This Women’s Day, introduce your boys & girls to some amazing women with these Children’s Books about Strong Women! Features women from history & our times.
Being a woman isn’t easy, especially if you live in India. Yet, if you own a device and have an internet connection which enables you to read this post, you’re incredibly privileged, as am I. We’re among the lucky ones, compared to the many other women who struggle in our country and around the world.
As March begins and another International Women’s Day rolls around, we are made aware of facts about women. To be honest, some of those facts are quite dark.
- India occupies the 112th spot in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index 2020 out of 153 countries
- It will take almost a 100 years to close this gap, according to the same report
- Less than 5% of businesses in India are owned by women
- Only 7% of all startup entrepreneurs are women
- When it comes to sex ratio, India is the second worst among South Asian and BRICS nations
- Worldwide, women have a 27% higher risk than men of facing severe food shortage
- Two-thirds of the world’s illiterate are women
There are many other inequalities too, but the focus of this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.’
This is because while COVID-19 has been hard on everyone, it has been particularly difficult for women. Women are twice as likely to lose their job due to the pandemic, and the crisis has increased the poverty rate in women. While 1 in 3 women are prone to domestic violence, this has gone up by 15-30% during COVID-19. When it comes to young girls, over 11 million girls are at risk of giving up their schooling due to COVID-19.
Women have been at the fore front of fighting the pandemic, whether it’s nurses, heath workers, sanitation workers or scientists working on the vaccine. In fact, most of the countries that’ve handled the pandemic well, like Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, New Zealand and Slovakia have female heads of state. This just goes on to show that women need more representation – it’s best for the entire nation.
If you’re wondering why I’m talking about all this in a post about children’s books, here’s another fact: by age 6, girls already think boys are more suited to smart activities and more likely to display intelligence. So you see, the gender bias starts early, which is why we have to start earlier!
That is why we’ve rounded up 20 of the best children’s books about strong women that are perfect to start a conversation and do away with gender biases from a young age. There are books that are suitable for infants all the way to kids entering the pre-teen years. The books feature real women from history as well as those who live in our times. There are also some story books with strong female characters. And these aren’t only for girls – it’s just as important to educate our boys that girls are no less than them!
20 Children’s Books about Strong Women
1. ABC What Can She Be? by
There was a time when girls were restricted to certain professions like teaching, but not anymore! This adorable book puts forth an array of options for what girls can be, from A to Z. The message at the end of the book is that girls can be just about anything they please! The book is quite diverse in its representations of girls, and is a must have book for all ages.
For ages 3-6
2. Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai’s speech at the United Nations is one we’re all familiar with: “One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.” This book takes off on that theme by featuring a magic pencil that Malala uses to fix the world. The book is written by Malala herself, which makes it all the more special for young readers.
For ages 5-7
3. Little Feminist Board Book Set by Mudpuppy
Start your little boy or girl on the right track with Mudpuppy’s Little Feminist Board Book Set! The set consists of four books sorted into Activists, Artists, Leaders and Pioneers, and has really cute drawings. The books feature several important women from across the world, including Indira Gandhi from India.
For ages 0-5
4. This Little Trailblazer by Joan Holub
There are many books about famous men in different fields, but not as many about women. This cute book attempts to fix this problem by featuring ten empowering female trailblazers. The book is not at all overwhelming, and gives a new meaning to the term ‘girl power’. The illustrations are bright and colorful and will hold the attention of young kids.
For ages 3-5
5. Marie: My First Marie Curie by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara
This book is an international bestseller and is about someone who isn’t talked about much – Marie Curie. The book uses simple language to talk about how Marie – who couldn’t go to college because of being a woman – went on to win the Nobel Prize for Physics. A lovely book that talks about famous women in science, which we need more of.
For ages 4-8
6. A is for Awesome was written by Eva Chen
It can be really inspiring reading about famous women, but sometimes it can make you think that everything they achieved is too out of reach for you, a regular person. However, this lovely book removes that very insecurity, by showing how all these famous women were once regular little girls! This is a great book for kids who need a little confidence boost and they’ll enjoy reading about the starting points of famous people.
For ages 1-3
7. Greta and the Giants by
Greta Thunberg is no stranger to us, but many kids may not be sure about why she’s so famous. This book sheds light on what this feisty Swedish girl is all about, and what she stands for. The explanation is done in a story format that makes it easier for young kids to understand.
For ages 4-7
8. Mary Wears What She Wants by Keith Negley
Since centuries, women have always been told what they can and cannot wear, and this is prevalent in our society even today. This book shows us how, in the 19th century, young Mary decided that she would wear pants instead of dresses. This got her in lots of trouble, but it also turned her into Dr. Mary Edwards Walker! An amazing book about individual freedoms and respecting a person’s right to wear what she pleases.
For ages 4-8
9. Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? by Tanya Lee Stone
While women are succeeding in practically every profession today, there are still many taboos about women working in some fields. It was this way in medicine centuries ago, but a brave girl named Elizabeth Blackwell broke all barriers to become the first female doctor. This book tracks her story about how she refused to accept societal norms and decided to follow her heart.
For ages 5-8
10. Helen’s Big World by Doreen Rappaport
Helen Keller is an inspirational character for everyone, but particularly so for girls, showing that if you really wish, nothing – not being a girl, not blindness – nothing can stop you from living life on your own terms. This book tackles a rather heavy topic with a light hand, and uses lots of pictures to get the message across. This book is also the winner of several awards like the 2002 Caldecott Honor Book, the 2002 Coretta Scott King Honor Book, the Child Magazine Best Book of 2001 and the New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Children’s Book of 2001.
For ages 4-8
11. She Persisted Around the World by
It is said that women have to work twice as hard as men to get noticed, but this hasn’t stopped women from pursuing their dreams. This book is about several such women who persisted with their goals, in spite of all the pressures society put on them. The book features popular figures like J.K. Rowling and Malala Yousafzai as well as less known women like Wangari Maathai, Aisha Rateb and Mary Verghese.
For ages 4-8
12. Like a Girl by Aparna Jain
We’ve all grown up hearing people tell us to sit, walk, dress and in general live ‘like a girl’. For many people, doing something like a girl indicates a sign of weakness, but this book smashes all such misconceptions. It features many successful women who lived ‘like a girl’ and did everything from climbing mountains to winning court cases!
For ages 5-10
13. The Dot that Went for a Walk by Sarada Akkineni
While there are many books that celebrate famous women across the world, there aren’t that many that focus solely on Indian women. This book is one of those rare gems that introduce us to 51 amazing women from our country who’ve accomplished great things in their lives. Even the illustrations are original artwork by female artists in India.
For ages 5-13
14. Unstoppable by
How many successful Indian women do you know, who would be great role models for our kids? Many of us can name a handful, but this book introduces to many more such wonder women. Featuring names like Janaki Ammal, Rani Abbakka, Nadia Wadia, Sarla Sharma Thakral and Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, kids and adults will all be amazed at how many of these they haven’t heard of before!
For ages 5-10
15. Mulan by Yi-Hsuan Wu
Mulan is an interactive board book based on the Disney movie of the same name. While it is still unsure about whether Mulan was a real character or a fictional one, her story is inspirational, nonetheless. The interactive nature of the book makes it ideal for toddlers and preschoolers.
For ages 1-5
16. Feminist Baby by Loryn Brantz
The title of this book may be surprising – can babies be feminist? This book proves that they can – we only have to raise them right! The book is super cute and features a little girl who’s absolutely unafraid to live life her way and get what she wants without waiting for anyone to hand it to her!
For ages 0-3
17. Izzy Gizmo by Pip Jones
For generations, fields like language and home science have been assigned to girls, while math and science have been thought of being ‘boy’ things. But not Izzy Gizmo – she’s a passionate inventor, although her inventions may not turn out the way she wants them too! The book is funny and normalizes girls inventing things and solving technical issues.
For ages 3-8
18. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
This book was first published in 1980 but was way ahead of its time! The book is an excellent tale that turns every generic fairy tale on its head, with the princess setting out to rescue the prince. What’s more, the book sends across an important message about how appearances, especially for females, are given much more importance than they deserve.
For ages 4-8
19. Mayil Will Not Be Quiet by Niveditha Subramaniam
It is difficult for a woman to get her voice heard in a patriarchal society, and we are often told to ‘be quiet’. But not Mayil, who refuses to accept silence and insists of finding answers to all her questions, many of which are quite uncomfortable. A great book for school going kids to encourage them to question societal patriarchal norms.
For ages 10-14
20. Princess Smartypants by Brenda Cole
If your child is a fan of princess stories, she will love the main character in this book. Princess Smartypants doesn’t want to get married, and she has her own dreams to chase. The book breaks several stereotypes about how women are expected to live their lives.
For ages 4-8
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