Strong Female Characters: Picture Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about strong female characters?

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 picture books. 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. 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 Cinder Edna to some of our favorite hidden gems like Malala’s Magic Pencil.

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.

Cinder Edna book
#1
Cinder Edna
Written by Ellen Jackson and illustrated by Kevin O'Malley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

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 The Book Snob Mom

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.

The Worst Princess book
#3
The Worst Princess
Written by Anna Kemp and illustrated by Sara Ogilvie and Anna Kemp
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

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 Princess Knight book
#4
The Princess Knight
Written by Cornelia Funke and illustrated by Kerstin Meyer
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

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 book
#5
Not All Princesses Dress in Pink
Written by Heidi E. Y. Stemple and Jane Yolen and illustrated by Anne-Sophie Lanquetin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

These princesses dig in the dirt, kick soccer balls, and splash in muddy puddles — all in their sparkly crowns!

  1. Part-time Princess - 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.

  2. The Duck Princess - “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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

Princess Potty book
#10
Princess Potty
Written by Samantha Berger and illustrated by Amy Cartwright
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

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.

Princess Pigsty book
#11
Princess Pigsty
Written by Cornelia Funke and illustrated by Chantal Wright
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Tired of being a princess, the youngest of three sisters throws her crown out the window and finds happiness working in the royal kitchen and pigsty.

Dangerously Ever After book
#12
Dangerously Ever After
Written by Dashka Slater and illustrated by Valeria Docampo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

A feisty princess with a garden said to be the most dangerous in the world makes a new friend when a shy prince gives her some rather unusual seeds.

She Persisted Around the World book
#13
She Persisted Around the World
Written by Chelsea Clinton and illustrated by Alexandra Boiger
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

“Introduces readers to a group of thirteen incredible women who have shaped history all across the globe”—Front jacket flap.

Fanny's Dream book
#14
Fanny's Dream
Written by Caralyn Buehner and illustrated by Mark Buehner
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Fanny Agnes is a sturdy farm girl who dreams of marrying a prince, but when her fairy godmother doesn’t show up, she decides on a local farmer instead. Reprint.

  1. Interstellar Cinderella - Once upon a planetoid, amid her tools and sprockets, a girl named Cinderella dreamed of fixing fancy rockets. With a little help from her fairy godrobot, Cinderella is going to the ball. But when the prince’s ship has mechanical trouble, someone will have to zoom to the rescue! Readers will thank their lucky stars for this irrepressible fairy tale retelling, its independent heroine, and its stellar happy ending.

  2. Malala's Magic Pencil - 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.

  3. Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code - 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.

  4. 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.

Dear Girl, book
#19
Dear Girl,
Written by Paris Rosenthal and 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.

Chicks Rule book
#20
Chicks Rule
Written by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and illustrated by Renee Kurilla
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

The Tree Lady book
#21
The Tree Lady
Written by H. Joseph Hopkins and illustrated by Jill McElmurry
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

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.

Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean's Most Fearless Scientist book
#22
Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean's Most Fearless Scientist
Written by Jess Keating and illustrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens and Jess Keating
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

Margaret and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing book
#23
Margaret and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing
Written by Dean Robbins and illustrated by Lucy Knisley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

Princess Smartypants book
#28
Princess Smartypants
Written and illustrated by Babette Cole
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Forced by her parents into looking for a husband, Princess Smartypants sets impossible tasks for her suitors to prove their worthiness, but when Prince Swashbuckle succeeds at every task, the Princess turns him into a frog with her kiss. Reprint.

Reading Beauty book
#29
Reading Beauty
Written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Meg Hunt
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

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.

I Could Do That!: Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote book
#30
I Could Do That!: Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote
Written by Linda Arms White and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-9

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.

Elizabeth Started All the Trouble book
#31
Elizabeth Started All the Trouble
Written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Matt Faulkner
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

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

  • “Exceptional art, along with Rappaport’s and Lincoln’s words, makes this a fine celebration of a man who needs little introduction.” -Booklist, starred review

Eleanor, Quiet No More

  • “Once again Rappaport celebrates a noble, heroic life in powerful, succinct prose, with prominent, well-chosen, and judiciously placed quotes that both instruct and inspire…Celebrate women in history and in politics with this picture-book life.” -School Library Journal, starred review

Helen’s Big World

  • “Stirring and awe-inspiring.” -The Horn Book, starred review

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

Bold & Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to Vote book
#32
Bold & Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to Vote
Written by Nancy Zhang and illustrated by Maira Kalman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

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.

  1. Marching With Aunt Susan - 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

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

Did you enjoy our children's book recommendations? Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!