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, and you can also use our table of contents to jump to particular topics you think your kid will enjoy.
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.
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.
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Wangari's Trees of Peace - 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.
Bold & Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to Vote - 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.
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The Tree Lady - 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.
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.
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Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine - Offers an illustrated telling of the story of Ada Byron Lovelace, from her early creative fascination with mathematics and science and her devastating bout with measles, to the ground-breaking algorithm she wrote for Charles Babbage’s analytical engine.
Ada Lovelace - 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!
Elizabeth Started All the Trouble - 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
Ada's Ideas - Ada Lovelace (1815–1852) was the daughter of Lord Byron, a poet, and Anna Isabella Milbanke, a mathematician. Her parents separated when she was young, and her mother insisted on a logic-focused education, rejecting Byron’s “mad” love of poetry. But Ada remained fascinated with her father and considered mathematics “poetical science.” Via her friendship with inventor Charles Babbage, she became involved in “programming” his Analytical Engine, a precursor to the computer, thus becoming the world’s first computer programmer. This picture book biography of Ada Lovelace is a compelling portrait of a woman who saw the potential for numbers to make art.
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Elizabeth Warren's Big, Bold Plans - Discover the inspiring story of Senator Elizabeth Warren and her lifelong commitment to working hard and advocating for equality in this compelling and accessible picture book biography. Elizabeth Warren always has a plan. As a child, she wanted to help others by becoming a teacher. When discrimination forced her to surrender that dream, she found another path: She became a lawyer. Then life changed again, and Elizabeth became a professor of law—and she didn’t stop there. No matter her job title, Senator Elizabeth Warren has always worked to ensure that people with more power help those with less. She leads by example, inspiring young people across the nation to pursue their dreams despite obstacles like prejudice and inequality. Known for her dedication and willingness to adapt, Elizabeth Warren has persisted and become a voice for fairness and positive change. Now a presidential candidate, Senator Warren is a role model for the young people who will one day assume the mantle of leadership. And this gorgeously written, beautifully stylized picture book provides a pitch-perfect look at all they can accomplish.
Margaret and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing - 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.
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.
I Could Do That!: Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote - 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.
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Who Says Women Can't Be Computer Programmers? - A picture book biography of Ada Lovelace, the woman recognized today as history’s first computer programmer—she imagined them 100 years before they existed! In the early nineteenth century lived Ada Byron: a young girl with a wild and wonderful imagination. The daughter of internationally acclaimed poet Lord Byron, Ada was tutored in science and mathematics from a very early age. But Ada’s imagination was never meant to be tamed and, armed with the fundamentals of math and engineering, she came into her own as a woman of ideas—equal parts mathematician and philosopher. From her whimsical beginnings as a gifted child to her most sophisticated notes on Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, this book celebrates the woman recognized today as the first computer programmer. A Christy Ottaviano Book
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!
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