It’s a group effort to raise young girls in our society. While stories and media have evolved over the years to increasingly show how girls can be the heroes of their own stories, instead of damsels or sidekicks, there’s still more work to be done. We can work together by creating and highlighting stories that showcase girls and women living authentically with integrity, determination, courage, and self-esteem.
Research finds that girls’ confidence tends to peak at around age nine, dropping into the tween and teen years. One way to support and empower young girls is through stories. Books can inspire and introduce new perspectives, showing a diverse range of ways to think and be strong in our world.
Girls need positive role models with confidence-boosting messages to remind them what they’re capable of, no matter what sphere they enter.
Here are some of our favorite picture books to help empower our youngest readers, leaders, and visionaries.
I Can Be Anything! Don’t Tell Me I Can’t
Written by Diane Dillon
This lyrical picture book features Zoe, a girl with big dreams who’s accompanied by a nagging worry in her head–what if she can’t achieve her goals? But Zoe overcomes her fears and sets out on a path ahead with boldness and confidence that readers will be inspired by.
Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way to Win
Written by Claire Noland and illustrated by Alicia Teba
Evie is a layered protagonist who demonstrates resilience and inner strength when she learns from her mistakes during her school’s field day. After reading the book aloud, extend the conversation about character development and integrity with our fun and engaging reader’s guide.
Eyes That Kiss in the Corners
Written by Joanna Ho
When a young Asian girl notices how her eyes differ from her classmates, she draws a connection between herself and the powerful, strong women in her life. A story of self-acceptance and self-love, this book shows how every girl can appreciate her own identity.
Dear Girl,: A Celebration of Wonderful, Smart, Beautiful You!
Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Paris Rosenthal and illustrated by Holly Hatam
Everyone needs a pep talk now and then, and this picture book delivers. No matter how brightly little girls bloom, there are still days where a few beautiful words of encouragement, delivered in Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s signature gentle style, do wonders to lift a girl up.
Have fun with this FREE Book Lover’s Word Search the Cardinal Rule Press team created.
Written by Matthew A. Cherry and illustrated by Vashti Harrison
Not only does Hair Love help promote self-esteem and owning one’s own identity, it also depicts the sort of strong, caring intergenerational relationship that all young girls deserve, illustrated through the tender bond between Zuri and her father.
I Am a Warrior Goddess
Written by Jennifer Adams and illustrated by Carme Lemniscates
The simplicity of language and prose in this story elevates the deeper message here–we all have wells of power within ourselves, and it’s ours to keep and hold. Not only that, we can use that potential for good in the world.
I Am Enough
Written by Grace Byers and illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo
This book is a story, a poem, and a proud statement for girls to internalize: “I am enough” as I am, and I don’t need to change or fit myself into someone else’s narrow definition of what it means to be a girl in this world.
She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World
by Chelsea Clinton and illustrated by Alexandra Boiger
This book showcases 13 women who have paved the way for the next generation to follow their dreams, stand up for themselves and their ideas, and most importantly, continue to persist, regardless of the obstacles placed in their way. This inspiring series now includes selections focusing on international women, women in science, and female athletes, with more to come.
Don’t forget to download the Cardinal Rule Press FREE Book Lover’s Word Search – how quickly can you find all the words?
Christie Megill is an editorial and marketing intern at Cardinal Rule Press and she spends most of her spare time reading children’s books. She has experience as a writer, elementary school teacher, curriculum developer, and literacy specialist.