Women’s History Month is a terrific time for parents to share stories of strong, confident females with their children (girls and boys). Whether they want to be doctors or nurses, teachers or scientists, one thing we know is that girls need role models to help close the imagination gap between what they aspire to do and what they think they can do.
At the Clinton Foundation, we work to promote healthy brain development in our littlest learners by encouraging parents and caregivers to talk, read, and sing with their children. And by sharing stories of inspiring female characters, we can not only help children develop the skills they need to succeed in school, but open kids’ minds to the possibilities that exist for women of all ages—not just this month but throughout their lives.
As the daughter and granddaughter of strong, vibrant women who claimed authorship of their own life stories, I was fortunate to grow up surrounded by powerful female role models. As the mother of a young daughter and son, it is important to me to offer both of my kids the same sense of possibility for their own lives. It’s why we read together every night, and why I love stories of interesting, independent girls and women from all walks of life that I hope will inspire and empower both Charlotte and Aidan as they grow.
The list that follows includes tales of bravery and adventure, and features trailblazers and pioneers alongside ordinary girls whose intelligence and creativity inspires those around them. I hope you will enjoy these books as much as we have—and that they encourage all young readers in your home to dream big!
1. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
Princess Elizabeth is slated to marry her Prince Charming (whose name is Ronald) when a dragon attacks the castle and kidnaps him. The resourceful and strong Princess Elizabeth finds the dragon, outfoxes him, and rescues her prince. My favorite part is what happens after she rescues Ronald. We read this story every night before bed. (Yes, truly, every night).
2. Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell
This book dives into the childhood imagination of the renowned Dr. Jane Goodall. The story shows her love of nature and how she fulfilled her dreams of living a life protecting animals, including gorillas.
3. Ladybug Girl by Jacky Davis and David Soman
She may be too little to play with her big brother, but whether it’s saving ants in distress or jumping through shark-infested puddles, Lulu’s not afraid to find her own fun right in the backyard. We love this whole series.
4. Sheila Rae, the Brave by Kevin Henkes
Sheila Rae teaches us that bravery comes in all different shapes and sizes, and that we all can and at times must be brave. She also shows us that we each have something special to share and bring into the world.
5. Hilda Must Be Dancing by Karma Wilson
If you love to sing and dance with your littlest learner, you’ll love Hilda Hippo as she takes us on her wild ride of self-expression. We love to dance so this always resonates.
Little Molly Lou Melon is full of spunk and self-confidence, but it’s put to the test when she moves to a new school. Molly Lou stands up to a bully and shines bright as she persistently refuses to be bullied by being true to herself.
7. I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont
This colorful book teaches kids to embrace what makes each child unique and special and helps kids understand how to value and celebrate all the beautiful uniqueness in our world.
8. I Am Rosa Parks by Brad Meltzer
The incredible story of Rosa Parks teaches children the value of standing up – even sometimes by staying seated – for what’s right. It shows that what may seem small can shake the world for the better and that we can all make a difference in our communities and the wider world.
9. Look Up! by Robert Burleigh
This beautiful picture book tells the inspiring story of Henrietta Swan Leavitt, a pioneer in astronomy. She helped make it possible for future generations to better understand our solar system and universe, to better explore the universe, and to imagine what may be possible.
10. Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire A. Nivola
The story of famed oceanographer Sylvia Earle can help teach children about the wonders of the ocean and a lifetime of exploration – and what’s possible when we look beneath the surface.