Top 10 children’s stories to inspire and empower girls
As my daughter turns three years old (having an ugly cry about it later) I met some of her new friends recently. Namely Cinderella, Snow White and Rose Red. I have avoided conventional fairytales for a long time, because I want my daughter to know that she is enough, that she doesn’t need ‘saving’ by a knight in shining armour. Sadly, as Cinderella wormed her way on to our bookshelf, I couldn’t help but wonder why we read stories to children that have insecure women with body image issues, and men who swoop in only to rescue but never challenge the norms. Thankfully over the years several writers and illustrators have emerged who have questioned these gender stereotypes, and not so casual misogyny to create some fabulous books that will inspire, foster grit and encourage every little girl to create her very own happily ever after.
Click through the gallery for our top ten 10 children’s books to empower little girls, and hopefully little boys as well.
Created by a crowdsourcing effort, this fabulous book has a hundred stories told in fairytale style, introducing readers to a hundred real life extraordinary women from all walks of life, past and present. From Elizabeth I to Malala, this empowering and inspiring book is illustrated by sixty female artists from all over the world. These true stories of grit, determination, ambition and achievement are eye-openers and a great way to teach our little girls (and boys) that achievement is perhaps the greatest equaliser.
Read about Fostering Grit in Kids here
Little Ada loves to ask “why” and has boundless energy and curiosity. Why are there pointy things stuck to a rose? Why are there hairs growing inside your nose? These are just some of the questions that pique her inquisitive mind. But will she be able to find out what’s causing that nasty smell in her house, or will her scientific experiments lead to more trouble? This book is a great way to introduce little girls to wonderful world of science, encourage them to inquire, and teach them to believe that no field of study or work is out of bounds for girls. Also read Rosy Revere Engineer, and Iggy Peck Architect.
Molly Lou Melon is not your familiar slim, blue eyed, golden haired princess. In fact, she is short and clumsy, has buck teeth, and has a peculiar voice. But what she does have, is lots of spunk and a fabulous attitude to life. When a mean bully troubles her in a new school, how will little Molly Lou tackle this problem? Wonderfully written and illustrated, your children will be happy to meet the happily imperfect Molly, who will not let any challenge shake her belief in herself.
Little princesses can come in all shapes and sizes, and this witty and humorous book has girls wearing red socks to soccer and blue tees while climbing trees, making a mess in muddy puddles, all with their tiaras firmly in place. It’s a great way to reaffirm that girls don’t all have to like pink or be ‘girly’ in any defined way. Just like each crayon in the box is a different colour, they too have the freedom to be a shade that stays true to their personality.
A Caldecott Honour book, Madeline is a classic children’s story that has enchanted readers for seventy years. This heart-warming tale, tells us about the adventures of braveheart Madeline. She is not frightened of anything, not tigers, not mice, not even of getting sick. In fact, going to the hospital is a grand adventure for Madeline! This one is an oldie but a goodie and a book shelf must have.
When Violet is told by her strict father, and brothers that she cannot play games or participate in activities meant only for boys, she decides to teach them a lesson. Using her intelligence and bravery, Violet disguises herself as a boy, and takes part in a knights’ jousting tournament. Not only does she win the tournament, but when her true identity is revealed, she wins the greatest prize of all, her freedom. A seemingly simple tale, this book will force parents and children to think about other supposed rules, or pre-conceived notions that cause us to hold our daughters back from activities, risks and life choices. If she was not afraid, how different would her world be?
When Grace’s teacher hangs up pictures of all the past Presidents of The United States and asks “Where are the girls?” Grace decides to be the first. Her political career kicks off as a candidate in the school’s mock election, as the class learns about the electoral system, but more importantly the value of hard work, courage, gender equality and independence.
Reversing the princess and dragon stereotype, this critically acclaimed book tells the story of Princess Elizabeth who plans on marrying the almost perfect Prince Ronald. However, when a dragon destroys her castle, kidnaps Ronald, and burns all her clothes, she is left with only a brown paper bag to wear. After challenging the dragon to fly around the world, and undertaking other dangerous adventures, Elizabeth manages to rescue Ronald, who tells her to return when she looks more like a princess. Elizabeth calls him out for his terrible attitude and decides that she will be much happier ever after without an ungrateful Prince who can’t see her worth. Cheers to that!
From kitchens to chemical laboratories, the ingenious innovations of women and girls around the world have changed our lives for the better. The windshield wiper and the chocolate chip cookie and just two of the many diverse and inspiring inventions that have been created by women. The book features women inventors like Ruth Wakefield, Mary Anderson, Stephanie Kwolek, Bette Nesmith Graham, Patsy O. Sherman, Ann Moore, Grace Murray Hopper, Margaret E. Knight, Jeanne Lee Crews, and Valerie L. Thomas, as well as a young ten-year-old inventor Becky Schroeder and eleven-year-old Alexia Abernathy.
We are all for stereotypes being broken, and what better book to read than Zog? One of our all time fave authors Julia Donaldson is behind this story of a dragon in training. Sadly, breathing fire and capturing princesses isn’t his cup of dragon juice, but a princess who would rather be a doctor nurses his wounds and volunteers to be kidnapped so poor Zog can get his gold star. There is a twist in the tale when a knight turns up to save her, only to be told that she is more doctor and less damsel in distress. A great story to include in a new age princess’ book collection.
Lead image courtesy of Annie Spratt via Unsplash