Did you know that, according to a Dartmouth College study of more than 5,600 children’s books published in the US throughout the 20th century, 25% had no female characters, and less than 20% showed women with a job?
Representation is key to inspiring girls, and though many authors and publishers are becoming more aware of the imbalance, it can still be hard to find great books that feature girls as central characters.
As part of our goal, in partnership with Always®, to help girls keep dreaming and playing #LikeAGirl, we have put together this list of confidence-boosting books that can show girls anything is possible!
The Name Jar, by Yangsook Choi
Age 4 – 8
The Name Jar follows the story of Unhei, a Korean girl who’s just moved to America. She’s too nervous to tell her new classmates her name, so instead of introducing herself she tells the class that she’ll choose a name by the end of the week with their help. Her new classmates fill a glass jar with names for her to pick from, but when one of her classmates discovers her real name Unhei begins to realize why it’s so special.
The Secret of Black Rock, by Joe Todd-Stanton
This stunningly illustrated modern folk tale, tells the story of an adventurous girl who stows away on her mother’s fishing boat to find out the truth about Black Rock: a dark and spiky mass out at sea that is said to destroy any boats that come near it. When she finds out the truth, she bravely faces her community to stand up for what she believes in.
“This book is enchanting and delightful. It’s been a bedtime request since we borrowed it from the library three weeks ago.”
Little People, BIG DREAMS Series, by Isabel Sanchez Vegara
Age 5 – 8
This illustrated series is all about showcasing the important life stories of amazing women from history and present-day – designers, artists, scientists and more. These books make the lives of role models accessible, providing a powerful message to the next generation that they can achieve their dreams.
Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World, by Rachel Ignotofsky
Women in Science is a beautifully illustrated educational book. It highlights the contributions of 50 notable women to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
“I love this book because it illustrates so many inspirational examples of successful women in science, and how these women have shaped our world.”
Witch Baby, by Francesca Lia Block
Age 8 – 12
Witch Baby is adopted by an unconventional family in this second book from the Dangerous Angels series. She goes on a journey to explore her roots, and find out where she really belongs.
“ [Witch Baby] covers topics like same-gender parents, self-acceptance, blended families, overcoming isolation, bullying, and being different.”
Roller Girl, by Victoria Jamieson (graphic novel)
Roller Girl is a coming-of-age story about Astrid, a 12-year-old girl who has always done everything with her best friend Nicole, until Astrid signs up for roller derby camp and Nicole decides to go to ballet camp instead. Roller Girl explores the complexity of changing friendships, going out on your own to try something new, allowing others to shine, the perseverance it takes to accomplish something difficult, and the reward of accomplishing it.
“This colourful novel is a relatable must-read for middle school girls!”
The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman
Lyra, a young girl, is fiercely independent and intelligent. In The Golden Compass she navigates deep connections between science, art, philosophy, and morality, and asserts her leadership despite her youth.
“The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman is one of my very favourite young adult books. In addition to its imaginative and unpredictable fantasy plot, readers follow the protagonist’s journey of self-discovery… This feminist novel (and its accompanying sequels) is compelling for children and adults, and I highly recommend it!”
- Karen Campbell
What are your favourite books for girls? Let us know in the comments below!
This is the tenth post in our Confidence Stories series in partnership with Always® Confidence Stories features stories, tips, and ideas for supporting girls and building confidence.