5 Children’s Books that Encourage Girls (and Boys) to be Feminists
Children are the future. The next scientists, actors or actresses, presidents, or famous authors are running around on monkey bars, practicing their addition and learning how to read in school.
They are sponges that absorb the world around them. This especially includes the stories they are told, the books they read, and the ones they eventually begin to learn to read on their own.
Nelson Mandela famously stated, “People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can learn to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” When I think of my little sisters, and how loving they are by nature, as well as their eagerness to learn, I think of this quote. We must teach our precious future generations to love.
So that is why I think it’s so crucial to reinforce positive love for all genders and all people at an early age. This can be done by simply reading positive children’s books for young girls and boys. In this case, we are looking at children’s books that have firm feminist roots. Through their silly stories and enjoyable lessons, children are internalizing much bigger ideas such as love, equality, and celebrating women’s strength as well as boys.
Here are some books, at various age levels, that encourage young girls and boys to be feminists through their plots and strong characters.
A is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women by Lynne Cheney & Robin Preiss Glasser
A is for Abigail was written and published in 2003 by Lynne Cheney and Robin Preiss Glasser. This children’s novel covers all types of American female heroes, from scientists, entrepreneurs, authors, quilt makers, and politicians that helped shape the American landscape. In a world where history tends to be dominated towards male accomplishments, especially in the classroom, this children’s book is a great read for kids to realize that women are just as inspiring. This book shows various career paths and how girls also make history. Thank you, Cheney and Glasser! According to Amazon, this book is for the age group of 6-9.
Amelia’s Notebook by Marissa Moss
Amelia’s Notebook was a personal favorite of mine growing up. The series began in the early 00s. It is written and illustrated by Marissa Moss. The series captures the first-person voice of a funny, quirky, and intelligent 5th grader as she moves to a new town. The books literally look like a child’s composition book, filled with momentos, doodles, and “top-secret” thoughts. As children enjoy the silly stories, and laugh at elementary-school jokes they can relate to, they are exposed to a strong character who expresses herself how she wishes. Moss also has a series of Amelia’s Notebooks that take place during middle school, with books like Amelia’s Science Fair Disaster, Amelia’s Guide to Babysitting, and Vote 4 Amelia. The books are geared towards ages 7 and up. Look into more of the Amelia’s Notebook series here.
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (Hermione and Luna Lovegood)
I could not resist putting my absolute favorite children’s series on this list. Beginning in 1999, J.K. Rowling has been making magic (also couldn’t resist that pun) by creating a magnificent fantasy world for children to get lost in. Of course, the main character is Harry Potter, but Rowling’s famous trio consists of one heck of an intelligent witch, and the book has various other strong female characters. Hermione Granger is the biggest and most apparent example. Granger is the smartest witch of her generation and is a voice for equality throughout the series (especially for house-elves). Rowling has Hermione and the boys work in harmony, each balancing each other out, which is also a great lesson for gender equality. Another good example of a strong female character in the novels is Luna Lovegood. Throughout all of the bullying she endures, Rowling gives children a character who does not give into the bullies, who embraces who she is, and remains loving at heart. It is geared for ages 8 to 13. Buy the first novel here.
Not All Princesses Dress in Pink by Jane Yolen & Heidi E. Y. Stemple
I absolutely adore the message in Yolen, and her daughter Heidi’s, book Not All Princesses Dress in Pink. Published in 2010, this book is geared towards ages 3-8. It has great illustrations of all different types of girls who also happen to look great rocking a tiara. This little excerpt from the book pretty much sums it up: “Not all princesses dress in pink. Some play in bright red socks that stink, blue team jerseys that don’t quite fit, accessorized with a baseball mitt, and a sparkly crown!” Once again, this is a great children’s book that shows that little girls can do the same things as little boys. You can buy the book on Amazon here.
Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park
Once again, I’m throwing a childhood favorite into the mix. Junie B. Jones began in 1992 by Barbara Park, and as a child, I was hooked. Junie B. Jones is a hilarious, most of the time misbehaving, little girl who never apologizes for who she is. Park gives us a character that begins in kindergarten and allows us to watch her continue to remain true to herself as she grows. Junie B. Jones experiences many typical things a child might go through: enduring smelly buses, new siblings, and meanie kids in her class. While kids read the books and laugh with Junie B., they also are presented with a strong female character who knows exactly who she is at a young age. The books are still popular today, over 20 years later, as I watch my younger sisters gobble them up. The books are geared towards the age group 6-9. See more of the Junie B. Jones series here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: AMY VAUGHN
As a Montclair State University graduate with a BA in English, my first love is writing, specifically nonfiction and short stories. International human rights and women’s rights are also strong passions of mine. I hope to someday be able to call myself Chief Editor, human rights advocate, and jewelry designer. I can’t live without Mad Men (er, Netflix), soy chai lattes, or my adorable Wheaten terrier, Pippin.