An incredibly important part of early childhood development is parents reading stories to their children. An important part of this act is to make sure that your children are mirrored in the stories, which means making sure the characters in the stories look like them. For little girls, this means reading stories that showcase girls and women, and not just princesses who get saved by a knight in shining armor. In order to raise the next generation of women as strong, independent women who can make their own decisions and follow their dreams, it is our duty as parents to ensure they have good role models, not only in real life, but in their fictional realities as well.
Paper Bag Princess, written by Robert N. Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko
This timeless tale follows the story of Elizabeth, a princess who is set to marry Prince Ronald. After a dragon destroys her castle (including all of her clothing) and makes off with her fiancé, she dons a paper bag as a dress and embarks on a quest to save her prince. Her cunning and quick wit come in handy during this tale of perseverance and self-actualization.
Lily Brown’s Paintings, written by Angela Johnson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis
Lily Brown is a young girl who lives with her mama, daddy, and baby brother and escapes into her paintings. She shows us how to be truly imaginative with our artistic ability, and her imaginative fantasies not only bring readers into a wonderful narrative, it shows them how to harness this imagination themselves.
The Most Magnificent Thing, written and illustrated by Ashley Spires
This is the story of a regular girl and her canine best friend who spend a day on the sidewalk in front of their city home trying to invent a “most magnificent thing.” Through her many inventions that aren’t quite right, and her increasing moodiness around the evolution of these inventions, readers are taught about persistence as well as the benefits of taking brain breaks.
This is Sadie,written by Sara O’Leary and illustrated by Julie Morstad
Sadie uses her imagination in this story to show us many worlds, which she can explore by turning to books. She teaches the reader that you can have many friends, both in real life as well as books, because they are as real as you perceive them to be.
Sheila Rae, The Brave,written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes
Sheila Rae is very, very brave, but her sister Louise is not. When Sheila Rae watches thunder and lightning, Louise closes her eyes and covers her ears. When Sheila Rae steps on cracks on the sidewalk, Louise skips over them. This is the story of these two sisters who are very different, but in a time of need come together to help each other learn how to be brave.
Ada Twist, Scientist,written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts
Written by the author of Iggy Peck, Architect and Rosie Revere, Engineer, this book shatters stereotypes of what typical girls like to do and shows us about the hard work and creativity of a smart girl who wants the answers to life’s questions. This story also teaches us that all children learn and think differently, which is something we should encourage and work towards.
I Am Rosa Parks, written by Brad Meltzer and illustrated by Chris Eliopoulos
Follow Rosa Parks in this book, written and illustrated as if she is still a child, as she explains the historical context and motives around her refusal to move to the back of a segregated bus. This book is part of a series called the “Ordinary People Change the World” series, which teaches children about famous historical figures. Other subjects of this series include Sonia Sotomayor, Harriet Tubman, and Jane Goodall, among others.