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22 of Our favourite children’s books with strong & fabulous female characters

At Mum & You, we know that the first 1000 days of your child’s life are the most important in terms of development.

Interacting and reading to your little ones is so important for their language development, and it is why we have our playful tribe of Nappychat characters on our Eco Nappies, Eco Nappy Pants, and packaging. These colorful characters are a great tool to inspire you to chat, sing and read to your babies from day 1.

Having previously worked with I CAN, the children’s communications charity aiming to equip parents with the tools and resources to help their child develop the right speech and language skills as they grow, we know that parents are a child’s first teacher and that it’s never too early (even pre-birth!) to start bonding with your child and developing their language skills. I CAN mirror this work, and both Mum & You and I CAN feel so strongly about the importance in communication in under 5s.

We have also spoken to parenting expert and TV psychologist Emma Kenny, who commented: From story-time, to building or drawing your favourite characters, there are lots of ways parents can help develop the imagination and communication skills of their under 5s. And even when time is a challenge, you can chat, play and read with your child as part of your daily routine including using bath time or trips to the shops to tell make believe stories. Not everybody realises that playing and chatting is learning, and for you it can also be a fun way to bring you closer to your child.”

Read more about our Nappychat feature with our talented mum and illustrator here.

Now that you know more about the benefits of reading with your child, read on to discover a fabulous selection of books that discuss a variety of topics with diverse leads, all of whom are intelligent and strong young girls. We want to equip you with the best resources to encourage your little one to feel represented, confident and encouraged, and with World Book Day on March 3rd, now is a perfect time to add some more books to your little one’s reading list!

And you never know, you may learn a thing or two too…

Is there a particular book that has been a huge hit with your child? Or any other books with similar themes that we can add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!

For ages 0-4

Rapping Princesses by Hannah Lee

“A completely original rhyming picture book that celebrates daring to be different, featuring Shiloh, the rapping princess”

Rapping Princess Book Cover

Rapping Princess by Hannah Lee & Illustrated by Allen Fatimaharan

Buy now: £6.99 Waterstones

Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole

“Princess Smartypants does not want to get married. She enjoys being a Ms. But being a rich and pretty princess means that all the princes want her to be their Mrs. Find out how Princess Smartypants fights to preserve her independence in this hilarious fairy-tale-with-a-difference.”

Princess Smartypants Book Cover

Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole

Buy now: £6.99 Waterstones

Little Feminist Board Book Set by Emily Kleinman

“Mudpuppy’s Little Feminist Board Book Set is comprised of colorful illustrated portraits of real women who have made historical impact on the world. Illustrations by Lydia Ortiz and words by Emily Kleinman introduce children to these important people in history with images that are fun for youngsters and also realistic.”

Little Feminist Board Book Set Book Cover

Little Feminist Board Book Set by Emily Kleinman

Buy now: £11.04 WH Smith

The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson

“The Paper Dolls is a stunning, lyrical story of childhood, memory and the power of imagination from Julia Donaldson, the author of The Gruffalo, and award-winning illustrator Rebecca Cobb.

A string of paper dolls go on a fantastical adventure through the house and out into the garden. They soon escape the clutches of the toy dinosaur and the snapping jaws of the oven-glove crocodile, but then…”

The Paper Dolls : Donaldson, Julia, Cobb, Rebecca: Books

The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson & Illustrated by Rebecca Cobb

Ladybug Girl Dresses Up! by Jacky Davis

“All dressed up with everywhere to go, Ladybug Girl Dresses Up! is a darling and charmingly illustrated book – presented in a board book format for younger readers – that follows Ladybug Girl as she embarks on dress-up adventures. Turn each page and watch how Ladybug Girl’s imagination takes flight.”

Ladybug Girl Dresses Up! Book Cover

Ladybug Girl Dresses Up! by Jacky Davis

ABC for Me: ABC What Can She Be? by Jessie Ford & Sugar Snap Studio

“Not even the sky is the limit with this fun approach to learning the alphabet. In this new title from Walter Foster Jr., ABC What Can She Be? encourages young girls by presenting a colorful variety of choices for their future careers.”

ABC What Can She Be? Girls Can Be Anything They Want to Be, From A to Z Book Cover

ABC What Can She Be? Girls Can Be Anything They Want to Be, From A to Z By Sugar Snap Studio

For ages 4 & above

Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai 

“This beautifully illustrated picture book tells Malala’s story, in her own words, for a younger audience and shows them the worldview that allowed her to hold on to hope and to make her voice heard even in the most difficult of times.”

Malala Announces First Picture Book

Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai

Sophie Says I Can, I Will by Esther Marshall

“Sophie Says I Can I Will tells the story of a young girl who is so excited about the possibilities of her future that she leaps out of bed to share all of her ideas with her parents. Written to inspire children about the direction their lives might take them and tackling stereotypes head on by showcasing incredible women in a whole host of roles, Sophie Says I Can I Will is a powerful and uplifting story of empowerment.

Sophie Says I Can I Will covers a whole host of topics such as self-esteem, diversity and inclusion, gender equality and equal opportunities all in a fun and friendly way. It provides a tool kit for parents and teachers to bring up these important messages whilst children enjoy learning and identify with the characters in the book.”

Sophie Says I Can, I Will Book Cover

Sophie Says I Can, I Will by Esther Marshall & Illustrated by Buzz Burry

Look Up! by Nathan Bryon

“Rocket’s going to be the greatest astronaut, star-catcher, space-traveler that has ever lived! But… First, she needs to convince her big brother Jamal to stop looking down at his phone and start LOOKING UP at the stars. Bursting with energy and passion about space and the natural world, this heart-warming picture book will reignite your desire to turn off those screens and switch on to the outside world.”

Look Up! Book Cover

Look Up! by Nathan Bryon & Illustrated by Dapo Adeloa

The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad 

This is an uplifting, universal story of new experiences, the unbreakable bond shared by siblings, and of being proud of who you are, from Olympic medallist Ibtihaj Muhammad. ‘Stark, spiky silhouettes suggest the impact of casual unkindness, while strong, simple poetic language evokes Asiya’s calm determination to ignore intolerance’

The Proudest Blue Book Cover

The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad & Illustrated by Hatem Aly

Ruby’s Worry by Tom Percival

A perceptive and poignant story that is a must-have for all children’s bookshelves. From Tom Percival’s bestselling Big Bright Feelings series, this is the perfect book for discussing childhood worries and anxieties, no matter how big or small they may be.

Ruby's Worry Book Cover

Ruby’s Worry by Tom Percival

My Name Is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream? by Jennifer Fosberry

“From breakfast to bedtime, a young girl imagines being different women who made history, and ends the day empowered to be herself.”

My Name Is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream? Book Cover

My Name Is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream? by Jennifer Frosberry & Illustrated by Mike Litwin

Mary Wears What She Wants by Keith Negley

“A charming picture book inspired by the true story of Mary Edwards Walker, a trailblazing 19th-century doctor who was arrested many times for wearing pants. Once upon a time (but not that long ago), girls only wore dresses. And only boys wore pants.”

Mary Wears What She Wants Book Cover

Mary Wears What She Wants by Keith Negley

Fantastically Great Women Who Saved The Planet by Kate Pankhurst

“The Bookspeed “Fantastically Great Women Who Saved The Planet” by Kate Pankhurst explores trailblazing women who were making decisions that helped protect our natural world long before it was on a political agenda.”

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World Book Cover

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World by Kate Pankhurst

My Pet Star by Corrinne Averiss

“A magical story about the importance of kindness and friendship. When a little girl finds a lost star, she takes it home and cares for it, just like a beloved pet. She reads it stories, makes it special snacks, and tucks it into bed at night. The more she cares for the star, the brighter it glows. Until, one day, it’s time to let go.

A heartfelt story about caring for others and learning to let go, from BAFTA award-winning writer and CILIP Greenaway-nominated author Corrinne Averiss. Perfect for sharing at bedtime.”

My Pet StarBook Cover

My Pet Star by Corrinne Averiss & Illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw

For ages 5 & above

My Butterfly Bouquet by Nicola Davies 

“See how a little girl recovering from poor health finds wonder in nature and delights in planting a garden with her father to attract a fascinating array of butterflies. Exploring the life stages of butterflies, their importance to our ecosystems and the revitalising power of nature, this book is a heart-warming information story for children who love the outdoors and all its incredible creatures.”

My Butterfly Bouquet Book Cover

My Butterfly Bouquet by Nicola Davies & Illustrated by Hannah Peck

Sunflower Sisters by Monika Singh Gangotra 

“An unplifting and empowering book about colourism and sisterhood. Two friends, one of Indian descent and one of African descent, have weddings to celebrate in their families. As the families gather for the occasion Amrita is exposed to old-fashioned attitudes of colourism from older relatives. The idea that eating or drinking certain foods may make your skin darker is treated with a sure touch by Gangrota – but the strong message that people should celebrate their own skin colour and be happy with who they are comes across loud and clear.”

Sunflower Sisters Book Cover

Sunflower Sisters by Monika Singh Gangotra & Michaela Dias-Hayes

Sofia the Dreamer and her Magical Afro by Jessica Wilson

“This is a poetic look at the history of natural hairstyles – and, through Sofia, we see children encouraged not to be afraid to be themselves.  ”

“The publisher is a British Jamaican independent company – set up to bring to light some of the stories from the Caribbean and its peoples. It was founded in response to the need for diversity in publishing”

Sofia the Dreamer and her Magical Afro Book Cover

Sofia the Dreamer and her Magical Afro by Jessica Wilson & Illustrated by Tom Rawles

Little People Big Dreams by Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara

“Discover the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream. Told as a story, with a facts and photos section at the back, this sweet series for kids celebrates triumph over adversity through some of history’s favorite characters.”

For ages 6 & above

Sofia Valdez, Future Prez by Andrea Beaty  

“Every morning, Abuelo walks Sofia to school . . . until one day, when Abuelo hurts his ankle at a local landfill and he can no longer do so. Sofia misses her Abuelo and wonders what she can do about the dangerous Mount Trashmore. Then she gets an idea-the town can turn the slimy mess into a park! She brainstorms and plans and finally works up the courage to go to City Hall-only to be told by a clerk that she can’t build a park because she’s just a kid! Sofia is down but not out, and she sets out to prove what one kid can do.”

Sofia Valdez, Future Prez Book Cover

Sofia Valdez, Future Prez by Andrea Beaty & Illustrated by David Robers

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison

“Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History is the debut book from Vashti Harrison. Based on her popular Instagram posts from Black History Month 2017 it features 40 biographies of African American women that helped shape history. It is a 96-page paper over board book published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers.”

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History Book Cover

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli & Francesca Cavallo

“Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is a children’s book packed with 100 bedtime stories about the life of 100 extraordinary women from the past and the present, illustrated by 60 female artists from all over the world.”

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls Book Cover

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls By Elena Favilli & Francesca Cavallo

We hope you loved this selection of children’s books with fabulous female leads. Are there any other books that have been a hit with your children? Let us know in the comments, we love to hear from you!

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