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Female Role Models and Being Yourself: 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!

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

Be yourself like Molly Lou Melon no matter what a bully may do.

Molly Lou Melon is short and clumsy, has buck teeth, and has a voice that sounds like a bullfrog being squeezed by a boa constrictor. She doesn’t mind. Her grandmother has always told her to walk proud, smile big, and sing loud, and she takes that advice to heart.

But then Molly Lou has to start in a new school. A horrible bully picks on her on the very first day, but Molly Lou Melon knows just what to do about that.

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

Miss Hawthorn’s room is neat and tidy, not a pencil or paintbrush is out of place. And that’s how she likes it. And she likes trees that are colored green and apples that are painted red. Miss Hawthorn does not like things to be different or out of the ordinary. Into Miss Hawthorn’s classroom comes young Willow. She doesn’t color inside the lines, she breaks crayons, and she sees pink trees and blue apples. What will Miss Hawthorn think? Magical things can happen when your imagination is allowed to run wild, and for Miss Hawthorn the notion of what is art and what is possible is forever changed.Willow is the first joint writing effort for sisters Denise Brennan-Nelson and Rosemarie Brennan. Denise’s other Sleeping Bear Press books include Someday Is Not a Day of the Week and My Grandma Likes to Say. She lives in Howell, Michigan. Rosemarie Brennan juggles careers as a writing teacher and an author. She lives in Brighton, Michigan. Cyd Moore studied graphic design and fine arts at the University of Georgia. Her work includes posters, billboards, books, newspaper and magazine articles, and cassette and CD covers. She is the illustrator of I Love You, Stinky Face and I Miss You, Stinky Face. She lives in Commerce, Michigan.

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Chrysanthemum
Written & 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….

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Suki's Kimono
Written by Chieri Uegaki & illustrated by Stephane Jorisch
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

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My Name is Not Isabella
Written by Jennifer Fosberry & illustrated by Mike Litwin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Isabella imagines she is a variety of prominent women throughout history, including Sally Ride, Annie Oakley, Rosa Parks, and Marie Curie.

Stephanie's Ponytail book
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Dear Girl, book
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Gloria's Voice book
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Freckleface Strawberry book
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  • 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. ;)

  • 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.

  • Gloria's Voice - Gloria Steinem is known as a leader of the feminist movement and a trailblazer who fights for equality for all people. This unofficial biography for young readers tells her story, from being a young girl with big dreams to her inspiring travels in India to the launch of Ms. magazine, which gave women a voice. Gloria’s message of believing in yourself and following your dreams will inspire a whole new generation.

  • Freckleface Strawberry - Freckleface Strawberry is just like everyone else, except that she has red hair and freckles but when she tries to hide who she is, she learns about true friendship and accepting yourself just as you are.

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