Feminist mama bear that I am, sometimes I’m tired of feminizing all our favorite books and want some books about actual real live GIRLS. Who are not, necessarily, princesses or dressed in pink. Whose primary function in life goes above and beyond being “cute.” Having searched high and low for the ones we love, here are a few of our favorites.
The Paper Princess: This book is just incredible, wonderful, and a must-read.
Amazing Grace: A little girl learns that beauty is not always pink and sparkly. Wonderful story!
Stellaluna: Don’t know how I missed this one for so long. It is lovely, and the illustrations are adorable, sweet and funny.
The Sea Serpent and Me: This book is simply wonderful. A little girl is surprised by a tiny sea serpent in her bathtub. The two become friends and … well I don’t want to give away the ending but it really speaks to me and the illustrations are so lovely!
The Night Pirates: Rough, tough, little girl pirates who let a little boy join their pirate adventures!
Ladybug Girl: Adventurous, brave, sweet Ladybug Girl!
Blue Kangaroo: This is a series of books (out of print, of course) about a little girl (who is NOT blonde for a change) and her kangaroo. They are very sweet and fun to read aloud.
The Little Old Lady Who Is Not Afraid of Anything: Great to bust out in October!
Jeanette Claus Saves Christmas: Santa’s daughter saves the day by being kind to animals. Wonderful story.
Violet the Pilot: Super smart Violet invents her own planes and teaches herself to fly, then saves the day!
I Am Wonder Woman: OK, so she is still large breasted and wearing a bathing suit, but at least the reasons given for that are being an Amazon princess. And she saves the day. Without guns or violence!
To the Moon: A little girl dreams about being an astronaut.
Firehouse: Written and illustrated by Mark Teague, the same artist behind the “How does a dinosaur” illustrations. The cool part about this book is that the fire chief is a girl dog, and many of the firefighters are also girls. It’s *hard* to find firefighter stuff that shows even a hint of girls!
One Dog Canoe: An intrepid girl takes off alone in her canoe with just her dog, and has some fun wildlife encounters.
The Tiniest Mermaid: Sweet book about the friendship between a little girl and a mermaid. The mermaid talks about helping lost sailors, and the little girl saves the mermaid when she is hurt.
Millie Waits for the Mail: Ok, it’s about a cow. But this book is *so* funny and fun to read, and it’s all about Millie expanding her bovine horizons!
Not All Princesses Dress in Pink: I actually have mixed feelings about this one. LOVE the imagery of little girls getting dirty, playing sports, fixing stuff. But argh, with the “In a sparkly princess crown” line on every single page. We just don’t read that line but this won’t work once she is really reading. Also the writing is not so great and the rhymes are kind of annoying. “Some princesses like to pedal wearing lots of shiny metal: helmet on head, and body armor, so that nothing bad can harm her… or her sparkly crown.” Blech! But the illustrations are wonderful. So, ymmv!
Penelope and the Humongous Burp: This book is awesome on so many levels! First we have a multi-cultural family with a sweet little girl who looks like a normal little girl. She chugs down a ton of soda (leading us to talk about how water would have been a healthier choice), and then has huge burps. Female firefighters, doctors, and police officers arrive to “save” the day. So nice to see female doctors! Female firefighters! Female police officers! Plus this book is funny and my daughter laughs and laughs when we read it.
Brontorina: A lovely dinosaur dying to dance! She is willing to do anything to dance, and her dance teacher comes to the conclusion that her dance school is simply too small for Brontorina… so she opens a new, outdoor school where dinosaurs of ALL sizes can come dance!
Kiki’s Blankie: A brave little monkey saves the day!
Chapter Books for Girls
Frannie K. Stein: a little girl learns that she is different and it is awesome!
Cowgirl Kate & Cocoa: Kate is a cowgirl from the tip of her boots to the top of her hat!
Katie Kazoo: I haven’t read these yet but they look wonderful!
Strawberry Girl: one of my favorites from when I was a little girl!
Twig: I haven’t read this one yet but it looks amazing. About a little girl in the 40’s.
Ivy and Bean: haven’t read these yet either, but they are on my to-do list!
The Sisters Grimm: two little girls learning how to be fairy tale detectives. Fun!
The Three Little Pirates: Three little girl pirates save the day! The audiobook of this is wonderful! This author has also written “The Three Little Witches,” and “The Three Little Princesses.”
Chapter Books for Older Girls
Clover Twig: haven’t read it, but it looks wonderful!
Just Grace: These look lovely, as well as Just Clementine.
Gooney Bird Greene: Haven’t read these but they look adorable, and I love Lois Lowry.
These aren’t books, but other assorted goodies that are worth mentioning! iPhone/iPad apps:
Little Bella’s I Close My Eyes: Bella imagines herself to be a giant, to be reading a book in space, and more!
Violet’s The Night Before Christmas: Little girl Violet solves mysteries using her super powers of observation!
Math Girl Games: Math, flowers, nice music!
Beleduc “Your Body” Puzzle: I love this puzzle not only for the science, but for the real girls body for our girls to look at. This child *looks* like a little girl. There is also a puzzle for boys.
Ponyo, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Totoro, basically all the Miyazaki movies. Finally fun movies with strong female leads. Ponyo does involve a kind of love story but it’s not really what you’d expect, and you have to love the mother goddess character! I have not seen all his movies; I think some of them (like Spirited Away, Castle in the Sky, Princess of Nausicaa) are really more for older kids and might be a bit scary for the younger set. Make sure you read reviews on amazon or somewhere first.
I’ll be updating this list as I think of other awesome girl-positive stuff, not just books!