We want all children to grow into adults who feel confident and capable, able to fully access their own unique strengths and abilities in their lives.
The books listed below depict girls (and women) having adventures, making discoveries and contributions, expressing strong emotions, or building things. Several choices are past or current Growing Readers Books of Excellence titles.
Preschool/Kindergarten Prep and UpDrum Dream Girl. Written by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Rafael López. Girls were not allowed to drum so Drum Dream Girl practiced alone in silence, until her music became so bright that everyone heard and loved it. Based on the true story of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, who challenged the Cuban taboo against female drummers.
Leyla. Written and Illustrated by Galia Bernstein. Leyla has a big, loving, loud family. They like to hug her. They like to kiss her. But sometimes it’s all too much. When Leyla runs away, she meets a lizard who teaches her to “sit perfectly still, feel the sun on your skin…and think of nothing at all.”
Madame Saqui. Written and Illustrated by Lisa Robinson and Rebecca Green. This charming book tells the story of Marguerite LaLanne, legendary tightrope walker and ropedancer, who faced adversity with moxie and spirit. Set against the French Revolution, this book will have young readers cheering for Marguerite and her petite revolution.
Saturday. Written and Illustrated by Oge Mora. For Ava and her mom, Saturdays are special. But what happens when their special day turns into a disaster? They take a deep breath, focus on the good, and find a solution, of course! Bright illustrations complement this story of family togetherness and resilience
Maybe Something Beautiful. Written by Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell; illustrated by Rafael López. The true story of how one artist gathered a community to create beauty with art.
School-AgeHer Fearless Run. Written by Kim Chaffee; illustrated by Ellen Rooney. The true story of Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon with official race numbers.
My Day With the Payne. Written by Tami Charles; illustrated by Sara Palacios. Fallon wants to carry the panye to the market. Her mother tells her to be patient, one step at a time, and Fallon succeeds in the end. Vibrant illustrations and lyrical prose depict a Haitian family’s love and strength.
Nina: A Story of Nina Simone. Written by Traci N. Todd; illustrated by Christian Robinson. Nina grew up playing jazz with her dad and hymns with her mama. She later attended Julliard and played at Carnegie Hall. But her most significant achievement was her role in the Civil Rights Movement. Nina beautifully captures her inspiring life.
The Singer and the Scientist. Written by Lisa Roe; illustrated by Isabel Munoz. In 1937, Marian Anderson sang at the McCarter Theatre. The all-white audience applauded her, but forgot her as soon as the curtain went down. The theater owner even refused to find her a room for the night. Fortunately, physicist Albert Einstein saw Marian’s performance and invited her to stay with him. This charming book describes the lifelong friendship of these two remarkable people.