Check out this list of children's books that have the potential to educate, empower, and inspire!
Grace for President, by Kelly DiPucchio
When Grace is frustrated that none of the U.S. Presidents are women, she decides to be the first. Grace takes on the challenge by running in her school election. Her very popular opponent claims to be the "best man for the job" and seems to be winning by a landslide. So, Grace focuses on becoming the best version of herself. Grace's story not only introduces girls to the electoral system in an engaging way, but also emphasizes hard work and courage.
Find Grace for President here.
I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes Her Mark, by Debbie Levy
Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the first female supreme court justices, second only to Sandra Day O'Connor. The "Notorious RBG" has gained fame for her dissents-- she has spent a lifetime disagreeing with inequality, unfair treatment, and unjust policies-- and this book tells her story via those dissents. Ruth Bader Ginsberg stands up for people's rights everywhere, and this book teaches girls that it's ok to disagree.
Find I Dissent here.
Not All Princesses Dress in Pink, by Heidi Stemple & Jane Yolen
Some princesses play sports, and others jump in mud puddles, but that doesn't make them any less of a princess! This clever book written by a mother-daughter duo teaches girls that you don't have to love pink to be royal and important.
Find Not All Princesses Dress in Pink here.
Rosie Revere, Engineer, by Andrea Beaty
First of all, I can't get enough of books that rhyme! This one's a bit of a tongue twister, but fun to read. Rosie dreams of becoming a great engineer, and she spends all her time dreaming up gadgets and gizmos to solve practical problems. Shy and quiet, she becomes discouraged when her favorite uncle laughs at an invention she made just for him... Until her Great-great-aunt Rosie (AKA Rosie the Riveter) comes to visit, and together they dream of flying.
Find Rosie Revere, Engineer here.
The Paper Bag Princess, by Robert Munsch
Arguably the only princess story in which the prince gets called "a bum," this one's been called "one of the best children's books ever written" by The New York Times. Elizabeth the Princess has everything you could dream of: beautiful clothes, a big castle, and an engagement to a prince. Until one day, a dragon comes along and blows it all away in a puff of smoke. The heroine goes on to hunt the dragon wearing what she has left (a paper bag)...all with perfect kid-humor that is guaranteed to get a laugh.
Find The Paper Bag Princess here.
Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code, by Laurie Wallmark
The illustrations in this book are *almost* my favorite part, but it's hard to compete with the wealth of good quotes. This book tells the true story of a woman who revolutionized computer science, aptly written by a professor in the field dead-set on inspiring interest in computer engineering for young girls.
Find Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code here.
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon, by Patty Lovell
Molly Lou Melon is "short and clumsy, has buck teeth, and has a voice that sounds like a bullfrog being squeezed by a boa constrictor." But she's perfectly happy with who she is, until the bully at her new school makes fun of her unique attributes. Thanks to some solid advice from her grandma, bear witness to Molly Lou's indomitable self esteem. (Ironically the bully has the same name as the "bum" prince in The Paper Bag Princess.)
Find Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon here.
Through My Eyes, by Ruby Bridges
We all know the Ruby Bridges story. The iconic image of a tiny 6-year-old girl walking to school through a crowd of hate-filled segregationists, surrounded by federal marshals. But this version cannot compare to any I had heard before, as it recounts the events first-hand from Ruby's perspective. It's an astounding representation of courage for any reader.
Find Through My Eyes here.
The Princess Knight, by Cornelia Funke
If the girls in your life liked the movie Brave, they will surely enjoy this book with a similar storyline. Violetta just wants to be like her brothers. But with her parents insisting that she marry, she is excluded from their shenanigans. Violet is determined to prove that she is brave and strong, so she enters into the jousting tournament to win her own freedom.
Find The Princess Knight here.
Malala Yousafzi: Warrior with Words, by Karen Leggett Abouraya
I was 18 years old, just 3 years older than Malala, when she was shot by the Taliban while standing up for her right to an education. I remember being deeply impacted by her courage and determination. This version of the story emphasizes how someone can create change in their community with words and love. Just a warning, some parents may feel that this may be a better fit for kiddos over 5, due to the detailed description of Malala's experience. However, it prompts meaningful discussion with girls about their rights and differences in other cultures.
Find Malala Yousafzi: Warrior With Words here.
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, by Elena Favilli & Francesca Cavallo
I bought this book as a gift for the girls I babysit, and I can't say enough good things about it. An anthology of 100 fairytale-style bedtime stories about 100 bad-ass women from around the world, it's sure to kickstart some ambitious dreams.
Find Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls here.
Amazing Grace, by Mary Hoffman
Grace is dramatic, creative, and has boundless energy for devising new identities. When she has a chance to be in the play Peter Pan at school, Grace knows which part she would choose. But her classmates discourage her, telling her she can't be Peter Pan because she's black, and a girl. Grace is the definition of intrepid and bold. (Also, I adore the empowering portrait of a single-parent household within this story.)
Find Amazing Grace here.
(For the record, it's a total coincidence that the heroines in three of these books are named Grace.)