Picturebooks for Raising Independent Girls

I was never the typically girl dressed in pink (willingly anyway) and pretending to be a princess. Instead, I was out climbing trees and playing astronaut with the boys and defending my right to do so even though I was ‘just a girl’. My daughter loves pink and purple, but is just as likely to jump in a mud puddle as she would be to convince her big brother and all the superheros or monsters of the day to have a tea party. I want her to stay open to all possibilities and be a strong individual. I do not want her waiting for a prince or knight to rescue her, so I am always on the lookout for books that reinforce that idea. Here are some of the best picturebooks that I have found that support growth of every girl into a strong, capable individual.

The Paper Bag Princess written by Robert N. Munsch; illustrated Michael Martchenko
After her castle and clothes are destroyed by the dragon, Princess Elizabeth, dressed only in a paper bag, sets out to rescue Prince Ronald, who was taken captive.

Me– Jane by Patrick McDonnell
Holding her stuffed toy chimpanzee, young Jane Goodall observes nature, reads Tarzan books, and dreams of living in Africa and helping animals. Includes biographical information on the prominent zoologist.

The Sandwich Swap by Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah with Kelly DiPucchio; illustrated by Tricia Tusa. Best friends Lily and Salma disagree over their preferred foods, but after trading sandwiches to see how they taste, the girls change their minds.

I Like Myself! written by Karen Beaumont; illustrated by David Catrow
In rhyming text, a child expresses her self-esteem and exults in her unique identity.

Cloud Tea Monkeys by Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham; illustrated by Juan Wijngaard
When her mother becomes too ill to harvest tea on the nearby plantation, Shenaz is too small to fill in, but when she tells the monkeys she has befriended why she is sad, they bring her a basket filled with rare and valuable wild tea.

The Gardener written by Sarah Stewart; pictures by David Small
A series of letters relating what happens when, after her father loses his job, Lydia Grace goes to live with her Uncle Jim in the city but takes her love for gardening with her.

For even more books you can take a look at these options; Amazing Grace written by Mary Hoffman; pictures by Caroline Binch, The Three Ninja Pigs written by Corey Rosen Schwartz; illustrated by Dan Santat, Every Cowgirl Needs Dancing Boots by Rebecca Janni, Blueberry Girl written by Neil Gaiman; illustrated by Charles Vess, Not All Princesses Dress in Pink written by Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple; illustrated by Anne-Sophie Lanquetin, My Name is Not Isabella written by Jennifer Fosberry; pictures by Mike Litwin, Basketball Belles written by Sue Macy; illustrated by Matt Collins, The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds, Sally Jean, the Bicycle Queen written by Cari Best ; pictures by Christine Davenier, O’Sullivan Stew: a Tale Cooked Up in Ireland wirtten by Hudson Talbott, Unspoken: a Story From the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole, and The Princess Knight written by Cornelia Funke; illustrations by Kerstin Meyer; translated by Anthea Bell.

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