The characters you expose your daughter to at a young age help define her — which means they should all be strong women who bust through gender norms like a black belt through plywood. These 8 books, which tell stories of doctors, pilots, and other empowered young girls will help you do just that.
Me…Jane By Patrick McDonnell
This true story of the primatologist, ethologist, and anthropologist who is bigger than King Kong, Dr. Jane Goodall, charts her progression from animal-obsessed little girl to pioneer of a field notably devoid of women. It’s an ape-filled tale of determination fit for both nature-lovers and anyone who dreams of a life dedicated to monkey business.
Imogene’s Last Stand By Candace Fleming
Imogene adores history so much that she opens a museum in her hometown. But when she learns that it’s going to be demolished and replaced by a factory, this spunky girl hits the streets to educate everyone. Bios of famous historical figures abound. Grace is a budding historian, but this story is, at it’s core, the origin of a young activist.
Grace For President By Kelly DiPucchio
Grace is a whip-smart public school girl with a knack for knocking down barriers. When she realizes there’s never been a female president, she sets her sights on the Oval Office. Her first step? Vying for candidacy in her class’s mock election — and teaching the boys on top a lesson. Author Kelly DiPucchio crafts a compelling tale, and even manages to weave in a lesson about the electoral college system along the way. No, it has nothing to do with 2016.
You Forgot Your Skirt Amelia Bloomer By Shana Corey
Who needs a dress? Not Amelia Bloomer. The 19th-century women’s rights activist was sick of high society’s suffocating, frilly outfits, so she invented a pair of pants (bloomers) women could wear under a skirt. Through vibrant illustrations and simple prose, this book tells Amelia’s tale of sartorial defiance and shows everyone who wear the pants.
My Name Is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream? By Jennifer Fossberry
Isabella likes to play dress-up, but she’s not concerned with wearing crowns and pretending to be some distressed damsel. Instead, she throws on the clothes of some of history’s most inspiring women, including Annie Oakley and Rosa Parks, and imagines herself in their formidable/literal shoes. Their stories unfold with each outfit, and Isabella learns that telling your own story is always fashionable.
Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell By Tanya Lee Stone
Elizabeth Blackwell grew up in the early 1800s, a time when women were meant to marry a man, run a household, or maybe do some light seamstressing. Blackwell did none of that. Instead, she completed medical school and became the first female doctor. This story tells that tale, humor and style, but curiously no mention of crippling student loans.
Sky High: The True Story of Maggie Gee by Marissa Moss
Maggie Gee was one of only 2 Chinese-American Air Force service pilots to serve in World War II. Not an easy feat, given the cultural climate of the time. Though distinctly a children’s book, this story hits on all the nuances of Gee’s journey — from training missions to her unfair treatment — to tell the story of a young girl who just wanted to fly.
Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken by Kate DiCamillo
Who says chickens have to be themselves? Louise (a chicken) stands up to everything the world throws at her: a pirate abduction, a shipwreck, and entering the mouth of a circus lion. When she returns home to her farm, Louise smoothly recounts her antics to her barnyard friends. As it turns out, bravery is possible for everyone — even those they’ve been told they’re, well…