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5 Books to Inspire Girls (and Boys!)

by Sara Voigt (@meaningfulmadness)

As a mother to a daughter, I am really interested in finding books that promote strong females. Luckily, there are more and more books being published to meet just this need. Here are some of my (and my daughter's!) favorites:

Francesca Cavallo and Elena Favilli's Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls

From the publisher:

"The New York Times bestselling Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is a children's book packed with 100 bedtime stories about the lives of extraordinary women from the past and the present, illustrated by 60 female artists from all over the world.

"This must-have volume brings readers on an empowering journey, introducing them to the real-life adventures of trailblazing women from Elizabeth I to Malala Yousafzai. The unique narrative style of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls transforms each biography into a fairytale, filling readers with wonder and a burning curiosity to know more about each hero. Each woman's story is also accompanied by a full-page, full-color portrait that captures her rebel spirit. 

"This hardcover edition, with an extra-smooth matte scuff-free lamination, 100lbs paper, a satin ribbon bookmark, and extraordinary print quality, is the perfect gift for any young reader, and begs to be read again and again."

Why We Love It: This book offers a broad range of different experiences lived by the female heroines in the book. Each story is illustrated by a beautiful drawing of the woman highlighted. My daughter and I love to read the story, look at the illustration, and then look up a photograph of the strong female we just read about. We love this book!

My Name Is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream? by Jennifer Fosberry (author) and Mike Litwin (illustrator)

Jennifer Fosberry and Mike Litwin's My Name Is Not Isabella

From the publisher:

"Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream?

"Ask Isabella...

"She takes a wild ride―and discovers the sky's the limit!

"This story...speaks frankly about self-identity and self affirmation as Isabella decides at the end that she is actually herself...because she possesses the best parts of all of the women she looks up to."―ForeWord Magazine

"The colorful mixed-media artwork reinforces the fanciful, upbeat tone of the book. Use this story to ignite young readers' interest in women's history."―School Library Journal

"Who Is Your Hero?

Isabella's include U.S. Astronaut Sally Ride, activist Rosa Parks, and sharpshooter Annie Oakley―but there's no bigger hero than Isabella's own mommy!

"Join Isabella on an adventure of discovery―and find out how imagining to be these extraordinary women teaches her the importance of being her extraordinary self. Inspire your little one to dream big right alongside Isabella with this feminist book for little girls. Perfect for fans of She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton, My Name is Not Isabella inspires young readers' interest in women's history."'

Why We Love It: Isabella is the sweetest, and we love her interactions with her mom. The illustrations are beautiful, and the ending will bring a tear (at least to this mama's) eye.

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy (author) and Elizabeth Baddeley (illustrator)

Debbie Levy and Elizabeth Baddeley's I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark

From the publisher:

"Get to know celebrated Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—in the first picture book about her life—as she proves that disagreeing does not make you disagreeable!

"Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has spent a lifetime disagreeing: disagreeing with inequality, arguing against unfair treatment, and standing up for what’s right for people everywhere. This biographical picture book about the Notorious RBG, tells the justice’s story through the lens of her many famous dissents, or disagreements."

Why We Love It: We love to read this book because RBG is making history currently in our world. My daughter loves non-fiction and enjoys reading stories that are 'real' stories. She often asks the question during reading, "Did this really happen?" and with this story I can say, "Yes, it did." In addition, what RBG has accomplished is incredible, and I love a book that offers my daughter an opportunity to do more research and find out more about the person she read about. This book does just that.

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly (author) and Laura Freeman (illustrator)

Margot Lee Shetterly and Laura Freeman's Hidden Figures

From the publisher:

"Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden were good at math...really good.

"They participated in some of NASA's greatest successes, like providing the calculations for America's first journeys into space. And they did so during a time when being black and a woman limited what they could do. But they worked hard. They persisted. And they used their genius minds to change the world.

"In this beautifully illustrated picture book edition, we explore the story of four female African American mathematicians at NASA, known as 'colored computers,' and how they overcame gender and racial barriers to succeed in a highly challenging STEM-based career.

"'Finally, the extraordinary lives of four African American women who helped NASA put the first men in space is available for picture book readers," proclaims Brightly in their article '18 Must-Read Picture Books of 2018.' 'Will inspire girls and boys alike to love math, believe in themselves, and reach for the stars.'

"This nonfiction picture book is an excellent choice to share in the classroom or for homeschooling."

Why We Love It: Not only does this book tell the story of four incredible Black women in science, but it also illustrates to young readers how these women fought the racial barriers and gender barriers in their field of work. We love the illustrations. As a mom, I love the fact that we could make a transition to Margot Lee Shetterly's Hidden Figures Young Readers' Edition. This also gives us an opportunity to watch the Oscar-nominated film. The film is rated PG, and Common Sense Media recommends it for ages 10+.

Hilde Cracks the Case series by Hilde Lysiak (Book #1, Hero Dog!)

Note: This is a series put out by Scholastic. If you are interested in the whole series or for more information on Hilde, you can go to the Scholastic Page for Hilde Cracks the Case.

Hilde Lysiak's Hilde Cracks the Case, Book 1: Hero Dog!

From the publisher:

"Real-life super-sleuth and media sensation Hilde Lysiak's reporting skills are put to the test in this fun early chapter book mystery series!

"Pick a book. Grow a Reader!

"This series is part of Scholastic's early chapter book line Branches, aimed at newly independent readers. With easy-to-read text, high-interest content, fast-paced plots, and illustrations on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and stamina. Branches books help readers grow!

"Nine-year-old crime reporter Hilde Lysiak is starring in her very own early chapter book series -- inspired by news stories Hilde wrote in real life! In this first book, there's been a break-in on Orange Street! Cupcakes have been stolen, and soon a pie goes missing, too. Hilde and her sister/photographer, Izzy, must interview witnesses and follow the clues. Can Hilde crack the case in time to post her news story online? Joanne Lew-Vriethoff's personality-filled illustrations appear on every page, bringing Hilde's adventures to life for young readers!"

Why We Love It: We love it because the Hilde Cracks the Case books are based on a real-life girl who is doing great things! She publishes a newspaper that she has 700+ paid subscribers! These books are great for beginning chapter book readers. They are funny and have really adorable pencil drawings in them. We love it because we can read them together, and then look up Hilde's newspaper, The Orange Street News. Note: The newspaper is currently on hiatus because of travel.

I hope you enjoy these recommendations! Please let me know if you read any of them with your young readers!

(A note to our readers: click on the hashtags above to see our other blog posts with the same hashtag.)

Interested in what else we're reading? Check out our Featured Books page.

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