7 Children’s Books Starring Girls Your Bookshelf Needs!

ABC Like a Girl is out now, and it is an awesome book that really showcases some great role models and values for kids. If you’re excited about ABC Like a Girl, and you’re looking for more engaging children’s books that feature girls, girls of color, and girls learning about STEM subjects, and just generally girls being awesome role models for all kids, then have no fear, this is the blog post for you!

ABC Like A Girl by Ariel Shultz – Children's book featuring strong female role models

A brand new ABC book featuring strong female role models and positive attributes!

ABC Like a Girl by Ariel Shultz
112 full color pages
Ages pre-K through 3rd grade
$23.95
Available only from Amazon.com
More info here!

As a lifetime fan of children’s literature, and an Early Childhood Educator, I always have my eye out for great books that inspire kids. And while this post is going to focus on a lot of books that feature girls and women, don’t feel like that means those books aren’t for your boys. Boys benefit greatly from seeing women and girls as the heroes too!

Also, there are books on this list about girls of color, and while children of color benefit from seeing heroes like themselves, white children benefit from seeing kids of color represented, and represented in positive, and heroic ways! So, lets take a look at some great kids books:

#1. Rad American Women A-Z

Books Starring Girls You Need – Rad American Women A-ZThis is a great alphabet book, because it talks about real people and things they were able to do in the world.

It has a lot of reading, which may turn some people off to it for younger kids, but we used this book in my Pre-K class for several activities. We took turns during reading time opening to a page, reading about that person, and then “journaling”, drawing, and writing about our ideas about the women we read about.

This was great, because the kids would make a lot of connections about these inspirational women, women in their lives, and also themselves (no matter the gender of the student).

One I specifically remember was us reading about Dolores Huerta, and a male student drawing a picture of her with big arms hugging people and explained to everyone during circle time “This is Dolores. She saw that some people made rules that weren’t fair to all the people. So she told her friends, hey these rules aren’t fair to everyone. If it’s not fair to everyone, its not a good rule. We need to tell people, so we can change the rules to good, and fair to everyone. She got all her friends to tell more people, but they didn’t even have an Iphone! They just used their mouths. Then, they changed the rules to be better! If I ever see rules that aren’t fair, I’ll tell my friends and we’ll change them, but we’ll probably use Iphones.”

Another great activity we used to help connect kids to these particular stories was to help a child spell their name with the book. For example, my name is Ariel, so we would have looked up A is for Angela Davis, and read about her, and then on to R, I E, L.

This really helped the kids make personal connections with the people in the books and the things they accomplished, and it helped to engage them with learning their letters 🙂

The authors of this book also recently came out with a companion book called Rad Women Worldwide, which is fantastic as well!

2. Andrea Beaty’s Books

Books Starring Girls – Rosie Revere, EngineerAndrea Beaty writes some really great books. Rosie Revere was a huge hit in my class. We read it nonstop during a time while we learned about simple machines and worked on our own Rube Goldburg constructions.

What is fantastic about her work is it also addresses the ideas of not succeeding right away, mentorship, and even having people rain on your parade.

She recently came out with another book called Ada Twist Scientist which I got for my little sister. Her books feature all kinds of kids, and talk about science and engineering in a positive and exciting way to get kids engaged from an early age!

 

3.  Teaote and the Wall

Children's Books Starring Girls – Teaote and the WallThis is a book by a woman whose family is from the small island country of Kiribati.

Kiribati is in danger of being completely flooded due to climate change, and the author uses her mother’s childhood experiences protecting the island to personalize and humanize the struggles we all face protecting the planet to help educate future  generations.

 

 

4. Nadia Frink’s “Anti-Princess” books

Children's Books Starring Girls – Frida KahloNadia got sick of seeing women and girls as being portrayed as weak, needing saving, with value tied to physical beauty.

She also wanted to see more people in books who were a little bit more like her, and celebrated her culture, her heritage, and her language. So she created the books she wanted to see.

The first book was about famous painter, activist, and political figure Frida Kahlo. She also has another book about musician Violeta Parra, with more coming!

The books are currently only available in Spanish, but it would be a great opportunity to start working with your kids or students on bilingual education if you are a non-Spanish speaker. It’s also a great opportunity to teach kids about how special and important other cultures are!

5. The Paperbag Princess

Children's Book Starring Girls – The Paper Bag PrincessSpeaking of “Anti-Princess” books, this is a great book that turns the idea of princesses, and the damsel in distress on it’s head.

In this book Princess Elizabeth is supposed to marry Prince Ronald. He has the vibe of every antagonist in every Molly Ringwald film, sweater-tied-around-shoulders included.

In the end she tricks the dragon and rescues the prince, only to be told she isn’t pretty enough after getting dirty rescuing him. She has a saucy retort, and then runs off into the sunset.

A girl in my class loved this book, and every time we would read it she loved that Elizabeth ran off into the sunset alone: “She didn’t need someone else to be happy! She loved herself! If someone is mean to you, you don’t have to say ‘I love you’, and marry them. If you don’t want to, you don’t even have to be married when you’re a grown up!”

6. I Love My Hair!

Children's Books Starring Girls – I Love My Hair!This is a great book that talks about loving your body, no matter what it is and not comparing it to those around you.

We read this book, in my Pre-K class during Black History Month, and the kids really loved the message of body positivity. Even at a young age, you might be surprised how much they have already begun to pick up on things from the media.

Even if your child isn’t black, they could still use the message to love themselves 🙂

This book was also part of a great list of books for children from Essence magazine of similarly awesome, positive books for kids, which also included Big Hair, Don’t Care, Nappy Hair, Penny and the Magic Puff Balls, and Maggie Sinclair, Will You Please Fix Your Hair.

These are all books that talk about how our bodies are enough the way they are, and while we may hear voices over our lives to the contrary, we have the strength inside to know and say, “I’m good the way I am!”, whether that is responding to messages about natural black hair, weight, our gender, or even about medical issues and able-ism.

7. WILD

Children's Books Starring Girls – WildNot only is this a beautiful and imaginative book, but it gets kids thinking and connected to nature.

Kids are wild, and sometimes as adults we have an urge to try to tame that. One of the things I love about this books is that the girl is just openly, unabashedly, wild.

Being wild doesn’t stop her from being a good friend to her animal buddies though, and I think she’s very relatable to children. Sometimes adults and children do seem so vastly different, and this wild girl meeting humans for the first time is very relatable to kids.

She’s not bad or mean, she’s just different. I think another good book along these same lines, but geared for a little bit older kids is I am Jane Goodall. Again, it’s another book about a woman who cares a lot about animals, and is maybe a tinsey bit wild 🙂

Hopefully this list helps bring some joy to your family, classroom, or local donation box! I found a lot of value in these and I hope you do too!

Ariel Shultz

artist, educator, environmentalist, sailor