The night before the big Women’s March in January, I was preparing by making signs, packing snacks, and trying to explain feminism to my three year old son.
“We’re going to march in the street with a big group of people.”
“Like a parade?”, my son asked.
“Well, I guess it’s sort of like a parade,” I responded.
“Why? What’s the parade for?”
“Um, to…to tell everyone that women are important. And that girls can, uh, do anything boys can do”, I stammered. That sounded kind of lame. I was really struggling.
I struggle with this sort of thing often. What’s the best way to talk to my kids about the “big issues”??? While I’m obviously no expert (see above conversation), I do know that it’s incredibly important. And it’s never too early to start (in an age-appropriate manner, of course).
So, as I do in many aspects of my life, I turned to books for guidance. The week following the march I did some research, asked my sister (who’s a first grade teacher), and picked the brain of our awesome local children’s librarian. I gathered a huge pile of books about strong women and girls, from classics to new picks. Then, my son and I read through them over the next few days. I was thrilled with the questions, comments and conversations that came up.
10 Empowering Children’s Books that Celebrate Women and Girls
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
This playful rhyming book tells the story of the curious and creative young Rosie who learns the importance of perseverance and making mistakes.
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
A headstrong princess, dressed in a simple paper bag rather than a fancy dress, saves her prince in this modern classic.
Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell
This charming book tells the story of Dr. Jane Goodall and how she achieved her childhood dreams despite the barriers she faced as a woman.
Piggybook by Anthony Browne
This is the story of a mother who is taken for granted until she leaves her husband and sons to fend for themselves.
Malala Yousafzai: Warrior with Words by Karen Leggett
This is an accessible telling of the incredible story of the young Pakistani girl who risked her life to stand up for every child’s right to an education.
A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams
Young Rosa tells the story of how she, her grandmother, and her hard-working mother save up to buy a special chair in this simple yet powerful story.
Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle
This is a poetic and inspiring tale of a young girl who breaks her community’s rule which said only boys could be drummers.
I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont
A playful and energetic book which teaches kids to be proud of everything they are.
Free to Be You and Me by Marlo Thomas
This childhood favorite of mine is more than 40 years old, but its messages of individuality, acceptance, equality and diversity seem more important now than ever.
Rosa by Nikki Giovanni
This beautifully written and illustrated book tells the story of one of the most important figures in the civil rights movement.