The team at RepresentWomen publishes weekly reading lists on social media (and in founder Cynthia Richie Terrell’s weekly column, Weekend Reading on Women’s Representation) with the objective to provide feminist recommendations to readers.
We have also been collecting book recommendations for children—with the goal of providing the same feminist lens, but at a more accessible age level.
This list includes some old favorites that you didn’t know were feminist, stories that display leadership and independence, and compilations of women leaders throughout history.
Old Favorites You Didn’t Know Were Feminist
Click Clack Moo (ages 4-8)
By Doreen Cronin. Illustrated by Betsy Lewin.
Our research fellow Maura commented that this book is “a feminist manifesto in which women in the workforce recognize their own worth and collectively fight to be fairly compensated for their work.” The cows in the story decide to go on strike and withhold their milk in order to have the farmer meet their demands. Read this book to your child to teach the values of independence, growth and the power of collective bargaining.
Gertrude McFuzz (ages 4-8)
By Dr. Suess.
Our communications fellow Kaycie calls this classic, “a cautionary tale against the pressure of beauty standards on women.” This lesser known story by Dr. Suess features an impressionable young bird who wishes she looked “more beautiful” by having more feathers. Over the course of the book she realizes that having more feathers infringes on some of her previous abilities and how she interacts with others. If you want to instill body positivity and diminish negative beauty standards in your child, this is a great book to start with.
Books About Women Who Win
The Paper Bag Princess (ages 4-8)
By Robert Munsch. Illustrated Michael Martchenko.
This is an extremely popular children’s book from the 2000s that needs a resurgence! It has sold over 7 million copies and gained an endorsement from the National Organization for Women. Munsch turns the classic damsel in distress storyline on its head by making the princess the heroine. Princess Elizabeth saves the ungrateful Prince Ronald from being held captive by a dragon, but decides to go on her own in the end when she does not get the respect she deserves. We can all agree that we need more Disney princesses like Princess Elizabeth!
Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea (ages 4-8)
By Meena Harris. Illustrated by Ana Ramírez González.
Celebrate Kamala Harris’s historic firsts as vice president-elect with this new book by Harris’s niece Maya. It helps to introduce a child to perseverance, sisterhood and determination while telling the story of Kamala and Maya Harris’s community playground that they started in their apartment building’s courtyard. The girls were persistent when they were first told no by their landlord, but they continued to push and ultimately brought their community together to rally around the issue.
The author, Meena Harris is CEO of the Phenomenal Woman Action Campaign, which is a great organization to support and gives its proceeds to organizations such as Higher Heights, Justice for Migrant Women and the Essie Justice Group.
Grace for President (ages 5+)
By Kelly DiPucchio and LeUyen Pham.
Is your child still interested in what the heck the electoral college is? And why the U.S. has never had a woman president? Get them this timely story about Grace, a young girl who decides she wants to be the first woman president and kick starts her political career with a mock school election. And remember: It’s never too early to start recruiting young girls to run for office!
Dolores Huerta: A Hero for Migrant Workers (ages 6-10)
By Sarah Warren. Illustrated by Robert Casilla.
If you loved the organized labor movement led by the cows in Click Clack Moo, learn about this real labor movement hero! Sarah Warren chronicles the life and work of Dolores Huerta who was a leading organizer for the Delano grape strike of 1965. Huerta also popularized the phrase “Sí se puede!”— later adopted by President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign as “Yes we can!”
Thee Hannah (ages 7-10)
By Marguerite de Angeli.
Meet Hannah, RepresentWomen’s Founder Cynthia Richie Terrell’s great-great-aunt, and a young Quaker girl growing up in 1848 Philadelphia who learns to appreciate her religion as she and her family help families along the Underground Railroad.
To Inspire Little Heroes
By Eva Chen. Illustrated by Derek Desierto.
Eva Chen’s most recent children’s book is a compilation of powerful female leaders such as RBG, Oprah, Julia Child and Malala Yousafzai. It is a great way to teach your child that women can succeed in any field whether it is politics, entertainment, or STEM. This book is for a younger audience which we love! It is never too early to start to introduce your child to these groundbreaking historical figures.
Not One Damsel in Distress (ages 3-7)
By Jane Yolen. Illustrated by Susan Guevara.
Jane Yolen has compiled these thirteen folktales with one thing in common, feminist heros and protagonists! Learn more about some of the smart, strong and brave women from folklore with this beautifully illustrated book.
Girls Think of Everything (ages 4-8)
By Catherine Thimmesh. Illustrated by Melissa Sweet.
If you have an aspiring inventor, get them this great compendium of biographies covering the women and girls who have made some amazing discoveries and ingenious inventions.
By Andrea Davis Pinkney. Illustrated by Stephen Alcorn.
This beautifully illustrated book honors Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells, Rosa Parks, Shirley Chisolm and more inspiring Black women. This book introduces your child to women leaders who fought for racial justice and civil rights throughout U.S. history, illustrating that the journey is long and it is not over.
Stories That Teach You to Love Yourself, No Matter What
Are You a Boy Or Are You a Girl? (ages 3+)
By Sarah Savage. Illustrated by Fox Fisher.
Sarah Savage’s inspirational story features Tiny, a gender neutral protagonist who leads the reader on a beautiful tale of gender diversity. Tiny loves to dress up and hates the question, “Are you a boy or are you a girl?” choosing instead to just be themselves.
I Like Myself! (ages 3+)
By Karen Beaumont. Illustrated by David Caltrow.
If you want to teach your little ones to love and embrace themselves and their quirks, even when others don’t, you can’t go wrong with Karen Beaumont’s “ode of self-esteem.” Follow the narrator as she shows why being comfortable in your own skin is the most important thing to learn growing up.
William’s Doll (ages 4-8)
By Charlotte Zolotow. Illustrated by William Pène Du Bois.
Zolotow’s stereotype breaking children’s book from 1972 is not only a favorite of RepresentWomen founder Cynthia Richie Terrell and her family, but also one of the first children’s books to address nontraditional gender stereotypes and is a must-have for any little feminist.
By Anastasia Higginbotham.
Anastasia Higginbotham shows what it means to be queer and Black growing up in America today through the eyes of Demetrius. Exploring the love and acceptance Demetrius feels from his family and friends and the fear of growing up when you aren’t what society deems to be “normal.”
(Editor’s note: When you click on the links of the book titles, you’ll go to IndieBound and if you make a purchase a small portion will go to support Ms., but this in no way affects the cost you pay. Thanks for supporting feminist media and your local booksellers!)
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