Picture Books About Strong, Smart Girls

Tuesday April 26, 2016

We’ve had a bit of an issue here recently, at Chez Far Out City. There’s nothing like the moment your sweet, brilliant daughter gazes lovingly into your eyes and says, “but mommy, girls aren’t smart.”

A woman scorned hath no fury like a mom who’s just found out her daughter thinks she, her mother, her aunts, her cousins, her grandmas, and her entire gender aren’t smart.

This…wasn’t supposed to happen. I’d tried to create the most gender-neutral upbringing you could imagine. My daughter likes screwdrivers and science and bugs! She dances ballet and makes cupcakes and chops peppers! WE ARE POST-GENDER HERE.

Well, screw it. No more of that. For the past month, I’ve only been taking out books about girls, strong smart human girls at that. It’s time to re-indoctrinate.




Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen

A little girl who builds airplanes out of junk yard scraps, and then goes on to save a boy scout troop stuck in white water rapids? That’s more like it.








Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman

A little girl dreams of acting and playing the part of Peter Pan in an upcoming school play. This book is also good for bringing up issues of gender equality and race. It’s FANTASTIC.










Sally Jean, the Bicycle Queen by Cari Best

Watch Sally start a business fixing other kids’ bikes so that she can buy parts to build her own new bike. This was the book Bean asked for most often.










The Most Magnificent Thing

A little girl determined to build the Most Magnificent Thing has to overcome some hurtles when the thing doesn’t turn out as magnificent as she envisioned.









Velma Gratch & the Way Cool Butterfly

A little girl and lover of science feels unnoticed at school until a butterfly decides to set up shop on her finger and won’t fly away. Also good for bringing up issues of being small, the youngest sibling, and getting overlooked by teachers.









Rosie Sprout’s Time to Shine

A little girl, in a fit of jealousy, tries to destroy the most popular girl’s plant project. She then spends the rest of the book fixing what she did wrong and helps both plants grow to be the tallest in the classroom. Also good for bringing up issues of responsibility, jealousy, righting wrongs, as well as popularity in school. (Bean also decided to start helping water plants after this book.)








Firebird by Misty Copeland

A little girl doubts she will ever be a ballerina like Misty Copeland. Ms. Copeland takes her under her wing to show her that she started out as a little girl once too, and that with a lot of work and practice, she became a Firebird. (This book is BEAUTIFUL, in images, words, and message. It would make a great present.)






My Name is Not Isabella by Jennifer Fosberry

A little girl goes through the day pretending she is various remarkable women through history. (I also LOVE THIS BOOK. A present book for sure.)






This is Sadie by Sara O’Leary

A little girl who loves to read imagines herself as different story book characters. ALSO a beautiful, hopeful book.










The Sandwich Swap by Queen Rania al Abdullah

Two best friends start a school-wide stand off when one eats peanut butter sandwiches and the other eats hummus sandwiches. But, when they each taste a bite of each other’s sandwich, they realize that both sandwiches are yummy and convince the school to host an international food picnic. A great book for kicking off discussions about differences across cultures and overcoming prejudices.







Stella books by Mary-Louise Gay

A series about a little powerhouse of a girl who goes on backyard expeditions with her little brother. She is an imaginative force and very patient, funny, and loving to her anxious kid brother. Bean is slightly obsessed with her.









Zoe Gets Ready by Bethanie Deeney Murguia

A little girl getting dressed in the morning tries to decide what kind of day it’s going to be — a pocket-treasure day? A twirling day? An explorer day?







Do you have any favorite books about strong, smart girls? I’m going to keep adding to the list as we find more at the library.

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