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Female Role Models and Biography: 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!

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.

Coco Chanel book
#2
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!

Amelia Earhart book
#3
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!

Hedy Lamarr's Double Life book
#4
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.

I Dissent book
#5
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.

Marie Curie book
#6
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.

I Am Amelia Earhart book
#7
I Am Amelia Earhart
Written by Brad Meltzer and illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

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.

I Am Jane Goodall book
#8
I Am Jane Goodall
Written by Brad Meltzer and illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Learn all about Jane Goodall, the chimpanzee scientist.

Epic Athletes: Alex Morgan book
#9
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.

I Am Sonia Sotomayor book
#10
I Am Sonia Sotomayor
Written by Brad Meltzer and illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

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.

I Am Lucille Ball book
#11
I Am Lucille Ball
Written by Brad Meltzer and illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

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

Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education book
#12
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.

An Apple for Harriet Tubman book
#13
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.

Ada Lovelace book
#14
Ada Lovelace
Written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara and illustrated by Zafouko Yamamoto
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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!

Gloria's Voice book
#15
Gloria's Voice
Written and illustrated by Aura Lewis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

Harriet Tubman: Freedom Fighter book
#16
Harriet Tubman: Freedom Fighter
Written by Nadia L. Hohn and illustrated by Gustavo Mazali
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

She Spoke book
#17
She Spoke
Written by Manuela Bernardi, Kathy MacMillan and illustrated by Kathrin Honesta
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

When the world tells you to stay quiet, do you listen, or do you speak up? In She Spoke: 14 Women Who Raised Their Voices and Changed the World, with the touch of a button readers can hear Maya Angelou, Mary McLeod Bethune, Shirley Chisholm, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Tammy Duckworth, Leymah Gbowee, Jane Goodall, Temple Grandin, Suzan Shown Harjo, Dolores Huerta, Joanne Liu, Abby Wambach, and Malala Yousafzai. Through succinct profiles, stunning portraits by illustrator Kathrin Honesta, and the original voices of these women, She Spoke will inspire readers of all ages to share their own truths and change the world.

Along Came Coco book
#18
Along Came Coco
Written and illustrated by Eva Byrne
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In a time when children were meant to be seen and not heard, along came Coco, a small French orphan with an eye for style, a talent for sewing, and a big imagination. Coco grew up in an orphanage run by very strict nuns, but she wasn't very good at following rules. At a time when girls were told to brush their hair 100 times until their arms were sore, Coco promised herself that one day she would snip away her locks so that she wouldn't have to be so fussy--girls needed time for other things, and they needed some of the comforts that boys enjoyed. Why shouldn't girls have pockets? And why did they have to wear corsets all the time? An exploration of Coco's early life and a celebration of her creativity, Along Came Coco ​shows the ways in which Coco Chanel's imaginative spirit led her to grow into one of the world's most beloved fashion icons.

Elizabeth Warren book
#19
Elizabeth Warren
Written by Susan Wood and illustrated by Sarah Green
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

"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"--

Amelia Earhart (First Names #2) book
#20
Amelia Earhart (First Names #2)
Written by Andrew Prentice and illustrated by Mike Smith
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

See how Amelia Earhart went from a little Kansas tomboy to a high-flying feminist icon Before Amelia Earhart (1897-1939) became a world-famous pilot, she was a little tomboy from Kansas with a taste for adventure. When she visited an airfield and took a short plane ride, she knew she had to be a pilot. She signed up for flying lessons and cropped her hair short so that the other pilots would take her seriously. She became the first woman to make a solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. With each flight she took and each record she broke, Amelia became more and more of a celebrity. Her final flight was intended to be a trip around the whole world, but her plane disappeared after takeoff--and her disappearance is still a mystery today. Inspirational, highly illustrated, and full of adventure, Amelia Earhart tells the story of the feminist icon who changed the world of aviation. It includes a timeline, glossary, and index.

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected]!