Em’s birthday is three days away, and as with all holidays in this house, I made sure to buy her at least one fabulous book that resonates with her age, her sensibilities, and her awesomeness. I saw Bloom by Doreen Cronin and David Small in a book store months ago, and knew then and there that this was the book for my girl. It arrived yesterday, and when I read it cover to cover, I discovered something magical, something worth sharing. Which got me to thinking…I have more than one magical book worth sharing, and there are so many girls who need books like these in their hands. These are five empowering pictures books to buy your daughter, niece, loved one, even yourself. These books teach girls more than plot, character, setting. There are deep, significant messages within them, and those messages are powerful and important for girls of all ages to hear.
Bloom is the story of a powerful magical fairy who protects her kingdom, but she isn’t frilly or girly or what the king and queen conceive as “magical,” so she leaves the kingdom to live on her own, which is fine by her. After the kingdom is left to its own devices, the king and queen realize they need Bloom, but she will not return. Only a young girl named Genevieve, considered to be so ordinary, can persuade Bloom to share her powers, and save the kingdom.
Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? is the true story of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman doctor in the United States, who defeated the odds and all the naysayers to do what no one thought could be done. In the face of adversity, she never backed down. It’s a remarkable story for any young woman, especially one who is interested in nonfiction.
Every little girl will want to be Elizabeth Blackwell when they grow up!
We gave Little H The Gardener for her third birthday–not because it was necessarily appropriate for her reading level, but because it’s a story that both my girls should grow up reading. The main character, Lydia Grace, grows up in the years after the Great Depression and has to leave her farm to live with her uncle in the city. She has to be brave, braver than any young reader could probably imagine.
The epistolary format makes the difficult subject matter easier for younger readers. I love this book because of Lydia Grace’s strength in the face of so much hardship, and her continued love of beauty, no matter how dark her surroundings. It’s a subtle, but critical, reminder to everyone that every cloud has its silver lining. Lydia Grace’s character is one worth sharing.
Oh, Extra Yarn. This is one of my favorite books that we own. If you like books illustrated by Jon Klassen (I Want My Hat Back, for example), this book is possibly my favorite yet. Annabelle discovers a magic box of yarn that never runs out, no matter how much she knits. She lives in a dark and dismal little town, but even in the face of total incredulity and disdain, with a little persistence, a bit of kindness, and some extra yarn, Annabelle makes some big changes.
Even when the evil Archduke arrives to buy her magical yarn, Annabelle cannot be swayed. She is a simple, yet badass, character worth emulating and sharing with all the little readers in your life.
Annabelle is probably one of my favorite characters yet for young readers. You don’t think she’s going to be as awesome as she is, but just wait for it. Extra Yarn is a book I cannot recommend enough for readers of all ages.
Last but not least is The Whisper by Pamela Zagarenski. Did you notice that I didn’t even comment on the awards these books have won for illustrations or merit, but am focusing solely on my opinion? Well, there is more than just awesome language in these books. The illustrations are just remarkable. We gave this book to the big kids for Christmas this past year, because I just can’t imagine an early reader’s library without it.
After all the words fall out of the book her beloved teachers loans her on the walk home, the little girl has to imagine all the stories behind the amazing illustrations. Every page has a line or two to begin the story, then the readers have to finish it, resulting in a different tale every time you read! The clever teacher is a very minor character, but I can only hope my kids have teachers as intuitive as this.
Without any kind of compensation or affiliate link, I give you my five favorite books for young girls because, along with The Princess In Black, these are stories that every young girl should hear. I own all these books and truly love them. These photos are just simple cell phone shots of well-loved pages, not propaganda or what’s hot right now. For every book like these worth recommending, there are a dozen passive princesses asleep in their towers or awaiting true love’s kiss. Heroines in picture books are even more important than heroes, if for nothing more than their singularity. The girls in your life deserve better. Show them the world is theirs for the taking, the appreciating, and the commanding. They deserve to see themselves empowered in every story told.