Fifty Children’s Picture Books with Interesting Heroines

wildwasherwomenLast year I asked English department faculty members to tell me what their children were reading, with fantastic results. It was admittedly shameless, as it was really a way for me to pick everyone’s brains in advance of holiday shopping. This year, in recognition of Dr. Morrison’s recent appearance in the media discussing the way gender expectations are enforced upon girls from infancy, I’ve assembled a list of fifty children’s books featuring interesting female protagonists. Feel free to add more suggestions in the comments.

FIFTY PICTURE BOOKS (alphabetical by author)

Every-Day Dress-Up (Selina Alko)

Extra Yarn (Mac Barnett)

RosieRosie Revere, Engineer (Andrea Beaty)

Sally Jean, the Bicycle Queen (Cari Best)

Violet the Pilot (Steve Breen)

Willow (Denise Brennan-Nelson)

Signed, Abiah Rose (Diane Browning)

Girls A to Z (Eve Bunting)

Princess Smartypants (Babette Cole)

Miss Rumphius (Barbara Cooney)

Pemba Sherpa (Olga Cossi)

A Hen for Izzy Pippik (Aubrey Davis)graceforpresident1Grace for President (Kelly S. DiPucchio)

The Princess and the Pig (Jonathan Emmett)

Summer Birds: The Butterflies of Maria Merian (Margarita Engle)

Olivia (Ian Falconer)

Imogene’s Last Stand (Candace Fleming)

My Name Is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream? (Jennifer Fosberry)

The Princess Knight (Cornelia Funke)elenaElena’s Serenade (Campbell Geeslin)

Clever Katya: A Fairy Tale from Old Russia (Mary Hoffman)

The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever (H. Joseph Hopkins)

Stagecoach Sal (Deborah Hopkinson)

The Worst Princess (Anna Kemp & Sara Ogilvie)

Ghosts in the House (Kazuno Kohara)

Whimsy’s Heavy Things (Julie Kraulis)

Mary’s Penny (Tanya Landman)

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon (Patty Lovell)VirginiaWolf_2151_spr1Virginia Wolf (Kyo Maclear)

Brave Girl: Clara Lemlich and the Shirtwaist Makers Strike of 1909 (Michelle Markel)

Mirrette on the High Wire (Emily Arnold McCully)

Tia Isa Wants a Car (Meg Medina)

The Bravest Woman in America (Marissa Moss)

The Paperbag Princess (Robert Munch)

Kate and the Beanstalk (Mary Pope Osborne)

The Brave Little Seamstress (Mary Pope Osborne)

Sparrow Girl (Sara Pennypacker)

The Girl and the Bicycle (Mark Pett)

Keep Climbing, Girls (Beah E. Richards)

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade (Justin Roberts)

Dangerously Ever After (Dashka Slater)SpiresThe Most Magnificent Thing (Ashley Spires)

Gardener (Sarah Stewart)

The Tough Princess (Martin Waddell)

Clever Beatrice (Margaret Willey)

A Chair for My Mother (Vera Williams)

Singing Away the Dark (Caroline Woodward)

Frida (Jonah Winter)

The Wild Washerwomen (John Yeoman)


Ruby’s Wish (Shirin Yim)

You might also like Twenty Chapter Book Series with Interesting Heroines for Early Readers, Ages 6-8.


7 responses to “Fifty Children’s Picture Books with Interesting Heroines

  1. We would like to add:
    Mabel Murple (Sheree Fitch)

    And there are some interesting fairy tales, like Tamlin and Cap o’ Rushes in which there is a heroine (both of them are in the Oxford Treasury of Fairy Tales by Geraldine McCaughrean & Sophy Williams)

  2. Absolutely going on my wish list! And I should have added Mahalia Mouse Goes to College (John Lithgow) for the academic parents. There’s also Going Places, which has a male protagonist, but it’s the girl who is the leader/inventor. I also inherited a Scottish series, Brave Janet Reachfar, (from a certain French professor who likes photography!), and am looking forward to reading it with the bean. It’s got a bit more text though.

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