8 Mighty Books About Strong Females

Women are strong, independent, resourceful! So why are most female characters portrayed as caretakers or as the damsel in distress? Here's a list of specially selected book compiled by Clare Doornbos at DIESEL, A Bookstore about strong female role models that should be on your kids shelf. 

Ages 0-5

A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara 

This bestselling ABC book is written and illustrated for the next generation of progressives: families who want their kids to grow up in a space that is unapologetic about activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and everything else that activists believe in and fight for. A continuous bestseller for Triangle Square, we heard from booksellers around the country who clamored for a large format edition that would appeal to children over the age of 5. This engaging book carries huge messages as it inspires hope for the future, and calls children and parents to action.

Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle

Girls cannot be drummers. Long ago on an island filled with music, no one questioned that rule until the drum dream girl. In her city of drumbeats, she dreamed of pounding tall congas and tapping small bongos. She had to keep quiet. She had to practice in secret. But when at last her dream-bright music was heard, everyone sang and danced and decided that both girls and boys should be free to drum and dream.Inspired by the childhood of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba's traditional taboo against female drummers, Drum Dream Girl tells an inspiring true story for dreamers everywhere.

The Water Princess by Georgie Badiel

Based on supermodel Georgie Badiel's childhood, a young girl dreams of bringing clean drinking water to her African village With its wide sky and warm earth, Princess Gie Gie's kingdom is a beautiful land. But clean drinking water is scarce in her small African village. And try as she might, Gie Gie cannot bring the water closer; she cannot make it run clearer. Every morning, she rises before the sun to make the long journey to the well. Instead of a crown, she wears a heavy pot on her head to collect the water. After the voyage home, after boiling the water to drink and clean with, Gie Gie thinks of the trip that tomorrow will bring. And she dreams of a day when her village will have cool, crystal-clear water of its own. 

Ages 5-10

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy 

Get to know celebrated Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the first picture book about her life as she proves that disagreeing does not make you disagreeable Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has spent a lifetime disagreeing: disagreeing with inequality, arguing against unfair treatment, and standing up for what's right for people everywhere. This biographical picture book about the Notorious RBG, tells the justice's story through the lens of her many famous dissents, or disagreements.

Rad Women Worldwide by Kate Schatz

Rad Women Worldwide tells fresh, engaging, and amazing tales of perseverance and radical success by pairing well-researched and riveting biographies with powerful and expressive cut-paper portraits. The book features an array of diverse figures from 430 BCE to 2016, spanning 31 countries around the world, from Hatshepsut (the great female king who ruled Egypt peacefully for two decades) and Malala Yousafzi (the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize) to Poly Styrene (legendary teenage punk and lead singer of X-Ray Spex) and Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft (polar explorers and the first women to cross Antarctica). An additional 250 names of international rad women are also included as a reference for readers to continue their own research. This progressive and visually arresting book is a compelling addition to women's history and belongs on the shelf of every school, library, and home. Together, these stories show the immense range of what women have done and can do. May we all have the courage to be rad!

Around America to Win the Vote by Mara Rockliff

In April 1916, Nell Richardson and Alice Burke set out from New York City in a little yellow car, embarking on a bumpy, muddy, unmapped journey ten thousand miles long. They took with them a teeny typewriter, a tiny sewing machine, a wee black kitten, and a message for Americans all across the country: Votes for Women The women's suffrage movement was in full swing, and Nell and Alice would not let anything keep them from spreading the word about equal voting rights for women. Braving blizzards, deserts, and naysayers not to mention a whole lot of tires stuck in the mud the two courageous friends made their way through the cities and towns of America to further their cause. One hundred years after Nell and Alice set off on their trip, Mara Rockliff revives their spirit in a lively and whimsical picture book, with exuberant illustrations by Hadley Hooper bringing their inspiring historical trek to life.


Ages 10-15

Fight Like a Girl: 50 Feminists Who Changed the World by Laura Barcella

Nearly every day there’s another news story, think piece, or pop cultural anecdote related to feminism and women’s rights. Conversations around consent, equal pay, access to contraception, and a host of other issues are foremost topics of conversation in American media. And today’s teens are encountering these issues from a different perspective than any generation has before—but what’s often missing from the current discussion is an understanding of how we’ve gotten to this place. Fight Like a Girl introduces readers to the history of feminist activism in the U.S. in an effort to celebrate those who paved the way and draw attention to those who are working hard to further the feminist cause today.

Hidden Figures (young readers edition) by Margo Lee Shetterly

The phenomenal true story of the black female mathematicians at NASA at the leading edge of the feminist and civil rights movement, whose calculations helped fuel some of America’s greatest achievements in space—a powerful, revelatory contribution that is as essential to our understanding of race, discrimination, and achievement in modern America.