39 Books About Strong Women for Children of All Ages

39 Books About Strong Women for Children of All Ages

2020 marks the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. In honor of the women who picketed, protested, and were jailed for the right to vote, this book list explores the history of women’s suffrage through nonfiction books for all ages. It also features novels starring strong female protagonists in both historical and modern fiction, and a few primers on feminism today, and it explores some places where women still have to fight for their rights in modern society. 

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Picture Books

1. Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice

by Nikki Grimes and illustrated Laura Freeman 

Books About Strong Women Kamala Harris Rooted In Justice
39 Books About Strong Women for Children of All Ages

Get it HERE.

In mid-August, Senator Kamala Harris was announced as Joe Biden’s running mate. This picture book biography about Senator Harris was released on August 25. It’s written in verse and tells the story of Harris, the daughter of immigrants, in her foundational years as a child and teenager learning about the country’s ideals of freedom and social justice. 

2. Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History

by Vashti Harrison

Books About Strong Women Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History

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Little Leaders is a brief history of 40 black women throughout history. Among them are politicians, abolitionists, poets, and trailblazers. 

3. Strong is the New Pretty: A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves

by Kate T. Parker

Strong Is the New Pretty
Books About Strong Women

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Strong is the New Pretty is a collection of portraits of girls in their element. Some are athletes, some are artists, some are dirt-smeared, some are dressed in princess dresses. All show young, capable, self-confident women acting in strength. 

4. Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries who Shaped Our History…And Our Future!

by Kate Schatz and illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl 

Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries who Shaped Our History…And Our Future! _Books About Strong Women

Get it HERE.

Each letter of the alphabet accompanies a short, powerful profile of women who has shaped the world today. The famous women span centuries and professions, encompassing everything from abolitionists to rock stars. This picture book is decidedly not just for kids. 

5. Grace for President

by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Women activists books: Grace for President _Books About Strong Women

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When Grace learns that no woman has ever been president, she decides right then and there that she is destined to be the first. She starts her political career by running for president in the school’s mock election – but her formidable opponent already has the vote of all the boys shorn up. This is a great introduction to the electoral college and American elections.  

6. The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure

by Caroline Paul and illustrated by Wendy MacNaughton 

The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure _ Books About Strong Women

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Author Caroline Paul says that she used to be a scaredy-cat, but she got tired of letting fear stand in her way. Now, she has epic adventures all over the world. She shows young women how to have their own awesome adventures in this how-to guide to facing fears and building confidence. 

7. Mollie on the March

by Anna Carey

Books About Strong Women

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Author Anna Carey is an Irish journalist who takes readers on a journey with Mollie, a young Irish suffragette who has to fit her activism around her housework and schoolwork. Mollie tells her story through letters, which readers find quite fun. 

8. Suffragette: The Battle for Equality

by David Roberts

Suffragette: The Battle for Equality_Books About Strong Women

Get it HERE.

The battle for suffrage played out in the United Kingdom just as it did in the United States. Here, Roberts takes readers through the major points of suffrage history in the UK in this nonfiction picture book. 

9. Miss Paul and the President: The Creative Campaign for Women’s Right to Vote

by Dean Robbins and Nancy Zhang

Books About Strong Women: Miss Paul and the President

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Alice Paul is the subject of this picture book biography. Paul was a tireless suffragist and a bit of a thorn in the side of President Woodrow Wilson, but she didn’t care. She organized marches and picketed the white house, doing whatever it took to win women the right to vote. 

10. Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965

by Jonah Winter and Shane W. Evans

Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 _ Books About Strong Women

Get it HERE.

As 100-year-old Lillian heads to her polling place to cast her ballot, she recalls the tumultuous history of the African American right to vote. She recalls the passage of the fifteenth amendment which granted Black men the right to vote, and she recalls marching in Selma. She knows it’s her duty as an American to vote, no matter what. 

11. Marching With Aunt Susan: Susan B. Anthony and the Fight for Women’s Suffrage

by Claire Rudolf Murphy and illustrated by Stacey Schuett

Marching with Aunt Susan: Susan B. Anthony and the Fight for Women's Suffrage_Books About Strong Women

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Bessie gets to see Susan B. Anthony when she comes to town for a suffrage event. She is inspired to join the movement and take a stand for women’s rights. Author Claire Rudolf Murphy bases this picture book on the real-life diary of 10-year-old Bessie Keith Pond who did indeed become a young activist after being inspired by Anthony. 

12. Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles

by Mara Rockliff and illustrated by Hadley Hooper

Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles_Books About Strong Women

Get it HERE.

In 1916, two suffragists hit the road for a cross-country campaign to raise support for women’s suffrage. They were Nell Richardson and Alice Burke. This nonfiction picture book features two women who moved their movement forward, proving that women were strong and self-sufficient enough to drive cross-country – and with a little kitten in tow, to boot. 

13. The Legendary Miss Lena Horne

by Carole Boston Weatherford and Elizabeth Zunon 

The Legendary Miss Lena Horne_Books About Strong Women

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Lena Horne was a Black woman determined to be an actress when the only parts available to her were racist stereotype parts like mammies and maids. Horne was determined to find a bigger role for herself and became both a legendary actress and civil rights activist. Her story is recounted in this picture book biography. 

Middle Grade Women Activists Books

14. Lumber Janes

by Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, and Grace Ellis and illustrated by Brooke A Allen

Books About Strong Women: Lumber Janes

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Lumber Janes is a modern middle grade graphic novel series about best friends spending their summer at a lumberjanes scout camp. They learn survival skills, defeat yetis, and learn girl power along the way. 

15. Vote for Effie

by Laura Wood

Vote for Effie_Books About Strong Women

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Effie Kostas is on a mission to become student council president. This empowering middle-grade novel chronicles her campaign activities as she fights for what she knows is right. 

16. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

by Avi

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle_Books About Strong Women

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This is an oldie but goodie, a historical fiction novel featuring the headstrong 13-year-old Charlotte, who is one her way home from England to Rhode Island in 1832. Charlotte finds herself on a ship with a mutinous crew. She inadvertently gets involved and ends up tried for her part in the mutiny. 

17. Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina Young Readers Edition

by Misty Copeland

Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina_Books About Strong Women

Get it HERE.

Misty Copeland was the first African American dancer in the American Ballet Theatre. She started dancing at 13 and has been a trailblazer and barrier-breaker ever since. Life in Motion is inspiring and empowering, especially for young women of color. 

YA Women Activists Books

18. Hunger Games

by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games

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When it comes to strong lead females in young adult literature, any list would be remiss without mentioning Katniss Everdeen. Katniss survives the brutal Hunger Games and leads a rebellion against the Capitol in Collins’ three-part series that starts with The Hunger Games

19. Code Name Verity

by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verify

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Two women form a friendship when they join the war effort in World War II. Queenie is a pilot who, after an accident over France, becomes a prisoner of war. Maddie is a wireless operator. Circumstances of war unite the two in a powerful way that shows the sheer strength of women. 

20. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks

by E. Lockhart

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

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Frankie Landau Banks goes from a nerdy girl to the most popular girl in school. She’s set on infiltrating the boys’ club her boyfriend belongs to. This is the story of how she pulls off some of the most epic pranks in history – and does some patriarchy smashing along the way. 

21. Girl Mans Up

by M-E Girad

Girl Mans Up

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Protagonist Pen is gender-queer and doesn’t understand why everyone can’t accept her for who she is. She knows who she is but wishes her friends and family would love her as much as she loves herself. 

22. Outrun the Moon

by Stacey Lee

Outrun the Moon

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Mercy Wong is a Chinese-American protagonist living in San Francisco in 1906. She finagles her way into an elite boarding school that caters to white heiresses because she will settle for nothing less than the best education. In spite of the overt racism constantly directed at her, Mercy maintains her plucky personality and teaches her classmates a thing or two. 

23. Out of the Easy

by Ruta Sepetys 

Out of the Easy

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Josie is the daughter of a New Orleans prostitute in 1950, and all she wants is out. She refuses to allow the world to steal her dreams or bend her to its will. Before she’s able to escape, she finds herself and her mother embroiled in a mysterious murder in the Big Easy. 

24. Walk on Earth a Stranger

by Rae Carson

Walk on Earth a Stranger

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This is the first book in the Gold Seer Trilogy. The saga follows Lee Westfall, a young woman with a secret – she can sense gold. This is quite the advantage during the Gold Rush. When someone murders her father, Lee knows they are after her powers, so she disguises herself as a boy and sets off on a wagon train to seek her fortune out west. 

25. Under a Painted Sky

by Stacey Lee

Under a Painted Sky

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Like Walk on Earth a Stranger, Under a Painted Sky features a protagonist who disguises herself as a boy on the Oregon Trail. Samantha, a Chinese girl, commits murder in self-defense and sets out west as a runaway. On the trail, she meets up with gold prospectors and cowboys and learns not to underestimate her own inner strength. 

26. The Princess Saves Herself in This One

by Amanda Lovelace

The Princess Saves Herself in This One

Get it HERE.

This is book one in the Women Are Some Kind of Magic series, which also includes The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One and The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One. This is a four-part poetry series that dives into difficult issues and shows women how they can face their own fire, emerging stronger than ever. 

27. Speak

by Laurie Halse Anderson


Get it HERE.

The summer before her freshman year, Melinda is invited to “the” party of the summer. She ends up calling the cops and thus begins the school year as a pariah. She shuts down entirely. This is the story of Melinda rediscovering  – and using – her powerful voice. 

28. All the Truth That’s in Me

by Julie Berry

All the Truth That's In Me

Get it HERE.

Judith goes missing from her Puritan town and returns, two years later, with her tongue cut out. Her own mother is repulsed by her disability and forbids Judith from even trying to speak. Instead, Judith pours her heart out on paper to her imaginary audience – Lucas, the boy she’s had a crush on forever.  

29. Exit, Pursued by a Bear

by E.K. Johnston 

Exit, Pursued by a Bear

Get it HERE.

Hermione Winters is the captain of her school’s cheerleading team, and her senior year is about to be the best ever. Then, at cheerleading camp, she is drugged, date raped, and winds up pregnant. Hermione refuses to succumb to any narrative suggesting her life begins and ends with her rape. She refuses to let it define her. While this book deals with what is an incredibly difficult topic, it does so in an empowering way.

30. Moxie

by Jennifer Mathieu

Moxie: A Novel

Get it HERE.

Vivian is fed up with the gross, misogynist behavior of the boys at her school. Then, she finds out her mom was a punk rock Riot Grrl in the 1980s and realizes feminism is in her blood. She starts distributing an anonymous magazine called Moxie at school and inadvertently starts a revolution. 

31. Ms. Marvel

by G. Willow Wilson and illustrated by Adrian Alphona

Get it HERE.

Ms. Marvel is an all-new comic series from Marvel about the brand new Ms. Marvel, a teenage girl named Kamala Khan. Kamala struggles with being a normal teenager while also discovering the bounds of her newfound power. 

32. The Grace Year

by Kim Liggett

The Grace Year

Get it HERE.

The Grace Year is like The Handmaid’s Tale meets Lord of the Flies. It features a dystopian society in which all girls are sent away into the wilderness for a year to release their magic into the wild before they can unleash it onto the men. What happens during the Grace Year is never talked about. This page-turning novel is frightening and acts as a warning for young women readers. 

33. Gabi A Girl in Pieces

by Isabel Quintero 

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces

Get it HERE.

Gabi is either not white enough or not Mexican enough. She survives her senior year by writing poetry during her coming of age. It’s a modern classic because of the intense, raw voice of the vividly imagined Gabi. 

Nonfiction Women Activists Books

34. Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World

by Kelly Jensen

Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World

Get it HERE.

This book is an anthology that explores what it means to be a feminist in the 21st century. Contained within are essays, comics, poems, short stories, and more that explore each writer’s personal perspectives on feminism today. 

35. Full Frontal Feminism

by Jessica Valenti

Full Frontal Feminism

Get it HERE.

Jessica Valenti is the founder of the website feministing.org. Full Frontal Feminism is intended to be a guide for modern young women to help them navigate modern female challenges including reproductive health, issues of equal pay, and much more. 

36. Feminists Don’t Wear Pink And Other Lies: Amazing Women on What the F-Word Means to Them

by Scarlett Curtis

Feminists Don’t Wear Pink And Other Lies: Amazing Women on What the F-Word Means to Them

Get it HERE.

This sometimes-poignant and sometimes-hilarious book is a collection of essays from modern women exploring their relationship to feminism. Essayists include Emma Watson, Saorise Ronan, and Bridget Jones herself. 

37. We Should All Be Feminists

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

We Should All Be Feminists

Get it HERE.

This short book is only 64 pages, but boy are they powerful. This is Adichie’s essay adapted from her acclaimed TEDx talk. She defines feminism in inclusive terms and draws on experiences from her own life as someone who lives in both Nigeria and the United States. 

38. Roses and Radicals: The Epic Story of How American Women Won the Right to Vote

by Susan Zimet

Roses and Radicals: The Epic Story of How American Women Won the Right to Vote

Get it HERE.

Roses and Radicals offers a teen-friendly, comprehensive history of women’s suffrage. It includes a very reader-friendly text that is accompanied by pictures and cartoons from the suffrage period. 

39. Women and Power: A Manifesto

by Mary Beard

Women & Power: A Manifesto

Get it HERE.

Mary Beard traces the history of misogyny all the way back to its origins, showing how women have been denied positions of power since ancient Greece. She covers ground from ancient history to modern politics and draws a no-holds-barred portrait of exactly why we must all be feminists. 

Other Book Lists From Amy’s Bookshelf You’ll Love:

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Veteran Legend

I am an unrepentant lover of words - and lucky me, I spend all day, every day immersed in them. When I'm not teaching, I'm reading. Or writing. Or teaching eager (and sometimes not-so-eager) adolescents about the power of the written word. I live on the scenic Oregon Coast with my dog, two cats, and five-year-old son.

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