2016 was a year when we realized the world needed a little more feminism. We need to teach it to our children, and remind ourselves of those same ideals. This list is in order of age range for each title, so spread the cheer this holiday season!
For Little Girls in Capes
Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty (age 4-8)
From the acclaimed author of ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER comes a new picture book for STEM girls. Ada uses scientific experiments to solve the mystery of the weird smell in her house. Great illustrations, plus bonus points for diversity!
Hillary Rodham Clinton: Some Girls are Born to Lead by Michelle Markel (age 4-8)
The first female presidential nominee and winner of the popular vote this year, Hillary Clinton deserves to be commemorated in this picture biography. Your child (or you!) will learn all about Clinton growing up and the things she’s done in her life so far.
The Water Princess by Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds (age 4-8)
This is a tale about a young princess in Africa who dreams of bringing her village clean water. It’s based on the childhood of model Georgie Badiel, who created and leads a foundation dedicated to providing clean water in her native country of Burkina Faso.
Elizabeth Started All the Trouble by Doreen Rappaport (age 6-10)
The story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton is told by one of the best children’s biographers to date, and the dust cover even turns into a poster celebrating some of the women who fought for suffrage and civil rights in America.
Rad Women Worldwide: Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and Other Revolutionaries Who Shaped History by Kate Schatz (age 6-10)
After the success of her book Rad American Women A-Z, Schatz expanded to 40 revolutionary and diverse women around the world who made a difference, including Malala Yousafzi, Queen Lili’uokalani, and Frida Kahlo, as well as several I had never heard of before like Kasha Jacqueline Nagabasera and the pirate Grace O’Malley.
Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky (age 6-10)
Come for the gorgeous cover, stay for the fascinating profiles on ladies who paved the way for women in STEM fields today. It also includes infographics on topics like the rate of women in science, recognizing lab equipment, and a glossary of scientific terms.
For Bigger Girls in Capes
A Tyranny of Petticoats: 15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers, & Other Badass Girls
edited by Jessica Spotswood (age 12-18)
This collection of short stories written by popular Young Adult authors all feature kickass lady protagonists in fantasy and historical fiction settings. Contributors include Marie Lu, Elizabeth Wein, Kekla Magoon, and Marissa Meyer.
Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History by Sam Maggs (age 16+)
The best part of Wonder Women, and what sets it apart from many other books celebrating women throughout history, is that Sam Maggs profiles heroes that most people have never heard of. Maggs’ list is incredibly diverse and well-deserving with mini-featurettes on other great women throughout the book.
For Women in Capes
The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley
Hugo Award-winner Kameron Hurley wrote a powerful collection of essays about feminism and geek culture, with insights from her own experiences as a female author in the science fiction/fantasy genre. It includes the essay that won her first Hugo Award, “We Have Always Fought.”
Rejected Princesses: Tales of History’s Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics by Jason Porath
Tack this onto your list of books featuring badass ladies. Based on the Tumblr blog, what sets this book apart are the stunning illustrations in a contemporary animation style, as well as the inclusion of some women from folklore and literature.
Dead Feminists: Historic Heroines in Living Color by Chandler O’Leary & Jessica Spring
This richly-illustrated book is based on the letterpress poster series of the same name. The beautiful broadside artwork is combined with short biographies and archival photographs.
Women Who Read are Dangerous by Stefan Bollmann
A woman reading was once seen as a radical act. This fact captivated hundreds of artists and inspired the creation of works from Matisse, Edward Hopper, Rembrandt, and many more. Bollmann collected more than 70 drawings, paintings, photographs, and prints of the woman and her book, along with engaging commentary alongside each work.
In Defense of the Princess: How Plastic Tiaras and Fairytale Dreams Can Inspire Smart, Strong Women by Jerramy Fine
Combining in-depth research and her own life experiences, Fine argues that loving feminine things does not equate to weakness. With examples from Frozen and Kate Middleton to Princess Leia and Wonder Woman, she exalts the strength and confidence of princesses, and shows how girls and women can be empowered and emboldened by their example.
My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Justice Ginsburg puts together a collection of engaging and witty essays and speeches from her groundbreaking tenure on the Supreme Court, and the influential role she played in that time.
Maggie Smith: A Biography by Michael Coveny
Best known by my generation as either Professor McGonagall of Harry Potter or the Dowager Countess of Downton Abbey, Dame Maggie Smith does wit and severity like no other. Coveny recounts her path to stardom through the stage in British theatre to film and television.
Amber Neva Brown is Inventory Manager at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC and a Masters graduate in Publishing at Rosemont College. She grew up on the Outer Banks, and her ultimate fandoms are Harry Potter and Doctor Who. She could recommend a book to probably anyone. Find her on Twitter at @ambernevabrown and on Instagram at @isnotacrayon.