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Summer reading list: 9 books to inspire young girls to know their value

Ciarra Chavarria, who runs the Instagram feed @girlsreadtheworld, gives Know Your Value her top picks.
Whether you have sons or daughters, it's important to tell them about strong female role models.
Whether you have sons or daughters, it's important to tell them about strong female role models.Courtesy of Ciarra Chavarria.

School may be out, but that just means there is more time for reading! Here’s a great list of books spreading that girl power message. Whether you’re reading them at the beach or just curled up on the couch, these books are sure to encourage the young girls in your life to be the fierce, confident girls they are.

Know Your Value editors, writers and experts take care to recommend items we really like and hope you’ll enjoy! Just so you know, Know Your Value does have affiliate relationships. So, while every product is independently selected, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the revenue.

Recommended age: 3 to 6 years

Read this if ... you want to feel powerful — and fierce!

In a nutshell: A little girl is ready to face the day and the adventures that await. Monsters, giants and dragons in her way? No problem. A looming Mountain of Knowledge? Easy peasy. Secrets and mysteries to solve? Done. Because this little girl is FIERCE. She’s smart, she’s kind, she speaks up and she is a leader. Exhausting? Perhaps. But she’s ready to do it all again tomorrow.

Why I love it: This isn’t just a children’s book, it’s a mantra that every girl (and woman) should know and repeat.

Favorite quote: “Today I will be fierce! I will lead the way home. And then, I will rest. For tomorrow, I will be fierce again.”

Recommended age: 3 to 6 years

Read this if ... you’re looking for an adorably illustrated book to introduce the concept of girls empowering each other.

In a nutshell: When Nerdy Chick arrives at rocket club to find a ridiculous “No Chicks Allowed” sign, she decides to do something about it. She gathers chicks from all over — every kind of chick you can imagine — and they take that sign right down. And together, they build the most incredible rocket anyone’s ever seen. Because chicks rule!

Why I love it: The diversity of chicks (not a phrase I type often) in this book is wonderful, and I love the lesson that not only can girls do anything, but they can do it together.

Favorite quote: “Soon chicks of different flocks and feathers/ Work to reach the stars together.”

Recommended age: 4 to 6 years

Read this if ... you want your girl to love every unique part of herself.

In a nutshell: Mira has curly hair. And she does not like it. She tries everything, but she cannot tame her wild hair. She just wants straight and smooth hair, like her mama. But on a magical rainy day, Mira discovers a secret about her mama that makes her realize that her curly hair might be wonderful after all.

Why I love it: So many girls will identify with and love this story — whether they have curly hair or not. Learning to love yourself isn’t always easy, so I am all for books that reinforce this. The subtle, gorgeous setting of the book (the United Arab Emirates) only adds to its beauty.

Favorite quote: “Mama! Mama! Look at your hair! It looks beautiful and free, curling everywhere!”

Recommended age: 5 to 9 years

Read this if ... you’ve got a science and art loving girl!

In a nutshell: Georgia’s different than the rest of her family. They’re all artists and creators, but Georgia is a scientist! She loves everything there is to know about science. She loves facts, investigation and calculations, and she is NOT interested in the “silly imaginative” ideas of her family members. But when Georgia heads off to her lab to create her very own science experiment, she finds herself unexpectedly, struggling — something is missing! Could it be that her family of artists might just hold the answer?

Why I love it: Because girls don’t have to be confined to doing or loving one thing. They don’t have to be left-brained OR right-brained; they don’t have to choose between being an astronaut and a musician — they can be anything and everything!

Favorite quote: “Georgia and her family agree: with art and science working in harmony, inspiration never runs dry.”

Recommended age: 4 to 8 years

Read this if ... you want your girls to look beyond what they see in the mirror.

In a nutshell: When Leila looks at herself, she isn’t impressed. She doesn’t know if she really likes being Leila. But one evening at a family dinner, Leila’s grandmother tells her that the saffron color of the beads she is wearing suits her. Suddenly Leila is armed with a positive new outlook, and she decides to keep an eye out for other things about herself that she likes. As the evening progresses, she discovers her family’s music, ornaments and Arabic books from her family’s homeland of Pakistan, delicious food cooked with her Naani, and a beautiful saffron scarf. Leila comes to realize that her identity isn’t just how she looks: it’s her family, her culture and her heart.

Why I love it: This book is beautifully illustrated, has a multicultural female main character and spreads the powerful message of taking pride in who you are.

Favorite quote: “I slowly spin and notice how I sparkle and shine. Each and every part of me comes together to make me who I am.”

Recommended age: 6 to 8 years

Read this if ... you love a great girl-powered STEM picture book!

In a nutshell: When Charlotte’s grandpa and lots of other animals in the forest get sick from a mysterious illness, Charlotte sets out to help. She investigates, collects data, researches and uses all her scientific tools until finally, after a lot of hard work… she figures it out! And Charlotte doesn’t stop there, either. Once she’s discovered the culprit (bad carrots!), she sets about to find and administer a cure. Charlotte to the rescue!

Why I love it: The vocabulary! This book targets a young audience, but I was thrilled to see plenty of complex, scientific terms throughout this story — and yes, there is a glossary. It’s a really cute story, but there’s so much room for conversation and learning for both younger and older readers.

Favorite quote: “Every day Grandpa said, ‘Charlotte, you are going to make a real difference in the world.’ Charlotte paid attention.”

Recommended age: 9+

Read this if ... you want to read a true story about an incredible kid — who just happens to have been born without part of her arm — and if you love glitter!

In a nutshell: Jordan Reeves was born without the lower part of her left arm but you’d be wrong if you thought it stopped her in any way. From day one, her family supported her and taught her that there were no limits to what she could do. So, she wrote a book to tell the world about it! From her experiences with various prosthetics to balancing dance, sports and all kinds of other activities to her now famous Project Unicorn, where she built a glitter cannon for her arm, Jordan’s story is fun, fabulous and full of sparkle — just like Jordan.

Why I love it: Jordan’s creativity and passion for being exactly who she is are sure to inspire any girl to see just how awesome she is.

Favorite quote: “We wanted to do something different. I didn’t need a replacement hand — I need a glitter blaster!”

Recommended age: 7-10 years old

Read this if ... you are looking for a smart middle-grade character that’s destined to be your girl’s new best friend.

In a nutshell: Cilla Lee-Jenkins is going to be an author. She’s known this forever. And in this third book of Cilla’s story, she’s ready to write her EPIC story. Cilla’s got plenty of material — nerves about sixth grade looming next year, her little sisters, and the usual cultural clashes in her Chinese-American family. But then her beloved Ye Ye has a stroke and loses his ability to speak English, and suddenly Cilla doesn’t know how to make her story turn out the way she wants. But Cilla is no quitter, and with her trademark enthusiasm and the help of friends and family (and her school’s superhero librarian), she finds a way to get to that epic ending after all.

Why I love it: Cilla’s story is packed with tons of laugh-out-loud moments, but it’s also got some real depth, which parents and kids will appreciate. Plus there is a legitimately great explanation of the mental load that women bear (really! page 205).

Favorite quote: “I’m destined for greatness as a future author extraordinaire. And I know how to take my destiny into my own hands.”

Recommended age: 8-14

Read this if ... you want a book that will give your girl the tools she needs to both gain and maintain confidence.

In a nutshell: The Confidence Code” is an easy to read, relatable guide for girls on how to build confidence. It covers everything from embracing failure to navigating friendships to having a healthy relationship with your phone, and it’s full of stories and examples, quizzes, graphics and quotes to supplement all the reference material, too.

Why I love it: This book can truly shape your daughter's life in the most positive ways. Tweens, teens, and parents of tweens and teens — this book is an absolute MUST READ.

Favorite quote: “Confidence gives you the power, the lift, the oomph to be yourself and do what you want — even when it’s scary."

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.