The holiday season is here, and you know what that means. Shopping! And if you’ve got girls on your list and are scratching your head over what to get them, you can push those worries aside.
Check out my list that includes some of my favorites from this year. These 10 books will make the young girls in your life smile, cheer, wonder, and above all, appreciate just how unique and amazing they are.
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Ages: 0 - 3
Read this if… you agree that there’s no age restriction on being a feminist.
In a nutshell: This book is exactly what it promises to be — a simple book for the youngest readers that teaches the basic concepts of feminism. From being a leader, to embracing your intelligence, to speaking up and to knowing your worth, this book is the perfect book to start any little girl’s library.
Why I love it: It’s so perfectly appropriate for a board book, and it includes adorable illustrations and cute rhymes. It will appeal to babies but packs a big girl power punch!
Favorite quote: “Strong is not bossy, and smart is not shrill. Embrace your intelligence, drive and fierce will.”
Ages: 0 - 8
Read this if… you want a book that will get your little ones excited about girl power!
In a nutshell: “Go, Girls, Go!” is a girl power anthem that shows girls they can be and do anything. Whether it’s driving a fire engine, building a city tower or being a park ranger, the girls in this book are, yup, on the go! With bright, bold illustrations and catchy text, this will have little ones begging to read it again and again.
Why I love it: Every time we read this book, my girls happily shout along to the “Go, Girls, Go!” refrain. Any book that can get us literally shouting about girl power gets my highest seal of approval!
Favorite quote: “Girls can race ... and girls can fly. Girls can rocket way up high. What about you? Give it a try! Go, girl, go!”
Ages: 4 - 8
Read this if… you’re looking for a simple yet powerful picture book about the importance of representation for little girls.
In a nutshell: Readers explore a museum with a young girl named Parker, along with her friend and little sister. The friends explore various pieces of art and then head to the museum playroom. But when Parker suddenly stops to look up, she finds herself gazing at a portrait of former First Lady Michelle Obama, and a magical moment occurs.
Why I love it: When Parker sees the portrait, she isn’t just gazing up at a piece of art. She's looking up at a woman who not only looks like her, but who represents who she can aspire to be. The fact that this book was written by Parker and her mother and inspired the little girl’s actual experience, makes it that much better!
Favorite quote: "For Parker was feeling powerful and strong, and even though she hadn’t moved ... she was dancing.”
Ages: 4 - 8
Read this if… you understand that sometimes children learn differently — and if you love to dance!
In a nutshell: Diana is a little girl who is having trouble concentrating at school, so much that she’s almost failing her math class. Her mother takes her to a doctor, who finds nothing wrong, and then, at the doctor’s suggestion, she takes her to a psychologist. At the psychologist’s office, Diana suddenly finds herself moving and bopping to the music that’s playing. Turns out, there’s no problem — Diana just needs to dance! It’s an adorable story about a little girl who, with the help of those around her, finds a creative way to learn and succeed.
Why I love it: Learning differences affect a lot of kids, and this book will be a fantastic resource for those kids and their parents — but it’s also just a wonderful, cheerful book that any kid can enjoy.
Favorite quote: “Maybe, Diana thought, she would get to dance in a big theater someday. Maybe not. But she would never stop dancing.”
Ages: 5 - 7
Read this if… you know an aspiring president — or any girl who wants to make the world a better place.
In a nutshell: Sofia has been helping people since she was a baby. She never shied away from trying to make her neighborhood a better place. So, when she discovers an enormous (and dangerous!) trash heap in her community, she knows something must be done. That’s why she gathers her neighbors and convinces them that they should get rid of Mount Trashmore and build a park! Everyone loved her idea — as long as she took care of it, that is. Sofia was overwhelmed, and scared, but she marched up to City Hall and took a stand. And with the help of friends and family and neighbors, the park got built.
Why I love it: The magical, lyrical text and the to-die-for illustrations are what really make this book come alive. Every detail is perfection. Plus, a Latina picture book character? Yes, please!
Favorite quote: “[Sofia was] a dreamer. A doer. A real-life go-getter. Most people like good, but Sofia liked better."
Ages: 5 - 9
Read this if… you want a fantastic superhero chapter book series with a big heaping of girl power!
In a nutshell: Mia is a regular little girl who just happens to be a bit accident prone. Things tend to, well, break when she's around. But one day, a letter arrives that changes everything. She finds out that she's not accident prone, she's got super strength — because she is an actual superhero! And she's just been accepted into the Program for In Training Superheroes (the PITS). Adventures, hilarity and plenty of, you guessed it, mayhem, ensue!
Why I love it: Mia Mayhem is a wonderful character for emerging and early readers. She’s adorable, and funny and full of girl power, and her story is easy to follow, especially with the adorable accompanying illustrations. And since it’s a series, the fun keeps going!
Favorite quote: “Before [my cat] wakes up, here are a few things I’ve learned: For starters, saving the day takes a lot of work. And I couldn’t have done it alone.”
Ages: 7 - 10
Read this if… you want your girls to understand the significance of their (future) right to vote.
In a nutshell: “Suffragette” is a timeline of women's right to vote in the U.S. and the U.K. It is a seriously researched and meticulously pieced together work, accompanied by stunning illustrations. It belongs in every library.
Why I love it: Not only is it gorgeous (we’re talking coffee-table worthy), but because it is so full of information, readers can come back to it again and again, and they will learn something new every time.
Favorite quote: “One hundred years since women first won the right to vote, we continue to challenge ourselves on gender equality and the expectations and roles of women and men ... femininity does not equal weakness and gender equality benefits everyone.”
Read this if… you’re looking for a wondrous middle-grade read with a unique heroine.
In a nutshell: Lalani lives on the island of Sanlagita, where women do the mending and men do the fishing. Where they live in fear of the mountain, Kahna and the monster who inhabits it. Where everyone hopes that one of the many ships they send out with their strongest sailors will reach the heavenly island of Isa. Lalani, like everyone else on the island, knows that Isa is an impossible dream. But when things on the island start to fall apart, Lalani realizes it may be her only hope. Fueled by the stories she has grown up hearing, she sets out, encountering wondrous creatures and places on her journey.
Why I love it: It’s a little bit Moana, a little bit Pan's Labyrinth (though not quite as creepy), with plenty of magic, wonder, depth and heart. It’s truly like nothing I’ve ever read.
Favorite quote: “Imagine you are Sanglagitan. Things are no longer as they were. You don’t know everything about how a twelve-year-old girl made it to Isa and back again. Nevertheless, she is here.”
Ages: 9 - 12
Read this if… you want a spot-on middle grade novel to inspire girls to speak up for themselves and others.
In a nutshell: Four friends, each with their own quirks and personalities — Cat, the bird lover, Aster, the chef, Lane, the artist, and Ofelia, the journalist — somehow meet and become friends over the summer. Unexpectedly bonded through each of their unique passions, they form an unofficial scout troop and find themselves fighting for justice in a creative way.
Why I love it: There's friendship, adventure, mystery, laughs and heartache — plus activism, feminism and pretty much everything else you could possibly want in a book.
Favorite quote: “...[E]ven though history is in the past, and we can’t do anything about what happened then, we can try to make it right today.”
Read this if… you want a solid anthology of strong, courageous women written by two inspiring women.
In a nutshell: Inspired by hearing the question “who is your hero?” many times over the years, authors Chelsea and Hillary Clinton created this book in an attempt to answer that question. Divided into categories like “Education pioneers,” “Explorers and inventors” and “storytellers,” this anthology features the stories of over 100 women from around the world who dared.
Why I love it: What sets this anthology apart is the introduction and the personal anecdotes from Chelsea and Hillary throughout. I love that it creates a unique connection between the reader, the authors and the women who are featured.
Favorite quote: “Ensuring the rights, opportunities, and full participation of women and girls remains a big piece of the unfinished business of the twenty-first century. Finishing it is going to take all of us standing shoulder to shoulder, across the generations, across genders.”
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.