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Here’s to the Girls: Girl Power Picture Book Roundup

International Day of the Girl is October 11! The UN dubbed the day to celebrate girls across the globe and to honor trailblazers and innovators who empower girls. Girls totally rock, and we want to celebrate their amazing contributions every day of the year. When girls live in a world that feels safe and supportive, the change they can create is infinite. Here is a collection of our favorite picture books that honor the power of girls and showcase strong, independent females!

Wood, Wire, Wings by Kirsten W. Larson; illustrated by Tracy Subisak

In the early 1900s, self-taught engineer Emma Lilian Todd tackled one of the greatest challenges of that time: designing an airplane. This nonfiction picture book biography explores Lilian’s successes and failures as she tinkered and fiddled with all sorts of objects, turning dreams into useful inventions. She took inspiration from nature and her many failures, driving herself to perfect the design that would eventually fly successfully.

Grace Banker and Her Hello Girls Answer the Call by Claudia Friddell; illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley

From a telephone switchboard trainer in New York to her pioneering role as the Chief Operator of the 1st Unit of World War I telephone operators in the battlefields of France, this STEM picture book follows the unique, little-known journey of Grace Banker. Both author and illustrator relied on extensive research and worked closely with Grace Banker’s granddaughter and an adult historian to ensure accurate and balanced portrayals of life in the early 20th century.

Brown Sugar Babe by Charlotte Watson Sherman; illustrated by Akem

The little girl featured in this empowering picture book doesn’t want to be brown. So her mother shares with her all the beautiful, incredible things that are also brown: calming beaches, cute animals, elegant violins, and more. Through lyrical words and stunning illustrations, it soon becomes clear that this brown sugar babe should be proud of the skin she’s in.

Lizzie Demands a Seat! By Beth Anderson; illustrated by E. B. Lewis

Many know the story of Rosa Parks, but what about Elizabeth “Lizzie” Jennings? One hundred years before Parks took her stand, Lizzie tried to board a streetcar in New York City on her way to church, and although there were plenty of empty seats, she was denied entry, assaulted, and threatened all because of her race. New York was a free state at the time, so Lizzie decided to fight back. She took up a case in court and was represented by future president Chester Arthur, which she ended up winning!

Born to Swing by Mara Rockliff; illustrated by Michele Wood

“Hot Miss Lil” Hardin Armstrong grew up musically inclined, jamming at home, church, and her first job in a music store. But at the time, the only place for a woman in jazz was behind a microphone. Lil Hardin changed that notion when she earned a spot playing piano in Chicago’s hottest band, achieved fame as a bandleader and composer, and “swung” with many of the greatest early jazz musicians, including her husband, Louis Armstrong.

Fight of the Century by Barb Rosenstock; illustrated by Sarah Green

This energetic nonfiction picture book creatively presents the fight for women’s suffrage between women’s rights leader Alice Paul and President Woodrow Wilson. Cleverly framed as a boxing match, Fight of the Century provides a fascinating and compelling look at a critical moment in American history.

Astronaut Training by Aneta Cruz; illustrated by Olivia Aserr

Astrid is training to go to space but realizes she isn’t as ready as she thought. Luckily Astrid has a loving and supportive Dad who helps her use problem-solving and STEM skills to find solutions and get ready to blast off!

LillyBelle by Joana Pastro; illustrated by Jhon Ortiz

Other damsels might quake with fear when faced with the danger of giants, ogres, and witches, but not LillyBelle. When one villain after another captures her, LillyBelle uses charm and wit to save herself and prove once and for all that damsels don’t have to be in distress. 

It’s a Girl Thing! by Pri Ferrari

The first children’s book from author and illustrator Pri Ferrar, It’s a Girl Thing! answers questions like “What do girls like to do?” and “What can they be?” This fun and inspiring book stands as a reminder to girls that they are strong and capable.