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Holiday gift guide: 10 amazing books to inspire young girls to know their value

Ciarra Chavarria, who runs the Instagram feed @girlsreadtheworld, gives her top picks.

The holiday season is here! And that means it’s time to start stocking up on some girl power books for the little readers in your life.

Check out my list below with my 10 favorites from this year. These books will make the young girls in your life smile, cheer, wonder, and above all, appreciate just how unique and amazing they are.

Check out my list below with ten of my favorites from this year!

1. “Just Like Me” by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Recommended age: 4-8 years

Read this if … you want a unique and inclusive collection of poems that will be sure to inspire

In a nutshell: “Just Like Me” is a vibrant celebration of all kinds of girls through gorgeous poems and illustrations. There’s a poem for girls who are explorers, for those looking to make a friend, for sisters, for cool girls and weird girls, for activists and introverts. And there are poems for girls who want to belong, for girls who long for a father, for girls who listen to their grandmothers and for girls who are ready to be brave — it has something for everyone.

Why I love it: It’s such a marvelous collection — every reader will be able to find herself in one or all of these pages!

Favorite quote: “Fearless/ focused/ and fierce/ as I can be/ Look out, world/ I hope you’re/ready for me.”

2. “Nana Akua Goes to School” by Tricia Elam Walker

Recommended age: 4-8 years

Read this if ... you want to show your girls that being different doesn’t have to be scary.

In a nutshell: While all the other children in Zura’s class are excited about bringing their grandparents to school for Grandparents Day, Zura is not. Her Nana has tribal markings on her face from an old Ghanaian tradition, and she’s worried about what the other kids will say. Nana Akua understands when Zura expresses her apprehension, so she comes up with an idea to help Zura show her classmates just what makes her Nana Akua so special.

Why I love it: I love that the book introduced its core idea through the introduction of a new culture. My daughters and I both learned something from it and my oldest loved it so much that she immediately asked her teacher if she could read it to her class the next day (she did). My favorite part is that the book includes a glossary of words and the Adinkra symbols used by Zura and Nana Akua.

Favorite quote: “These marks were gifts from my parents, who were very happy and proud that I was born,” she continues. “I am likewise proud to wear them.”

3. “Superluminous” by Ian deHaes

Recommended age: 4-8 years

Read this if ... you’re looking for a bright and beautiful story about letting your light shine.

In a nutshell: Nour, whose name means “light” in Arabic, is nervous about starting school, but she’s excited to show her classmates her superpower — she glows!

But instead of being impressed by her glowing light, her peers just wonder why she can’t do something more impressive, like fly or turn invisible. Some even start complaining that she’s too bright. As Nour’s confusion turns to sadness, she tries to hide her light until it actually begins to dim. But when she hears her new baby sister calling out one night, Nour discovers just how magical her light can be.

Why I love it: It’s a lovely story, brought to life by stunning, soft illustrations — and the sister storyline is a sweet surprise, too.

Favorite quote: “Nour rubs her sleepy eyes and realizes that her light hasn’t gone away — it’s grown!”

4. “I Am Enough” by Grace Byers

Recommended age: 4-8 years

Read this if’re looking for a picture book featuring diverse kids that encourages readers to love themselves.

In a nutshell: The title says it all — this book is an empowering ode to loving and believing in yourself. Beautiful illustrations feature all kinds of children being brave, kind and helping each other as they all learn to realize that they are enough.

Why I love it: I love that author, Grace Byers, wrote this in part as a response to her own experience of being bullied as a child. She truly wants to empower girls to know their worth.

Favorite quote: “Like the sun, I’m here to shine.”

5. “We are the Water Protectors” by Carole Lindstrom

Recommended age: 4-8 years

Read this if ... you’re looking for a picture book that reinforces the importance of protecting our Earth.

In a nutshell: A young water protector tells readers about her people’s prophecy that a black snake will destroy their land, water, plants and animals, everything in its path. The black snake’s appearance was supposed to be far, far in the future, but it has already arrived. The little girl is young, but she knows that she must fight to protect the land and the water, for water is sacred. She gathers her people and together they stand up against the black snake, to fight to protect the Earth and all its gifts.

Why I love it: An allegory for the Native fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline, this book makes a strong statement, highlighting both the resilience of the Native people and the importance of protecting our planet — but its young girl narrator and bold, bright illustrations make the story accessible to even the youngest readers.

Favorite quote: “We are stewards of the Earth. Our spirits have not been broken. We are water protectors. We stand!”

6. “One Girl” by Andrea Beaty

Recommended age: 5-7 years

Read this if ... you want a gorgeous book that showcases the importance of books and education as a way to empower.

In a nutshell: A little girl picks up a book that starts a small spark. As she goes along her way, she shares what she learns from her book with others, and the spark grows. Inspired, she writes her own story and shares it with other children around the world, turning the spark into one that lights up the globe.

Why I love it: The book is warm and lyrical and a perfect read-aloud, and it’s packed with girl power. This one belongs on every child’s shelf.

Favorite quote: “Even the smallest spark can start a fire. Even one girl can change the world.”

7. “I am Brown” by Ashok Banker

Recommended age: 5-8 years

Read this if ... you’re looking for a book that spreads diversity and positivity in an adorable package.

In a nutshell: “I am Brown” is a celebration of what it means to be brown, starting with the little girl on the cover. It celebrates all brown kids — who are doctors, actors, scientists, presidents, athletes, in addition to those who help people, solve crimes and design rocket ships. The book emphasizes that they come from all over the world, speak different languages, worship and play differently.

Why I love it: All little readers, brown or not, will love celebrating with this little girl who understands that she is brown and she's perfect.

Favorite quote: "I am brown. I am amazing. I am YOU."

8. “Mindy Kim, Class President” by Lyla Lee

Recommended age: 6-9 years

Read this if ... you can’t get enough of chapter books with spunky female protagonists.

In a nutshell: Eight-year-old Mindy Kim is ready for her next adventure — to be class president! She prepares her campaign and she’s ready to win, but there’s one big problem: she must make a speech in front of her whole class. Mindy has some serious stage fright, but with some help from her family and friends, and hard work practicing, Mindy takes on her biggest challenge yet!

Why I love it: Mindy Kim is one of our all-time favorite characters. She’s genuine, smart, kind, brave and funny, and I love how Mindy’s Korean heritage is always a seamless part of the book, too. Oh, and did I mention this is a series?

Favorite quote: “I couldn’t let a mean kid like him become class president! Even if that meant I had to face my fears and be brave.”

9. “The Story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg” by Susan B. Katz

Recommended age: 6-9 years

Read this if ... you’re still mourning the loss of the great RBG and want to share her legacy.

In a nutshell: Ruth Bader Ginsburg made history as the second woman on the Supreme Court and made a career of fighting for equal rights. This book introduces young readers to the life of this trailblazing woman all the way from her childhood. It even includes a quiz at the end!

Why I love it: With an interactive format, eye-catching illustrations, and simple but informative text, this one is so perfect for young readers who are ready to go beyond the picture book.

Favorite quote: “Reading is the key that opens doors to many good things in life. Reading shaped my dreams and more reading helped my dreams come true.”

10. “Lupe Wong Won’t Dance” by Donna Barba Higuera

Recommended age: 8-12 years

Read this if ... you want a hilarious middle grade book starring your new favorite Mexican-Chinese protagonist.

In a nutshell: For Lupe Wong, baseball is life. Her goal is to be the first female pitcher in the major leagues and she fully intends to get there. For now, she’s looking forward to meeting Fu Li Hernandez, the first Mexican-Chinese pitcher in the major leagues, who her uncle has promised to introduce her to — as long as she makes straight As. No problem! That is, until her gym teacher tells them that their next unit will be square dancing. This is a nightmare (because Lupe has no rhythm) so, true to form, Lupe sets out to fight the system!

Why I love it: Lupe had me laughing from the first line of this book, and I fell in love with her smart, no-nonsense style. I also loved the fantastic representation of Lupe’s heritage and of those around her.

Favorite quote: “Square dancing belongs somewhere far away where it can’t embarrass anyone, like the 1800s.”

Ciarra Chavarria runs the Instagram feed @girlsreadtheworld, where she regularly posts her latest finds. She’s also a lawyer and the mom of two super cool girls who live in New Jersey