Feminist Children’s Books for Women’s Day

2018 is a special year for women: 100 years have passed since women were first allowed to vote in the UK, but we still have a long way to go towards gender equality. There’s lots going on in the world including the campaign for equal pay and the Time’s up campaign driven by Hollywood actresses and other TV personalities to shout out about women’s rights. 

The publishing world aimed at young readers is bringing out lots of lovely books about new icons and ideas, the history of women as well as books authored by inspirational women and I am becoming an avid reader of feminist children’s books. And by that I don’t mean excluding boys from reading these stories. In fact it is time that boys get exposed to inspiring women’s literature. My 11 year son has been brought up reading feminist children’s books and I hope this will help him become a more sensitive man one day. One of the books we treasure is Good night stories for Rebel Girls which London Mums chose as children’s book of the year in 2017.

One of my favourite new books is the Anthology of of Amazing Women – Trailblazers who dared to be different (Hardback | £12.99 | Age 8 plus) written by Sandra Lawrence, illustrated by Nathan Collins and published by Bonnier/20 Watt.

There’s a quote by Sandra Lawrence in the introduction that sums up why I love women’s literature: 

 “Throughout history, as men have achieved extraordinary feats, women have been there too, often doing the same things, while dressed in long skirts, corsets and high heels. That is of course, if they’ve been allowed to do it in the first place…” .

     

This beautifully illustrated collection tells the awe-inspiring stories of fifty women who have pushed the boundaries of human excellence and endeavour. 

Featuring incredible women from the past and present such as Beyonce, Sheryl Sandberg, Mary Anning, Emmeline Pankhurst and Malala Yousafzai and more, these women stand out for their acheivements in sport, science, the arts, politics and history.

Learn all about the women who have made huge contributions to today’s society, altered the course of history and inspired generations.

Sandra Lawrence is an author and journalist from London. She is the author of two history books for ages 9-12: Grisly History: Death and Destruction and Grisly History: Trials and Treachery for Weldon Owen. Sandra has regularly contributed features to newspapers and has also written for magazines, including Marie Claire and Country Life.

There are many classic and new feminist children’s books that Penguin Random House Children publishers, in particular, are publishing this March to celebrating Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day. This round-up of books are aimed to the next generation of feminists including female authors and artists to be inspired by, women-centred stories to learn from, fantastic heroines to befriend. From time-travellers to detectives, supermodels to superpowers, this collection includes something for everyone, regardless of age or gender. 

My favourite include the following:

Mummy Fairy and Me by Sophie Kinsella

My mummy looks normal, like any other mummy . . . but she’s not. Because she can turn into a fairy. She just has to shut her eyes tight, say ‘Marshmallow’ . . . and POOF! She’s Mummy Fairy.

Ella’s family have a big secret… her mummy is a fairy! She can do amazing spells with her computawand to make delicious cupcakes, create the perfect birthday party, and cause chaos at the supermarket. But sometimes the spells go a bit wrong and that’s when Ella comes to the rescue!

Magic and mayhem in this sweet and funny new series from global bestselling author Sophie Kinsella, with charming illustratrations throughout from Marta Kissi. I read it in one sitting and laughed out loud! Watch this space as I will be interviewing Sophie again. She is irresistibly charming. 

This book is suitable for children aged 5+. Price: £5.99 Format: Paperback 

 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Puffin Classics Re-Issue)

  

When two rich young gentlemen move to town, they don’t go unnoticed – especially when Mrs Bennett vows to have one of her five daughters marry into their fortunes. But love, as Jane and Elizabeth Bennett soon discover, is rarely straightforward, and often surprising. It’s only a matter of time until their own small worlds are turned upside down and they discover that first impressions can be the most misleading of all. This edition features a behind-the-scenes journey, including an author profile, a guide to who’s who and various activities. 

Jane Austen’s beautifully observed romantic comedy, specially abridged for Puffin Classics. Pride and Prejudice is one of six Puffin Classics being reissued by Penguin Random House Children’s Books, in a stunning new series design by contemporary, up-and-coming designers. Suitable for children aged 12+. Price: £6.99

 

 Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison

Featuring 40 trailblazing black women from across the world and throughout history, this educational and inspiring book relates the true stories of women who broke boundaries and exceeded all expectations. Debut author/illustrator Vashti Harrison pairs captivating text with stunning artwork as she tells the stories of both iconic and lesser-known female figures of black history: from nurse Mary Seacole, to politician Diane Abbott, mathematician Katherine Johnson to singer Shirley Bassey. Readers will find new heroes and role models with these women who did extraordinary things. Suitable for pre-schoolers. Price: £12.99 – Format: Hardback – Age: 5+ 

 

A Spoonful of Murder: A Murder Most Unladylike Mystery by Robin Stevens

 

When Hazel Wong’s beloved grandfather passes away, Daisy Wells is all too happy to accompany her friend (and Detective Society Vice President) to Hazel’s family estate in beautiful, bustling Hong Kong. But when they arrive they discover something they didn’t expect: there’s a new member of the Wong family. Daisy and Hazel think baby Teddy is enough to deal with, but as always the girls are never far from a mystery. Tragedy strikes very close to home, and this time Hazel isn’t just the detective. She’s been framed for murder!

Robin is a lovely young and talented author whom I always love catching up with.

The sixth book in the series takes the characters outside of the UK for the first time – readers will love exploring and learning about Hong Kong’s culture alongside Daisy. The first in the series, Murder Most Unladylike, was the biggest middle-grade debut of 2014, winning the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize (Young Fiction category).

 

Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter (Puffin Classics Re-Issue)

As soon as Pollyanna arrives in Beldingsville to live with her strict and dutiful maiden aunt, she begins to brighten up everybody’s life. The ‘glad game’ she plays, of finding a silver lining in every cloud, transforms the sick, the lonely, and the plain miserable – until one day something so terrible happens that even Pollyanna doesn’t know how to feel glad about it.

Pollyanna is one of six Puffin Classics being reissued by Penguin Random House Children’s Books, in a stunning new series design by contemporary, up-and-coming designers. Price: £6.99 Suitable for children aged 9+.

 

Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Wonder Woman will become a legend, but first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning…

After the huge success of blockbuster film Wonder Woman last summer, this highly anticipated interpretation tells the origin story of DC’s most famous feminist. Written by the #1 New York Times bestselling author Leigh Bardugo, Warbringer is packed with wit, action, and adventure, and features a protagonist who stays relatable whilst having all the might of a true superheroine.

Warbringer is the first in four brand new fantasy novels, where the origin tales of DC Super Hero icons are written by critically acclaimed, bestselling young adult authors. The others are Batman by Marie Lu (January 2018), Superman by Matt de la Peña (May 2018), and Catwoman by Sarah J Maas (September 2018). Suitable for children aged 12+. Price: £7.99 

 

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (film tie-in edition)  

When Meg goes searching through a ‘wrinkle in time’ for her lost father, she finds herself on an evil planet where all life is enslaved by a huge pulsating brain known as ‘It’. How Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and her friend Calvin find her father makes this a very special and exciting mixture of fantasy and science fiction. We also meet the unforgettable trio of funny and mysterious guardian angels known as Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who and Mrs Which.

It is a story bridging science and fantasy, darkness and light, fear and friendship. Over the last 50 years it has become a classic of children’s literature and is beloved around the world. Bonus material in this edition includes a Q&A with the Madeleine L’Engle, and an Afterword by the author’s granddaughter.

The new movie from Disney Studios out on 23 March 2018 is directed by Ava DuVernay, making her the first African-American woman ever to solo-direct a movie with a budget of over $100 million. It has an all-star cast including Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling.

The movie is not one of Disney’s best but the book is worth reading if a child (from 9+) is into sci-fiction. 

Price: £6.99 

 

Emmeline and the Plucky Pup by Megan Rix

Meet the leader of the Suffragettes – Emmeline Pankhurst – and a particularly plucky pup during a momentous time in history. 

Alfie can’t believe his luck when he is allowed to keep a tiny puppy he found abandoned on the street. Rascal is cute as a button and has lots of attitude, and Emmeline Pankhurst is thrilled that her ward Alfie has a new friend. Alfie and Rascal deliver messages between the Suffragettes as they organise their ‘Votes for Women’ campaign. But it’s sometimes dangerous work, and it’s not long before Alfie and Rascal find out the true cost of the fight.

Full of adventure, fascinating history, and lovely animals, this is the perfect read for young fans of Dick King-Smith and Michael Morpurgo. Suitable for kids aged 6+. Price: £5.99 

 
There’s also feminist children’s books series that I really love called Little People, Big Dreams at the National Theatre Bookshop that introduce children to inspirational women who changed the world including British women who fought for the right to vote like Emmeline Pankhurst and other activists. From Marie Curie’s life-changing work to Rosa Parks’ activism and Frida Kahlo’s paintings, engaging illustrations and extra facts celebrate the revolutionary journeys of wonderful women across the globe for the next generation of leaders.
 
 
Little People, Big Dreams: £9.99 each
 

Corpse Talk – Ground-Breaking Women by Lisa Murphy and Adam Murphy 

This quirky comic book thematic Corpse Talk book is all about the most amazing women from history. Adam Murphy interviews the dead famous women who changed the world getting their stories straight from the corpses’ mouths.  Corpse Talk: Ground-Breaking Women ‘s comic book format makes it easy to digest historical facts and guarantees laughs, surprises while covering astonishing achievements by some of the most inspiring women you’ll ever discover.

How did Elizabeth I smash the Spanish Armada? How did Anne Frank’s diary help her deal with despair? Was Ching Shih the world’s coolest pirate queen? Corpse Talk brings the dead famous women to life in an unusually funny way and is a good read even for parents. 

 

Young, Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present

by Jamia Wilson, illustrated by Andrea Pippins and published by Wide Eyed Editions.

Last but not least I would like to add to this list of feminist children’s books a title that I really love, Young, Gifted and Black, which is an eye-catching hardback celebrating a selection of black icons from history and the present day to inspire all children to discover what they can achieve. Many stories include lots of details on the struggles and prejudice black women (and men) had to deal with to get their rights recognised. This book is very timely and necessary to share with children who have questions about the world we live in. It is suitable for kids between and 12 but I personally enjoy reading it as well from time to time. 

 

 

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About Monica Costa

Monica Costa founded London Mums in September 2006 after her son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London. London Mums is the FREE and independent peer support group for mums and mumpreneurs based in London https://londonmumsmagazine.com and you can connect on Twitter @londonmums

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