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Most Empowering Books for Girls

  • Most Empowering Books for Girls 1 of 15
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    Empowering Reads for Girls: 13 picture books that teach and entertain

    Whether little girls' obsession with pink is a developmental stage or the result of media/social conditioning remains to be determined. Meanwhile, they often gravitate towards books merely because they feature "pink" in the title or content. Not that there's anything wrong with a few pink, girly books on the reading pile — sometimes the fluffier and more feminine the better. But I'm a big fan of alternative protagonists, girls who don't fit in to the fairy-tutu-pony-princess mold. Need something empowering for your own daughter? Read on for my favorite suggestions, and let me know yours in the comments below!
  • Most Empowering Books for Girls 2 of 15

    1: Sally Jean, the Bicycle Queen, by Cari Best, illustrated by Christine Davenier

    Empowering Reads for Girls: Sally Jean, the Bicycle Queen by Cari Best, illustrated by Christine DavenierCultivates: Resourcefulness

    Sally Jean was born to ride. Her passion for cycling is sportiness at its best. When challenges threaten to stop her wheels from turning, Sally Jean keeps her passion alive, riding onward with inspiring resourcefulness. A great book for kids who love bicycles, stories about heroines who never give up, and characters who know their way around a toolbox.

  • Most Empowering Books for Girls 3 of 15

    2: Brave Irene, by William Steig

    Empowering Reads for Girls: Brave Irene, by William SteigCultivates: Commitment and perseverance

    Ah, if only every daughter was as helpful as Irene Bobbin. Her mother, the dressmaker, is feeling ill, and the beautiful gown she has sewn for the duchess must be delivered for the gala ball. Leave it to Irene, who literally braves a storm to save the day and is duly rewarded for her commitment
    and perseverance.

  • Most Empowering Books for Girls 4 of 15

    3: Annie Bananie, by Leah Komaiko, illustrated by Laura Cornell

    Empowering Reads for Girls: Annie Bananie by Leah Komaiko, illustrated by Laura CornellCultivates: Friendship and loyalty

    A heartfelt ode for a best friend who is moving away and will be sorely missed. Annie Bananie comes alive through simple rhymes and pitch-perfect illustrations. She’s a devil-may-care kind of girl, as is her best friend, who narrates the tale. A definitively female commitment to friendship threads its way through this beautiful gem of a book.

  • Most Empowering Books for Girls 5 of 15

    4: Tar Beach, by Faith Ringold

    Empowering Reads for Girls: Tar Beach by Faith RIngoldCultivates: Imagination

    When Cassie Louise Lightfoot "flies," all below is hers for the taking. Soaring above bridges, buildings, and city streets, Cassie dreams of a better life for her family. This young heroine makes the hottest of urban nights magical. She believes in the power of imagination and the promise of something better. And most of all, she inspires her readers to think beyond their own earthbound lives.

  • Most Empowering Books for Girls 6 of 15

    5: I Like Myself! by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by David Catrow

    Empowering Reads for Girls: I Like Myself, by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by David CatrowCultivates: Self Esteem

    A book with a clear message of "to thy own self be true" that avoids the preachy-teachy trap. The little girl narrator is adorable and relentlessly self-loving in the best of possible ways. Beaumont’s snappy rhymes are fun to read, and Catrow’s illustrations jump off the page with exuberance and confidence. This is the kind of book to read over and over again, especially when
    a child’s self-confidence is shaky.

  • Most Empowering Books for Girls 7 of 15

    6: Sheila Rae, the Brave,
    by Kevin Henkes

    Empowering Reads for Girls: Sheila Rae the Brave by Kevin HenkesCultivates: Sisterhood

    Sheila Rae may be the sister who everyone thinks is cool, but baby sister Irene’s ingenuity is way beyond cool. Sheila Rae pushes a bit too far, travels home from school a new way, and gets terribly and frighteningly lost. It’s tiny Irene who leads her trembling big sister home to safety. This book is a shout-out for all younger sisters who watch big sisters carefully, learn by example, take
    what they need, and forge their own unique paths.

  • Most Empowering Books for Girls 8 of 15

    7: Madeline Books,
    by Ludwig Bemelmans

    Empowering Reads for Girls: Madeline BooksCultivates: Bravery

    Talk about a girl who knows how to make the most out of a bad situation. When her appendix operation leaves her with a scar, she shows it off like a new tattoo. Madeline is arguably the bravest of all classic children’s book heroines. She loves mice, walks on bridge railings, and "pooh-pooh’s" a lion at the zoo. In subsequent books in the Madeline series, "the smallest one" stands up to all manner of bad guys. No question: Madeline’s one tough little broad.

  • Most Empowering Books for Girls 9 of 15

    8: Eloise Books, by Kay Thompson, illustrated by Hilary Knight

    Empowering Reads for Girls: Eloise BooksCultivates: Thinking outside the box (er — hotel room)

    The perfect thing about Eloise is that she’s far from perfect. She’s the ultimate mischief-maker and a bit of a spoiled brat. But her incredible imagination, boundless energy, and canny persuasiveness make up for her shortcomings. The perfect pairing of Thompson and Knight in all of the Eloise books sets the bar high for future generations of writer/illustrator pairings. Has any other duo done it as well since?

  • Most Empowering Books for Girls 10 of 15

    9: 17 Things I'm Not Allowed To Do Anymore, by Jenny Offill, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter

    Empowering Reads for Girls: 17 Things I'm Not Allowed To Do Anymore, by Jenny Offill, illustrated by Nancy CarpenterCultivates: Independent thinking

    Even Eloise would gasp at the trouble this little girl gets into. The star of this book takes naughtiness to a new level. She’s a whirling dervish of hilarious destruction. Even though she fibs, she’s violent, and she’s a bit of a pyromaniac, readers will end up loving her. Bring a sense of humor and grounded perspective. And keep an eye out for the sequel 11 Experiments That Failed, due out late September 2011. This one’s a real live wire!

  • Most Empowering Books for Girls 11 of 15

    10: Strega Nona, Her Story,
    by Tomie dePaola

    Empowering Reads for Girls: Strega Nona, Her Story, by Tomie dePaolaCultivates: Understanding elders

    Talk about role models — Strega Nona has more power than a speeding bullet. This later book in the Strega Nona series tells the story of Nona’s journey from little baby to big time strega, an old- fashioned doctor/shaman/herbalist/
    magician who is loved and revered by all. Read all the Strega Nona books to your kids to show how even elderly, eccentric women can rock the world.

  • Most Empowering Books for Girls 12 of 15

    11: Amanda's Perfect Hair, by Linda Milstein, illustrated by Susan Meddaugh

    Empowering Reads for Girls: Amanda's Perfect Hair, by Linda Milstein, illustrated by Susan MeddaughCultivates: Self expression

    Amanda’s hair might seem wonderful to everyone else, but for her it’s a burden. Her mass of blonde curls is the only thing anyone ever mentions, and Amanda is tired of being defined and controlled by haircare. When she takes matters into her own hands, the results are shocking, but quite empowering. A lesson to girls and boys everywhere that beauty is only skin — or hair follicle — deep.

  • Most Empowering Books for Girls 13 of 15

    12: Imogene's Last Stand, by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter

    Empowering Reads for Girls: Imogene's Last Stand by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Nancy CarpenterCultivates: Taking a stand

    How could we not love a girl whose first words were: “Four score and seven years ago...”? Imogene Tripp is passionate about history. When "progress" threatens her beloved Liddleville Historical Society, she follows in the footsteps of her heroes and becomes a bona fide heroine herself. Peppered with historical facts and references, this book is educational and inspiring. But more than anything, it’s tons of fun!

  • Most Empowering Books for Girls 14 of 15

    13: Now Everybody Really Hates Me, by Jane Read Martin and Patricia Marx, illustrated by Roz Chast

    Empowering Reads for Girls: Now Everybody Really Hates Me by Jane Read Martin and Patricia Marx, illustrated by Roz ChastCultivates: Strategic thinking

    Patty Jane Pepper provokes her younger brother Theodore at his birthday party and her parents give her a time out. But if Patty Jane has anything to say about matters (and she has a LOT to say about matters), the decision to stay in her room is all hers. She is NEVER coming out. But how will she walk her beloved dog? How will she eat? The schemes and compromises Patty Jane imagines as she whiles away the time are brilliant and outlandish in the best of all ways.

  • Most Empowering Books for Girls 15 of 15
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