In honor of International Day of the Girl we wanted to come up with a list of books to introduce your child to feminism! Intersectional feminism means addressing issues related to class, gender, and race as they relate to and intersect with empowering all women and breaking down gender barriers. The books on this list intersect in discussions of class, race, gender, and sexual orientation through fairytales, historical narratives, and realistic fiction.
My Princess Boy
Written by Cheryl Kilodavis
Illustrated by Suzanne DeSimone
This delightful book was inspired by Cheryl Kilodavis’ experience with her own son, who had a love for all things princess. Kilodavis and Suzanne DeSimone have put together a wonderful book that addresses what it means to be a boy who loves princess things in a society that might not understand. The book touches upon the wonderful relationship between the Princess Boy and his brother who loves sports, people looking at the Princess Boy funny out in public, and ways that readers can work to support themselves or their peers whose interests don’t necessarily align with gender norms. This is a wonderful book for any child- the message encourages acceptance of oneself and others and normalizes breaking traditional gender roles.
King and King
Written by Linda de Haan
Illustrated by Stern Nijland
King and King follows the journey of a prince who is faced with the task of finding a princess to marry in order to rule the kingdom together. After meeting several princesses who seem quite nice but don’t spark the prince’s fancy, the prince meets another prince with whom he really hits it off. This sweet and funny story of a prince’s unsuccessful search for a princess but successful union with a prince normalizes love in all shapes and sizes for little readers.
The Paper Bag Princess
Written by Robert Munsch
Illustrated by Michael Martchenko
This comical book follows a smitten princess who, through a series of adventurous and brave acts to save her kingdom and her prince, realizes her own power and the relative snobbery and dullness of the prince whose attention she once sought after. The message in this book contradicts the common princess narrative of a young woman waiting to be saved- this proactive princess can save herself.
Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909
Written by Michelle Markel
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Introduce your reader to the inspiring true story of Clara Lemlich, a Ukrainian immigrant to the U.S in the early 1900s, who lead the largest walkout of women workers in the garment industry in her time. The mistreatment of women, many of them very young, in the labour industry of the time is chronicled in this story, as well as the bravery of Clara Lemlich and her fight for workers’ rights. Introduce your little one to the power of an individual and the immense possibilities of coming together as a group to create change.
Written by Barb Rosenstock
Illustrated by Gerard DuBois
Dorothea’s Eyes is a charmingly illustrated book that tells the story of Dorothea Lange, a Depression era documentary photographer and photojournalist. The story starts with a young Dorothea struggling with polio and financial issues and follows her journey to bucking against convention as a woman and becoming a prominent photojournalist. Part of her eye for photography is accredited to her tenderness towards struggle - that because Dorothea experienced hardships herself as someone who struggled with disability, class, and gender discrimination, she was able to humanize the struggles of the subjects of her portraits.
Rad American Women A-Z
Written by Kate Schatz
Illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl
This radical alphabet book is populated by some incredible American women- activists, authors, artists and the like line the pages in a sort of thesaurus of America’s rad women. Use this book to introduce your little one to some seriously amazing women who stuck to their ideals and fought for what they believed in. This is a great read for all ages and delving into it together will be a treat!
Introduce your young reader to these books and use them as a jumping off point to start conversations about their roles and the roles of others in society- and ways we can continue to break boundaries to express ourselves!