Feminist children’s books for little girls (and boys)

Stories with strong female characters who plough snow, rescue Boy Scouts, exact revenge and build planes – inspiring for little girls and boys alike

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If you’ve ever got halfway through a bedtime story and just wished for once the princess could rescue herself instead of rushing into an ill-advised marriage – then this list of children’s books is for you.

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They all feature strong female characters who are intelligent, determined and won’t let the fact that they’re a girl stop them from doing anything – whether it’s outsmarting a dragon or becoming a noted primatologist.

Although these feminist books are great for making girls feel like anything is possible, it’s also important that boys give them a read too – the sooner they’re able to identify with girls, the more likely they are to understand why sexism is so wrong when they grow up.

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Katy and The Big Snow

Age: 2+

Katy and The Big Snow is an incredibly detailed board book all about Katy – a red crawler tractor. Katy “was very big and very strong and she could do a lot of things”. A great book to read to little girls and boys alike.

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Not All Princesses Dress in Pink

Age: 3+

Not All Princesses Dress in Pink teaches the message that not all girls have to play with dolls and wear pink dresses – they can jump in mud puddles in their overalls, climb trees and play sports.

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Violet the Pilot

Age: 3+

Violet the Pilot‘s homemade flying machine takes her to the rescue of a Boy Scout troop in trouble.

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Madeline

Age: 3+

Madeline might be small but she’s tough and brave – showing young readers that the difference between the sexes isn’t that great.

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Every-Day Dress-Up

Age: 3+

Children love playing dress up, but the girl in Every-Day Dress-Up ditches her princess get-up in favour of costumes inspired by great women in history from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to queen of jazz Ella Fitzgerald.

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The Paperbag Princess

Age: 4+

The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch reverses the typical fairytale stereotype – so instead it’s the go-getting princess who rescues the prince from the dragon in this definitively feminist storybook originally published in 1980.

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Rosie Revere, Engineer

Age: 4+

Rosie Revere, Engineer dreams of becoming – you guessed it – a great engineer. She makes amazing inventions but keeps them a secret until her great-great-great aunt Rosie helps her understand that sometimes you’ve got to risk failure before you can find success. Teaches little girls all about following their dreams – no matter how unlikely they seem.

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Me…Jane

Age: 4+

As a renowned humanitarian, conservationist and animal activist, Dr. Jane Goodall is one of the world’s most inspiring women. In Me…Jane Patrick McDonnell tells the real story of a young Jane and her childhood toy chimpanzee named Jubilee – making her incredible story accessible for children.

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Matilda

Age: 8+

Matilda by Roald Dahl is a classic that not only teaches that reading is a magic power in itself – but that clever and resilient little girls can achieve practically anything – even the ultimate revenge.

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Howl’s Moving Castle

Age: 9+

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When young Sophie Hatter is cursed by the Witch of the Waste and turned into an old woman – she doesn’t need to be rescued; instead she sets out on an inspiring quest to Howl’s Moving Castle to break her own curse.

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