All products and services featured are independently selected by Forbes Shopping contributors and editors. When you make a purchase through links on this page, we may earn a commission. Learn more
As we celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day and the achievements of women throughout history, how do we empower the next generation of bold leaders? Look no further than your bookshelf. The past year has brought an inspiring collection of children’s books by powerful women for ambitious and curious girls that can help expand an early reader’s sense of what’s possible and inspire minds of any age.
The World Needs Who You Were Made To Be by Joanna Gaines
If you’re in search of the perfect read for your child on International Women’s Day, or any time of year, here are seven of the best children’s books to add to your collection. From authors like Meena Harris and Joanna Gaines, each of these new and notable titles infuses themes of confidence and empowerment within its pages through courageous female characters, messages that break damaging stereotypes, and spotlighting untold stories that can inspire children of all ages to be all that they can be.
All too often, women shy away from their ambition, downplay their dreams, and diminish their strengths. The second children’s book from Meena Harris, bestselling author and Phenomenal founder, sets out to rewrite this narrative for girls everywhere, encouraging them to banish the bias surrounding what it means to be an ambitious woman.
The story’s tiny protagonist sets out to reclaim her power and takes inspiration from Harris’ own family of strong, independent women, including her barrier-breaking aunt, Vice President Kamala Harris. Ambitious Girl is an important read for little girls everywhere to combat the all-too-common negative connotations associated with being a bold, ambitious woman.
Real-life Sophia Spencer always had a passion for bugs. Still, as she entered first grade, her love for tiny insects was quickly met with bullying, and nearly extinguished altogether when classmates stomped on a grasshopper she brought to school. After watching her daughter’s despair, Sophia’s mom reached out to an entomology society in the hopes of finding a bug scientist-turned-penpal who could offer words of encouragement and inspiration to her daughter. Supportive messages quickly flooded in, and Sophia’s story went viral with a global community of entomologists, scientists, and fellow insect enthusiasts rallying behind Sophia to rekindle her passion.
Sophia’s story offers hope to children who struggle with feeling different that they too can find their place in the world, encouraging them to stay true to themselves regardless of what others may think. It’s also a celebration of women in science and the young girls like Sophia that they inspire.
In her latest children’s book, bestselling author and Instagram executive Eva Chen brings us the one-of-a-kind Roxy, the half-dinosaur half-unicorn who struggles to fit in when her dinosaur classmates refuse to play outside their species. Inspired by her daughter who was told, ‘girls don’t like dinosaurs, they only like princesses,’ Chen whimsically celebrates the power of her characters’ differences. Illustrator Mathew Rivera’s unapologetic use of vibrant pinks, purples, and glitter furthers this message that self-expression has no rules. For any child who questions where they belong, Roxy is a testament to the fact that when you’re comfortable in your own skin and remain true to yourself, your best self shines through.
As the first Black woman to become a principal dancer in the prestigious American Ballet Theater, Misty Copeland has shattered countless stereotypes throughout her history-making rise. Bunheads is one of her latest efforts to expand inclusivity in the world of dance. The book follows a young Misty as she discovers her passion for ballet and immerses herself in a studio filled with dancers of different backgrounds, body types, and ethnicities, a diversity that was lacking as Copeland ascended the ranks. With the hope of inspiring young readers to believe that they can be anything, Bunheads underscores the power of representation in that pursuit.
Encouraging children to love themselves exactly as they are while celebrating each other’s differences is the inspiring message behind Magnolia maven and best-selling author Joanna Gaines’ latest children’s book. The story follows a group of children who work together to build hot air balloons and throughout the process, discover their own unique talents and the value of each other’s distinct contributions. Illustrator Julianna Swaney’s imagery is a vibrant and charming complement to Gaines’ timely message. “You’re one of a kind, and it’s so clear to see: The world needs who you were made to be,” she writes of this powerful reminder for anyone at any age.
Timeless children’s fables aim to instill essential life lessons and values such as empathy and kindness, but the story protagonists are predominantly male-dominated, noted award-winning actress Natalie Portman when reading these classics to her daughter. In Fables, Portman brings a modern take to three stories, The Tortoise and the Hare, to The Three Little Pigs and Country Mouse and City Mouse. By placing female characters to the forefront and reimagining these tales, she playfully retells these timeless classics so that her daughter and little girls everywhere can see themselves within the heroines of each story.
Through her collection of 28 empowering poems, author and illustrator Brantley-Newton celebrates self-acceptance and encourages young girls to appreciate the many dimensions that make them unique. Each poem offers an opportunity for readers to better understand the experiences that cultivate their character and inspire individuality. Because every girl contains multitudes, the poems are meant to uplift and inspire young girls to embrace and be proud of who they are, without apologizing for any aspect of themselves.
Moira Forbes hosts the video series “Success with Moira Forbes.” She is publisher of ForbesWomen, a multi-media platform serving successful women in business and