leaders who paved the way, parents and little ones alike will love this girl power primer full of fun, age-appropriate facts and bold illustrations.

Anne of Green Gables (Puffin in Bloom) book
#6
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.

Rosie Revere, Engineer book
#7
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.

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!

Coco Chanel book
#9
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!

The Paper Bag Princess book
#10
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.

Books About Female Role Models and Famous People

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 Trailblazer: A Girl Power Primer book
#2
This Little Trailblazer: A Girl Power Primer
Written by Joan Holub and illustrated by Daniel Roode
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-5

Learn all about influential women who changed history in this engaging and colorful board book perfect for trailblazers-in-training! Paving the way to a future that’s bright. Helping the world with their skills, smarts, and might. Little trailblazers cause great big changes. In this follow up to This Little President and This Little Explorer, now even the youngest readers can learn all about great and empowering female trailblazers in history! Highlighting ten memorable women leaders who paved the way, parents and little ones alike will love this girl power primer full of fun, age-appropriate facts and bold illustrations.

Coco Chanel book
#3
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!

Honorable Mentions
  1. She Persisted - 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.

  2. Me . . . Jane - In his characteristic heartwarming style, Patrick McDonnell tells the story of the young Jane Goodall and her special childhood toy chimpanzee named Jubilee. As the young Jane observes the natural world around her with wonder, she dreams of "a life living with and helping all animals," until one day she finds that her dream has come true. One of the world's most inspiring women, Dr. Jane Goodall is a renowned humanitarian, conservationist, animal activist, environmentalist, and United Nations Messenger of Peace. In 1977 she founded the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), a global nonprofit organization that empowers people to make a difference for all living things. With anecdotes taken directly from Jane Goodall's autobiography, McDonnell makes this very true story accessible for the very young--and young at heart.

  3. Malala's Magic Pencil - 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.

  4. I Am Helen Keller - "The story of Helen Keller, who learned to read and write despite being deaf and blind, and became an activist who fought for the rights of disabled people"

Want to see more children's books about famous people?

Books About Female Role Models and Being Yourself

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon book
#1
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.

Willow book
#2
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.

Chrysanthemum book
#3
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....

Honorable Mentions
  1. Stephanie's Ponytail - 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. ;)

  2. Suki's Kimono - On her first day of first grade, despite the objections of her older sisters, Suki chooses to wear her beloved Japanese kimono to school because it holds special memories of her grandmother's visit last summer.

  3. My Name is Not Isabella - Isabella imagines she is a variety of prominent women throughout history, including Sally Ride, Annie Oakley, Rosa Parks, and Marie Curie.

  4. Dear Girl, - 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.

Want to see more children's books about being yourself?

Books About Female Role Models and Bravery

The Paper Bag Princess book
#1
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.

Madeline book
#2
Madeline
Written and illustrated by Ludwig Bemelmans
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

“In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines the smallest one was Madeline.” Nothing frightens Madeline—not tigers, not mice, not even getting sick. With its endearing, courageous heroine, cheerful humor, and wonderful, whimsical drawings of Paris, the Madeline stories are true classics that continue to charm readers even after 75 years!

Sheila Rae, the Brave book
#3
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

Honorable Mentions
  1. Brave Jane Austen - This picture book biography of the groundbreaking female novelist Jane Austen, recognized as one of the most important and influential writers of all time, is ideal for Women's History Month. Full color.

  2. Emmeline Pankhurst - In this international bestseller from the critically acclaimed Little People, BIG DREAMS series, meet Emmeline Pankhurst, an inspiring women's rights activist who changed the world for future generations of women. As a child, Emmeline Pankhurst was inspired by books about heroes who fought for others. She dedicated her life to fighting for women's voting rights and, with hard work and great bravery, led a remarkable movement that changed the world. This moving book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the activist's life. Little People, BIG DREAMS is a best-selling series of books and educational games that explore the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream.

  3. Ada Lovelace - Meet Ada Lovelace, the British mathematician and daughter of poet Lord Byron. New in the Little People, Big Dreams series, this inspiring and informative little biography follows the colourful life of Lord Byron’s daughter, from her early love of logic, to her plans for the world's first computer program. 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!

  4. Harriet Tubman: Freedom Fighter - Learn about the inspiring life of Harriet Tubman in this early reader biography. Harriet Tubman was a brave woman who was born enslaved in Maryland in the 1800s. After risking everything to escape from her slave master and be free, Harriet went on to lead many people to freedom on a journey known today as the Underground Railroad. This book covers some of the amazing aspects of Tubman's life: She led 13 escapes—all successful and at great personal risk—between 1850 and 1860. This book also covers some of the lesser-known amazing aspects of her life: During the Civil War, Harriet Tubman enlisted African American men to be soldiers. She served as a spy. AND she led a battle under the command of a Union Army colonel! Beginning readers will learn about the milestones in Harriet Tubman’s life in this Level Two I Can Read biography. This biography includes a timeline and historical illustrations all about the life of this inspiring figure, as well as a rare historical photograph of her. Much mythology and conflicting lore exists about Harriet Tubman. This book was carefully vetted by noted Harriet Tubman expert Dr. Kate Larson. Harriet Tubman: Freedom Fighter is a Level Two I Can Read, geared for kids who read on their own but still need a little help.

Want to see more children's books about bravery?

Books About Female Role Models and Biography

This Little Explorer book
#1
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.

Amelia Earhart book
#2
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!

A Voice Named Aretha book
#3
A Voice Named Aretha
Written and illustrated by Katheryn Russell-Brown
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A beautiful picture book biography about the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, and how she fought for equal rights throughout her life. Aretha Louise Franklin grew up in a house of music. The shy daughter of a famous Detroit preacher and civil rights activist, Aretha’s big voice surprised those around her, and everyone agreed: her powerful singing would someday make her a star. After relocating to New York City and signing a record deal, Aretha relentlessly pursued her dream of stardom. But it took many years of tireless touring and recording until her hit record "Respect" finally brought her the acclaim she deserved. Along the way, Aretha used her talents to fight for respect and equal rights along the way by refusing to perform for "whites only" audiences. With six decades of hits, countless memorable performances, and millions of lives touched, Aretha’s legacy of resilience and respect will inspire for generations to come.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Champions of Change - Stories of powerhouse women who pushed for justice in politics, medicine, art, music, religion, tribal leadership, and more. In fighting to pass the 19th Amendment, brave suffragists like Susan B. Anthony and Emmeline B. Wells fought to end laws and take down barriers that prevented them from voting. Champions of Change introduces young readers not only to Anthony and Wells, but also to a diverse group of firsts and freedom-fighters in America's fight for equality, such as: Zitkala-Sa, co-founder of the National Council of American Indians Martha Hughes Cannon, America's first female senator Hanna Kaaepa, an advocate for Hawaiian women's rights Barbara Toomer, who was jailed 35 times for protests that led to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities act and the women of the Kanab City Council, one of the first all-female city councils in the country. This timely collection of mini biographies highlights 25 champions for justice, includes colorful portraitures of each, and presents actual photos of the individuals as well as a quick reference glossary. Naomi Watkins, Ph.D. is an educational consultant, women's advocate, and community builder. A former middle school English teacher, she specializes in curriculum development and school district consulting. She has been published in international journals such as the The Reading Teacher, Journal of Children's Literature, TESOL Journal, and Middle School Journal. Katherine Kitterman is the historical director for Better Days 2020, an organization that explores stories of women who shaped Utah's history. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in American History at American University in Washington, D.C., where she has worked to bring history to life at the Smithsonian Institution, the Holocaust Memorial Museum, and Woodrow Wilson House. Brooke Smart is an illustrator based in Sandy, Utah, with a BFA in Illustration from Brigham Young University. Her illustration clients include the New York Times, Gathre, Better Days 2020, Bravery Magazine, and private commissions. Brook recently won honorable mention in the 2016 Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Portfolio Showcase in New York City.

  2. I Am Amelia Earhart - Presents the life of the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, who mysteriously disappeared in 1937 while attempting to fly around the world.

  3. I Am Sonia Sotomayor - Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, is the subject of the sixteenth picture book in the New York Times bestselling series of biographies about heroes. This friendly, fun biography series focuses on the traits that made our heroes great--the traits that kids can aspire to in order to live heroically themselves. Each book tells the story of one of America's icons in a lively, conversational way that works well for the youngest nonfiction readers and that always includes the hero's childhood influences. At the back are an excellent timeline and photos. This volume features Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina Supreme Court Justice.

  4. I Am Lucille Ball - A first-person presentation of the life and career of comedian and studio head Lucille Ball.

Want to see 14 more children's books about female role models and biography?

How about children's books about biography?

Books About Female Role Models and History

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History book
#1
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History
Written by Vashti Harrison
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-11

A NEW YORK TIMES INSTANT BESTSELLER!A USA TODAY BESTSELLER! This beautifully illustrated book introduces readers of all ages to 40 women who changed the world. Featuring forty trailblazing black women in American history, Little Leaders educates and inspires as it relates true stories of breaking boundaries and achieving beyond expectations. Illuminating text paired with irresistible illustrations bring to life both iconic and lesser-known female figures of Black history such as abolitionist Sojourner Truth, pilot Bessie Coleman, chemist Alice Ball, politician Shirley Chisholm, mathematician Katherine Johnson, poet Maya Angelou, and filmmaker Julie Dash. Among these biographies, readers will find heroes, role models, and everyday women who did extraordinary things - bold women whose actions and beliefs contributed to making the world better for generations of girls and women to come. Whether they were putting pen to paper, soaring through the air or speaking up for the rights of others, the women profiled in these pages were all taking a stand against a world that didn't always accept them. The leaders in this book may be little, but they all did something big and amazing, inspiring generations to come.

Elizabeth Leads the Way book
#2
Elizabeth Leads the Way
Written by Tanya Lee Stone and illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

Elizabeth Cady Stanton stood up and fought for what she believed in. From an early age, she knew that women were not given rights equal to men. But rather than accept her lesser status, Elizabeth went to college and later gathered other like-minded women to challenge the right to vote. Here is the inspiring story of an extraordinary woman who changed America forever because she wouldn't take "no" for an answer. Elizabeth Leads the Way is a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

Rosa Parks book
#3
Rosa Parks
Written by Lisbeth Kaiser and illustrated by Marta Antelo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

New in the Little People, Big Dreams series, discover the incredible life of Rosa Parks, ' The Mother of the Freedom Movement', in this inspiring story. In this true story of an inspiring civil rights activist, Rosa Parks grew up during segregation in Alabama, but she was taught to respect herself and stand up for her rights. In 1955, Rosa refused to give up her seat to a white man on a segregated bus, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Her decision had a huge impact on civil rights, eventually leading to the end of segregation on public transport. 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!

Honorable Mentions
  1. Maya Angelou - 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.

  2. Lumber Jills - In World War II, Great Britain needed lumber to make planes, ships, and even newspapers—but there weren’t enough men to cut down the trees. Enter the fearless Lumber Jills! These young women may not have had much woodcutting experience, but they each had two hands willing to work and one stout heart, and they came together to do their part. Discover this lyrical story of home front heroism and female friendship.

  3. Martina & Chrissie - A fascinating dual biography of tennis greats Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert celebrates the power of equality, respect, and sportsmanship. Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert come from completely different places and play tennis in completely different ways. Chrissie is the all-American girl: practiced, poised, with perfect technique. Martina hails from Czechoslovakia, a Communist country, and her game is ruled by emotion. Everything about them is different, except one thing: they both want to be the best. But as their intense rivalry grows, something else begins to swing into place, and a friendship forms that will outlast all their tennis victories. Phil Bildner and Brett Helquist tell the engaging true story of these two masters of the court as they win title after title -- and, most importantly, the hearts of the fans.

  4. I Look Up To... Serena Williams - If you can see it, you can be it! Introduce your child to powerful feminist role models with this series of inspirational board books. It's never too early to introduce your child to the people you admire! This board book distills tennis superstar Serena Williams's excellent qualities into an eminently sharable read-aloud text with graphic, eye-catching illustrations. Each spread highlights an important trait, and is enhanced by a quote from Serena herself. Kids will grow up hearing the words of this powerful, determined woman and will learn what YOU value in a person! The I LOOK UP TO... series aims to shed a spotlight on women making a difference in the world today, and to encourage young kids to follow in their footsteps! Look for other books in the series about Michelle Obama, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Malala Yousafzai!

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Books About Female Role Models and Science

Rosie Revere, Engineer book
#1
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.

Hedy Lamarr's Double Life book
#2
Hedy Lamarr's Double Life
Written by Laurie Wallmark and illustrated by Katy Wu
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

To her adoring public, Hedy Lamarr was a glamorous movie star. But in private, she was something more: a brilliant inventor. Now Laurie Wallmark and Katy Wu, who collaborated on Sterling's critically acclaimed picture-book biography Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code, tell the inspiring story of how, during World War Two, Lamarr developed a groundbreaking communications system that still remains essential to the security of today's technology.

Marie Curie book
#3
Marie Curie
Written by Isabel Muñoz and illustrated by Jane Kent
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

At a time when women weren't welcome in the world of science, Marie Curie made her mark on history. She was the first woman to become a professor of physics in the Sorbonne and even won Nobel Prizes in two different scientific fields. This fascinating biography explains how Curie and her husband discovered both polonium and radium, and why their pioneering research on radioactivity was so important.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Queen of Physics - "When Wu Chien Shiung was born in China 100 years ago, girls did not attend school. But her parents named their daughter "Courageous Hero" and encouraged her love of science. This biography follows Wu as she battles sexism at home and racism in the United States of America to become what Newsweek magazine called the "Queen of Physics" for her work on how atoms split"--

  2. Always Looking Up - This empowering picture book biography tells the story of Nancy Grace Roman, the astronomer who overcame obstacles like weak eyesight and teachers who discouraged women from pursuing astronomy to lead the NASA team that built the Hubble Space Telescope. A testament to women in scientific careers and a record of an important NASA milestone.

  3. I Am Jane Goodall - Learn all about Jane Goodall, the chimpanzee scientist.

  4. Little Guides to Great Lives: Marie Curie - Marie Curie was a brilliant scientist who coined the term 'radioactivity', discovered polonium and radium, and helped develop treatments for cancer. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, but her dedication to physics ultimately caused her death from radiation. From artists to aviators and scientists to revolutionaries, Little Guides to Great Lives is a brand new series of small-format guides introducing children to the most inspirational figures from history in a fun, accessible way. Launching with Leonardo da Vinci, Marie Curie, Nelson Mandela, and Amelia Earhart, Little Guides to Great Lives tells the stories of the most amazing people from all over the world and across history, with full-color illustrations and fresh design to bring their incredible stories to life.

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Books About Female Role Models and Based On A True Story

Emmeline Pankhurst book
#1
Emmeline Pankhurst
Written by Lisbeth Kaiser and illustrated by Ana Sanfelippo
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

New, in the My First Little People, Big Dreams series: Introduce your littlest one to the leader of the suffragettes, Emmeline Pankhurst. Told in simple sentences, this young reader edition of the best-selling series is perfect to read out loud to little dreamers. This empowering series celebrates the important life stories of wonderful women of the world – and is now in available in a board format for little hands! These books make the lives of these role models accessible for the youngest children, providing a powerful message to inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world!

Maya Angelou book
#2
Maya Angelou
Written by Lisbeth Kaiser and illustrated by Leire Salaberria
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

Meet Maya Angelou, the world's most beloved writer and speaker! Now available as a board book in the Little People, Big Dreams series, this inspiring and informative little biography follows the life of 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 of poetry, memoirs, and essays. 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!

Audrey Hepburn book
#3
Audrey Hepburn
Written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara and illustrated by Amaia Arrazola
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

This board book version of Audrey Hepburn—an international bestseller from the beloved Little People, BIG DREAMS series—introduces the youngest dreamers to this iconic Hollywood movie star. Audrey Hepburn grew up in Arnhem in the Netherlands. After living through the hardships of World War Two, she moved to study ballet in London. She went on to star in plays and films, eventually becoming one of the most iconic actresses of all time. Babies and toddlers will love to snuggle as you read to them the engaging story of this fascinating star, and will also enjoy exploring the stylish and quirky illustrations of this sturdy board book on their own.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Cloth Lullaby - Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010) was a world-renowned modern artist noted for her sculptures made of wood, steel, stone, and cast rubber. Her most famous spider sculpture, Maman, stands more than 30 feet high. Just as spiders spin and repair their webs, Louise's own mother was a weaver of tapestries. Louise spent her childhood in France as an apprentice to her mother before she became a tapestry artist herself. She worked with fabric throughout her career, and this biographical picture book shows how Bourgeois's childhood experiences weaving with her loving, nurturing mother provided the inspiration for her most famous works. With a beautifully nuanced and poetic story, this book stunningly captures the relationship between mother and daughter and illuminates how memories are woven into us all.

  2. Girl Running - * "A bright salutation of a story, with one determined woman at its center."--Kirkus Reviews, starred review The inspiring story of the first female to run the Boston Marathon comes to life in stunningly vivid collage illustrations. Because Bobbi Gibb is a girl, she's not allowed to run on her school's track team. But after school, no one can stop her--and she's free to run endless miles to her heart's content. She is told no yet again when she tries to enter the Boston Marathon in 1966, because the officials claim that it's a man's race and that women are just not capable of running such a long distance. So what does Bobbi do? She bravely sets out to prove the naysayers wrong and show the world just what a girl can do.

  3. Little Feminist Picture Book - Celebrate 25 amazing women throughout history with Mudpuppy's Little Feminist Picture Book. With easy to process words by Yelena Moroz Alpert and colorful illustrations by Lydia Ortiz and Patrick Rafanan, this book is the perfect way to introduce young children to these inspiring women. Features artists, scientists, politicians, athletes and much more! - 52 pages - Book Trim: 9.25 x 9.25'' - Hardcover with soft-touch finish

  4. Anne Frank (Little Guides to Great Lives) - Anne Frank was an ordinary girl living in extraordinary times. Forced to go into hiding to escape the Nazis' persecution of Jews in World War II, Anne kept a diary that would become one of the most famous books in the world. Meet one of history's most inspiring figures in this beautifully-illustrated guide to her amazing life. From artists to aviators and scientists to revolutionaries, Little Guides to Great Lives is a brand new series of small-format guides introducing children to the most inspirational figures from history in a fun, accessible way.

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Books About Female Role Models and Activism

I Am Rosa Parks book
#1
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.

I Dissent book
#2
I Dissent
Written by Debbie Levy and illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Get to know celebrated Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—in the first picture book about her life—as she proves that disagreeing does not make you disagreeable! Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has spent a lifetime disagreeing: disagreeing with inequality, arguing against unfair treatment, and standing up for what’s right for people everywhere. This biographical picture book about the Notorious RBG, tells the justice’s story through the lens of her many famous dissents, or disagreements.

Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education book
#3
Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education
Written by Raphaele Frier and illustrated by Aurelia Fronty
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Malala Yousafzai stood up to the Taliban and fought for the right for all girls to receive an education. When she was just fifteen-years old, the Taliban attempted to kill Malala, but even this did not stop her activism. At age eighteen Malala became the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work to ensure the education of all children around the world. Malala’s courage and conviction will inspire young readers in this beautifully illustrated biography.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Herstory - Move aside history—it’s time for herstory. Celebrate fifty inspiring and powerful women who changed the world and left their mark in this lavishly illustrated biography compilation that’s perfect for fans of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls and She Persisted. Throughout history, girls have often been discussed in terms of what they couldn’t or shouldn’t do. Not anymore. It’s time for herstory—a celebration of not only what girls can do, but the remarkable things women have already accomplished, even when others tried to stop them. In this uplifting and inspiring book, follow the stories of fifty powerhouse women from around the world and across time who each managed to change the world as they knew it forever. Telling the stories of their childhood, the challenges they faced, and the impact of their achievements, each lavishly illustrated spread is a celebration of girl power in its many forms. From astronauts to activists, musicians to mathematicians, these women are sure to motivate young readers of all backgrounds to focus not on the can’ts and shouldn’ts, but on what they can do: anything!

  2. The House That Jane Built - This is the story of Jane Addams, the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, who transformed a poor neighborhood in Chicago by opening up her house as a community center.

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Books About Female Role Models and Strong Female Characters

She Persisted Around the World book
#1
She Persisted Around the World
Written by Chelsea Clinton and illustrated by Alexandra Boiger
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

"Introduces readers to a group of thirteen incredible women who have shaped history all across the globe"--Front jacket flap.

Harriet the Invincible book
#2
Harriet the Invincible
Written and illustrated by Ursula Vernon
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Harriet Hamsterbone is not your average princess. For one thing, she's a hamster. For another, she prefers sword-fighting and fractions to sighing and fainting. So when Harriet finds out that she was cursed at birth to fall into a deep sleep at the age of twelve, she doesn't exactly react the way her parents were expecting. After all, no good curse goes to waste, and so until the age of twelve, Harriet realizes she's . . . invincible! Of courses, there is still that whole curse thing, but she'll worry about that later.

The Tree Lady book
#3
The Tree Lady
Written by H. Joseph Hopkins and illustrated by Jill McElmurry
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

Unearth the true story of green-thumbed pioneer and activist Kate Sessions, who helped San Diego grow from a dry desert town into a lush, leafy city known for its gorgeous parks and gardens. Katherine Olivia Sessions never thought she’d live in a place without trees. After all, Kate grew up among the towering pines and redwoods of Northern California. But after becoming the first woman to graduate from the University of California with a degree in science, she took a job as a teacher far south in the dry desert town of San Diego. Where there were almost no trees. Kate decided that San Diego needed trees more than anything else. So this trailblazing young woman singlehandedly started a massive movement that transformed the town into the green, garden-filled oasis it is today. Now, more than 100 years after Kate first arrived in San Diego, her gorgeous gardens and parks can be found all over the city. Part fascinating biography, part inspirational story, this moving picture book about following your dreams, using your talents, and staying strong in the face of adversity is sure to resonate with readers young and old.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Margaret and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing - A true story from one of the Women of NASA! Margaret Hamilton loved numbers as a young girl. She knew how many miles it was to the moon (and how many back). She loved studying algebra and geometry and calculus and using math to solve problems in the outside world. Soon math led her to MIT and then to helping NASA put a man on the moon! She handwrote code that would allow the spacecraft’s computer to solve any problems it might encounter. Apollo 8. Apollo 9. Apollo 10. Apollo 11. Without her code, none of those missions could have been completed. Dean Robbins and Lucy Knisley deliver a lovely portrayal of a pioneer in her field who never stopped reaching for the stars.

  2. Seeds of Change: Planting a Path to Peace - As a young girl in Kenya, Wangari was taught to respect nature. She grew up loving the land, plants, and animals that surrounded her—from the giant mugumo trees her people, the Kikuyu, revered to the tiny tadpoles that swam in the river. Although most Kenyan girls were not educated, Wangari, curious and hardworking, was allowed to go to school. There, her mind sprouted like a seed. She excelled at science and went on to study in the United States. After returning home, Wangari blazed a trail across Kenya, using her knowledge and compassion to promote the rights of her countrywomen and to help save the land, one tree at a time.

  3. Bold & Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to Vote - From United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand comes an inspiring picture book about ten suffragists who fought for women’s right to vote. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was inspired by her own great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother to be bold and brave–to stand up and fight for what she believes in. But who inspired them? The long chain of women before them who spoke out for what’s right–women who taught each generation that followed how to be bold and brave. Here are the stories of ten leaders who strove to win the right to vote for American women–a journey that took more than seventy years of passionate commitment. From well-known figures, such as Susan B. Anthony and Sojourner Truth to lesser known women such as Alice Paul and Mary Church Terrell, these are heroes who dreamed big and never gave up. Senator Gillibrand highlights an important and pithy lesson from each woman’s life–from “dare to be different” to “fight together.” On the eve of the one-hundredth anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, which granted women suffrage, Bold & Brave looks both backward and forward. It introduces children to strong women who have raised their voices on behalf of justice–and inspires them to raise their own voices to build our future. With gorgeous illustrations by renowned artist Maira Kalman, this is a book that will inspire and uplift, a book to be cherished and shared. The suffragists included are: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Jovita Idár, Alice Paul, Inez Milholland, Ida B. Wells, Lucy Burns, and Mary Church Terrell.

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Books About Female Role Models and Hard Work

Epic Athletes: Serena Williams book
#1
Epic Athletes: Serena Williams
Written by Dan Wetzel and illustrated by Sloane Leong
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

An inspiring middle-grade biography of the most celebrated women's tennis player ever, Serena Williams, from acclaimed sports journalist Dan Wetzel! Serena Williams is no stranger to overcoming obstacles. From growing up in a tough neighborhood to combatting racism to weathering severe health issues, there is no challenge she can't defeat, no hurdle that will get in the way of her unwavering desire to be the best tennis player in the world. As a little girl, Serena spent years training at her local court with her father and older sister, Venus, dreaming of one day winning Grand Slam titles and earning the number one ranking in the world. In this exciting biography, young readers will discover what it takes to become a champion. Bestselling author Dan Wetzel brings to life the story of an athlete and trailblazer who broke records and racial barriers. Publishing right between Wimbledon and the US Open, and featuring action-packed comic-style interior art, this uplifting biography of the most celebrated women's tennis player of all time is sure to be a hit with young sports fans across the country.

Epic Athletes: Alex Morgan book
#2
Epic Athletes: Alex Morgan
Written by Dan Wetzel and illustrated by Cory Thomas
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-11

Kicking off his new series of sports biographies for young readers, journalist Dan Wetzel pens a page-turning book about the life of US Women's Soccer star Alex Morgan! Fierce competitor. World Cup winner. Role model. U.S. Women's Soccer star Alex Morgan has earned each of these impressive titles throughout her incredible career. As a young girl growing up in Southern California, she dreamed of being a professional soccer player, fighting to compete on the international stage against the world's greatest athletes. Flash forward to the present and Alex Morgan has emerged as the face of U.S. Women's soccer, famous for her clutch, late-game goals, and an inspiration to kids across the country. Just in time for the 2019 Women's World Cup, bestselling author Dan Wetzel details the rise of an American champion in this uplifting biography for young readers, complete with dynamic comic-style illustrations.

Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe book
#3
Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe
Written by Deborah Blumenthal and illustrated by Laura Freeman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A beautiful picture book about Ann Cole Lowe, a little-known African-American fashion designer who battled personal and social adversity in order to pursue her passion of making beautiful gowns and went on to become one of society’s top designers. Wisps of cloth would fall from their worktables like confetti, and Ann would scoop them up and turn them into flowers as bright as roses in the garden. Ann’s family came from Alabama. Her great grandma had been a slave, so her family knew about working hard just to get by. As soon as Ann Cole Lowe could walk, her momma and grandma taught her to sew. She worked near her momma in their Alabama family shop in the early 1900s, making glorious dresses for women who went to fancy parties. When Ann was 16, her momma died, and Ann continued sewing dresses. It wasn’t easy, especially when she went to design school and had to learn alone, segregated from the rest of the class. But the work she did set her spirit soaring, as evidenced in the clothes she made, including Jackie Kennedy's wedding dress and Olivia de Havilland's dress at the Oscars when she won for Best Actress in To Each His Own. Rarely credited, Ann Cole Lowe became “society’s best kept secret.” This beautiful picture book shines the spotlight on a little-known visionary who persevered in times of hardship, always doing what she was passionate about: making elegant gowns for the women who loved to wear them.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Superheroes Are Everywhere - From Senator Kamala Harris comes a picture book with an empowering message: Superheroes are all around us–and if we try, we can all be heroes too. Before Kamala Harris became a district attorney and a United States senator, she was a little girl who loved superheroes. And when she looked around, she was amazed to find them everywhere! In her family, among her friends, even down the street–there were superheroes wherever she looked. And those superheroes showed her that all you need to do to be a superhero is to be the best that you can be. In this empowering and joyful picture book that speaks directly to kids, Kamala Harris takes readers through her life and shows them that the power to make the world a better place is inside all of us. And with fun and engaging art by Mechal Renee Roe, as well as a guide to being a superhero at the end, this book is sure to have kids taking up the superhero mantle (cape and mask optional).

  2. Professor McQuark and the Oojamaflip - One day a fantastic idea pops into Professor McQuark’s head to create an ‘Oojamaflip’ but what is one and will it win her first prize at the town science fair? A fast-paced, rhyming tale superbly written by first-time author Lou Treleaven and illustrated by the talented Julia Patton.

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Books About Female Role Models and Historical Figures

Rad American Women A-Z book
#1
Rad American Women A-Z
Written by Kate Schatz and illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-16

"Profiled are 26 American women from the 18th through 21st centuries, who have made-or are still making--history as artists, writers, teachers, lawyers, or athletes. The women come from a variety of economic and ethnic backgrounds and many had to overcome extreme hardships. One woman represents each alphabetical letter beginning with Angela Davis, an activist, teacher, and writer, and concludes with Zora Neale Hurston, an anthropologist and writer."--Publisher.

Library on Wheels book
#2
Library on Wheels
Written and illustrated by Sharlee Glenn
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

If you can't bring the man to the books, bring the books to the man. Mary Lemist Titcomb (1852-1932) was always looking for ways to improve her library. As librarian at the Washington County Free Library in Maryland, Titcomb was concerned that the library was not reaching all the people it could. She was determined that everyone should have access to the library--not just adults and those who lived in town. Realizing its limitations and inability to reach the county's 25,000 rural residents, including farmers and their families, Titcomb set about to change the library system forever with the introduction of book-deposit stations throughout the country, a children's room in the library, and her most revolutionary idea of all--a horse-drawn Book Wagon. Soon book wagons were appearing in other parts of the country, and by 1922, the book wagon idea had received widespread support. The bookmobile was born!

An Apple for Harriet Tubman book
#3
An Apple for Harriet Tubman
Written by Glennette Tilley Turner and illustrated by Susan Keeter
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Biography of a little slave girl whipped for eating an apple, who later grew up to become a famous "conductor" for the underground railroad.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Rosa's Animals - Painter and sculptor Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899) led a highly nontraditional life, especially for a woman in the nineteenth century. She kept lions as pets, was awarded the Legion of Honor by Empress Eug�nie, and befriended "Buffalo Bill" Cody. She became a painter at a time when women were often only reluctantly educated as artists. Her unconventional artistic work habits, including visiting slaughterhouses to sketch an animal's anatomy and wearing men's clothing to gain access to places like a horse fair, where women were not allowed, helped her become one of the most beloved female painters of her time. Among the artworks discussed are The Horse Fair and Ploughing in the Nivernais. Along with her life story are a list of museums that house her work, a bibliography, and an index.

  2. Nurse, Soldier, Spy - This is the incredible true story of Sarah Emma Edmonds, who dressed as a man and fought in the Civil War. When she was 19, Sarah cut her hair, donned her brother's clothes, and fled from Canada, where her father wanted her to marry an elderly gentleman. In the U.S., she went by the name Frank Thompson and joined the Army to fight the Confederates. She was a nurse working on the battlefield when, because of her heroism, she was asked to serve as a spy. At her death, Edmonds was buried in a military cemetery, in a plot reserved for Civil War veterans--the only woman to have this honor.

  3. The Extraordinary Suzy Wright - Children are taught much about the men who shaped early America, but history-shaping colonial women remain largely unknown and undiscussed. The Extraordinary Suzy Wright sets about to change that, telling the little-known story of Quaker Susanna (Suzy) Wright (1697-1784), a renowned poet and political activist. Suzy helped settle the Pennsylvania frontier, where she acted as legal counselor to her less literate neighbors, preparing wills, deeds, indentures, and other contracts. Surviving documents and correspondence between Suzy and a host of her contemporaries--including Benjamin Franklin; James Logan, Pennsylvania's governor and chief justice; and a few signers of the Declaration of Independence--reveal that Suzy, from her home on the frontier, exerted considerable influence in the highest circles of Pennsylvania government. This fascinating and inspiring story includes an author's note, bibliography, and index.

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Books About Female Role Models and America

Isabella: Girl in Charge book
#1
Isabella: Girl in Charge
Written by Jennifer Fosberry and illustrated by Mike Litwin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Plucky, purple-haired Isabella, star of the New York Times bestselling picture book series, is back for another adventure! Just how high can a little girl dream? A big event has Isabella ready to leave home at the crack of dawn. But that's a motion her parents are not likely to pass. After a two-to-one vote, it's decided that some things need to happen before Isabellacan leave the house-like eating breakfast and brushing her teeth! If her house is going to work like a democracy, Isabella knows what she has to do; call an assembly and campaign her way out the door! Taking inspiration from the women who trail blazed their way onto the political map of America, Isabella celebrates the women who were first to hold their offices. And if Isabella can get her parents out the door, she might just witness the first woman voted into the highest position of all...

Ruth Bader Ginsburg book
#2
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Written by Jonah Winter and illustrated by Stacy Innerst
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

To become the first female Jewish Supreme Court Justice, the unsinkable Ruth Bader Ginsburg had to overcome countless injustices. Growing up in Brooklyn in the 1930s and '40s, Ginsburg was discouraged from working by her father, who thought a woman's place was in the home. Regardless, she went to Cornell University, where men outnumbered women four to one. There, she met her husband, Martin Ginsburg, and found her calling as a lawyer. Despite discrimination against Jews, females, and working mothers, Ginsburg went on to become Columbia Law School's first tenured female professor, a judge for the US Court of Appeals, and finally, a Supreme Court Justice. Structured as a court case in which the reader is presented with evidence of the injustice that Ginsburg faced, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the true story of how one of America's most "notorious" women bravely persevered to become the remarkable symbol of justice she is today.

When Ruth Bader Ginsburg Chewed 100 Sticks of Gum book
#3
When Ruth Bader Ginsburg Chewed 100 Sticks of Gum
Written by Mark Andrew Weakland and illustrated by Daniela Volpari
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-11

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the second woman justice to serve on the Supreme Court. But do you know what she was like as a child? Strong role models and encouragement to be herself led Ruth to speak her mind and to stand up for equality. This playful story of her childhood will help young readers connect with a historic figure and will inspire them to want to achieve greatness.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Ballots for Belva - A timely true tale for the 2008 presidential election In 1884, when men were the only people allowed to vote in national elections, Belva Lockwood took a bold but legal step: She ran for president! Women did not have the same rights as men, but Belva went on undeterred—and she got votes! Her run for office was based on experience and merit: Unlike many women of the time, she went to college, then to law school, and even argued cases before the Supreme Court. Though her campaign was difficult, Belva never wavered in her commitment to equality, earning the respect of many fellow citizens. A little-known but richly deserving American historical figure, Belva is an inspiration for modern-day readers. Despite all the changes in society since Belva’s time, there is still a lot to fight for, and Belva shows the way. The book also includes a glossary and a timeline of women’s suffrage events. F&P level: Q

  2. A Woman in the House (and Senate) - A chronicle of women's contributions to politics in the United States traces the period between the women's suffrage movement and the 2012 election, and includes portraits of such luminaries as Hattie Caraway, Patsy Mink, and Shirley Chisholm.

  3. Elizabeth Warren - "This picture book biography will outline the incredible history of Elizabeth Warren, the first female senator from Massachusetts. Elizabeth came from a struggling middle-class family in Oklahoma City. After a heart attack put Elizabeth's father out of work, Elizabeth helped out by babysitting, waitressing, and sewing dresses, all while skipping a grade and shining in her school's debate team. Debate taught Elizabeth how to fight with her words, a skill that eventually won her a state championship and a college scholarship. As a lawyer and law professor, Elizabeth learned why it was so difficult for working-class families like her own to advance economically, and today she continues to fight (with her words) for the poor and middle-class in her role as a politician. The text focuses on the importance of being outspoken--of fighting with words both for yourself and for those that need your help. The backmatter will include an author's note and resources list. Nevertheless, She Persisted is sure to appeal to members of the "resist-erhood" looking for stories of strong female leaders"--

Want to see more children's books about America?

Epilogue

10 books that are just too good to leave off of our female role models list.

  1. Olivia - 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!

  2. Matilda - 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!

  3. A Wrinkle in Time - 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.

  4. Harriet The Spy - "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

  1. Hidden Figures Young Readers' Edition - New York Times bestselling author Margot Lee Shetterly’s book is now available in a new edition perfect for young readers. This is the amazing true story of four African-American female mathematicians at NASA who helped achieve some of the greatest moments in our space program. Soon to be a major motion picture starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kirsten Dunst, and Kevin Costner. Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. This book brings to life the stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, four African-American women who lived through the civil rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the movement for gender equality, and whose work forever changed the face of NASA and the country.

  2. Women in Science - It’s a scientific fact: Women rock! A charmingly illustrated and educational book, New York Times best seller Women in Science highlights the contributions of fifty notable women to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from the ancient to the modern world. Full of striking, singular art, this fascinating collection also contains infographics about relevant topics such as lab equipment, rates of women currently working in STEM fields, and an illustrated scientific glossary. The trailblazing women profiled include well-known figures like primatologist Jane Goodall, as well as lesser-known pioneers such as Katherine Johnson, the African-American physicist and mathematician who calculated the trajectory of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission to the moon. Women in Science celebrates the achievements of the intrepid women who have paved the way for the next generation of female engineers, biologists, mathematicians, doctors, astronauts, physicists, and more!

  3. Pride & Prejudice - 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.

  4. The Worst Princess - 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!

  1. Miss Rumphius - A beloved classic is lovelier than ever! Barbara Cooney’s story of Alice Rumphius, who longed to travel the world, live in a house by the sea, and do something to make the world more beautiful, has a timeless quality that resonates with each new generation. The countless lupines that bloom along the coast of Maine are the legacy of the real Miss Rumphius, the Lupine Lady, who scattered lupine seeds everywhere she went. Miss Rumphius received the American Book Award in the year of publication. To celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of two-time Caldecott winner Barbara Cooney’s best-loved book, Viking has reoriginated the illustrations, going back to the original art to ensure state-of-the-art reproduction of Cooney’s exquisite artwork. The art for Miss Rumphius has a permanent home in the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

  2. Be a Star, Wonder Woman! - As a new day dawns, a young girl faces the ultimate challenge: school! Follow along as she demonstrates her greatest superpower (sharing), overcomes her worst fear (the playground),and conquers her archenemy (the spelling test). With courage, kindness, and other heroic traits of DC Comics' Wonder Woman, she'll turn a difficult school day into an AMAZING ADVENTURE! Along with Omar Lozano's bright, bold illustrations, bestselling author Michael Dahl (Bedtime for Batman and Good Morning, Superman) delivers an imaginative read-aloud for your littlest super heroes.

Did you enjoy our female role models book recommendations? Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!

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