I truly believe that the books we read as children can shape the people we grow to be.
When buying books for my kids, or friend’s children, I try to make sure it features positive female characters and stories that will empower my daughter, while also showing my son that women are strong, capable, intelligent and should be treated with the same respect as men.
So, in that spirit, here are 10 empowering books every little girl (and boy!) needs on their shelf. Just in time for the holidays!
Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls
I stumbled across this book on Instagram, and I urge you to purchase it right this minute, because it is extraordinary. Rebel Girls reinvents the fairy tale, with 100 stories of amazing women from the past and present. Each woman’s story is written from the style of a fairy tale, with a full page illustration by a female artist. Some of the hero’s my kids and I have read about so far include Frida Kahlo, Elizabeth I, Joan Jett and Jane Goodall.
The Paper Bag Princess
This book was a favourite of mine as a kid, and one of the first books I bought when I found out I’d be having a child of my own. Paper Bag Princess was actually inspired by Robert Munsch’s wife. On his website, Munsch says that he told all sorts of dragon stories to the kids until one day, his wife asked him: “How come you always have the prince save the princess? Why can’t the princess save the prince?” BOOM!
Rosie Revere, Engineer
Where some may see garbage, Rosie Revere sees possibility. Shy Rosie loves to invent all sorts of gizmos. The problem is, she’s too afraid of failure to let anyone see what she has created. Then one day, Rosie’s great-great-Aunt Rose comes for a visit, and shares with Rosie that failure isn’t something to be afraid of because “the only true failure can come if you quit”. It’s beautifully illustrated, and a great message for any kid.
OK…Pippi Longstocking isn’t exactly the most responsible role model out there, but her spirit is infectious. Her mischeviousness reminds us that life is more than just homework and school, and she manages to drag everyone in to her crazy plans. I mean, honestly, who hasn’t wished they could tie sponges to their feet and dance around to wash the floor?
Anne Of Green Gables
I spent HOURS reading Anne of Green Gables and all 7 sequels during my youth. Anne is amazing – clever, resourceful, sweet, sensitive and strong-willed. She also goes to college and gets a degree in 1900’s. Lucy Maud Montgomery was a woman ahead of her time.
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon
Molly Lou Melon is short, clumsy and has a voice that sounds like “a bullfrog being squeezed by a boa constrictor”. But no matter what, she follows the advice her grandmother gave her – to love yourself for who you are. The message that flaws are actually talents that set us apart can’t be beat.
The Princess Knight
Violetta is a young princess who wants to do everything her brothers do, but her father insists she acts like a lady and get married. When her father announces jousting competition to win Violetta’s hand in marriage, she decides to take matters in to her own hands.This book does a great job flipping the “princesses only dream about marrying princes” stereotype on it’s head.
Oh, Madeline. What’s not to love about this fearless french heroine? Madeline shows us that bravery can come in many different forms. She was the smallest of the “twelve little girls in two straight lines”, but she was always fearless. Madeline didn’t let mice, tigers or hospitals scare her. Also, in a society that teaches little girls that scars make them less beautiful, she made it cool. Enough said.
Not All Princesses Dress In Pink
Whether you love baseball, use power tools or ride a bike while wearing a sparkly crown, this book shows that you can do anything you want to do, any way you want to do it. An ode to staying true to yourself, this book teaches young girls to break out of traditional roles and be fearless.
There is something to be said for a story about a woman just trying to make the world a more beautiful place, all on her own. There is no mention of Miss Rumphius needing to meet society’s demands, get married or settle down. She lives exactly as she wants, and the result is a very inspiring story.