10 of the best feminist books for children

Published on: 18 October 2017 Author: Sally Nicholls

Author Sally Nicholls shares her favourite children's books to celebrate the publication of her story about the Suffragette movement: Things A Bright Girl Can Do

1. Princess Smartypants

Babette Cole; Puffin 

Princess Smartypants doesn’t want to get married – she wants to ride around on her motorbike doing whatever she wants and stay a Ms forever. Feminist fairytale retellings are rather old hat now, but this was one of the first, and one of the best.

Read our review

2. Zog

Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler; Alison Green Books 

Anyone with small children knows why Julia Donaldson is so well-loved and so popular. I can’t wait until my little boy is old enough to read this story of a princess who wants to be a doctor and the dragon who doesn’t want to roast her alive.

Read our review

3. Little People, Big Dreams series

Eng Gee Fan, Isabel Sanchez Vegara and others; Frances Lincoln

Series of picture books documenting the lives women such as Frida Kahlo, Agatha Christie, Maya Angelou and Ella Fitzgerald. A nice mix of well-documented and more unusual names, with very simple storytelling making these accessible to young readers.

Read our review of Rosa Parks

4. Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World

Kate Pankhurst; Bloomsbury

A lively picture book celebration of lots of really great women. Every primary school library should have this book.

Read our review

5. Pippi Longstocking

Astrid Lingren; Oxford University Press 

Apparently, Sweden has more female MPs than anywhere except Rwanda, and they think it’s down to Pippi. She's the strongest girl in the world: as brave as a lion, as rich as a nine-year-old with an enormous chest of gold and as eccentric as… Well, let’s be honest, there’s really no one else like Pippi, is there? I have never wanted to be anyone as much as nine-year-old me wanted to be Pippi Longstocking.

Read our review

6. Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls

Elena Favilli, Francesca Cavallo; Particular Books 

Potted biographies of lots of great women – not just rebels (although many of them are), but scientists, writers, artists, politicians, etc. A great ethnic and historical mix too, and lots of women who did great things as children and teenagers.

Read our review

7. Opal Plumstead

Jacqueline Wilson; Corgi 

Jacqueline Wilson's historical novel about a young girl working in a sweet factory who becomes involved with the Suffragettes. I’m a big Jacqueline Wilson fan, so I’m certain you’re in safe hands here.

Read our review

8. Hazel

Julie Hearn; Oxford University Press

When Hazel’s father takes her to the 1913 Epsom Derby, she doesn’t expect her life to be changed forever. But as she watches a Suffragette step in front of the King’s horse, so begins Hazel’s fight for justice – not just politically, but in her own family.

9. Until We Win

Linda Newbery; Barrington Stoke

Super-accessible YA novel, for teenagers with a reading age of eight, about a young girl who joins the Suffragette movement by Costa-award-winning Linda Newbery? Yes, please!

Read our review

10. Sally Heathcote: Suffragette                  

Mary M Talbot, Kate Charlesworth, Brian Talbot; Jonathan Cape

Not technically a children’s book, but every secondary school library should have a copy of this graphic novel about Emmeline Pankhurst’s (fictional) maid. An accessible and meticulously researched introduction to Suffragette history.

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Read our review of Sally Nicholls' book

Things A Bright Girl Can Do

Sally Nicholls

Offering a historical snapshot of a society in turmoil, this comprehensive coming-of-age novel is a thought-provoking and highly engaging story of love, life and hope, with strong themes of feminism, social class and the First World War.

Read more about Things A Bright Girl Can Do