Are you looking for books with female characters for your daughter’s library? Do you have a son who you hope will read books with both male and female characters? If so, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve gathered over fifty books with strong female characters that will help your children see that both boys and girls have the power to change the world.
The Case For Baby Books For Girls
Why is it important to create this gender-specific list? Well, evidence shows that the vast majority of children’s books have male main characters or use male pronouns for animal characters. When it comes to fairly representing the genders in literature, book publishers have long been accused of publishing more books intended for a male audience than a female one.
For example, The Washington Post reports, “No more than 33 percent of children’s books in any given year featured an adult woman or female animal, but adult men and male animals appeared in 100 percent of the books.” Additionally, one study found that only 7.5% of picture books published between 1900 – 2000 featured female animal protagonists – out of 6000 books!
It is our hope that our children’s bookshelves can be more representative of both genders. There is nothing wrong with male main characters. Likewise, there is nothing wrong with female main characters. However, if we want our girls to see themselves in the text, we must look harder.
The search for books with females ends today! With this guide, you have tons of excellent works of children’s literature that feature strong female characters. Building a feminist library is a breeze.
Board and Picture Books with Great Messages for Girls
From the time you welcome your baby home, it is time to start reading. Below, you will find several options that are perfect for reading aloud to your little one beginning with board books and moving on to picture books. All the books in this section feature female protagonists and positive messages. Not only are they fantastic baby books for girls, but you can raise boys who respect girls on these books too!
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires – This is a book about a little girl and her dog with a desire to make something magnificent. It teaches the importance of perseverance and STEM skills.
My First Book of Girl Power by Julie Merberg – Fans of superheroes will love this board book that showcases the DC female superheroes.
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli – Each book in this series contains 100 true short stories of extraordinary women along with beautiful illustrations.
Little Feminist Board Book Series by Emily Kleinman – These board books include cute illustrations and basic introductions to world-changing females. The series includes books about artists, pioneers, leaders, and activists.
Free to Be You and Me by Marlo Thomas and Friends – This popular classic that challenges stereotypes is a wonderful read aloud for girls and boys alike.
Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell – A sweet story about a little girl who is bullied but stays true to herself.
I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont – A board book featuring a young girl with rhymes encouraging positive self-esteem.
Because Your Daddy Loves You by Andrew Clements – There are tons of books about moms or books about dads and sons, but this unique book features a dad and daughter.
Dear Girl by Amy Krouse Rosenthal – This is a beautiful book you will love reading aloud which celebrates girls inside and out.
Beautiful by Stacy McAnulty – A great book that teaches girls to appreciate their uniqueness and see the beauty in themselves and others.
Feminist Baby by Loryn Brantz – This cool board book filled with fun illustrations is all about praising feminists and teaching babies what it means to be one.
Girl of Mine by Jabari Asim – This sweet, rhyming board book showcases the special relationship between a daughter and father.
I Can Do It Too by Karen Baicker – A board book that encourages girls to do things independently.
Picture Books That Put a New Spin on Princess Books
Whether you are for or against princess literature in your home, we’ve got some princess books everyone can agree on. In these books, the princess does not wait for the prince to save her – she does things her own way.
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch – This classic has a strong princess who defends her castle and defeats a dragon all while only wearing a paper bag. You’ll laugh and cheer as she saves the day.
Princess Pigsty by Cornelia Funke – This princess earns a punishment in a pigpen – and loves every messy minute!
Not All Princesses Dress in Pink by Jane Yolen – This book shows that not all girls love pink and that some girls like sports and playing in the mud. Most importantly, it shows this is perfectly acceptable.
The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke – Violetta would rather be seen as strong like her brothers, so she secretly becomes a knight.
Not Every Princess by Jeffrey Bone and Lisa Bone – A book that encourages the reader to question societal expectations placed on girls.
Princesses Wear Pants by Savannah Guthrie – Sassy Princess Penelope Pineapple would rather wear pants than frilly dresses much to the chagrin of those in the palace.
Zog by Julia Donaldson – While this book is about a dragon, it is also about the princess with dreams of becoming a doctor who befriends him.
Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood – This book takes a super creative spin on the traditional Cinderella fairy tale with this tale taking place in outer space with Cinderella being a spaceship engineer.
Children’s Books About Women Who Changed the World
There are several great biographical nonfiction titles about famous women designed for even the youngest readers. Check out this list to get you headed in the right direction for children’s nonfiction titles.
Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales – This Caldecott award honor book introduces kids to Frida Kahlo.
Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child by Jessie Hartland – This delightful children’s book explores the life of famed chef, Julia Child.
She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton – This book honors 13 women who persevered and overcame obstacles.
I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy – This picture book is about the life of Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean's Most Fearless Scientist by Jess Keating – This award-winning book is a great addition to any child’s personal library – especially kids who love sharks and science.
Ordinary People Change the World Series by Brad Meltzer – This popular series also includes a Strong Girls series with books about Amelia Earhart, Harriet Tubman, Jane Goodall, and Sacagawea.
Little People Big Dreams Series by Isabel Sanchez Vegara – This series has biographical picture books about women such as Mother Theresa, Coco Chanel, Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart, Marie Curie, Maya Angelou, Audrey Hepburn, Jane Goodall, and more.
Children’s Books That Show Girls Can Do Anything Boys Can Do
Some books are designed to break gender stereotypes. For those parents looking for books that teach their kids that girls can have the same jobs and hobbies as boys, this is the list for you.
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty – Mixed-media illustrations and an empowering story about a girl inventor.
Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Schwartz – A playful take on the fairy tale, this Red Riding Hood is a trained ninja. The poor wolf doesn’t know the trouble ahead.
Pirate Girl by Cornelia Funke – A band of pirates kidnaps a girl without realizing she can hold her own.
Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen – This is a book about a girl inventor whose girl is to participate in the Air Show with one of her flying machines.
Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio – When she realizes there has never been a female president in the US, Grace decides to take matters in her own hands. The book introduces kids to politics and the American electoral system.
Imogen’s Last Stand by Candace Fleming – This book is about a young girl with a passion for history.
Charlotte the Scientist is Squished by Camille Andros – This book features a female bunny scientist and teaches important STEM skills.
Children’s Books with Fantastic Female Main Characters
While we are at it, we have to pay tribute to some of the more popular female-character driven books on children’s bookshelves. Some of these characters have been around for ages and others are just getting their start. No matter how long they’ve been around though, they have made lasting impressions.
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans – This well-loved classic follows Parisian Madeline through her time in the hospital.
Olivia by Ian Falconer – This award-winning Caldecott honor book is about Olivia, an adorably sassy pig.
Eloise by Kay Thompson – This story about a precocious little girl who lives in the Plaza Hotel in New York City is still so popular the hotel even hosts Eloise events to this day!
Ladybug Girl by Jacky Davis – This bestselling series features a young girl who wears a ladybug costume on her daily adventures.
Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Dun by Maria Dismondy – A book that teaches children to be brave enough to be themselves.
The Lola Series by Anna McQuinn – This picture book series follows little Lola on her toddler and preschool adventures around town.
The Recess Queen by Alexis O'Neill – Offering a great way to talk to kids about conflict resolution, this book focuses on Mean Jean and the new girl she attempts to bully.
Books to Put on the Shelf for Girls to Read as They Grow Up
It is never too early to start building up your child’s book collection. Before you know it, your little one will be moving from picture books to chapter books. Go ahead and give your kids a head start by filling their bookshelves with these classics that feature strong female protagonists.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle – This award-winning classic science fiction fantasy novel follows bright, moody teen Meg.
The Judy Moody Series by Megan McDonald – This popular series is about a lovable third-grader and all her adventures. The books are great for teaching young people about friendships and self-esteem.
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh – Consistently placed on most-loved children’s book lists, this book is about a girl who learns a valuable lesson about friendships and secrets.
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren – Adults and children alike will fall in love with feisty, imaginative Pippi and her adventures.
Matilda by Roald Dahl – Matilda is a masterpiece by the beloved author Roald Dahl. Matilda is a special girl with a unique talent and an intelligent mind, but she also has a horrible family.
Ivy and Bean Series by Annie Barrow – These books celebrate friendships and uniqueness. The main female characters do not have much in common and doubt they’ll be friends, but they wind up becoming best friends.
The Ramona Series by Beverly Cleary – Girls and boys are both charmed by Ramona because she is so relatable. They will appreciate her dealings with her older sister, teachers, and bullies.
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery – Anne of Green Gables will never go out of style. With her big heart, independent nature, and imagination, she has been winning over audiences for a century.
What children’s books with female main characters should we add to our list? Which books with female protagonists do both girls and boys enjoy? Let us know in the comments!