Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to strong female characters. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about strong female characters.
Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.
When it comes to children’s stories about strong female characters, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like The Paper Bag Princess to popular sellers like Ella Enchanted to some of our favorite hidden gems like The Two Princesses of Bamarre.
We hope this list of kids books about strong female characters can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.
Meet Sara’s friends with text from the original novel, A little princess, showing little ones that friends can be found in surprising places.
Cinderella and Cinder Edna, who live with cruel stepmothers and stepsisters, have different approaches to life; and, although each ends up with the prince of her dreams, one is a great deal happier than the others.
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 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.
I think this story of an untraditional princess is a great addition to any library! I love that the princess doesn’t just follow the “princess rules,” but shows that there is more than one way to be a 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!
The Two Princesses of Bamarre - B is for Bookworm - 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.
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.
The Princess Knight - Envious of her brothers who are in training to become knights, young Violetta disguises herself as a boy in order to take part in the big jousting contest in the hopes of showing everyone that she is just as capable.
Not All Princesses Dress in Pink - These princesses dig in the dirt, kick soccer balls, and splash in muddy puddles — all in their sparkly crowns!
Every inquisitive little girl wonders what it is really like to be a genuine princess. At the heart of Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots? lives an energetic, spirited, and contemporary child who has lots of important questions for her mom. Do princesses ride tricycles, climb trees, do chores, or have to eat the crusts of their bread? The mother’s voice is timelessly reassuring as she answers her daughter’s questions and advises her that being like a princess has to do with what we are on the inside.
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.
This bedtime book is perfect for little ones interested in princesses. I like that the baby is learning how to get ready for bed (and get her stuff animals ready, too) independently, though with some instruction from parents.
A latest entry in the series that includes Princess Baby on the Go features an exuberant little Princess Baby who does not feel sleepy at bedtime but who puts on her pajamas, puts away her toys, brushes her teeth and selects a perfect storybook before settling under the covers.
A girl escapes her annoying little brother and the drudgery of school and home life when she travels to a magical kingdom each night and embarks on a series of adventures.
“The Duck Princess” is the wonderful story of a duck named Juniper, a monster and a bear wizard. Juniper faces a problem she thinks she can’t overcome but finds out the solution was within her the whole time.Written and illustrated by Zach Wilkinson, with photos by Paul Jarvis, this beautiful children’s picture book will take kids of all ages on a journey of self discovery and friendship through mountains and streams, forests and fields.
Princess Truly and the Hungry Bunny Problem - Princess Truly, the clever princess with magical hair, is playing outside when she hears a very sad sigh. Ever the curious girl, she decides to investigate and her beloved pug, Sir Noodles, follows her. They soon discover a very sad Lola Little. Lola’s bunny friends are hungry because her garden will not grow any carrots. Princess Truly and Sir Noodles are happy to help her with her hungry bunny problem. This enchanting tale features the delightful and whimsical illustrations of Amariah Rauscher.
Sadie: the Paper Crown Princess - Sadie is a spunky princess-in-training whose big ideas keep getting in the way of her earning her tiara. Her journey takes her from the Princess Academy on an around the world adventure where Sadie learns the meaning of being a real princess. With one last chance to prove herself worthy of a crown, Sadie follows her heart and discovers the beauty of being true to yourself.
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.
After formally announcing that she has to go pee-pee or poo-poo, a princess rides her royal pony to the royal bathroom where she goes potty and gets a special princess sticker for her tiara as a reward.
“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.
“Introduces readers to a group of thirteen incredible women who have shaped history all across the globe”—Front jacket flap.
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.
Who was Grace Hopper? A software tester, workplace jester, cherished mentor, ace inventor, avid reader, naval leader—AND rule breaker, chance taker, and troublemaker. Acclaimed picture book author Laurie Wallmark (Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine) once again tells the riveting story of a trailblazing woman. Grace Hopper coined the term “computer bug” and taught computers to “speak English.” Throughout her life, Hopper succeeded in doing what no one had ever done before. Delighting in difficult ideas and in defying expectations, the insatiably curious Hopper truly was “Amazing Grace” . . . and a role model for science- and math-minded girls and boys. With a wealth of witty quotes, and richly detailed illustrations, this book brings Hopper’s incredible accomplishments to life.
Lily Wool - A little lamb with a great big imagination. A new picture book from Paula Vasquez filled with delightful illustrations depicting a little lamb intent on being true to herself. Lily Wool gets bored with all of the grazing and resting that the herd does and prefers to count stars and dream of adventures. When Lily finds a strand of loose wool, she lets her imagination run wild and has a grand time until she accidentally unravels a problem. Children will love seeing how Lily Wool puts her imagination and creativity to work to fix things, and how Lily discovers a way to help others while she finds her special place in the herd. Paula Vasquez,an avowed artist from childhood, studied graphic design at the Universidad Cat�lica de Chile, and honed her illustration skills with a post-graduate diploma from Finis Terrae University. She currently lives in Santiago de Chile writing and illustrating children’s picture books.
Bo the Brave - A feisty little girl learns who the real monsters are in this brilliantly funny medieval adventure. Once, there lived a little girl called Bo. Bo wanted to be just like her brothers and capture a fearsome monster. Bo is small, too small to catch a monster―or so her brothers say. But Bo isn’t one to take no for an answer, so she sets off on a quest to catch a monster of her own. Can she defeat the furious griffin, conquer the hideous kraken, and triumph over the monstrous dragon? Or has Bo got the wrong idea who the real monsters are? Author-illustrator Bethan Woollvin, the creator of the New York Times Best Illustrated Little Red, employs her signature style in this original fairy tale with a clever twist. Readers are sure to fall in love with Woollvin’s newest vibrant and sassy protagonist.
Chicks Rule - Nerdy Chick has been waiting all day for the Rocket Club meeting. But when she gets there, she finds a disturbing sign tacked to the door: “NO CHICKS ALLOWED!!!” Puzzled, then baffled, then just plain mad, Nerdy Chick sets out to change the rules. Along the way, she meets other chicks who are just like her: passionate and determined. From Soccer Chick to Science Chick and Wordy Chick to Yoga Chick, these chicks aren’t willing to take “NO” for an answer. They rally together, march to the barn at the center of town, and—when they hear “NO” once again—chart their own path forward (or, rather, up, up, and away!). A celebration of girl power and community action, Chicks Rule! is the playful, diverse, victorious anthem chicks everywhere will love.
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.
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.
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.
A beautifully illustrated biography of Eugenie Clark, a scientist as impressive as the sharks she studied At nine years old, Eugenie Clark developed an unexpected passion for sharks after a visit to the Battery Park Aquarium in New York City. At the time, sharks were seen as mindless killing machines, but Eugenie knew better and set out to prove it. Despite many obstacles in her path, including trying to break into the scientific field as a woman, Eugenie was able to study the creatures she loved so much. From her many discoveries to the shark-related myths she dispelled, Eugenie’s wide scientific contributions led to the well-earned nickname “Shark Lady,” as she become a fixture in the world of ocean conservation and shark research.
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.
A paperback picture book based on the true story of Wangari Maathai, an environmental and political activist in Kenya and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. As a young girl growing up in Kenya, Wangari was surrounded by trees. But years later when she returns home, she is shocked to see whole forests being cut down, and she knows that soon all the trees will be destroyed. So Wangari decides to do something—and starts by planting nine seedlings in her own backyard. And as they grow, so do her plans . . . This true story of Wangari Maathai, environmentalist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is a shining example of how one woman’s passion, vision, and determination inspired great change. Includes an author’s note.
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.
Fresh Princess - Based on The Fresh Prince created by Will Smith, Destiny is the Fresh Princess. Meet Destiny—a cool, energetic, and strong-willed young girl who approaches every day with her own signature style! That is, until she moves to a brand-new neighborhood, where nothing looks quite the same as it did at her old house. Even with new challenges and new friends to make, Destiny always has a plan. With a few reminders from her loving family and after remembering what being the Fresh Princess is all about, she may just take the leap and jump right in! Written by celebrated author, blogger, and editor Denene Millner and illustrated by Gladys Jose, Fresh Princess is the perfect book to encourage kids to proudly stand out and be themselves!
Ruth Bader Ginsburg - 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.
The Hunt for the Mad Wolf's Daughter - The companion to a New York Times Editors’ Choice and Kids’ Indie Next List Pick—a heart-pounding adventure starring a strong heroine who will protect the people she loves at all costs—perfect for reading aloud with the whole family In this Scottish medieval adventure, after rescuing her war-band family and the wounded Lord Emerick from Faintree Castle, Drest learns that Emerick’s traitorous uncle has claimed the castle for his own and convinced the knights that Emerick has been slain . . . at her hand. Now with a hefty price on her head, Drest must find a way to escape treacherous knights and take back the castle for Emerick, all the while proving to her father, the “Mad Wolf of the North,” and her irrepressible band of brothers that she is destined for more than a life of running and hiding. Even if that means redefining what it means to be a warrior.
The exciting follow-up to INTERSTELLAR CINDERELLA, this irrepressible retelling of Sleeping Beauty offers an African-American space-heroine whose love of reading breaks a curse, redeems the evil fairy, and creates her OWN happily-ever-after.
Full of humor and spunk – just like Esther!
“I could do that,” says six-year-old Esther as she watches her mother making tea. Start her own business at the age of nineteen? Why, she could do that, too. But one thing Esther and other women could NOT do was vote. Only men could do that.
With lively text and humorous illustrations as full of spirit as Esther herself, this striking picture book biography shows how one girl’s gumption propels her through a life filled with challenges until, in 1869, she wins the vote for women in Wyoming Territory – the first time ever in the United States!
I Could Do That! is a 2006 Bank Street - Best Children’s Book of the Year.
She couldn’t go to college.
She couldn’t become a politician.
She couldn’t even vote.
But Elizabeth Cady Stanton didn’t let that stop her.
She called on women across the nation to stand together and demand to be treated as equal to men-and that included the right to vote. It took nearly seventy-five years and generations of women fighting for their rights through words, through action, and through pure determination . . . for things to slowly begin to change.
With the help of these trailblazers’ own words, Doreen Rappaport’s engaging text, brought to life by Matt Faulkner’s vibrant illustrations, shows readers just how far this revolution has come, and inspires them to keep it going!
Select praise for Doreen Rappaport: Martin’s Big Words
2002 Caldecott Honor Book
2002 Coretta Scott King Honor Book
Child Magazine Best Book of 2001
New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Children’s Book of 2001
“A stunning, reverent tribute.” -School Library Journal, starred review
Abe’s Honest Words
Eleanor, Quiet No More
Helen’s Big World
To Dare Mighty Things
“[T]his lavish picture-book biography deftly captures the legendary man’s bold, exuberant nature. . . . A truly inspiring tribute to a seemingly larger-than-life U.S. president.” -Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Theodore Roosevelt’s big ideas and big personality come together in this splendid picture-book biography.” -Booklist, starred review
“Concisely written and yet poetic, this is a first purchase for every library.” -School Library Journal, starred review
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.
An inspiring story of the fight for women’s suffrage, based on the experiences of a real girl All Bessie wants is to go hiking with her father and brothers. But it’s 1896, and girls don’t get to hike. They can’t vote either, which Bessie discovers when Susan B. Anthony comes to town to help lead the campaign for women’s suffrage. Stirred to action, Bessie joins the movement and discovers that small efforts can result in small changes—and maybe even big ones. Inspired by the diary of the real Bessie Keith Pond, a ten-year-old girl who lived in California during the suffrage campaign, author Claire Rudolf Murphy and illustrator Stacey Schuett offer a thought-provoking introduction to the fight for women’s rights. A story of hope and determination, Marching with Aunt Susan reminds readers that society cannot evolve unless people—even young people—dare to take a stand
Galápagos Girl/Galapagueña - Valentina was born on an island formed by fire, surrounded by blue-green sea. As a Galapagueña, Valentina spends her days observing the natural world around her. She greets sea lions splashing on the shore, scampers over lava rocks with Sally-lightfoot crabs, and swims with manta rays. But Valentina also understands the fragility of this wondrous world, and she makes a solemn promise to protect the islands and her animal friends. This delightful bilingual story was inspired by the childhood of Valentina Cruz, whose family was one of the first permanent inhabitants of the Galápagos. Valentina is now a biologist and naturalist guide who has dedicated her life to the conservation of the islands. Whimsical illustrations by Pura Belpré Honor recipient Angela Dominguez transport readers to these unique islands, which shelter a diverse number of plant and animal species, many found of which can be found nowhere else on the planet. Come discover this beautiful world with Valentina and her animal friends!
Miss Paul and the President - “Robbins makes clear for a quite young audience through both main narration and endnote that there were very specific obstacles that had to be overcome to extend the vote to women, and winning the endorsement of the president was a vital first step.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books “A perfect introduction to a notable woman and her fight for a woman’s right to vote.” —School Library Journal Cast your vote for Alice Paul! The story of a tireless suffragette and the president she convinced to change everything. When Alice Paul was a child, she saw her father go off to vote while her mother had to stay home. But why should that be? So Alice studied the Constitution and knew that the laws needed to change. But who would change them? She would! In her signature purple hat, Alice organized parades and wrote letters and protested outside the White House. She even met with President Woodrow Wilson, who told her there were more important issues to worry about than women voting. But nothing was more important to Alice. So she kept at it, and soon President Wilson was persuaded. Dean Robbins and illustrator Nancy Zhang bring the unsung hero to vivid life and show young voters-to-be how important it is to never back down from a cause you believe in!