Picture Books with Strong Female Characters
These picture books with strong female characters show gender shouldn’t be a barrier to achieving your goals and illustrate female characters as complex rather than one dimensional. The characters are positive role models, relatable, challenge gender norms, learn from their mistakes, show integrity, determination, resilience, and much more.
Characteristics of Strong Female Lead Character
There are hundreds of picture books with strong female characters, particularly compared to when I was growing up!
A strong or inspiring female character doesn’t mean they are perfect. Instead, they learn, adapt, and develop a growth mindset. The picture books about strong women and girls show characters who:
- Learn about and embrace their culture and identity
- Are positive role models
- Have positive relationships, including intergenerational
- Overcome adversity and fears
- Challenge gender roles
- Develop self-esteem and confidence
- Learn from their mistakes
- Stand up for themselves and others
- Keep trying after failures or mistakes
- Are a positive influence in their communities
- Show integrity, determination, courage, resilience, and much more
Essentially, a strong female book character is complex rather than one dimensional.
Diverse Picture Books with Strong Female Characters
These books with strong female characters show the reader who and what they can be, and that gender shouldn’t be a barrier to achieving your goals.
The characters come from all corners of the world, with different economic circumstances, cultures and family dynamics.
There is sure to be a perfect choice for your classroom and you can find more strong female characters on any of my book lists!
If you are looking for resources and more books about strong female characters check out:
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
Grace’s love of reading and role-play motivates her to audition for the role of Peter Pan in the school play. The other children tell her she can’t play a boys part. Her mama and Nana tell her she can be anything she wants, helping her find the confidence to audition and win the role of Peter Pan.
Another by Christian Robinson
A young girl enters a topsy-turvy world that is similar but not quite the same as her as own. She meets other children of many ethnicities, wearing a variety of clothing and playing different games. Another will inspire discussion and questions and provide each reader with a different interpretation of the book.
Drummer Girl by Hiba Masood
Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away by Meg Medina
Best friends, Evelyn and Daniela, have to say goodbye when Evelyn’s family has to move away. As her house is packed up, the two girls play with each other in their favourite places. They know they will always be best friends, no matter where they live.
Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho
A young Asian girl notices her eyes kiss in the corners, just like her mother, grandmother and little sister. She feels empowered by this connection to her family and is filled with love and appreciation for her own identity and beauty.
Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams
In a Peshawar refugee camp, both Lina and Feroza find a matching sandal. They build a friendship and share the sandals, wearing them on alternate days. Lina and her mother are chosen to emigrate to America and gives the sandal to Feroza. But Feroza hands it back telling Lina they will share the sandals again one day.
Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry
The Hard-Times Jar by Ethel Footman Smothers
Journey by Aaron Becker
A lonely girl escapes into a mysterious world and witnesses an evil emperor capture a majestic bird. With courage, the girl outsmarts the emperor’s army to set the bird free.
Leila in Saffron by Rukhsanna Guidroz
Lila and the Crow by Gabrielle Grimard
Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed A Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy
Based on the true story of the Urban Art Trail in San Diego, California. Mira is inspired by a mural artist to transform her grey city into colour. She, in turn, inspired the community to add their voice to the mural.
Meesha Makes Friends by Tom Percival
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
Nana Akua Goes to School by Tricia Elam Walker
Zura hesitantly brings her Nana Akua to her school for Grandparents Day. With traditional Ghanian tribal markings on her face, Nana Akua looks very different from the other grandparents. She creatively explains to Zura and her classmates the meaning of her culture and why it makes her special.
Nya's Long Walk: A Step at a Time by Linda Sue Park
On a Magical Do-Nothing Day by Beatrice Alemagna
It’s pouring with rain and a girl wants to play computer games. She rushes outside when her mother tries to take the game off her, only for her to drop it in a freezing cold pond. Despite her disappointment, she curiously explores the surrounding nature feeling like “the whole world seemed brand new as if it had been created right in front of me.”
A Pair of Red Clogs by Masako Matsuno
Mako is thrilled when she gets a new pair of Geta, traditional Japanese shoes. They are shiny with red lacquer until she cracks them playing outside. She tries to fool her mother to get a new pair of Geta but soon realises honesty is the best way to go.
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad
On the first day of school sisters, Asiya and Faizah walk in hand in hand. Asiya is wearing a hijab for the first time, which represents being strong. Faizah admires her sister’s beautiful blue scarf but hears other children making fun of her. The sisters follow their mother’s advice about being strong and true to themselves in the face of bullying.
Rainbow Weaver by Linda Elovitz Marshall
Ixchel wants to continue the weaving tradition of her Mayan community. She walks around her village to find items to weave with, but only finds colourful plastic bags. As the bags pile up she decides to cut them into strips and starts weaving them, producing a rainbow fabric.
The Secret Garden by Claire Freedman
After the death of her parents in India, a young girl is sent to live in Yorkshire at the home of her uncle. Alone and bad mannered, she explores the estate and discovers a neglected and secret garden. With the help of a young gardener she makes new friends and returns the garden to its former glory.
The Sky of Afghanistan by Ana Eulate
Sofia Valdez, Future Prez by Andrea Beaty
Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth
A Story About Afiya by James Berry
Afiya wears her white dress every day. As she goes about her day, the dress becomes imprinted with memories of her day, including sunflowers, flowers, fish, butterflies and tigers. She washes her dress every night so it is ready to record more memories.
Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold
Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole
A girl is frightened when she discovers a slave hiding in a barn. Her compassion takes over when she saw the fear in their eyes and she cares for them even when slave hunters come looking for the escaped slave. She is rewarded with a doll as a token of gratitude.
Usha and the Stolen Sun by Bree Galbraith
Usha lives in a town where the sun doesn’t shine. Her grandfather tells her stories about a time when people built a wall to keep the sun to themselves. She thinks of a unique way to make sure her voice is heard. Instead of showing anger, she shares her grandfather’s stories with the people on the other side of the wall who start to remove bricks and ultimately bring down the entire wall.
Your Name Is a Song by J Thompkins-Bigelow
A young girl leaves school frustrated after a day of her classmates and teacher mispronouncing her name. On their walk home she tells her mother she doesn’t want to go back, who in turn tells her daughter “your name is a song.” She returns to school empowered and shares what she has learned.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase anything through them, I will get a small referral fee and you will be supporting me and my blog at no extra cost to you, so thank you! You can find more information here.