Rereading a children's book is like taking your little sibling or cousin to see Pitch Perfect. You'll both probably love it, but for different reasons. You'll smile at the sneaky, adult-themed one-liners, and they'll laugh out loud at Fat Amy's physical humor.
The books you read growing up are extremely important to the person you become as an adult. Example: children who grow up with books are more likely to be readers throughout adulthood. But when you pick up a copy of The Little Prince or The Giving Tree to read for the first time since grammar school, you're introduced to a whole new set of metaphors, themes, and characters that are mostly likely more relevant to your current state of being than they were when you were eight. Some will seem much more dark, some will bring you to tears, and others will be completely inspirational.
Included in those that are inspirational are the few that are loaded with feminist ideas, standpoints, and characters. Here are nine children's books to read (or reread) if you're looking for some feminist inspiration. Which, let's get real, you always are.
Rad American Women A-Z by Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl
Instead of "A" standing for "apple," now it stands for Angela Davis. A modern take on the classic A to Z book, this gem written by Kate Schatz and vibrantly illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl highlights one political, radical, or influential women in history for each letter of the alphabet. From Billie Jean King to Carol Burnett to Dolores Huerta, the women in this book span across several centuries and dozens of professions, one more amazing and radical than the other.
Too Many Princesses by Valerie Sekula
Too Many Princesses begins in a traditional way — the main character (a smart and charming young woman) is surprised one day by a prince on her doorstep. But instead of getting swept up by the handsome young man, she faces the challenges with his arrival head-on, proving that a boy isn't always the answer to everything and allowing readers to see ourselves as the people we truly are.
Olivia by Ian Falconer
As Falconer describes this little pig from the first page, Olivia is good a lot of things. She's creative, precocious, and so feisty that she can rarely sit still. Above all, Olivia is proud of all the things she can do, including: combing her ears, building sandcastles, pranking her brother. She's self confident in her uniqueness.
Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness) by Tamora Pierce
Tamora Pierce is an idol for feminist young adult fantasy fiction lovers. Song of the Lioness, her first series, follows Alanna as she disguises herself as a boy and trains to become a knight despite her proper noble background. I mean, how badass is that?
Girls Are Not Chicks Coloring Book by Jacinta Bunnell and Julie Novak
This unique (and fun-for-all-ages) coloring book includes a diverse range of pictures that reinforce positive gender roles. The drawings display different types of girls — including Rapunzel and Miss Muffet — as different kinds of people: from creators to thinkers to healers to scientists.
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman and Caroline Binch
Grace is obsessed with stories, whether they're from books or her grandmother. When she gets the chance to play Peter Pan in the school play, she doesn't let her classmates convince her that she can't. I still love every page of this one.
Ella Sarah Gets Dressed by Margaret Chodos-Irvine
This brightly illustrated book tells the story of a little girl with a style sense as big as her personality. Her parents and older sister think Ella Sarah's outfits are too flamboyant or dressed up, but she knows deep down that her favorite outfit is just right for her — and she stands to it.
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Matilda is a girl who can't catch a break. Not only does she have to deal with her horrifying and mean principal Miss Trunchbull while she's at school, but she's also bullied by her father and sometimes ignored by her mother when she's at home. Matilda stands up for herself and prevails through wit and determination, showing everyone how powerful she can be.
The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman
Cheers to Neil Gaiman, a male author with a history of writing strong female heroines. Lucy, the protagonist in The Wolves in the Walls especially stands out to me. The opposite of "the boy who cried wolf," Lucy's entire family doesn't believe her when she says she can hear wolves in the walls until it's too late — and she outbraves them all and saves the day.