20 Children's Books With Strong Female Characters

Posted by Cybil on August 16, 2018


Back-to-School Reading is sponsored by LEGO Friends.

Children's books featuring bold and brave girls are both becoming easier for parents to find, and also cover a large range of topics sure to appeal to every type of young reader. Check out these 20 children's books featuring strong female characters. Each of these picks has earned at least a four-star average rating from fellow readers—reviews from kids and parents alike.

You'll find some long-time favorite characters here, including Pippi and Anne, and meet some new girls whose interests and passions include science, politics, civil rights, space travel, ninjas, sharks, and reading.

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Rate this book
Clear rating

Have a great children's book recommendation to add to the mix? Please share it with your fellow readers in the comments!

Check out more recent blogs:

Beginner Book Club Picks from Our Readers
Bill Gates Shares His Top Picks for Summer Reading
The Hottest Books of Summer

Comments Showing 1-46 of 46 (46 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Chris (last edited Aug 16, 2018 08:50AM) (new)

Chris What, no Madeline? Ah well.

Some of my favorite children's books featuring strong female characters are Strega Nona (she speaks softly and carries a big stick), Junie B. Jones (one of the funniest characters I read when growing up), pretty much anything by Virginia Lee Burton (especially Mary Anne the Steam Shovel), and Library Lil (literally a strong female protagonist).


message 2: by Tracey (new)

Tracey Or Meg in A Wrinkle in TIme?


message 3: by Doris (new)

Doris It's a little obscure, but I'd like to put in a plug for They Loved to Laugh by Kathryn Worth. Based upon the story of the author's grandparents, it's set in the antebellum South. The heroine is an orphan who is adopted by a Quaker family. While her mother had been the daughter of slaveholders and had been determined to see her daughter raised 'as a lady', her new family implicitly expects her to be able to make herself useful. She takes their lessons to heart and goes so far as to become, in her own modest way, an entrepreneur of sorts.


message 4: by Teri-K (new)

Teri-K Caddie Woodlawn
Tuesdays at the Castle
Betsy-Tacy

If you skew the list for slightly older/better readers you get a landslide of books.


message 5: by Tina (new)

Tina Casteris Harriet the Spy!!


message 6: by Raven (new)

Raven Black A couple of these have strong females, but I was not really a fan of them..... I always dislike when that happens.


message 7: by Laura (new)


message 8: by Bárbara (new)

Bárbara Laura wrote: "Mafalda 1 by Quino!"

Mafalda's not a really a children's story, though. The political approach and the majority of the jokes in those stories are aimed at a mostly adult readership.
I do love the stories and I agree that more people need to read and should know it, but I wouldn't call it a children's story.


message 9: by Cathy (new)

Cathy Ashley Nancy Blackett - Swallows and Amazons


message 11: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Little Women was my favorite book as a child because of the strong female characters.


message 12: by Nicolene (new)

Nicolene I would also recommend Little Women for ages 8 and up.A truly inspiring story and bound to awaken a little fire in any child


message 13: by Ally (new)

Ally September from Catherynne Valente's The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is another wonderful example of strong girls in children's literature!


message 14: by Brandi (new)

Brandi Patricia Briggs books, particularly Mercy Thompson series.


message 15: by sabisteb aka callisto (last edited Aug 17, 2018 01:22AM) (new)

sabisteb aka callisto A few more:
Astrid Lindgren: Ronja Räubertochter
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1...

Tamora Pierce - Song of the Lioness
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1...

Magda Trott - Pommerle
Old Books from the 1930s where Pommerle allready becomes a photographer.
Series https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3...

Magda Trott - Göldköpfchen Series.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3...
Also the female character becomes a photographer in the 1930ies.

Generally the Marion Zimmer Bradley Books, especially the Darkover Series. I loved them as a Teenager.

Jill Murphy - Worst Witch Series
https://www.goodreads.com/search?q=wo...

Caroline Lawrence - Roman Mysteries Series - Flavia is a very cunning girl
https://www.goodreads.com/series/5104...

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Books.

Desplechin, Marie - Verte
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3...

Tara Duncan Series
https://www.goodreads.com/series/8173...


message 16: by Amy (new)

Amy Swamp Angel
Dust Devil
The Ghosts of Luckless Gulch
Treehouse Tales
(All by Anne Isaacs)


message 17: by Priscilla (new)

Priscilla King Doris wrote: "It's a little obscure, but I'd like to put in a plug for They Loved to Laugh by Kathryn Worth. Based upon the story of the author's grandparents, it's set in the anteb..."

I remember liking that one too.


message 18: by Priscilla (new)

Priscilla King Teri-K wrote: "Caddie Woodlawn
Tuesdays at the Castle
Betsy-Tacy

If you skew the list for slightly older/better readers you get a landslide of books."


Nice to see that someone else remembers "Caddie Woodlawn."


message 19: by Priscilla (new)

Priscilla King I wouldn't recommend MZB for children; she was a good writer but teachers would probably be fired for giving such "occult"/Pagan books to kids.

Good to see a recommendation for "Little House" though. The pictures, large type, and gentle tone seem to set people up to expect a nicely-nice story line. Wrong. Characters are tough as nails and lead hard lives. Laura (and Almanzo in his story) take it all in, matter of fact, whether "it" is singing "Home Sweet Home" around the fire or a gang of unpaid workers threatening Pa's life. (Or, in the recent flap, people saying horrible racist things and nicer people saying nicer things. Duh. When you have to be matter-of-fact about whether the food will last through the big snow, you don't get bent out of shape by hearing somebody say something ugly.)


message 20: by Mary T. Peppiatt (new)

Mary T. Peppiatt A real oldie, “Caddie Woodlawn”


message 21: by Allison (new)

Allison What? No Nancy Drew?


message 22: by Priscilla (new)

Priscilla King I'm mentally walking through the children's corner at the library, circa 1979 (but some of my fictional girl friends may have been checked out)...these are the ones that come to mind first *and have not already been mentioned*:

Aiken, Joan: Wolves of Willoughby Chase & many sequels; Arabel's Raven and three sequels; more
Allee, Marjorie: Susanna & Tristram
Barne, Kitty: Barbie (not about the doll)
Brink, Carol Ryrie: actually all of hers, not *only* Caddie Woodlawn
Burnett, Frances Hodgson: Little Princess
Cleary, Beverly: others, not *only* Ramona
Cameron, Eleanor: Room Made of Windows
Campbell, Hope: There's a Pizza Back in Cleveland
Coatsworth, Elizabeth: Alice All by Herself
Danziger, Paula: The Cat Ate My Gym Suit
Ferris, Jean: hadn't yet written the Marigold series; I don't remember her early books as especially good, but it's hard not to like Marigold
Frank, Anne: Diary of a Young Girl (so who said these had to be fiction?)
Gallico, Paul: Thomasina (the woman character's much better than in the movie, but the cat's a real character)
Gates, Doris: Blue Willow
Jackson, Jacqueline: Missing Melinda (and others)
Keller, Helen: Story of My Life
Kelley, Sally: Trouble with Explosives
Konigsburg, E.L.: all of hers, even the ones with male protagonists
L'Engle, Madeleine: all of hers
Lenski, Lois: Indian Captive, and others
Lindbergh, Anne: Worry Week and others (later than 1979 but who cares?)
Lyle, Katie Letcher: I Will Go Barefoot All Summer for You
Lyon, Elinor: Run Away Home and sequels (and others)
McNair, Kate: Book of Directions (very consciousness-raising)
Nesbit, E.: Five Children and It (and sequels)
Oakley, Helen: Horse on the Hill
Oneal, Zibby: Formal Feeling
Patchett, Mary Elwyn: Ajax
Pevsner, Stella: Break a Leg
Peyton, K.M.: Fly by Night
Pratchett, Terry: all of'em (later than 1979 and not written *primarily* for children, but who cares?)
Raskin, Ellen: Mysterious Disappearance of Leon
Richoux, Pat: Follow the Leader
Sharmat, Marjorie: Getting Something on Maggie Marmelstein (and sequels)
Sleator, William: House of Stairs
Snedeker, Caroline Dale: Downright Dencey (lots of Native American and brunette bashing, but the characters can take it)
Speare, Elizabeth: Witch of Blackbird Pond
Spyri, Johanna: Heidi
Sterling, Dorothy: Mary Jane (it's about bullying in general, so despite the outdated-not-historical race motif it still seemed worth reading)
Stolz, Mary: Who Wants Music on Monday, and others
Voigt, Cynthia: Homecoming, the rest of that series, and others


message 23: by Rhyneelaine (new)

Rhyneelaine Caddie Woodlawn gets my vote.


message 24: by Parker (new)

Parker Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching series (Wee Free Men, Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith, I Shall Wear Midnight, Shepard's Crown) and Dodger
Rick Riordan--any of his
Susan Cooper--The Dark is Rising series.
Jean Craighead George--Julie of the Wolves series
Jacqueline Kelly-The Calournia series

For older readers only (probably would be considered YA)
L. A. Mayer--Bloody Jack series


message 25: by Priscilla (new)

Priscilla King Parker wrote: "Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching series (Wee Free Men, Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith, I Shall Wear Midnight, Shepard's Crown) and Dodger
Rick Riordan--any of his
Susan Cooper--The Dark is Rising ser..."


I don't remember Jane as particularly strong in "Dark Is Rising," but thanks for remembering Julie of the Wolves. (I remembered "My Side of the Mountain" and some animal-focussed picture books.)


message 26: by Parker (new)

Parker I was thinking more of her intelligence and ability to follow clues to solve the map puzzle and her mental strength when the anfac tries to get her to tell her "secret"

I read Julie of the Wolves in Library Science class and just fell in love. I'd spent a lot of my youth rewriting stories like Scaramouche to feature a strong female who didn't need rescuing and lo and behold! Here was that strong girl I'd been looking for.


message 27: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Savage I know there are too many wonderful examples a strong female characters but I would be remiss if I didn't add Amazing Grace to this list! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7...


message 28: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Berris Tina wrote: "Harriet the Spy!!"

My sister and I loved this book so much.


message 29: by Cheryl cormier (new)

Cheryl cormier Because of Winn Dixie!


message 30: by Jess (new)

Jess I see a lot of comments, a lot of recommended book, and I really want to buy them all. My niece lives in Italy, and it makes me actually sad to know that not even half of these books will ever be translated (we just have Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, and I think I´ve seen a Wome in Science book). Mostly, there are just cute books that are full of stupid things.
Well, I guess I´ll have to teach her english ;)


message 31: by Ingrid (new)

Ingrid Lundh Pippi Long Stocking by Astrid Lindstrøm


message 32: by Ingrid (new)

Ingrid Lundh *Astrid Lindgren


message 33: by Sarah (new)

Sarah I want to mention “The Apple Pip Princess”. It is a fairy tale, but an unexpected one, and the unlikely hero is not just a girl, she is a child. I think it speaks to people of any gender. Jane Ray’s illustrations are also magnificent.


message 34: by Laura (new)

Laura Brandi wrote: "Patricia Briggs books, particularly Mercy Thompson series."
You did notice this is a children's book list right? While the Mercy books are fantastic, there's kind of a lot or rape and murder going on.


message 35: by Wajma (last edited Oct 04, 2019 07:31AM) (new)

Wajma Soltan https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRPMM...- check out my Youtube Book Trailer. Through a Friend’s Eyes is a children’s book that can show children from all over the world that differences are what makes the world such a beautiful place to live. Currently available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=wajma+solt...
Barnes & Nobels: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/thro...
Apple books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id148...
Rakuten Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/thro...
Thank you so much!


message 36: by Ian (new)

Ian D Is no one going to mention Hermione Granger, the "cleverest witch of her age we've ever met"? Yes, the Harry Potter Series ' namesake is a boy but Hermione is as much as a protagonist as Harry.
I was a fully-grown man when I read the first book and Hermione has been an inspiration ever since. I can't fathom the impact her character would have made had I read it as a child, let alone if I were a girl. She's certainly the role model I want my daughter to have.


message 37: by Weeva, (new)

Weeva, A Social Publisher This book is brand new, The Inventor in the Pink Pajamas. It features 9 year old Brooke Fairley as she explores the origins of everyday inventions and imagines her own. Also has a really nice relationship between Brooke and her grandfather that's fun to see.

The author is giving away 10 of the hardcopy edition. The giveaway runs until 4/30


message 38: by Weeva, (last edited May 09, 2020 01:56PM) (new)

Weeva, A Social Publisher Ian wrote: "Is no one going to mention Hermione Granger, the "cleverest witch of her age we've ever met"? Yes, the Harry Potter Series ' namesake is a boy but Hermione is as much as a protagonist..."

Totally agree that Hermione should be on this list. I love how smart she is, yet so feminine - pretty, resourceful and perceptive. I love how she tries help Ron and Harry understand feminine ways, while more than holding her own in any fight.


message 39: by Mairwen (new)

Mairwen As a child I was a voracious reader (still am), but I never felt the need for 'strong' female characters (whatever that means!) in children's books. It didn't and doesn't alter the way I am, and I think that probably applies to most people. Many adults seem to think kids need someone to identify with in the books they read. I disagree. Most kids just enjoy the story, they take it at face value and don't go all analytical. Any objections on the grounds of perceived violence, stereotyping or 'political incorrectness' are voiced by adults too, from an adult perspective. If children read books about exciting battles between pirate gangs on the high seas, that doesn't have to mean they are all going to become pirates when they grow up! However I must mention one or two female characters I always liked: Nancy Blackett in the Swallows & Amazons series by Arthur Ransome and George/Georgina in Enid Blyton's Famous Five series.


message 40: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear I grew up with Laura Ingalls, Anne Shirley, and the March sisters. I also loved Pippi and Ramona, Caddie Woodlawn and the American Girl characters. Not to mention Pollyanna, Mary Lennox The Secret Garden (who starts off neither bold, nor brave or even likable), Sarah Crew A Little Princess, Heidi, Emily of New Moon, Rose Eight Cousins, Sarah, Plain and Tall

When I was older, I loved Number the Stars, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes


message 41: by Chris (new)

Chris Hall Plucky heroines Bryony and Bethany find themselves in the 'olden times' where they become embroiled in a fight to save their new friends from the evil lord of the manor.
Following the Green Rabbit: a fantastical adventure


message 42: by Forked (last edited Jun 22, 2020 08:18AM) (new)

Forked Radish The "Island of the Blue Dolphins" by Scott O'Dell is an excellent choice.


message 43: by Lois (new)

Lois Carrie in Carrie's Flight, The Round Box and Magic Wanda.


message 44: by Missy (new)

Missy Tarantino Nicolene wrote: "I would also recommend Little Women for ages 8 and up.A truly inspiring story and bound to awaken a little fire in any child"

Jennifer wrote: "Little Women was my favorite book as a child because of the strong female characters."

I grew up with this one as well. My cousin and I would pretend to be Meg and Jo every time we got together.


message 45: by Ahana! (new)

Ahana! What about Amelia Bedelia! Oh and Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls has 3 parts along with a journal and 4 chapter books! Definite read!


message 46: by Ahana! (new)

Ahana! Ian wrote: "Is no one going to mention Hermione Granger, the "cleverest witch of her age we've ever met"? Yes, the Harry Potter Series ' namesake is a boy but Hermione is as much as a protagonist..."

Actually, I was about to put that input but then realised that you guys already had! She should definitely be part of the list eventhough she is not the main protagonist!

Thanks for making this list anyway Cybil!
Very inspiring!

I am glad that there are others who agree!

Eitherways,


back to top