Best Kids Books About Female role models

The Ultimate List of the Top 17 Books with Strong Female Role Models

Updated Jan. 19, 2019

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

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.

The Paper Bag Princess book
#2
The Paper Bag Princess
Written by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

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

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

Chrysanthemum book
#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....

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon book
#4
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
#5
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.

She Persisted book
#6
She Persisted
Written by Chelsea Clinton and illustrated by Alexandra Bolger
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Worst Princess book
#9
The Worst Princess
Written by Anna Kemp and illustrated by Sara Ogilvie, Anna Kemp
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

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

Sheila Rae, the Brave book
#10
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

Maya Angelou book
#11
Maya Angelou
Written by Lisbeth Kaiser and illustrated by Leire Salaberria
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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

Dear Girl, book
#12
Dear Girl,
Written by Paris Rosenthal, Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Holly Hatam
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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

I Am Rosa Parks book
#13
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.

Madeline book
#14
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!

My Name is Not Isabella book
#15
My Name is Not Isabella
Written by Jennifer Fosberry and 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.

Me . . . Jane book
#16
Me . . . Jane
Written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

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.

Suki's Kimono book
#17
Suki's Kimono
Written by Chieri Uegaki and 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.

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