13 Children’s Books We Wish We Had Growing Up

by Emma Oulton

It's no secret that the books you read as a child have a profound impact on how you see the world. The best children's books inspire young kids to question the world around them — as well as helping to teach them right from wrong. In those early books, children find reflections of themselves, and get exciting ideas about where they might go with their life. That's why diverse children's books are so important — because all children deserve to see themselves represented on the page.

That's also why it's so important that children's books are feminist, body-positive, and inspirational. Young girls deserve to read about all the amazing adventures they could go on; they don't all have to be princesses, and they don't have to fit anybody else's standards of beauty to have a happy and successful life. Ideally, children's books should teach young girls to be happy with themselves the way that they are, they should inspire them to value themselves highly, and they should encourage them to pursue their dreams — no matter how big. These 13 children's books do all of that and more. Children who grow up reading books like this will know that they can be the president, that they can be an athlete, that they can change history — and they won't need anybody else to tell them they're a princess, because they'll already know.


'Curlee Girlee' by Atara Twersky

Three-year-old Curlee Girlee wishes her hair was silky-straight like the rest of her family — but her mom tells her she's beautiful just as she is. Curlee Girlee is about Curlee's journey to self-acceptance, and loving her wonderful curly hair!

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'Feminist Baby' by Loryn Brantz

Parents will have as much fun reading Feminist Baby as their kids will — as it's created by the super-hilarious Loryn Brantz. It's about a baby girl who's a born feminist, and who refuses to live by anybody else's gender standards.

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'Happy Hair' by Mechal Renee Rose

Happy Hair is a call-and-response book all about boosting hair self-esteem — whether it's kinky or braided, dark or light!

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'I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark' by Debbie Levy

Role models don't come much greater than Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and this picture book all about her will inspire your own little future feminist to make their own mark on history.

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'Who Is Sonia Sotomayer?' by Megan Stine

Another fantastic role model for your feminist child is Sonia Sotomayor — and this picture book will teach children all about how to overcome obstacles and aim high.

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'I'm A Pretty Princess' by Crystal Swain-Bates

In I'm A Pretty Princess, Makayla learns an important lesson: "It’s not my castle, my wand, or the dress that I’m in. What makes me a princess is what lies within!"

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'Princess Cupcake Jones and the Dance Recital' by Ylleya Fields

Princess Cupcake Jones is nervous about her upcoming dance recital, but the more she practises the more confident she feels. With a bit of hard work and determination, she might just be able to pull it off!

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'Mary Had A Little Glam' by Tammi Sauer

Mary Had A Little Glam is a super-fun nursery rhyme retelling that represents characters of all different races and genders. It's all about the fun of getting dressed up — but the characters also learn how to dress for playtime. Looking glam is lovely — but never let your shoes or accessories get in the way of having a great time.

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'Master of Mindfulness' by Laurie Grossman

Mindfulness can help children overcome self-esteem problems, insecurities, and anxieties — and so a picture book that teaches them how to master it will help give them the confidence to take on the world.

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'Not All Princesses Dress in Pink' by Jane Yolen and Heidi Elisabet Yolen Stemple

This gorgeous rhyming text is about young girls' unlimited potential. They can climb trees, jump in puddles and play sports — and they can do it all in sparkly princess tiaras.

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'Grace for President' by Kelly S. DiPucchio

Grace can't believe there's never been a female president. When her school runs a mock election, Grace runs against a boy from her class who says he's the "best man" for the job — and all the other boys in her school seem to agree. But Grace is convinced she'd be the best person for the job — and she might just convince your little budding president to run for office one day as well.

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'Counting on Community' by Innosanto Nagara

This simple but adorable book will teach young children all about the value of community, and how to take an active role in making your world a better place.

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'This Day in June' by Gayle E. Pitman

This Day in June is a colorful celebration of LGBTQIA+ Pride, and of all the glorious and beautiful identities there are to be proud of.

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