When you are raising a daughter, I believe it’s really important that you introduce feminist talking points as often as you can. And one way to do that is by selecting some feminist books to read to your daughter. Enjoying empowering books with your child is an easy way to ignite conversations about women’s rights and equality, using terms and examples she can identify with. I have used books so many times to shepherd my daughter through tough situations, or to help illustrate ideas, I feel she needs to understand. If she is to live a happy life, confident in her own power as a woman, she needs to have her very own literary females to relate to .
But reading with your daughter won’t just help shape her world view. Studies have shown that reading aloud can help improve language skills and improve child-parent relationships; it’s a parenting win-win.
My own mom is a very smart feminist, and made sure my bedside table was always stocked with tales that included girl’s fighting oppression, being leaders, and never allowing themselves to play second fiddle to a man. This is a tradition I’m keen to carry on with my daughter. By adding feminist books to your daughter’s bookshelf, you are handing her a world of relatable feminist archetypes, who she can call on whenever life gets tough. Not sure where to start? Here are some great feminist books to read with your daughter.
1. 'Matilda' by Roald Dahl
Matilda follows a is a super intelligent girl with awful parents and a vindictive bully of a headmistress. Despite such a horrible environment, she teaches herself to read, discovers the public library and uses her huge intelligence to dole out some justice, to the evil adults in charge. This book plays out really well to children’s natural obsession with right and wrong, and also illustrates that brains will often overcome brawn.
2. 'Rosie Revere, Engineer' by Andrea Beaty
Rosie is a wannabe engineer, who loves to invent and create gadgets and gizmos. When her great aunt mentions she would love to fly, Rosie attempts to make a flying machine. The invention is a bust, but all is not lost. As the story so wisely points out, you only fail if you stop trying. Rosie Revere, Engineer is the perfect antidote to stories featuring chicks in nice dresses, waiting for men to make their dreams come true. I love it and so does my daughter.
3. 'Coraline' by Neil Gaiman
Gaiman is one of my favorite authors and my daughter loves Coraline. After entering a parallel universe containing everything she could dream of (including parents who wait on her hand and foot) Coraline has to use all her wits and courage to return back to reality. This is a great book for encouraging girls to always question the status quo.
4. 'Madeline' by Ludwig Bemelmans
Our copy of this charming rhyming book is well thumbed, as it’s been read many times. Madeline is an orphan who gets into lots of scrapes and is totally fearless. From tackling tigers to having her appendix out, she just powers on through. Madeline, and all of the follow ups, are perfect for young girls.
5. 'Room On the Broom' by Julia Donaldson
6. 'Olivia' by Ian Falconer
Olivia is a precocious, energetic little pig who surrounds herself with interesting friends. If you are determined your little girl should hold onto her sense of individuality, Olivia is the perfect read. The main character's confidence and life force makes you believe she could do anything she sets her mind to.
7. 'Dustbin Baby' by Jacqueline Wilson
8. 'Too Many Princes' by Valerie Sekula
If you are sick to the back teeth of the Cinderella complex, then Too Many Princes needs to be added to your daughter’s bookshelf. It is a great retelling of classic fairy tale, and rejects the idea that women need to be saved by men, whilst cleverly deconstructing ideas of social hierarchies.
9. 'Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone' by J.K. Rowling
Although the main protagonist in the Harry Potter books is a boy, J.K. Rowling’s books are rich in strong female characters. From the ultra clever Hermione, to the stern but kind Professor McGonagall, there is a wonderful sense of equality between the sexes in these wizardy tales. Women are shown as nurturers, creators and bringers of destruction. Start your daughter off with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and fall into a series of magic and feminism.