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!
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.
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.
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.
In this novel based on the story of Cinderella, Ella struggles against the childhood curse that forces her to obey any order given to her. At birth, Ella of Frell was given the gift of obedience by a fairy. Ella soon realizes that this gift is little better than a curse, for how can she truly be herself if at any time anyone can order her to hop on one foot, or cut off her hand, or betray her kingdom—and she’ll have to obey? Ella’s quest to break the curse and discover who she really is, is both funny and poignant.
This story of some not so average princesses is full of adventure, but the main reason I like it is because of the courage, bravery, and love it entails. When one sister gets ill, the other steps out of her comfort zone and stands up to danger in order to help her sister.
When plague strikes Bamarre, Princess Addie must fulfill an ancient prophecy. Brave and adventurous, Princess Meryl dreams of fighting dragons and protecting the kingdom of Bamarre. Shy and fearful, Princess Addie is content to stay within the safety of the castle walls. The one thing that the sisters share is their unwavering love for each other. The tables are turned, however, when the Gray Death leaves Meryl fatally ill. To save her sister, meek Princess Addie must find the courage to set out on a dangerous quest filled with dragons, unknown magic, and death itself. Time is running out, and the sisters’ lives—and the future of the kingdom of Bamarre—hang in the balance.
Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible - Never a conventional princess, Harriet becomes an adventurer after learning she’s cursed to fall into a deep sleep on her twelfth birthday, but after two years of slaying ogres, cliff-diving, and more with her riding quail Mumfrey, things go awry at home and she must seek a prince to set things right.
A Little Princess - A Little Princess is a 1905 children’s novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It is a revised and expanded version of Burnett’s 1888 serialised novel entitled Sara Crewe: or, What Happened at Miss Minchin’s Boarding School, which was published in St. Nicholas Magazine. According to Burnett, she had been composing a play based on the story when she found out a lot of characters she had missed. The publisher asked her to publish a new, revised story of the novella, producing the novel. Based on a 2007 online poll, the National Education Association named the book one of its “Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children.” It was one of the “Top 100 Chapter Books” of all time in a 2012 poll by School Library Journal.
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History - 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.
Sleepover Scientist - Jada Jones is back for the third book of this popular, celebrated series perfect for STEM fans! Jada is hosting her first sleepover, and she has lots of cool scientific activities planned: kitchen chemistry, creating invisible ink, and even making slime! But when her friends get tired of the lessons and just want to hang out, can Jada figure out the formula for fun and save the sleepover? Praise for Jada Jones: Rock Star “Fast-paced, with supersimple vocabulary and a smattering of earth science to spark interest in young rock collectors everywhere.”—Kirkus Reviews “Readers who love “Ivy and Bean” or “Katie Woo” will want to meet Jada Jones.”—School Library Journal
Get to know the woman who made many of NASA’s early missions possible in this fascinating, nonfiction Level 3 Ready-to-Read, part of a series of biographies about people “you should meet!” Meet Katherine Johnson, a brilliant mathematician who worked at NASA in the early 1950s until retiring in 1986. Katherine’s unparalleled calculations (done by hand) helped plan the trajectories for NASA’s Mercury and Apollo missions (including the Apollo 11 moon landing). She is said to be one of the greatest American minds of all time. A special section at the back of the book includes extras on subjects like history and math, plus inspiring careers for math lovers. With the You Should Meet series, learning about historical figures has never been so much fun!
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!
With magical animals, science, mystery, and adventure — the brand new series Zoey and Sassafras has something for everyone! Easy-to-read language and illustrations on nearly every page make this series perfect for a wide range of ages.
In the first book of this series, Zoey discovers a glowing photo and learns an amazing secret. Injured magical animals come to their backyard barn for help! When a sick baby dragon appears, it’s up to Zoey and Sassafras to figure out what’s wrong. Will they be able to help little Marshmallow before it’s too late?
Each story in the Zoey and Sassafras series features a new magical animal with a problem that must be solved using science. There isn’t a set formula for each book; Zoey sometimes needs to run experiments, while other times she needs to investigate a mystery, and yet other times she needs to do research. Zoey models how to keep a science journal through her handwritten entries in each story. Each story is complete with a glossary of the kid-friendly definitions for scientific terms used. The series highlights child-led inquiry science and the topics covered align with both Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards.
I love how brave the children are in trying to save their father, and I love the great female leads in this story. While I think this interesting classic should be read, it’s not my personal favorite and I felt like there were just a few things that weren’t resolved in the story.
Meg Murry and her friends become involved with unearthly strangers and a search for Meg’s father, who has disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government.
From Emily Calandrelli—Emmy-nominated host of Xploration Outer Space, correspondent on Bill Nye Saves the World, and graduate of MIT—comes the fourth novel in a fun illustrated chapter book series about an eight-year-old girl with a knack for science, math, and solving mysteries with technology. Third grader and inventor extraordinaire Ada Lace has a new social studies teacher—who loves group projects. While most of the class has constructed regular dioramas with clay and construction paper, Ada, her best friend Nina, and sometimes nemesis Milton have built a complex scale model of an historic silver mine. But when Milton reveals that he added his “old Milton touch” on their project right before turning it in, Ada worries that he has sabotaged their work. In a desperate attempt to save their project, Ada and Nina use their combined creative and technical prowess to perform a heist and break into their teacher’s supply closet after school. Do the two friends have what it takes to deceive the school’s security system? Or will they get caught trying to pull off this seemingly impossible mission.
Dealing with Dragons - Meet Princess Cimorene—a princess who refustes to be proper. She is everything a princess is not supposed to be: headstrong, tomobyish smart… And bored. So bored that she runs away to live with a dragon. And not just any dragon, but Kazul—one of the most powerful and dangerous dragons arounds. Of course, Cimorene has a way of hooking up with dangerous characters, and soon she’s coping with a witch,a a jinn, a death-dealing talking bird, a stone prince, and some very oily wizards. If this princess ran away to find some excitement, it looks like she’s found plenty! With a new look and new introduction from the author.
Fearless Girls, Wise Women, and Beloved Sisters - Retells more than a hundred folktales form Europe, the Americas, Asia, the Pacific, Africa, and the Middle East that feature active heroines of all types.
Ellie, Engineer - A charming, hilarious illustrated middle grade about a girl who is an engineer—perfect creative, STEM-powered fun for girls who have interests in how things work. “Look out, Junie B. Jones! Ellie the engineer is thinking, making, creating, and showing enthusiasm and brilliance with her creations!” —School Library Connection Ellie is an engineer. With a tool belt strapped over her favorite skirt (who says you can’t wear a dress and have two kinds of screwdrivers handy, just in case?), she invents and builds amazing creations in her backyard workshop. Together with her best friend Kit, Ellie can make anything. As Kit’s birthday nears, Ellie doesn’t know what gift to make until the girls overhear Kit’s mom talking about her present—the dog Kit always wanted! Ellie plans to make an amazing doghouse, but her plans grow so elaborate that she has to enlist help from the neighbor boys and crafty girls, even though the two groups don’t get along. Will Ellie be able to pull off her biggest project yet, all while keeping a secret from Kit? Illustrated with Ellie’s sketches and plans, and including a fun how-to guide to tools, this is a STEM- and friendship-powered story full of fun!
Tuesdays at the Castle - “A shape-shifting castle, a missing king and queen, and the young princess who must save her family and her kingdom. This is a clever, page-turning adventure for young fantasy readers.” - Seira Wilson, Amazon Editor Tuesdays at Castle Glower are Princess Celie’s favorite days. That’s because on Tuesdays the castle adds a new room, a turret, or sometimes even an entire wing. No one ever knows what the castle will do next, and no one-other than Celie, that is-takes the time to map out the new additions. But when King and Queen Glower are ambushed and their fate is unknown, it’s up to Celie, with her secret knowledge of the castle’s never-ending twists and turns, to protect their home and save their kingdom. This delightful book from a fan- and bookseller-favorite kicks off a brand-new series sure to become a modern classic.
Hiding her secret identity as a monster-fighting superhero, Princess Magnolia interrupts her fancy tea with the unsuspecting Duchess Wigtower to stop a big blue monster from endangering her kingdom’s goats. By the author of the Newbery Honor-winning Princess Academy.
This book was chosen by the Children’s Book Council as a best STEM book of 2017!
Meet the women who programmed the first all-electronic computer and built the technological language kids today can’t live without in this fascinating, nonfiction Level 3 Ready-to-Read, part of a new series of biographies about people “you should meet!”
In 1946, six brilliant young women programmed the first all-electronic, programmable computer, the ENIAC, part of a secret World War II project. They learned to program without any programming languages or tools, and by the time they were finished, the ENIAC could run a complicated calculus equation in seconds. But when the ENIAC was presented to the press and public, the women were never introduced or given credit for their work. Learn all about what they did and how their invention still matters today in this story of six amazing young women everyone should meet!
A special section at the back of the book includes extras on subjects like history and math, plus interesting trivia facts about how computers have changed over time. With the You Should Meet series, learning about historical figures has never been so much fun!
Rosie Revere is no stranger to flops and fails, kerfuffles and catastrophes. After all, she’s an engineer, and engineering is all about perseverance! But sometimes, Rosie has a really important project to tackle—one that feels much bigger than herself. When Rosie’s beloved Aunt Rose and her pals the Raucous Riveters—a gaggle of fun-loving gals who built airplanes during World War II—need her help, it’s up to Rosie to save the day. Will Rosie be able to invent a contraption to help one of the Riveters paint in the annual mural competition? After one flop . . . then another . . . and another . . . Rosie starts to lose hope. But thanks to some help from her classmates Iggy Peck and Ada Twist, Rosie creates the Paintapolooza! and, along with the Riveters, rediscovers the meaning of Home.
“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
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.
Harriet the Invincible - 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.
Epic Athletes: Serena Williams - 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.
Ellie, Engineer: In the Spotlight - Ellie the Engineer is back in a third charming, hilarious, illustrated story filled with creative, STEM-powered fun! “Look out, Junie B. Jones! Ellie the engineer is thinking, making, creating, and showing enthusiasm and brilliance with her creations!” - School Library Connection on Ellie, Engineer Ellie enters a pageant with her best friend Kit, which means lots of glitter, hairspray, and chances to make new friends. After all, Ellie has lots of engineering ideas to help the other girls with their talents, like building a light-up skateboard ramp for Kit! But one contestant, Kit’s not-so-nice pageant rival Melody, makes fun of Ellie’s tool belt and thinks engineering is messy. And when Melody’s rabbit—part of her magic act—goes missing, Ellie knows that she can build a contraption to catch him. But Melody’s comments have made Ellie start to doubt herself—what if a pageant isn’t a place for engineering? With Ellie’s designs and sketches throughout, and her fun guide to electricity and circuits in the back, the continuation of this delightful series will leave young readers laughing and inspired to create.
Epic Athletes: Alex Morgan - 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.
In the 1930s, only white figure skaters were allowed in public ice rinks and to compete for gold medals, but Mabel Fairbanks wouldn’t let that stop her. With skates two sizes too big and a heart full of dreams, Mabel beat the odds and broke down color barriers through sheer determination and athletic skill. After skating in ice shows across the nation and helping coach and develop the talents of several Olympic champions, Mabel became the first African-American woman to be inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame.
“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.
The New York Times bestselling biography Notorious RBG—whose concept originated with a Tumblr page of the same name—is now available in a vibrant, full-color young readers’ edition.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has become an icon to millions. Her tireless fight for equality and women’s rights has inspired not only great strides in the workforce but has impacted the law of the land. And now, perfect for a younger generation, comes an accessible biography of this fierce woman, detailing her searing dissents and powerful jurisprudence.
This entertaining and insightful young readers’ edition mixes pop culture, humor, and expert analysis for a remarkable account of the indomitable Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Heroine. Trailblazer. Pioneer.
Get to know Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the inspiring Supreme Court justice, in this fascinating nonfiction Level 3 Ready-to-Read, part of a series of biographies about people “you should meet!”
Meet Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Also known as the notorious RBG, Ginsberg is only the second female Supreme Court justice in America’s history. She has spent her entire life fighting for equal rights for all, especially women. RBG is a true superhero and young readers are sure to love getting to know her.
A special section at the back of the book includes extras like the history of the Supreme Court and how to become a lawyer. With the You Should Meet series, learning about amazing people has never been so much fun!
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!
Princess Cora and the Crocodile - Princess Cora is sick of boring lessons. She’s sick of running in circles around the dungeon gym. She’s sick, sick, sick of taking three baths a day. And her parents won’t let her have a dog. But when she writes to her fairy godmother for help, she doesn’t expect that help to come in the form of a crocodile—a crocodile who does not behave properly. With perfectly paced dry comedy, children’s book luminaries Laura Amy Schlitz and Brian Floca send Princess Cora on a delightful outdoor adventure — climbing trees! getting dirty! having fun! — while her alter ego wreaks utter havoc inside the castle, obliging one pair of royal helicopter parents to reconsider their ways.
My Shot - “Elena is one of the brightest stars in our game today and an iconic role model.” —Lisa M. Borders, WNBA President “Inspiring in many ways.” —Kirkus Reviews Elena Delle Donne, 2015 WNBA MVP and 2016 Olympic gold medalist, shares her inspirational story of being a young basketball prodigy who gave up an impressive basketball scholarship for family and self-discovery.
Princess Academy - While attending a strict academy for potential princesses with the other girls from her mountain village, fourteen-year-old Miri discovers unexpected talents and connections to her homeland.
Not One Damsel in Distress - A collection of fifteen traditional tales from various parts of the world, with the main character of each being a fearless, strong, heroic, and resourceful woman.
The life and career of the fiercely principled Supreme Court Justice, now a popular icon, with dramatic accounts of her landmark cases that moved the needle on legal protection of human rights, illustrated with b/w archival photographs.
Dramatically narrated case histories from Justice Ginsburg’s stellar career are interwoven with an account of RBG’s life—childhood, family, beliefs, education, marriage, legal and judicial career, children, and achievements—and her many-faceted personality is captured. The cases described, many involving young people, demonstrate her passionate concern for gender equality, fairness, and our constitutional rights. Notes, bibliography, index.
Ellie the Engineer is back in another charming, hilarious, illustrated story filled with creative, STEM-powered fun! “Look out, Junie B. Jones! Ellie the engineer is thinking, making, creating, and showing enthusiasm and brilliance with her creations!” -School Library Connection on Ellie, Engineer After Ellie’s first elevator build goes terribly wrong, her parents decide her “punishment” is to assist an elderly neighbor, Mrs. Curran, around the house. Ellie and her friends Kit and Toby are really only supposed to help with little things, but Ellie can’t turn down the opportunity to use her engineering skills here and there where she sees a need—because that’s what engineers do! It’s no fun, though, when Mrs. Curran always gives Toby the credit for all the ingenious projects, and acts like Kit and Ellie were just helping him. . . . Can Ellie come up with another great build to elevate Mrs. Curran’s ideas about this girl engineer? With Ellie’s designs and sketches throughout, and her fun guide to simple machines in the back, the continuation of this delightful series will leave young readers laughing and inspired to create.