Raising a daughter is a downright magical experience. From the moment that little girl arrives in your life, her power, charm and potential are bound to enchant you in more ways than one.
You’ll have big dreams for her the moment you hold her in your arms, but what dreams will she conjure up for herself?
It almost goes without saying that raising a girl has challenges different from that of a boy, but it’s always worth discussing what those challenges actually look like. When it comes to dreaming big, girls might need a bit more encouragement to imagine what’s possible. Not because they’re not natural leaders and creatives, but because with so much media focused on how far boys can go, you don’t want your little girl thinking she’s excluded from ambition.
Here are five books I recommend to share with your little girl to make sure she knows just how big she can dream, in order of reading level:
Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World
This is one of those picture books even parents will marvel at. With eccentric artwork and unique storytelling, the whole family will thoroughly enjoy learning about the stunning women in Susan Hood’s Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World.
One special detail from this one is the first chapter, which is a visual timeline of every story in the book. Whether you’re a preschooler or an adult, you’ll feel touched by the visual representation of the history of women’s liberation. It creates a perfect foundation of what your daughter needs to know: women haven’t always been allowed to dream big, but they’ve always been powerful enough to change the world.
You’ll enjoy exploring this book together and admiring the stunning artwork, each portrait created by a different female artist. Composed of poems, biographical information and stories even the most knowledgeable of feminists don’t know, this book will capture your little girl’s imagination.
Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World
Every child needs a hero. Perhaps your little one will be inspired by iconic explorer Amelia Earhart, fawn over the discoveries of Marie Curie or fantasize about painting masterpieces like Frida Kahlo.
Kate Pankhurt’s Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World not only tells the stories of over a dozen women trailblazers, but does so with stunning illustrations that’ll capture the imagination of any little one. Perfect for girls aged about 2-6, this bright picture book manages to pack plenty of important information into its whimsical pages.
The women featured cover just about any type of achievement you can imagine: Jane Austen, Gertrude Ederle, Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo, Marie Curie, Mary Anning, Mary Seacole, Amelia Earhart, Agent Fifi, Sacagawa, Emmeline Pankhurst, Rosa Parks and Anne Frank are all included.
After exploring these pages, your little girl will daydream about their newfound hero, obsess over the stunning adventures inside and feel confident they can one day do the same.
Mary Wears What She Wants
This playful children’s book for preschoolers and kindergarteners contains lessons we all need to be reminded of at times. Inspired by the true story of 19th-century doctor Mary Edwards Walker, Keith Negley’s Mary Wears What She Wants touches on themes related to gender roles, confidence in one’s self and the importance of challenging societal norms.
Unlike others on this list, Mary Wears What She Wants tells one cohesive story: in a time not that long ago, girls were only allowed to wear dresses, until one day, a young girl named Mary decided she would wear pants. Simple yet powerful, the message here will resonate with parents trying to encourage their daughters to do what makes them happy.
Spread out over 48 beautiful pages, the quirky artwork and offbeat page design can keep even the most energetic girl absorbed.
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History
It’s one thing for your little girl to know that she can dream big, but it’s a whole other thing for your daughter to comprehend that any girl, whether or not they look like her, can do the same. That’s when real change happens. Vashti Harrison’s Little Leaders Bold Women in Black History is the diverse storybook filled with tales of adversity and you’ve been looking for.
Focused on impressive black women in American history, this massive book tells the stories of forty women, both famous and lesser-known. It showcases women from a wide array of fields, demonstrating to little readers that there are many, many avenues to success. A few examples include abolitionist Sojourner Truth, pilot Bessie Coleman, chemist Alice Ball, politician Shirley Chisholm, mathematician Katherine Johnson, poet Maya Angelou, and filmmaker Julie Dash.
If your girl is showing impressive strides with reading, this will be a great book for her to sink her teeth into. It’s for grade levels 3-7, and has full-page and detailed biographies with enrapturing storytelling. And, with delightful illustrations, your daughter might just walk away fantasizing of creating artwork of her own.
Every little girl needs to have a thorough understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion, and Little Leaders Bold Women in Black History is a fabulous place to start.
Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World
A follow-up to Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, this equally extraordinary book expands upon the theme of diversity. Taking her storytelling around the globe, Vashti Harrison features true stories from 35 creative women from different countries in nearly every continent.
The inclusion in this one is so in-depth, even parents likely haven’t heard of these impressive women: environmental activist Wangari Maathai, architect Zaha Hadid, filmmaker Maya Deren, and physicist Chien-Shiung Wu, to name a few.
Again filled with fascinating biographies and gorgeous full-color spreads, every little girl who dives into these pages will walk away astonished at the historic women and inspired to join them.
A whole 96 pages elementary and middle schoolers alike will love, your daughter will forever dream bigger after exploring this book.