Books

28 empowering books with strong female characters

Whether you have daughters or sons, it's important to expose them to strong female role models. Here are 28 empowering books with strong female characters.

By Kalli Anderson

28 empowering books with strong female characters

Photo: Abrams Books for Young Readers

The Princess and the Pit Stop

Written by Tom Angleberger and illusrated by dan Santat, Abrams Books for Young Readers (Ages 5-7) Once upon a time there was a princess…who wanted to win a car race. While the Birds and Beasts changed her tires, her Fairy Godmother told her she was in last place. Will this princess give up, I don’t think so! $22, indigo.ca

Book cover of a empowering character in front of a carPhoto: Abrams Books for Young Readers

-Minute Stories for Fearless Girls

Written by Sarah Howden and illustrated by Nick Craine, Harper Collins Canda (Ages 4+) This book features stories about women who have pursued their dreams, changed the world, and showed everyone who is boss! $18, indigo.ca

Colourful book coverPhoto: Harper Collins Canada

What If…

Written by Samantha Berger and illustrated by Mike Curato, Little Brown Books for Young Readers (Ages 4-8) This book encourages everyone to be creative. The main character is determined to express herself! If she can’t draw her dreams, she’ll sculpt, build, carve or collage. If she can’t do that, she’ll turn her world into a canvas. And if everything around her is taken away, she’ll sing, dance, and dream…nothing will stop her. $23, indigo.ca

Character with eyes closed and purple backgroundPhoto: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Little Red Reading Hood

Written by Lucy Rowland and illustrated by Ben Mantle, Macmillan Children’s Books (Ages 4-7) Little Red Reading Hood is on a walk through the woods to return her library book when she meets a wolf. He convinces her to stray from the path and read for a little while. With a twist on the classic fairy tale, Little Red Reading Hood, Red finds a way to make her ending a little different. $18, indigo.ca

Dark blue book cover with a girl reading a bookPhoto: Macmillan Children's Books

She Persisted Around the World

Written by Chelsea Clinton and illustrated by Alexandra Boiger, Tundra Books (AGES 4-8). Girls all over the world are told that they should dream smaller and achieve less. Chelsea Clinton shows 13 women who defied their expectations and limits and went on to change history. This book can help you teach your daughter to follow in their footsteps and create a new path. $22, amazon.ca

A book cover of 3 young girls learning and dreamingPhoto: Tundra Books

The Big Bed

Written by Bunmi Laditan and illustrated by Tom Knight, Farrar Straus and Giroux (AGES 4-6) This no-nonsense little girl doesn’t want to sleep in her bed, but the big bed doesn’t have enough room for her, Mommy and Daddy. The solution as she sees it is simple—Daddy has got to go. $25, indigo.ca

Cover art for the book, The Big Bed. Shows a little girl in striped pajamas sleeping between her parentsPhoto: Raincoast Books

Your Secret Code

Written by Nathan Archambault and illustrated by Jessika Von Innerebner. This personalized picture book features your daughter as an awesome tech genius who builds robots to help her solve her problems. This book is great for inspiring young girls to learn how to code and become tech experts themselves. The main character is customizable to match your daughter’s hair style as well as hair, skin and eye colour. $18, amazon.ca 

Cover of personalized picture book featuring a female hero who loves tech

The Breadwinner: A Graphic Novel

Based on the original book by Deborah Ellis and adapted from the feature film directed by Nora Twomey, Groundwood Books (ages 10 to 14) Adapted from the Oscar-nominated animated feature, this beautifully illustrated graphic novel tells the powerful story of a girl in Afghanistan who must disguise herself as a boy to support her family after her father is unjustly taken to prison. $15, indigo.ca

Cover art for The Breadwinner Graphic Novel showing the main character holding a tray with a teapot and two cupsPhoto: Groundwood Books

Malala’s Magic Pencil

Written by Malala Yousafzai and illustrated by Kerascoët, Little Brown Books (AGES 4-8) Malala always dreamed of having a magic pencil that could make drawing become real. However, when she decides to tell her story after witnessing the poverty in her community, she finds out the real magic is in her words. Written by the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, this story will teach young kids about the power they have to effect change in their world. $23, indigo.ca

Cover art for the book, Malala's Magic Pencil, shows Malala writing with a pencil that has magic floating up from itPhoto: Little Brown Books

Ella Queen of Jazz

Written by Helen Hancocks, Frances Lincoln Children’s Books (AGES 5 to 8) In the 1950s, Ella Fitzgerald and her band were becoming one of the biggest acts in jazz. But because she was black, she was banned from the most popular club in Hollywood—until Marilyn Monroe stepped in. The true story about Marylin and Ella’s friendship and there struggles to overcome prejudice is remarkable and inspiring, and shows how a little courage goes a long way. $24, indigo.ca

A woman sings into an old microphone

The Pink Hat

Written and illustrated by Andrew Joyner, Penguin Random House (AGES 4-8) Your kids will love following this story of a pink knit hat that makes it way around the city before a young girl finds and saves it. She loves the hat and finds many fun uses for it, including wearing it alongside everyone else’s pink hats at the Women’s March. $24, indigo.ca

Cover art for the book, The Pink Hat. Shows a girl in a pink knit hat walking down a road holding a picket signPhoto: Penguin Random House

Little People, Big Dreams: Rosa Parks

Written by Lisbeth Kaiser and illustrated by Marta Antelo, The Quarto Group (AGES 5-8) Teach your daughter how to stand up for herself with the story of Rosa Parks, the black woman from Alabama who refused to give up her seat on the bus for a white man. Her decision to stand up for her rights sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott and led to the de-segregation of public transit. The Little People Big Dreams series makes the stories of many important women in history accessible for young children. $19, indigo.ca

Cover of the Rosa Parks book from the Little People Big Dreams series. Shows a cartoon portrait of Rosa Parks in front of a bright green backgroundPhoto: Amazon

She Persisted

Written by Chelsea Clinton, Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger, Penguin Random House (AGES 4-8) Throughout history, strong women have been demonstrating the power of persistence. However, many of their stories remain untold. This book celebrates the lives of 13 inspirational women who, in their own ways, persisted in the face of oppression and adversity until they achieved their goals. Featuring Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Ruby Bridges, Virginia Apgar and more, this book will motivate little ones everywhere to never give up until their voice is heard. $24, indigo.ca

28 empowering books with strong female charactersPhoto: Penguin Random House

Women in Science

Written and Illustrated by Rachel Ignotofsky, Ten Speed Press (AGES 10+)
This book honors fifty revolutionary women who have made important contributions to the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Featuring beautiful illustrations, a scientific glossary, info on lab equipment and more, this book celebrates the women who continue to inspire future generations of girls in STEM. $23 indigo.ca

28 empowering books with strong female charactersPhoto: Ten Speed Press

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark

Written by Debbie Levy and illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, (AGES 4 to 8) This biographical picture book tells the story of celebrated Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a strong woman who disagreed with inequality and argued against unfair treatment.
$26, indigo.ca

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark book cover

Stella, Fairy of the Forest

Written by Marie-Louise Gay, Groundwood Books (AGES 2-5) In this instalment of the “Stella and Sam” series by Quebec author Marie-Louise Gay (in French, the books are about “Stella et Sacha”), confident big sister Stella takes her apprehensive younger brother Sam on an imaginative walk through the forest. These books capture the love (and exasperation) between siblings. $8, indigo.ca

28 empowering books with strong female charactersPhoto: Groundwood Books

I Can Do It Too

Written by Karen Baicker, Illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max, Chronicle Books LLC (AGES 2-4) Toddlers and preschoolers love following this little girl’s everyday adventures as she learns to do things for herself, from putting on her clothes to pouring her own juice. She gets encouragement from her family along the way, and by the end, she gets to be the big kid cheering on a younger sibling’s first steps. $15, indigo.ca

28 empowering books with strong female charactersPhoto: Chronicle Books LLC

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 tales of extraordinary women

Written by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo, Timbuktu Labs, Inc., (AGES 5 to 8) Discover the lives of 100 amazing female leaders who changed the world including Elizabeth I, Serena Williams and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in this collection of bedtime stories. $32, amazon.ca

Good night stories for rebel girls book cover

The Paper Bag Princess

Written by Robert Munsch, Illustrated by Michael Martchenko, Annick Press, Limited (AGES 3-5) A Canadian classic first published in 1980, this book tells the story of a princess who outsmarts a fiery dragon to save a prince, only to find out that underneath all his fancy clothes and good looks, he is (in her words) “a bum.” $8, indigo.ca

28 empowering books with strong female charactersPhoto: Annick Press, Limited

Extra Yarn

Written by Mac Barnett, Illusrated by Jon Klassen, HarperCollins Publishers (AGES 4-8) In this story featuring whimsical illustrations by Jon Klassen, Annabelle brightens her cold, dreary town by covering everyone and everything in her colourful knitted creations made out of magical, never-ending yarn. When an evil archduke shows up and tries to steal away her yarn, Annabelle is steadfast in her refusal to part with her magical gift. $22, indigo.ca

28 empowering books with strong female charactersPhoto: HarperCollins Publishers

Rosie Revere, Engineer

Written by Andrea Roberts, Illustrated by David Roberts, ABRAMS (AGES 5-8) Rosie is an imaginative inventor and budding engineer whose great-great-aunt Rose (Rosie the Riveter) teaches her that you can’t truly succeed without being willing to fail. Also check out Roberts’ science-focused book, “Ada Twist, Scientist.” $24, indigo.ca

28 empowering books with strong female charactersPhoto: ABRAMS

The Name Jar

Written by Yangsook Choi, Random House Children’s Books (AGES 3-7) Unhei just moved to the United States from Korea with her family and is worried that her new classmates will never learn to pronounce her name. She considers choosing a new American name—Suzy? Laura? Daisy?—but comes to realize that her Korean name and its special meaning are an important part of her identity. $26, indigo.ca

28 empowering books with strong female charactersPhoto: Random House Children’s Books

Young Charlotte, Filmmaker

Written by Frank Viva, MOMA (AGES 4-8) An aspiring young filmmaker finds that her family and friends just don’t understand her passion for black and white cinema. A chance encounter with a film curator at the Museum of Modern Art helps Charlotte discover a whole new world as she finds her own artistic voice. $23, indigo.ca

28 empowering books with strong female charactersPhoto: MOMA

The Princess and the Pony

Written by Kate Beaton, Scholastic Inc (AGES 4-8) From celebrated Canadian illustrator and cartoonist Kate Beaton, this is the story of Princess Pinecone, who desperately wants a strong warrior horse for her birthday. Instead, she receives a small, farting pony. When she brings the little pony to a great battle, she discovers tenderness can be just as powerful as brute force. $23, indigo.ca

28 empowering books with strong female charactersPhoto: Scholastic Inc

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon

Written by Patty Lovell, Illustrated by David Catrow, Penguin Young Readers Group (AGES 4-8) Molly Lou Melon is short, with buckteeth and a squeaky voice, but her grandmother teaches her to stand tall, sing loud and take pride in herself. Molly Lou puts these lessons to the test when she has to stand up to a bully at her new school. $24, indigo.ca

28 empowering books with strong female charactersPhoto: Penguin Young Readers Group

Not My Girl

Written by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, Illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard, Annick Press Limited (AGES 6-7) Based on a true story, this book tells the experience of Inuvialuit author Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, who returned home to her family after spending time in a Catholic residential school. The transition to life at home is difficult, as she re-learns the customs and skills she forgot while she was away and reconnects with her loved ones. $10, indigo.ca

28 empowering books with strong female charactersPhoto: Annick Press Limited

Olivia and the Fairy Princesses

Written by Ian Falconer, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (AGES 3-7) Olivia is no longer interested in being just another pink fairy princess. She searches for a new, more unique imaginary character for her dress-up games and fantasies. $24, indigo.ca

28 empowering books with strong female charactersPhoto: Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Ruby and the Booker Boys #1: Brand New School, Brave New Ruby

Written by Derrick Barnes, Scholastic Inc (AGES 7-10) This is the first in a series of illustrated early reader chapter books about Ruby, a smart and funny eight-year-old girl who is ready to break free of the shadow of her three older brothers. $7, indigo.ca

28 empowering books with strong female charactersPhoto: Scholastic Inc

This article was originally published on Mar 08, 2020
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