19 Children's Books That Help Kids Understand Feminism
Teaching your children about the world around them is no easy feat. Sure, sharing, taking turns, and being kind are pretty straightforward, but it takes a little more work to talk about justice, racism, equality, and feminism. For little girls and boys alike, that last one is a pretty big deal, which is why your family's library needs some children's books that help kids understand feminism.
Feminism isn't complicated, but it can be for a lot of people Everybody wants to raise their children to think that they can do, say, and be anything (and so can any other person in the world), but there are so many societal pressures and beliefs that it can really wear a little one out trying to understand why someone would stop them from playing football. On the flip side, children who have already heard too many gender biases and restrictions may not be able to comprehend a girl becoming a scientist or a girl loving dump trucks and princess dresses.
It's also not easy when so many people get the definition of feminism wrong. No feminist is advocating for a woman to hold more power than a man — feminism is about men and women having equality in all aspects. Whether a girl wants to grow up, get married, and have babies or if she wants to avoid marriage and become a fireman, it's her choice.
Because all children do well with examples, these 19 children's books can help your kids understand feminism in stories and terms that are easy for them to understand with characters they will root for, regardless of gender norms.
1. 'The Paper Bag Princess' by Robert Munsch
A classic, The Paper Bag Princess is not only fun to read, but a great way to explain feminism. Princess Elizabeth is excited to marry her handsome prince, when suddenly she has to don a disguise and rescue him from a dragon. And he is less than appreciative. The book is hilarious and cute, but beyond that, it's an easy way to discuss breaking gender stereotypes and refusing to abide my societal limitations.
2. 'Ada Twist, Scientist' by Andrea Beaty
It's easy to tell girls and boys that everybody has the same opportunities, but it's even better to see that claim in action with Ada Twist, Scientist. In the spirit of scientists Marie Curie and Ada Lovelace, this story is all about never giving up and breaking the stereotypes of a predominantly male-driven field like science.
3. 'Not All Princesses Dress In Pink' by Jane Yolen
Every little girl is called a princess at some point in her life, but that's not always a bad thing. Not All Princesses Dress in Pink tackles the often misconstrued theory about feminism that no woman can be a feminist and a princess. In fact, a girl can be whatever she wants — that's the beauty of feminism. Whether she wears a pink ballgown or red tennis shoes, this book will give everyone a healthy dose of what feminism actually means.
4. 'Grace For President' by Kelly S. DiPucchio
What better way to talk about feminism than with a book about a girl running for office? Grace For President is inspiring for all kids, but especially girls who have big dreams. The story proves that girls are just as capable of doing what boys do and deserve the same respect for it.
5. 'My Name Is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can A Little Girl Dream?' by Jennifer Fosberry
Need another book to remind your children that feminism doesn't mean giving up all of the traditional stereotypes of being a woman? Then pick up My Name Is Not Isabella. Not only is the story cute, it also highlights that female heroines aren't just astronauts and activists — sometimes they are mommies. No matter what a woman does, as long as she wants to do it and does it well, she can make a difference.
6. 'Amelia To Zora: Twenty-Six Women Who Changed The World' by Cynthia Chin-Lee
Sometimes you've just got to get real specific with lessons, right? Amelia To Zora: Twenty-Six Women Who Changed the World will open your kids' eyes to what feminism can and has done for our society. With shining examples like Helen Keller and Oprah Winfrey, the book associates names and accomplishments with feminism which can help your kids understand it even more.
7. 'Odd Velvet' by Mary Whitcomb
8. 'A Is For Activist' by Innosanto Nagara
9. 'Ruby's Wish' by Shirin Yim
A must-have on any bookshelf, Ruby's Wish is delightful and motivational. The story is about little Ruby, a Chinese girl who is unlike all of the other girls she knows — she wants to go to university like her brothers instead of getting married. Perfect for the conversation on feminism, right?
10. 'Ramona Quimby, Age 8' by Beverly Cleary
Ramona is herself is a pretty strong heroine, but Ramona Quimby, Age 8 is feminist for a different reason. As Ramona's life changes, her mother decides to go back to work while her father goes back to school. That right there is what makes it such a great feminist read. Two parents, both seen as equals, doing what's best for the family regardless of gender norms and stereotypes. Plus, you can never go wrong with Beverly Cleary.
11. 'Amazing Grace' by Mary Hoffman
I recommend this book to everybody I know and for good reason. Amazing Grace is the story of a little girl named Grace who has her eyes set on one part in the school's production of Peter Pan. Of course, some of her classmates disagree with her dream, citing the fact that she's black and a girl. But Grace doesn't let that stop her from dreaming big and pursuing what she wants.
12. 'Katy And The Big Snow' by Virginia Lee Burton
Katy and the Big Snow is more than just a book for tractor-loving kids — it's also a subtle reminder that girls can do anything boys can do. Katy is a brave tractor who does what she can each season to make the town ready for people, whether that's becoming a bulldozer to repair roads or becoming a snow plow so people have access during a blizzard.
13. 'Extra Yarn' by Mac Barnett
It's easy to get caught up in changing the world, but it can be overwhelming when you aren't sure where to start, especially for girls. In Extra Yarn, one girl holds all the power with a box of magic yarn and she is able to make a huge difference in the world around her. Also, there's a not-so-subtle jab at the man who tries to steal it from her and fails. Proof that men should fight for equality for women because it's not something that will be given up without a fight.
14. 'Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix' by J.K. Rowling
All of the Harry Potter books feature great moments of feminism, but Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix may be the best one. Hearing the backstory of the original Order of the Phoenix and then seeing the present-day moments where all of the witches are considered equal to the wizards is incredibly powerful, especially if your kid is a total Potterhead.
15. 'Piggybook' by Anthony Browne
16. 'Princess Smartypants' by Babette Cole
For more princess stories that aren't the norm, pick up Princess Smartypants, a book about a princess who doesn't want to get married, despite her parents' commandment that she find a suitable mate. She fights for her stance, proving that girls can be just as happy alone as they can be in a relationship.
17. 'Sleeping Bobby' by Mary Pope Osborne & Will Osborne
18. 'The Princess And The Pizza' by Mary Jane Auch
My kid is going to love this one, y'all. The Princess and the Pizza is the perfect story about a princess who is in competition for a prince and must prepare a feast for him. When she's put under pressure, she ends up whipping up pizza, turning down the prince's advances, and opening up her own pizza parlor. Who needs a relationship when there's pepperoni?
19. 'Part-Time Princess' by Deborah Underwood
And finally, a princess story for every little kid. In Part-time Princess, a little girl dreams of wearing ballgowns and tiaras, but she also wants to fight dragons and trolls. Perfect for the child that wants to be who they are, regardless of which way society tries to push them. If a kid wants to wear dresses and tiaras, that's OK. If they want to tame dragons and trolls, that's OK, too. Feminism is about doing what you want because you want to and finding equality and this book illustrates that beautifully.