Motherhood

18 Children’s Books With Female Characters

Feminist tee for kids

A couple months ago, a reader named Claire asked a great question: “I’ve found it’s easy to come across children’s books with wonderful male heroes, but now that I’m expecting a little girl, I want more books with female heroines — for my daughter’s sake, as well as my sons’.” So, for all the little ones out there, here are 18 children’s books featuring leading ladies…

What books would you add to this list? I’d love to hear… Plus, just for fun, The 7 Things I Can’t Stop Noticing Whenever I Read Knuffle Bunny.

P.S. Six words to say to your child.

(Top photo of this feminist tee, via Miss Moss.)

  1. One of my favorites growing up about being proud of who you are and not letting words or insults get you down is “Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon” by Patty Lovell. So so good!

  2. My 3-year-old loves “Dream Big, Little Pig” by Christy Yamaguchi.

  3. David W Waddell says...

    The Paper Bag Princess! Robert Munsch.
    I would suggest that when we work toward gender equality, and overcoming gender bias (implicit or overt), we do so not only expressly but subtly. So when I read the Paper Bag Princess, my narrative is about how to over come challenges (the Dragon in this book). How when the challenge first appears, the reaction is anger, but as you work to “track” (work through) your challenges, you begin to think clearly, so you formulate a strategy for how you overcome the challenge (cleverly in this case). Not only is this a good lesson for all children (and adults) but boys reading the book also are inculcated with the idea that women are smart, strong and clever. This is not just about girls having self-confidence, but males expecting women to be smart, strong and clever. There are many multiple ways to tackle inequity. I love this book for that reason. Other teaching/learning points with this book are: “judging a book by its cover” and “be careful what you wish for”. Enjoy the book – wish I had written it. I did read it about 1, 000 times to my daughter. I should have done the same for my son, but I was still understanding its power.

  4. Asia says...

    Defintely add Brave Irene by William Steig!

  5. Kit O says...

    Love Junie B. Jones and Ameilia Bedelia books.

  6. Erzsi says...

    A Mighty Girl is the absolute best resource for books and media for girls! They have a massive collection of lists of books featuring strong, courageous girls and women. http://www.amightygirl.com/

  7. Coming in late here, but I also have to agree that Rosie Revere, Engineer is one of the best girl-empowering, pro-STEM books we’ve read.

    And Razzle-Dazzle Ruby is stunningly imaginative and entertainingly interactive. Great list–can’t wait to expand our collection!

    xo, Kensley
    Hot Mess Mamas

  8. Jennifer says...

    Lots of great titles here, and so many more could be added. I mentioned This is Sadie by Sara O’Leary in a reply. Also Princess Pigsty by Cornelia Funke, The Princess and the Pizza by Mary Jane and Herm Auch, there are many….

  9. Katie says...

    The Legend of the Bluebonnet by Tomie DePaola is a great retelling of a beautiful folk tale. I loved that book as a child, and I love reading it to my daughters now.

  10. Heather says...

    Look up Robert Munsch books too. The Paper Bag Princess is a great book for girls!

  11. d says...

    Amelia Bedelia’s “Storybook Treasury” has five stories and is perfect for 2+.

  12. Kathryn says...

    Eloise by Kay Thompson is a great female-lead book too!
    Thanks for these!

  13. A says...

    Great article – thank you! Maple, Maple and Willow Together, Maple and Willow Apart all by Lori Nichols are great books about sisters. Lola’s Fandango by Anna Witte and Micha Archer is another one we love for the story, illustrations and rhythm.

  14. gabi says...

    get out of the bath, Shirley
    by John Burnigham
    Amazing!

  15. Lisa says...

    The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch was a favorite in our house.

    • Jennifer says...

      great book! My oldest granddaughter (4) just loves This is Sadie by Sara O’Leary.

  16. I wrote and illustrated a book abut a little girl called Ruby – it’s about the world of software and storytelling, and was influenced a lot by Roald Dahl, Apple and the countless bugs I’ve encountered.

    helloruby.com

  17. irma says...

    Gina Farina and the Prince of Mintz, out of print, but really gorgeous illustrations. Worth finding! “The independent Gina Farina, one of a troupe of traveling players, has a contest of wills with the grouchy Prince of Mintz when she refuses to follow his ironclad rules.”

  18. Harriet the Spy
    The Long Secret
    From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
    The Secret Garden
    The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

    • Kristen says...

      Yes Yes Yes!!

  19. “Maddi’s Fridge” by Lois Brandt, illustrated by Vin Vogel, and published by Flashlight Press. It’s a wonderful book of friends helping others, and the main characters are girls!

  20. Olivia says...

    The Rough-Face Girl is one of my favorite books from childhood, it’s a Cinderella story told in a native American setting and the illustrations a very beautiful. I also really loved anything by Patricia Polacco, her illustrations were gorgeous!

  21. Dominique says...

    This is such a fun post. I love books and have two daughters, 3 and 6-months. The 3-year-old loves books. Owl Moon and the Paper-Bag Princess are current favorites. We also love books by a local author, Monica Brown. She writes picture books (http://www.monicabrown.net/books/) and a chapter book series (http://www.monicabrown.net/books/lolalevine.php). Marisol McDonald and Lola Levine are my daughter’s favorite characters.

    For YA fiction, I loved the Sally Lockhart Series by Philip Pullman (http://pullman.davidficklingbooks.com/books.php?Series=15).

    Thanks for all of the other suggestions. I’m excited to read some of them.

  22. Laine says...

    And what about ‘The Tale of Custard the Dragon’ by Ogden Nash? Brilliant word smithing! So fun to read to little ones. And ‘Bread and Jam for Frances’ — delightful. These are older books that truly stand the test of time.

  23. Jenn says...

    What a sweet post! I love it.
    My recent finds are; The most magnificent thing, and has anyone ready interstellar cinderella? it looks great. I think angelina ballerina is quite sweet too. Thanks again for the post. xo

  24. Jamie says...

    You HAVE to add Rosie Revere, Engineer! It’s a really wonderful and fun book with absolutely beautiful illustrations… It’s brother book Iggy Peck, Architect isn’t centered around a female character, but it’s also wonderful

    • Loribeth says...

      I give this book to all my friends children! I love it so much!

  25. The Crafty Chloe books are about a creative girl and they’re awesome!! Love the illustrations by Heather Ross especially. :)

  26. Rachel says...

    The absolute best is “Why Won’t Somebody Play With Me?” by Stephen Kellogg. I loved this book as a child because it justified my stinkier moods and didn’t insist that girls had to be polite or pretty.

  27. Rebecca Woodcock says...

    A Chair for My Mother by Vera Williams. A beautiful story of three generations of hardworking, industrious women.

    • Kristen says...

      Loved that one!!

  28. Rebecca Au says...

    Rosie Revere, Engineer!!!!!!!!!! Can’t love this book enough! (And Iggy Peck, Architect) the illustrations are just perfect & the rhyming verse makes it fun to read

  29. Suzanne says...

    The Frances books–A Birthday for Frances, Bread and Jam for Frances, etc. They are my absolute favorite about a sassy little badger and her little sister Gloria. I buy them for all the new little ladies in my life.

  30. sheep says...

    The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton

  31. Unless it’s waaay down in the comments somewhere, I’ve yet to see anyone mention Barefoot Books! I’ve been an Independent Barefoot Books Ambassador for over 5 years – I just love their award-winning (for story & art!) books that are multi-cultural, show diversity in the artwork and have many titles with strong female characters such as Chandra’s Magic Light, The Girl with a Brave Heart and the Princess Stories chapter books. Even Wheels on the Bus is a new take on a classic song featuring a bus trip through Guatemala – where the bus breaks down and is repaired by the grandmother! You’ll find these and more at http://www.ShopBarefoot.net and in January, buy 3 and get the 4th for free with our Reading Resolution code: NEWYEAR

  32. Cara Ng says...

    How could you forget “The Paper Bag Princess” by Robert Munsch! It’s a classic!

  33. Maple has a sequel that is equally charming called Maple and Willow Together.

  34. Jen says...

    Oh, and Angelina Ballerina books – I reckon they’re at the better end of the ballet spectrum in terms of being tolerable for parents to read multiple times.

  35. Jen says...

    All the Katie Morag picture books, they’re the stories of a little girl on a Scottish island, and she also has an awesomely capable farm-based Granny, who is another great female character. And then getting older all of the Anne of Green Gables and Louisa May Alcott books. Also Seven Little Australians for that age group – such feisty heroines!

  36. Zara says...

    The Most Magnificent by Ashley Spires

    Immi’s Gift by Karin Littlewood

  37. My 5-year-old daughter loves the “Hilda” series by Luke Pearson (http://lukepearson.com/Hilda)—they are great comics focused on a young girl who finds magical friends, definitely recommend!

  38. Brave Irene by William Steig

  39. Eloise by Kay Thompson , for Lord’s sake!

  40. Carolyn says...

    you should put Robert Munsch’s The Paperbag Princess… :)

  41. Lindsay says...

    I’ll add Chrysanthemum (a little girl with a BIG name). I also remember loving The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes (very very old book now).

    I will second that the Frances series (Bread and Jam for Frances, etc.) is so good, too!

    • Sandy says...

      Oh yes! The Country Bunny is remarkable! Thank you for sparking this fond memory of my childhood ♥️

  42. Allison says...

    The graphic novels by Ben Hatke about Zita the Spacegirl. He has three now and fans are hopeful for more!

  43. Alli says...

    “I’m A Girl!” By Yasmeen Ismail is a great celebration of being a girl.

  44. Nina says...

    My sister had a book when we were little called ‘Rita the Rescuer’, that was a good one. Also ‘Noisy Nora’ (good for first-born kids dealing with a new sibling!). Recently I bought ‘The Paper-Bag Princess’ (Robert Munsch) for a young cousin whose parents insist on calling her their “little princess” all the time – I wanted something to counteract the ubiquitous pink sparkly princess imagery and this book didn’t beat around the bush!

  45. RBC says...

    I’d add The Paper Bag Princess, Mike Mulligan’s Steam Shovel, and Rumpelstiltskin’s Daughter (this one is a bit longer – for 4+ y.o.). They are not always available in-store, but you can find them online.

  46. Iona says...

    Georgina and Dad the Dragon by Katrien Pickles!

  47. lee says...

    The Paper Bag Princess is one of my favorites because it turns the age old fairytale notions upside down. Very witty and direct. A must for girls and boys alike.

  48. Claire says...

    THANK YOU!!

  49. Andrew says...

    “No Problem” by Eileen Browne is also good. All of the (animal) characters are female.

  50. Gkb says...

    Astrid Lindgrens books: pippi longstocking, madita, Bullerbü :) Reading them to my little boy as well, never too young to appreciate strong girls ;))

  51. Also worth checking out:
    – Brave Irene by William Steig
    – The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton (hilarious and NOT your typical princess character)
    – Jillian Jiggs
    – Rosie Revere, Engineer

    I know there are more, but my brain is spent right now. Great list!

  52. margaux says...

    i second rosie revere! also, the listening walk; any of the frances (bread and jam for frances) books; prickly jenny; eloise; my mama had a dancing heart; fiona’s lace…

  53. Am says...

    For people wanting books that feature non-white main characters, Bharat Babies is a new company publishing books for South Asian children.

    They’re also wonderful for introducing white children to South Asian stories and culture. My son loves the Diwali one – it’s so colorful and he loves the illustrations.

  54. Elizabeth W says...

    Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty

  55. Jessica says...

    Matilda by Roald Dahl! She was my hero as a little girl.

  56. Christina says...

    We go through a lot of books and I don’t actually find it a struggle to discover books with great female characters. (Lots of great newer books listed in the comments, but a few older ones I thought of off the top of my head… Brave Irene, of course, Stand Straight, Ella Kate, Fat Chance, Claude (so great), Small Beauties– (so great but out of print), The Princess Knight… On the other hand, books that reinforce stereotypes I’d like to be done with, like ‘And Two Boys Booed’ just really frustrate me.

    If I hadn’t replaced our regular books with Christmas stuff for the month I’d look though and come up with a list on non-white or even non-gendered characters. Sorry!

  57. Caitlin says...

    Madeline is my favorite!!!

  58. Meg says...

    Thanks for posting this! I am also expecting a little girl, and will be adding these to the registry.

  59. jilly says...

    ruby’s wish, about an independent chinese girl. gorgeous illustrations by sophie blackall.

  60. Owl Moon was one of my absolute favorites growing up, though admittedly I’ve never really thought about the gender. My dad would read the book to me and take me on “cold weather walks” to look for owls. Now I have a son, and he’s finally old enough for me to share the tradition with him :) (On a different note, this book always had an amazingly calming effect on my preschool students. I loved the “hum” of quiet energy during and after a reading.)

  61. Robert Munsch comes to mind with my sister’s favorite, “Stephanie’s Ponytail”, and “The Paper Bag Princess”. Kevin Henkes also wrote one of my favorite childhood books, “Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse” and also “Chrysanthemum”!

  62. Danielle says...

    A Mighty Girl website also has great resources for books and toys specifically geared toward girls. They include helpful parenting books too!
    http://www.amightygirl.com/

  63. Ashlin says...

    One Morning in Maine (another Robert McCloskey) and for slightly older kids – Anne of Green Gables (oh how I love Anne of Green Gables!!)

    • Am says...

      Ditto to “One Morning in Maine” – which features TWO adventurous little girls.

      Love Anne of Green Gables, too – a must-buy for anyone who wants their girl/s to grow up and be smarter than all the boys in school and have tons of gumption! I credit my grandmother’s gift of this series for me having a very strong backbone (much to the disappointment of my pushy MIL, ha).

  64. I love this! Rosie Revere Engineer is my FAVOURITE book about a girl who becomes an Engineer. I think its amazing.

    http://www.katelately.com

  65. ali says...

    stand tall molly-lou mellon, rosie revere engineer, 3 little ninja pigs, ninja red riding hood, goldie rocks, cookies…

  66. I have been shocked at how boy dominated my son’s books are! All animals are boys (unless they’re mothers), all non-human objects that talk, like trains and trucks. So I often just switch the gender pronouns when I read out loud to him. It makes the experience more interesting for me too!

  67. A New Coat For Anna by Harriett Ziefert

  68. Sandi Granger says...

    A New Coat For Anna by Harriet Ziefert

  69. angela says...

    Just to add two of my favorites
    The Lily books by Kevin Henkes – Lily and the Purple Plastic Purse is the best ever!
    http://www.kevinhenkes.com/book/lilly/

    Dory Fantasmagory – she is the new Ramona – stop what you are doing, and please read this book. It is a true delight in every possible way! The second book in the series is even better than the first~ I couldn’t even read it aloud as I was laughing so much – much to the dismay of my 7 year old!
    http://www.amazon.com/Dory-Fantasmagory-Abby-Hanlon/dp/0147510678

  70. I have a fantastic addition to this list: The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch. The little heroine saves herself and even saves the prince! Thanks for this wonderful post!

  71. Isabella says...

    Pippi Longstocking, my hero of all time! And a funny thing: when I was little, I thought Christopher Robin from Winnie-the-Pooh was a girl. You’d think the “Christopher” would have thrown me, but something about his tunics and his cute gamine haircut — he was my tomboy idol when I was four. :)

  72. Beth says...

    Sonya’s Chickens and basically anything made by Phoebe Wahl is amazing and has very non-gender bias characters. Plus just beautiful illustrations!

  73. Laura says...

    Wild! My one year old loves it, and I live the beautiful illustrations. It’s about a little wild girl who refuses to be tamed.

  74. Corduroy by Don Freeman. My absolute favourite kids book; the one I gift to all my mom friends. It has the sweetest message.

  75. Rebecca Russo says...

    The country bunny and the little gold shoes – a wonderful feminist book!

  76. cO says...

    Sidewalk flowers is a gorgeous (wordless) read and a powerful reminder to parents to put down their phones, be present with their children and take time to appreciate life’s little treasures the way that children do so naturally. It’s one of our current favourites for sure and neat because it also allows room for interpretation from the child’s perspective.

  77. Aga says...

    Next, we need a list of book with non-white (main) characters or authors. There aren’t many out there, unfortunately.

    • Yes! I noticed these are mostly white girl characters too. The last is a book that has an American Indian main character but written by a white man and often criticized.

    • Mom of Boys says...

      Corduroy books by Don Freeman are superb–the very early ones. Jack Ezra Keats has great books as well. Try “I can Fly”. Also Peter Reynolds “Ish” and most books by him. Also, “Leave that Cricket Be, Alan Lee” and “In Search of the Thunder Dragons.”

      My boys and I loved the Rainbow Fish books. The primary character I think is a “he” but the books strikes me as gender neutral. Olivia books and finally Stellaluna were big hits.

      Right now my 6 year old boy loves “Princess in Black” books as well as “Mercy Watson” books–but who can resist a pig that loves hot buttered toast?

  78. Vimi says...

    Ladybug Girl! We have a six year old and have read the “Ladybug Girl” books to her since she was a baby. They are great since she’s not just about playing princess but being outside in nature and with her dog bingo.

    • A says...

      Definitely agree with Ladybug Girl. So cute!!!

  79. Alison Cooper-Mullin says...

    This post couldn’t be dearer to my heart! In 1998, my friend Jennifer Coye and I published a book called Once Upon A Heroine: 450 Books for Girls to Love . Between us, we had six daughters and were constantly on the lookout for books that featured strong female characters. Our book covered preschool through YA. One fun feature of the book was that we interviewed over 70 accomplished women (Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Julia Child, Gloria Steinem, Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Gertrude B. Elion, plus our own mothers!) about their favorite childhood reading and sprinkled their recollections throughout the book. It’s out of print now but can still be found in libraries. Many of the books you all suggest are fantastic. Just seeing the titles brings back wonderful memories. It is a spectacular thing to have a child imagine herself the heroine of her own life. Onward!

  80. Nice list! It would be awesome if you also did a list of children’s books with non-white protagonists! I recommend Flower Garden!

  81. kelsey says...

    My little boy love love loves Maurice Sendak’s “The Sign on Rosie’s Door” about a little Brooklyn girl with a big imagination. So so good.

  82. Jill says...

    I’m so happy to see this. I’m getting a new niece in a few short months and want to be that awesome influential auntie and help empower her! Thanks for this :)

  83. SP says...

    Rosie Revere Engineer is so cute and sweet. Beautifully illustrated and a great message.

  84. Anne says...

    The Paper Bag Princess!

    • Renae says...

      100% – love giving this to any of my friends when they have a baby

  85. Makayla says...

    Totally agree we need more female heroines! I just read Even Superheroes Have to Sleep to both of my boys and LOVE the fact that it balances superhero boys and girls. Pick on up at Evensuperheroeshavetosleep.com! Enjoy!

  86. Margaret says...

    Chrysanthemum!

  87. Giulia says...

    Maybe a tad more grown-up (from 8 or so?) but “Dakota of the White Flats” by Philip Ridley has a sweet, brave and independent female lead, and it’s a pleasure to read! http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-679-81168-8

    I’d recommend it, and I think it’d be very appreciate by boys alike!

  88. Betsie says...

    For a book that doesn’t have the little girl being sugar and spice and everything nice, I recommend “Purple, Green and Yellow” by Robert Munsch (http://www.amazon.com/Purple-Green-Yellow-Munsch-Kids/dp/1550372564). The Ramona Series read aloud are also wonderful classics, and I like to think they helped my younger, very wild sister as a child

  89. Kristen says...

    The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton! It’s not frou-frou as the title suggests; it’s universally appealing and incredibly funny.

  90. The Little Engine That Could- both the engine who needs help and the little one who saves the day are referred to with female pronouns.

  91. Lauren E. says...

    These veer more toward YA but my favorite books growing up featured girls! I loved the Katie John books, Ramona Quimby, Babysitter’s Club (and the Babysitter’s Little Sister before that!), Nancy Drew. I was not an adventurous kid but I loved reading about scrappy girls who got into trouble!

  92. Liv says...

    ‘The Midnight Library’ by Kazuno Kohara is really sweet. It’s about a little librarian and her owl assistants. The pictures are gorgeous too. Also ‘Winter is Coming’ by Tony Johnston is about a little girl who sits in a tree and watches the the season change. And we actually read a Little House book to our two toddler boys and they loved it!

  93. BDubs says...

    The Mermaid and the Shoe by KG Campbell is a story about each person’s talents and uniqueness, and it is beautifully illustrated.

  94. Amy says...

    The Paper Bag Princess! (and of course Amelia Bedelia)

  95. Cmr says...

    I forgot to recommend The Tiger Who Came for Tea. A British classic! Another great book from the UK is The Talking Shoes by Enid Blyton.

  96. Katy says...

    I love your blog, and check in often.

    I’m mom to a boy, and two girls. We received Rosie Revere, Engineer as a gift last year and you must add it to your list. It’s the most wonderful story and makes me tear up every time.

  97. Laura says...

    Add Brave Irene by William Steig to this list!

    • Sarah says...

      I agree! This was “Santa’s gift” to my six-month-old daughter for Christmas this year because I love this book so much.

    • Love this one too!

    • Christina says...

      Oh, how I love this book! I forgot about this one.

  98. Pernilla Sandström says...

    Pippi Långstrump (Pippi Longstocking) :) !!!

  99. Lindsey says...

    Miss Rumphius is a book that I will always treasure. Read to me for the first time by my elementary school librarian, it inspired in me dreams of not only seeing the world, but leaving the world a better place. How’s that for a children’s book? Not to mention, the illustrations are beautiful too.

    • I totally agree. Miss Rumphius is such a beautiful book and inspiring on so many levels. I started to give it as gifts to expecting friends. We also adore Millie’s Marvelous Hat.

    • Am says...

      “Hattie and the Wild Waves” is another great Barbara Cooney book too! It’s set in Edwardian times (I think, or thereabouts) and is about a little girl who dreams of being a painter instead of someone’s wife/a lady of leisure.

  100. I’m a Brit but I love The Paper Bag Princess. Pippi Longstocking is a great favourite and for later, Hermione in Harry Potter makes owning being clever and bossy cool for girls.

  101. Anna says...

    The Lupine Lady! Yes, it’s about an older woman, but teaches kindness and is so fun!

  102. Katie says...

    This list is missing some great books!
    Sally Jean the bicycle queen, Rosie Revere, Engineer, The girl who never makes mistakes, The most magnificent thing, the paper bag princess, Amazing Grace.

    I have two daughters and it’s important to me to read books to them with females protagonists.

  103. For Christmas my daughter received a book called “Rosie Revere, Engineer” and we all love it! The aunt who gave it to us said it was in the top 10 feminist books for little girls :)

    • We have this on our shelf as well, absolutely adore this book!

  104. Erin says...

    any of the “Frances” books by Russell Hoban, and Miss Rumphius (on your list) is my favorite childhood book and the one I gift to all the new babies in my life, girl or boy!

  105. another hand up for Rosie Revere Engineer!! (coming from an engineer, but seriously, shows kids how failures teach you lessons for success!)

    • Emily says...

      Yes, we love ‘Violet the Pilot,’ too!

  106. For older kids, Roald Dahl’s books are wonderful almost always feature the children as the heros/heroins (two of my favorites are “Matilda” and “Danny the Champion of the World”). They’re classics and wonderfully written and illustrated!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh yes, the BFG was SUCH a favorite in our house growing up.

  107. shira says...

    Hi Joanna,
    So really interesting… The character in Owl Moon isn’t necessarily a girl! It actually never specifies the gender of the child. I’m studying public health and we used this book as an example for a lesson on helping children understand societal gender norms and how they aren’t always true.. it’s a great book!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s so funny! it says girl on the book description, but you’re right, i guess they don’t specify in the book. we have a book called Stick and Stone, which is the same — you could read it either way.

    • Christina says...

      Yes, I was surprised to hear the character referred to as a girl also. Thought I’d just forgotten. I read it to my kids in the Fall and the fact that it could have been anyone of them out there with their father was one of the things I loved about the book.

  108. lynda fitzgerald says...

    the paper bag princess!

  109. Katie_B says...

    “Brave Irene” by William Steig.

    I read “The girl and the bicycle” with my five-year old daughter (who is a big sister) last month and we looooved it! Great picks.

    Right now I’m struggling a bit with series that hit all the girly-girl buttons my daughter loves but, as stories, are kind of boring or vapid. The “Fancy Nancy” series has some redeeming qualities, but “Pinkalicious” is my new least-favourite. Of course she wants it every night…

    • Am says...

      Too bad she’s too old to notice if it goes missing! My son is young enough that when he receives books with messages we don’t approve of (mostly about how boys have to be tough or that only describe/depict girls in stereotypical ways), we just quietly make them disappear. If anyone else notices they’re missing, we can just say he ripped them or spilled something on them.

  110. Amy says...

    my niece also loves Princess in Black, about a princess who also defends her kingdom from trolls and other things.

  111. Alison says...

    Many Robert Munsch books have main characters who are strong females…Paper Bag Princess, More Make-up, Stephanie’s Ponytail to name a few.

  112. Bryce says...

    The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale! I cannot say enough wonderful things about this delightful series. Humor, adventure, and an intelligent princess who rids her kingdom of pesky monsters. My 3 year old daughter LOVES it.

  113. Erin says...

    A few favorites in our house: My Name is Not Isabella; Rosie Revere, Engineer; Madeleine at the White House; Grace for President; and Paper Bag Princess

    • Colleen says...

      Yes! Grace for President is awesome!

  114. Lyndsay says...

    Angela’s Airplane!!
    by the same author as (my all-time fav) The Paperbag Princess…

  115. Brenna says...

    The Paper Bag Princess is fantastic! I also love Ruby the Copycat and the Frances the Badger series (my favorite when I was younger was Bread and Jam for Frances).

  116. Tracy says...

    Matilda by Roald Dahl is one of my daughter’s early favorites. My son also loved Yoko by Rosemary Wells, Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban, and even the Strawberry Shortcake series. Frankly, my belief is if you instill a love of reading the rest will take care of itself, i.e., the literary heroes will come. If a child develops an insatiable appetite for books it won’t matter to them whether the main characters are male or female.

  117. Barbara says...

    Falling for Rapunzel by Leah Wilcox

  118. Beth says...

    For little ones we’ve loved reading the Ladybug Girl board books to my almost 2 year old for about the last year. Spunky and independent little girl and her dog.

  119. Ashley says...

    The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip by George Saunders. The main character’s name is Capable! Gorgeous illustrations, funny characters and a gentle conversation about grief after the loss of a parent.

  120. Tracey says...

    This is non-fiction, but since we just read it last night it’s fresh on my mind (and my daughter was appalled that women weren’t allowed in medical school until Elizabeth came along): Who says women can’t be doctors? The story of Elizabeth Blackwell.

  121. Katie says...

    SAL IS A GIRL? I always thought Sal was a boy. HUH!

    • Katy says...

      Up! Loved that line.

    • Katy says...

      Oh wait, duh, you’re talking about Blueberries for Sal. I, too, thought Sal was a boy. But at first, I thought you were talking about that line from the movie Up, “Her babies!? Kevin’s a girl?”. Anyways…

  122. Barbara says...

    And of course most famous of all : Pippi Longstocking

  123. Caitlin says...

    Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco is one of my favorites!

  124. Kate says...

    Rosie Revere, Engineer

    Sleep Like a Tiger

    Two of our faves!

  125. Barrett says...

    I love following A Mighty Girl on Facebook (profiles of a diverse range of significant girls and women) and they have curated a great list of books with female leads for all ages: http://www.amightygirl.com/books
    Don’t just read these books to your daughters!

  126. These are great! Madeline is a particular favourite, and Olivia always cracks me up. Another great one is Molly Lou Melon — she’s been a fan favourite for years! xx

  127. Rachael says...

    My all-time FAVOURITE childhood book is Thursday’s Child by Noel Streatfeild. Margaret Thursday is fantastic!

  128. Anna says...

    We love How to Hide a Lion by Helen Stephens! One for younger kids; my daughter is 2.5 but has loved it for over a year, even if it’s targeted to kindergarteners.

  129. Beth says...

    I always loved the children’s book Chrysanthemum.

    • margaux says...

      one of our favorites!

  130. William Steig’s “Brave Irene” is almost perfect. His humor is dry and accessible to children and adults alike.

    My favorite line comes as Irene battles a relentless blizzard: “Why not freeze to death and let all these troubles end? And never see her mother’s face again? Her good mother who smelled like fresh-baked bread? In an explosion of fury, she flung her body about to free herself and was finally able to climb up on her knees and look around.”

  131. Kavi says...

    The Worst Princess! our son and daughter love it

  132. I love a sweet story written by Frank McCourt: Angela and the Baby Jesus. Angela is Frank McCourt’s mother. When she was six years old, she felt sorry for the Baby Jesus in the Christmas crib at St. Joseph’s Church near School House Lane where she lived so, she rescues him! A moving, sweet and fun story by this Irish/American author. I also love the illustrations by Loren Long.

  133. Ditte Larsen says...

    Any book by Astrid Lindgren. Especially “Pippi Longstocking”.

  134. Rebecca says...

    So many amazing suggestions!

    Some of my favourites:
    “Wild” by Emily Hughes – great for girls who don’t want to brush their hair or look neat, but love running around outdoors.
    “The Promise” by Nicola Davies and Laura Carlin – lovely, thoughtful social message and beautiful pictures
    “Princess Smartypants” by Babette Cole – a classic!
    “Matilda’s Cat” by Emily Gravett – the very adorable story of a little girl attempting to work out what her cat *really* likes doing.
    And finally… “Black Dog” by Levi Pinfold, which shows a very, very small young lady helping her entire family to cope with a fear that’s grown entirely out of proportion. I absolutely adored this book, and often come back to it when I’m looking for books for kids who get anxious easily (and adults, for that matter…!).

    Ooh, and Oliver Jeffers’ “The Heart in the Bottle”, which is brilliant for talking to children about grief and coming to realise that someone is still part of you, even when they’re gone, has a female protagonist too!

  135. rindi says...

    We recently read a great one entitled “Pemba Sherpa” about a little girl who wants to be (and becomes!) the first female sherpa. It’s told from the girl’s older brother’s perspective. The story captivated my boys and I found myself wanting to recommend it to every mother of girls that I know. It’s by Olga Cossi, and it’s beautifully illustrated. We also love “Tea Party Rules”, “Bella’s Rules” and the Frances books by Russell Hoban – “Bread and Jam for Frances” is a particular favorite.

  136. Penny says...

    My toddler son and I LOVE love Extra Yarn! And I also remember a book from my niece/nephew – A Bad Case of Stripes – being really cute. Still need to get a copy for our house… fun post! :)

  137. Elly says...

    Matilda by Roald Dahl. What a stellar read.

  138. Ali says...

    I think it’s probably out-of-print, but when I was younger, my sister and I had a collection of fairy tales called ‘The Practical Princess and Other Liberating Fairy Tales’. It was wonderful and feminist and greatly enjoyable as both a child and an adult. The version I have also has beautiful illustrations as well.

  139. Caitlin says...

    Oh and North Woods Girl! And Home.

  140. Caitlin says...

    Ladybug Girl
    Me, Jane
    Rosie Revere, Engineer
    Of Thee I Sing

    Great post!