From Emma Watson’s #girlboss book club to Shilo Shiv Suleman’s feminist street art collective in India, 2016 is already a kickass year to be a feminist. Plus, it’s never a bad time to start passing down our feminist wisdom onto the little tots in our lives — whether they’re our own youngsters or adorable rent-a-kids (aka nieces and nephews). Check out these 17 kid-friendly reads that abandon stereotypes, promote compassion and are full of #girlboss lessons.
Tiny Tots (Ages 0-4)
1. Free to Be You and Me by Marlo Thomas and Friends ($15): Packed full with inspirational stories, song and poems, this kiddo classic is all about celebrating individuality. Specially added for the 35th Anniversary Edition, New York Times bestselling children’s illustrator Peter H. Reynolds complements the classic tales with whimsical drawings and illustrations.
2. Little Red Hood by Marjolaine Leray, translated by Sarah Ardizzone ($13): Have you ever wanted your favorite fairy tale classics to be retold without the dumb “damsel in distress” motif? Well, Marjolaine Leray’s retelling of Little Red Riding Hood is just the story for you. Her minimalist style and feminist charm transforms innocent little Red into a fully developed character with a savvy knack for finding the truth.
3. Me… Jane by Patrick McDonnell ($11): It’s time to ditch waiting around in castles for prince what’s-his-name. This early reader biography of Jane Goodall will inspire the little tot in your life to follow their dreams, even if they are a bit wild.
4. Wild by Emily Hughes ($13): Hawaiian artist Emily Hughes fuses The Jungle Book with Where The Wild Things Are in this instant classic that teaches children everywhere not to change who they are for anyone.
Grade Schoolers (Ages 4-8)
5. Not All Princess Dress in Pink by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple ($14): There’s more to being a princess than watching your figure and singing to birds. This cute early reader from a momma and daughter writing team will remind you that there’s no such thing as a cookie-cutter princess (or person).
6. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch ($6): When Elizabeth risks her life fighting off a fire-breathing dragon to rescue a prince, she expects at least a thank-you. This Robert Munsch classic is just the book to teach our youngens to forget the haters and be authentically awesome.
7. Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty ($9): With Rosie the Riveter starring as the protagonist’s aunt, a child whose dream is to become an engineer and a splendid plot about not quitting your dreams, it’s pretty safe to say this one is a feminist home-run.
8. Grace for President by Kelly S. DiPucchio ($9): When Grace realizes that, contrary to Beyonce’s hit single, girls do not run the world — at least in politics — she decides to change that fact by running herself. Both an intersectional feminist easy reader and an awesome lesson about democracy and politics, this children’s must-read is a double win!
9. Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman ($12): When Grace’s classmates tease her about wanting to play the lead in Peter Pan, her grandmother reminds her to never give up on her dreams. Spoiler alert: Peter Pan killed it that year.
10. Skateboard Mom by Barbara Odanaka ($8): This book proves that the days of non-descript ’50s housewives in children’s books are over. Moms aren’t boring background characters — they do ollies, flips and even teach their sons how to ride a skateboard.
11. Frida by Jonah Winter ($15): Following the #girlboss story of artist Frida Kahlo, this beautifully illustrated book teaches us all to keep fighting, no matter how much the odds are stacked against us.
Pre-Teens (Ages 8-12)
12. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren ($4): The iconic tale of a girl with two red pigtails is all about being authentically ourselves, even if that means living with a monkey and having a dance party with the burglars who are robbing the house.
13. Rad American Women A – Z by Kate Schatz ($23): Being a woman is mad rad. This collective style book outlines what exactly it means to be a rad women and spotlights 26 rad American women who changed the country for the better.
14. Matilda by Roald Dahl ($7): Miss Trunchbull is no match for genius Matilda with her cleverness and piles upon piles of books. Whether you’re reading this as a tween or many years later, this hilarious, over-the-top good-versus-evil story is an ageless classic for a reason.
15. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce ($8): The first book in the Song of the Lioness quartet, Tamora Pierce’s tale of two mixed-gendered twins that switch places so that they can get around the restriction of female warriors is Twelfth Night meets action-packed fantasy YA in the best possible way.
16. Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery ($8): In quiet Avonlea, nothing really ever happens. That is, until Anne shows up. Following her daily adventures in small town life, this young reader is a great story of not quite fitting in, and how important it is to stay true to who you are.
17. Luz Sees the Light by Claudia Dávila ($9): Tackling a wide variety of problems, from rising food prices to sustainability, 12-year-old Luz is taking on the world one problem at a time in this kid-friendly graphic novel.
18. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh ($6): Curious Harriet keeps all of her spy notes in a notebook, which isn’t a problem — until it goes missing. This impossible-to-put-down young novel goes through all the trials and tortures of young life, from loss and abandonment to schoolyard arguments and learning to love oneself.
What was your favorite children’s book as a little tyke? Tweet us your answers by mentioning @BritandCo on Twitter.