Heroines (non-fiction)

What would she do?

Here's a list of some of our favourite non-fiction books with inspiring heroines for older girls and young teens.

Check out our list of fictional heroines 

  • Marley Dias Gets It Done and So Can You!

    Author: Marley Dias with Siobhan McGowan
    Publisher: Scholastic
    Interest age: 10-13
    Reading age: 10+

    Marley Dias describes her campaign to find 1,000 books featuring black girl protagonists, and also provides insight on what it is to be a young social activist in the present day. Inspiring stuff. 

  • What Would She Do?

    Author: Kay Woodward
    Publisher: Carlton Books
    Interest age: 9-14
    Reading age: 10+

    In this collection of women’s stories from across history and the present day, Kay Woodward introduces the reader to 25 heroines from around the world: featuring awe-inspiring artists, scientists and political activists, among others.

  • Hope in a Ballet Shoe

    Author: Michaela and Elaine De Prince
    Publisher: Faber and Faber
    Interest age: 11+
    Reading age: 11+

    Michaela takes the reader with her from the joys and struggles of her early life in Sierra-Leone to the challenges and delights of her life in America.

  • Girl Hearts Girl

    Author: Lucy Sutcliffe
    Publisher: Scholastic
    Interest age: 10+
    Reading age: 10+

    A real-life memoir about a young person coming to terms with her sexuality and her 'coming out', as well as her first relationship, this is a positive and upbeat read about being comfortable in your own skin that will inspire any young person.

  • Girls Who Rocked the World

    Author: Michelle Roehm McCann and Amelie Welden
    Publisher: Simon and Schuster
    Interest age: 9+
    Reading age: 9+

    This fun and fascinating collection celebrates women who left their mark on history before the age of 20. Featuring a diverse range of women, and written in a chatty style, this book will inspire any girl (or boy) to go out there and rock the world themselves.

  • Rosa Parks - Little People, Big Dreams

    Author: Lisbeth Kaiser Illustrator: Marta Antelo
    Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
    Interest age: 5-12
    Reading age: 7+

    The Little People, Big Dreams series does it again: this book about Rosa Parks is yet another astounding and eye-welling read that will make you cheer on a historical icon.

  • Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code

    Author: Laurie Wallmark Illustrator: Katy Wu
    Publisher: Sterling Publishing
    Interest age: 5-12
    Reading age: 8+

    The inspiring story of Grace Hopper: someone who revolutionised computer science and used her sparky sense of humour to make up the term “computer bug”. A great read for children in need of inspiration when it comes to science and maths.

  • She Persisted Around the World

    Author: Chelsea Clinton Illustrator: Alexandra Boiger
    Publisher: Puffin/Philomel Books
    Interest age: 7-9
    Reading age: 7+

    Featuring simply-told stories and glorious illustrations, this book about incredible, determined women from around the world is sure to inspire a generation of young readers.

  • HERSTORY: 50 Women and Girls Who Shook the World

    Author: Katherine Halligan Illustrator: Sarah Walsh
    Publisher: Nosy Crow
    Interest age: 8-11
    Reading age: 8+

    Celebrated in this lavish hardback, the stories of 50 great women redefine their “herstory”, from disability activist Helen Keller to Indian poet, singer and saint Mira Bai and Aboriginal Australian Olympic athlete Cathy Freeman.

  • I am Malala

    Author: Malala Yousafzai
    Publisher: Hachette Children's Group
    Interest age: 13+
    Reading age: 13+

    This is the real life story of one of the most incredible and inspirational young people in the world. Reading this book might just change the way you think and feel.

  • Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History

    Author: Vashti Harrison
    Publisher: Puffin
    Interest age: 6-11
    Reading age: 7+

    This beautiful and profound book chronicles the struggles and achievements of historic and contemporary black women. Not just for girls, this is an inspiring book for any child as it shows how determination, ambition and hard work can bring important change.

  • Corpse Talk: Ground-Breaking Women

    Author: Adam & Lisa Murphy
    Publisher: David Fickling Books
    Interest age: 8-11
    Reading age: 8+

    Adam Murphy interviews 18 amazing women from history. With a casual, chatty style and colourful comic-strip illustrations, this unique, accessible and slightly macabre series is packed full of humour and fascinating facts.

  • 100 Women Who Made History

    Author: Dorling Kindersley
    Publisher: Dorling Kindersley
    Interest age: 7-11
    Reading age: 8+

    Featuring a thoroughly diverse selection of women from varied points in history and across many cultures and disciplines, this is an excellent (and empowering) guide for children about the women who helped shape the world we experience today.

  • Anne Frank

    Author: Josephine Poole Illustrator: Angela Barrett
    Publisher: Random House
    Interest age: 8-11
    Reading age: 8+

    This account of the Nazi persecution of the Jews and Anne Frank's family's hiding in a secret annexe to escape them, is sensitively told.

  • Danza!

    Author: Duncan Tonatiuh
    Publisher: Abrams and Chronicle
    Interest age: 7-9
    Reading age: 8+

    Danza! explores the life of one of the most celebrated dancers and choreographers in the 20th Century, Amalia Hernandez, and the formation of the world-famous dance company Folkloric Ballet.

  • Beatrice's Dream: A Story of Kibera Slum

    Author: Karen Lynn Williams Photographer Wendy Stone
    Publisher: Frances Lincoln Childrens Books
    Interest age: 6-11
    Reading age: 8+

    This is a photographic commentary on the harsh reality of life for some of the world's poorest people and how education is seen as the main escape route from a lifetime of struggle.

  • Mary and Frankenstein

    Author: Linda Bailey & Julia Sarda
    Publisher: Andersen Press
    Interest age: 7-9
    Reading age: 7+

    Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is credited with having invented the science fiction genre. But many adults and very few children will know the fascinating story of her life. A great introduction to Mary, a teen girl writing in a man’s world.

  • Persepolis

    Author: Marjane Satrapi Translator: Blake Ferris
    Publisher: Vintage
    Interest age: 13+
    Reading age: 12+

    Persepolis is Satrapi's history of Iran and her life in Iran and France as she tries to retain her Iranian culture but also grow up and become independent.

  • Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor

    Author: Patricia Valdez Illustrator: Felicita Sala
    Publisher: Andersen Press
    Interest age: 7-10
    Reading age: 7+

    This amazing and deeply inspiring story of a largely unknown scientist – and pioneer of the care of Komodo dragons – is a fascinating read, beautifully illustrated. 

  • Malorie Blackman Biography

    Author: Verna Wilkins
    Publisher: Tamarind

    A clear and concise biography of the Children's Laureate which will inspire children to follow their dreams and believe in themselves. This biography may also inspire children to read more of Blackman's work.

  • Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World

    Author: Rachel Ignotofsky
    Publisher: Wren & Rook
    Interest age: 7-12
    Reading age: 7-12

    The 50 women profiled in this book are leaders in their fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Thoroughly inspiring and informative, in a fun and stylish illustrated format: a must for every child.