For little learners, bedtime stories (or anytime stories) can be one of the best parts of the whole day. There are narrative arcs that draw kids in, pictures to help them see the story, and, oftentimes, some sort of lesson to be learned. It used to be that little girl books covered tea parties and dress up, princesses and knights in shining armor, while little boy books covered trucks and trains, superheroes and action. Now, however, children's books are increasingly moving towards more inclusive, less divisive themes and characterizations. There are even books that teach intersectional feminism to kids, which is an important topic to cover.
But, as important as it is, concepts like intersectional feminism can sometimes be tricky to teach little ones, whose worlds revolve so heavily around what they can see with their own two eyes and what directly affects them personally. Brittany Cooper, an assistant professor of women's and gender studies and Africana studies at Rutgers University, gave Vox a description of intersectional feminism that seems easy for just about anyone to understand when she said:
Intersectionality simply means that there are lots of different parts to our womanhood. And those parts — race, gender, sexuality, and religion, and ability — are not incidental or auxiliary.
Children's books that incorporate intersectional feminism can help make this somewhat (for little ones) abstract concept real and more easily understood. Kids can watch their new feminist heroes championing all women and illustrating that women are just as capable and powerful as anyone else. Here are just a few titles to help you teach this important lesson to your little ones.
1. 'Meet ClaraBelle Blue' by Adiba Nelson
Meet ClaraBelle Blue stars ClaraBelle, a preschooler who's on a mission to prove that, despite being in a wheelchair, she's not as different from her classmates as they might think. This book shows kids that kids with disabilities are more capable and like them than they might think.
2. 'I Have A Question About Death: A Book For Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder Or Other Special Needs' by Arlen Grad Gaines and Meredith Englander Polsky
I Have a Question about Death is geared toward the specific needs of children with autism and other social disorders. But all kids (and even adults) can benefit from reading and learning more about those who have a disorder like autism, including the unique struggles they sometimes face. Feminism, especially of the intersectional variety, is really about advocating for and championing all people. This book can help you do that.
3. 'Grace For President' by Kelly DiPucchio
4. 'Ada Twist, Scientist' by Andrea Beaty
5. 'The Guardian Princess Trilogy' by The Guardian Princess Alliance
The Guardian Princess Trilogy tells stories of the Guardian Princesses, each of whom guards a different resource and takes on issues, such as food justice and pollution. These issues are important for all kids to understand, regardless of where they're from or what their background is. This book, featuring princesses from different cultures and of different races, illustrates the importance for caring for and living peacefully alongside one another, while also protecting the planet's natural resources.
6. 'Feminist Baby' by Loryn Brantz
7. 'Lena Likes Lizards' by Liza Dora
Lena Likes Lizards follows little Lena, who asks her dad if her favorite toy is for boys or girls. This is common problem in society, with girls worrying that they're not "girly" enough and boys worrying that they're not "manly" enough. This book is a reminder that what you like is most important.
8. 'Malala: A Hero for All' by Shana Corey
Malala: A Hero For All tells the story of Malala Yousafzai, a young woman from Pakistan who was shot for attending school and speaking up about the importance of girls' education. For most kids, going to school and getting an education is a privilege that they take for granted. This book, for older readers, teaches kids about privilege and what education (and life) is like for kids around the world.
9. 'The Boy Who Cried Fabulous' by Lesléa Newman
The Boy Who Cried Fabulous is about Roger, who's favorite word is fabulous. His parents don't like that and try to ban him from using the word. Eventually, his parents come to understand that his favorite word is part of who he is. This book teaches children that they don't have to change who they are to be who someone else wants them to be.
10. 'Wonder' by R.J. Palacio
Wonder follows August Pullman, a little boy who was born with a facial "difference" and joins the mainstream school after being homeschooled for years. He wants to be seen as just like anyone else, but his new classmates struggle to see past his face. This book teaches acceptance and treating everyone as equal, no matter the differences.
11. 'Not Quite Narwhal' by Jessie Sima
Not Quite Narwhal is the story of Kelp, a unicorn born to a family of narwhals. Understandably, Kelp doesn't really feel like a narwhal, but doesn't really feel like a unicorn either. He's different than the rest of his family, but doesn't know exactly where he fits. This follows his journey to figure out who he is and how he fits in with the world around him, which is important for all kids to learn and discover as they grow up.
12. 'Pearl Fairweather Pirate Captain' by Jayneen Sanders
Pearl Fairweather Pirate Captain follows Pearl Fairweather and her all-female crew as they sail around, looking for adventures. Can they defend against a takeover by another pirate crew? Pearl is a fierce pirate captain in a world normally dominated by boys. Little girls will see that they don't have to shy away from careers or roles that boys usually pursue.
13. 'Strong Is The New Pretty: A Celebration Of Girls Being Themselves' by Kate T. Parker
14. 'The Doctor With An Eye For Eyes: The Story Of Dr. Patricia Bath' by Julia Finley Mosca
The Doctor with an Eye For Eyes: The Story of Dr. Patricia Bath tells the story of Patricia Bath and her journey to becoming a doctor. But because she grew up during the Civil Rights Movement , she had to fight racism, sexism, and poverty to get there. This story will teach children that sometimes you have to overcome all of the obstacles in your way to get where you want to go. Your dream is worth it.