MARY WEARS WHAT SHE WANTS, by Keith Negley, is another fabulous book about strong girls. If you haven’t seen it yet, I can’t recommend it highly enough!Read More
If you have been following us for a while, you know there is nothing I love to read more than a book that celebrates books — and if it also happens to be an amazing book about strong girls, even better! Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpre, is one of those books!Read More
If you are looking for books about strong girls to share with your daughters (and your sons!), you’ve come to the right place. Keep on reading to find a huge list of some of our very favorite children’s books about mighty girls including amazing picture book biographies and anthologies about the strongest, smartest, coolest ladies — both from world history and today!Read More
If your kids love books about strong girls who have overcome considerable odds to achieve lasting success, then you must read this fabulous nonfiction picture book biography, How to Build a Hug: Temple Grandin and Her Amazing Squeeze Machine!Read More
Antisemitism. Child Labor. Social Justice. These are some of the issues that have always been critically important to me - to understand, to work towards, or to fight against. So when these problems are explored in a beautifully written, fantastical story about one child’s struggle with her position in society and her relationship with an unconventional new friend, I want nothing more than to shout about it from the rooftops and share it with every child, parent and educator I can. Enter Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster, by Jonathan Auxier. When I tell you this book sucked me in and I couldn’t put it down, I speak the honest truth. I was utterly captivated, from beginning to end, and I now want to read every single story ever written by Auxier. What a brilliant writer!
Sweep is the story of Nan Sparrow, an orphaned chimney sweeper who spends her days performing a thankless — and wholly dangerous — job. After her “Sweep” leaves her, and after she almost loses her life in a chimney fire, Nan fears her days are numbered. But when she awakens in an abandoned attic and discovers a golem made of soot and ash in the room with her, she begins a new life full of hope, friendship and the courage to conquer her greatest challenges.
I love stories that teach without being didactic, ones that encourage you to make new discoveries every time you open their pages. Sweep is that and so much more - a book that tackles tough topics and follows Nan as she puts one foot in front of the other after facing so many unspeakable losses. Sweep is separated into two sections, appropriately called Innocence and Experience, and they so beautifully illuminate Nan’s journey from a guileless young child to a tween fraught with complicated questions and even more troubling realizations about society and her place within it. Why are children forced to work dangerous jobs? Why are kids losing their lives due to nothing but their unfortunate lot in life, and what on earth can she do to change it?
Simply put, Sweep is a feat. It is an adventure of the greatest kind, an ode to friendship, a discovery of self, and a testament to the power of one voice to create change. But my favorite part? Sweep excels in its exploration of “monsters,” finds tenderness in the terrifying, and combats all of our preconceived notions about the frightening things that keep us up at night. Exquisite - this marvel will stay with me for a long, long time.
Want the book? Get it here! Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster, by Jonathan Auxier. *This is an affiliate link.
If you have never read a story by Kate DiCamillo, prepare to get swept away by magic. If you are already a fan of Kate’s work, then prepare yourself for another mesmerizing character and another extraordinary story. From the second you open the first page of Louisiana’s Way Home, you are so clearly in the hands of a brilliant storyteller. DiCamillo simply plucks you off of the couch/bed/chair where you are curled up reading and drops you squarely in the middle of her world. That’s how vivid Louisiana’s Way Home is- that’s how magical each and every page.
Louisiana’s Way Home is a companion book to Raymie Nightingale. In it, we revisit one of the three girlfriends, Louisiana Elefante, of circus family fame. But our story begins not in Florida, and instead with Louisiana and her granny on the run - they have left Florida in the middle of the night and are driving straight up to Georgia, where they must stop when Granny suffers from a horrific tooth ache. And so it is that the pair winds up at a motel, and when Granny up and leaves again - this time without her granddaughter - Louisiana fears she is destined for only goodbyes. There is a curse on her head, after all. When Louisiana learns a painful secret, her past unravels before her eyes and she must decide what she wants — and who she wants to be.
“I want you to know something, Louisiana. We all, at some point, have to decide who we want to be in this world. It is a decision we make for ourselves. You are being forced to make this decision at an early age, but that does not mean that you cannot do it well and wisely.” Tears. Streaming down my cheeks. These characters, this voice. These decisions. Standing at a crossroads is tough- no matter the age. But when we reach this point, we have big choices to make. We have to decide if we want to forgive, and if so, how? We have to decide if we want to move forward, and if so, how? Most importantly, we have to strive to believe in love, compassion and generosity. Because without that steadfast belief, we may truly lose our way home. Louisiana’s Way Home is a beauty; perfectly paced, impeccably plotted, and the most compelling hero’s journey i’ve read in some time. I savored every word and every character, and I am already eagerly anticipating the third installment in this trio of books. TWO TRUNKS UP!
Want the book? Get it here! Louisiana’s Way Home, by Kate DiCamillo. *This is an affiliate link. HEE received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher, but all opinions contained herein are entirely our own.
If you’re following us over on Instagram, you know we’ve been on a strong and mighty girls kick, and here’s one more awesome read for your shelves that gives us glimpses into our world’s many vibrant cultures. I adore this gorgeous, re-issued collection of folktales featuring heroic women around the globe. Not One Damsel in Distress: Heroic Girls from World Folklore, is collected and told by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Susan Guevara, and its one you don’t want to miss. This is a diverse collection of stories featuring smart, strong and savvy women that I cannot wait to share with my smart, strong and savvy little boys.
Did I say I want to share stories about female heroes with my BOYS? Heck yes, I did! Books featuring strong girls and female protagonists are not just “girl books.” It is crucial to share these books - both fiction and non-fiction - with our sons and male students. If we truly seek to change our country’s narrative for future generations, we must show our boys, starting at tender young ages, that reading about female heroes is just as necessary — and perhaps more importantly, just as FUN — as reading about male heroes.
Frankly, it is time to level the playing field. Given the current state of affairs in America, this is not just significant, but vital to the functioning of our democracy. Women’s voices are just as critical as their male counterparts, and we need our boys to recognize this from the time they are born. Raising a generation of compassionate, respectful men begins with those of us who nurture and teach them in our homes and in our schools. Reading to them — true stories about real women as well as fictional books with strong female protagonists - is such an effective way to make a difference in our communities, which in turn helps affect greater societal change. And such change is critical, because the current social structures and the gender inequality so frequently displayed in our communities, workplaces and government is simply unacceptable. As parents and educators, it is up to us to change it. So grab Not One Damsel in Distress, add it to your strong girl book collection, and talk it to up your girls AND boys. Let’s give our children opportunities to see that heroes come in all shapes, all sizes and all genders.
Want the book? Get it here! Not One Damsel in Distress: Heroic Girls from World Folklore, by Jane Yolen. *This is a affiliate link. HEE recived a review copy of this book, but all opinions expressed herein are expressly our own.
The American Dream. People come from all corners of the globe seeking it: freedom, opportunity, justice. Because this is America, right? America -- land of the free, home of the brave. But unfortunately, life in America doesn’t ensure a hardworking family will obtain the proverbial golden ticket. To the contrary, life as in immigrant here can be downright tough, leaving families on edge as they struggle to make money, live in safe homes, and put food on the table for their families. Enter Kelly Yang’s Front Desk, a gut wrenching yet achingly poignant story about a young girl who immigrates with her parents to America from China.
Front Desk is the story of Mia Tang who, together with her parents, arrives in America in search of the American Dream. But their hard work and determination doesn’t mean life will be easy, and when Mia’s family finds themselves operating a motel for a cruel and exploitative owner, life is anything but what they had imagined. Mia runs the front desk at the motel, and the tougher her days are, the more she longs for a better and easier life. With the help of a new friend, the motel’s “weeklies,” her devoted parents, and a lucky pencil, Mia may be able to find that she can achieve her own American dreams with a hefty amount of perseverance and a whole lot of heart.
Front Desk was absolutely fantastic! I read it while the boys were at a play date for several hours, and I COULD NOT put it down. Yang’s story, a window for some but a mirror for so many more, is a welcome addition to our tween shelves. The story interweaves some of Yang’s own childhood experiences, and it seamlessly tackles themes of bullying, poverty, assault and racism with compassion and authenticity, all the while being age appropriate for young readers. Front Desk beautifully conveys to readers the power of hope and steadfast determination, and it illuminates one child's struggle to live with grace and integrity in the harsh face of adversity. Front Desk is a thought provoking, beautifully written novel that I cannot wait to get into my students’ hands this Fall. Two trunks up!!
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Want the book? Get it here! Front Desk, by Kelly Yang. *This is an affiliate link. HEE received an advanced copy of Front Desk, but all opinions contained herein are expressly our own.
Wow. WOW. My gosh, was this book fantastic! Amal Unbound was an emotional, powerful story, one I read so quickly because I simply could not put it down. Set in a poor Pakistani village with themes of social hierarchy, education, and indentured servitude, this was a searing "window" book that opened my eyes to the tragic circumstances and sacrifices that children in some communities must experience to save their families from ruin.
Amal Unbound, elegantly written by Aisha Saeed, is the story of Amal, a bookish, smart girl with dreams of becoming a teacher. But one day at the market, Amal mouths off to the wrong man: Jawad, son of her village’s wealthy landlord. In order to pay off the debt for her insulting behavior, Amal is forced into indentured servitude with his family, leaving her own family behind. At the landlord’s pretentious home, Amal sees firsthand the dangers of illiteracy and gender inequality, and she begins sneaking books from the library and teaching others to read. When Amal is sent by the family to be a patron at the village's new literacy center, she recognizes that her education has given her a powerful hand- the ability to take a critical stance against corruption.
A poignant exploration of unjust power structures and the extreme consequences families must endure to repay debts for “poor” behavior, Amal Unbound will be an eye opener for so many students. It is an important testament to the power of education and the way words can change worlds and correct damaging social injustice and corruption. Knowledge is power, and literacy, in this story, truly becomes Amal’s key to freedom. This is an important read for all upper elementary and middle school students students -- a story of literacy, resistance and, ultimately, sweet sweet justice. Amal Unbound is hands down one of my favorite middle grade novels of 2018 so far. Two trunks up!
Want the book? Get it here! Amal Unbound, by Aisha Saeed. *This is an affiliate link. Happily Ever Elephants received an advanced review copy of this book, but all opinions expressed herein are entirely our own.
Oh how I love books about strong, geeky, girl inventors! Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe will now sit on our shelves alongside books like Rosie Revere, Engineer, Ada Twist, Scientist and The Most Magnificent Thing for its quirky, spunky protagonist. Magnolia Mudd is a girl who would prefer to tinker with gizmos and gadgets in an effort to launch a wedding bouquet high into the air rather than walk that same bunch of flowers down an aisle in a girly dress. What a romp this adorable story is!
In Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe, written by Katey Howes and fabulously illustrated by Valerio Fabbretti, Magnolia Mudd is devastated when she learns her favorite inventor, Uncle Jamie, is marrying Miss Emily. Miss Emily, simply put, ruins everything. When Magnolia is asked to be in their wedding, her uncle promises that being a flower girl isn't the only important job in a wedding. With help from none other than Miss Emily, Magnolia designs the best ever bouquet launcher that utilizes a heck of a lot of Mudd power. Maybe just a little too much...
Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe is an adorably fun read that subverts traditional gender roles and lets girls be the star of the STEM show. From her laboratory to her sketches to the fractions and space posters hanging in her room, Magnolia stands out as a plucky character who will not be held back by frilly dresses or fancy ribbons when there are nuts and bolts to be tightened. This is a must for your library collections, and especially for those girls who prefer bolts to barbies and blasters to bouquets. Two trunks up!
Want the book? Get it here! Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe, by Katey Howes. HEE received a review copy of this book from the publisher, but all opinions expressed herein are entirely our own.
Jacqueline Woodson's Brown Girl Dreaming is one of those novels that's been on my shelf for a couple of years now, but for one reason or another, I just never got around to reading. What on earth was I waiting for?!? A ton of my students checked this out last year, all returning it breathlessly and recounting how much they loved it with stars in their eyes. Well, I have to say that this book's beauty captivated me too, and it will undoubtedly be a forever favorite of mine.
Brown Girl Dreaming is a fictionalized memoir about brilliant author Jacqueline Woodson. Woodson writes about growing up as an African American child in the sixties and seventies during the height and aftermath of the civil rights movement - first in Ohio, then in South Carolina and, eventually, New York. The remnants of Jim Crow are everywhere, and as Woodson navigates her own identity and worth, she is also faced with a country battling racism, animosity and segregation. A powerful and mesmerizing read, Woodson's poetry reflects a young woman's journey to find not just her voice, but her place at home, in school and in society at large.
Some children get nervous about reading poetry and novels in verse, but what is so remarkable about Brown Girl Dreaming is Woodson's ability to keep each of her poems both accessible and relatable. Despite their richness and her beautiful use of language, her poems never feel too cerebral or heady for a child reader. Instead, a young one can so easily grasp Woodson's poignant verses and, most importantly, her yearning- for family, for friends, and most importantly, for writing. A sensitive, beautiful memoir about finding oneself amidst the backdrop of a country also searching for a new identity- this is a true work of art.
Want the book? Get it here! Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson. *This is an affiliate link.
Some characters in literature have such vivid voices, they stay with you long after the last page of the story has been turned. So is the case with Ada Smith, the young protagonist in Kimberly Brubaker Bradley's powerful Newbery Honor book, The War That Saved My Life. This has been on my TBR list for quite a while, and now that I've finished it, I am eagerly awaiting the sequel. The War That Saved My Life is a compelling, character driven journey (my favorite!) highlighting one's will to survive... and eventually thrive. Ada's story is mesmerizing.
The War That Saved My Life is set in Great Britain during World War II. Ten year old Ada had a club foot and an abusive mother who is both mortified and ashamed by the fact that her daughter is crippled. She keeps Ada locked in their small apartment in London, and Ada has thus never seen grass or felt the sun's warmth on her face. When evacuations begin, taking children out of London and bringing them to the safety of the English countryside, Ada escapes her mother's wrath with her younger brother Jamie in tow. The two are placed in the care of a woman named Susan, and though Susan claims she is "not nice," Ada and Jamie may just learn what it means to love-- and be loved in return.
This book is a marvel, and Ada felt so authentic throughout the story. Ada's prior struggles and post traumatic stress make it challenging for her to adapt to her new surroundings, so change happens slowly- and Bradley handles her evolution deftly and with a masterful touch. There are so many different types of freedom fights in literature, and Ada's struggle to be free from an abusive parent and a crippling stereotype is at once poignant and triumphant. A must have for every tween and classroom library.
Want the book? Get it here! The War that Saved My Life, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. *This is an affiliate link.
Books about strong girls are vital to raising confident young ladies and this fabulous book about the many ways we can be beautiful is a MUST for your bookshelf. You will absolutely adore BEAUTIFUL, by Stacy McAnulty!Read More
And here we have another gorgeous book that just stole my heart. I know you may think I say that often, but remember that we read a ton and I'm very picky. Only the most special books we come across make the cut! And This is Sadie is one to treasure. Any book that imparts a love of story and imagination with a beautiful narrative and whimsical illustrations receives the highest of marks in my world. It is no easy feat, but these two, Sara O'Leary and Julie Morstad, nailed it.
If you haven't been able to tell, I simply love books that celebrate creativity. This is Sadie, through casual yet precise text, takes the reader through Sadie's otherwise mundane day that becomes adventurous and magical through nothing more than Sadie's power of imagination. With each turn of the page, we see how books transform Sadie's ordinary experiences into extraordinary adventures. These adventures - through the sky and water and even wonderland- defy gender constructs as Sadie becomes a fairy with wings and then a boy raised by animals in the wilderness. The reader is sucked into the story through the narrator's fun and almost irreverent questions that encourage kids to view themselves and the world around them through creative eyes. And let's not forget the exquisite illustrations. Morstad's lush watercolor pictures are equal parts enchanting and captivating, breathing beauty into the most routine parts of a commonplace day. This book is a treasure for girls and boys alike, and I guarantee that it will become one of your child's most precious and sought after reads. Run, don't walk, to the nearest book store and bring this story home!!
Want the book? Get it here! This is Sadie, by Sara O'Leary. *This is an affiliate link.
Rosie Revere, Engineer is one of our very favorite books about strong girls, for its plucky heroine, its pitch-perfect rhyme, and its ode to perseverance. In short? It’s a must!
I love books about strong girls that will spark discussions with my boys - especially in ways that are fun and through stories that are engaging and not didactic. Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty was a recent gift for Pickle, and I was so excited to receive it because it had been on my booklist for a while. It was well worth the wait!! This book has a bit more text than other picture books, so it is definitely more appropriate for an older set- toddlers and kids beginning elementary school - who won't get restless with the story. But let’s be honest - it is almost impossible to get restless with this one. Why? Cause Rosie rocks!
Rosie Revere, Engineer presents a classic problem: a little girl with big dreams who wants nothing more than to create brilliant inventions (STEM books, anyone?!?) Yet poor Rosie gets laughed at for her contraptions and, believing she is a failure, she sadly gives up. Alas! One day, an idea from Rosie’s aunt (who just happens to be based on Rosie the Riveter!) won't leave her alone, so Rosie tries one more time to make the most brilliant invention ever … and she finally succeeds.
The lively illustrations in Rosie Revere, Engineer include tons of tools and other gizmos - so many, in fact, that you can engage reluctant readers by playing a seek and find game as you read the witty rhyming text. If your kids are a little older, you can also use this book to teach a bit of history based on the Rosie the Riveter storyline. Most importantly, though, this story beautifully illustrates that sometimes we have to experience failure before the sweet taste of success- a lesson that all of our children need to be reminded. After all, as Rosie teaches us, you can only truly fail if you quit. Two trunks up for Rosie Revere, Engineer!
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Want the book? Get it here! Rosie Revere, Engineer, by Andrea Beaty. *This is an affiliate link.