Picture books featuring strong female characters

Thanks for joining my “Mommy and Me” Book Club. I hope you’re enjoying my ongoing “stay in bed and read” series. See my previous post on Their Eyes Were Watching God for a book summary and “quotable quotes”.

As you’re reading Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston in bed (or in your favorite armchair), feel free to share these picture books with your children. Like Janie, these spirited girls think, speak, and feel with heart and soul. They don’t quit just because someone said ‘a girl can’t do it‘!

For every “mommy book” read, I’ll suggest a “me book” for your children with a similar theme. It is my hope that this “Mommy and Me” book club is a fun activity for you and your children.

Picture Books Featuring Strong Female Characters


1. Madeline (1939) |Ludwig Bemelmans

“To the tiger in the zoo Madeline just said ‘pooh pooh’.”

Seven-year-old Madeline may be the smallest girl at the orphanage, but she’s daring and brave. But one night the housemistress Miss Clavel hears Madeline crying in the middle of the night. Set against the backdrop of Paris, France, this book celebrates a fun-loving, mischievous girl who’s little, but fierce. (Age Range:  3-7 years)

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon

2. Stand Tall, Molly Lou Mellon (2001) | Patty Lovell

Molly Lou Mellon is different (her voice sounds like a bullfrog being squeezed by a boa constrictor), but she doesn’t mind. Her grandmother taught her to walk proud (despite her clumsy, short legs), smile big (regardless of her buckteeth), and sing loud (in spite of her hoarse voice). This book urges the apprehensive child to stand tall when facing a new challenge like going to school. (Age Range:  4-8 years)

REVISED Ladybug Girl

3. Ladybug Girl (2008) | David Soman

I love how this book depicts an imaginative, fort-building girl’s fun-filled day outside. This strong girl is far from squeamish and spends her day bravely rescuing ants from boulders and boldly crossing shark-infested puddles. This book is ideal for inspiring and empowering little ones to be intrepid little adventurers. (Age Range:  3-5 years)

Hilda Must Be Dancing.jpeg

4. Hilda Must Be Dancing (2004) | Karma Wilson

I have two tiny dancers in my house, so as you can imagine a dancing hippo protagonist is big fun. Hilda loves dancing (“Thumpity-bump!”) and living large, but the other animals encourage her to find a quieter hobby (knitting?), so everyone can coexist harmoniously. This book inspires readers to pursue their passions, while still maintaining individuality in a community. (Age Range:  4-8 years)


5. Rosie Revere, Engineer (2013) | Andrea Beaty

We love this inspirational story, gifted to us from my daughter’s godmother “Rosie”. Young Rosie Revere dreams of becoming an engineer, but she’s afraid of revealing her gizmos and gadgets to the world after an invention malfunction. Following a visit from her great-great Aunt Rose (Rosie the Riveter), Rosie learns that you can only truly fail if you quit. (Age Range:  5-7 years)

Check out SIBM’s Past Recommendations for More Books About Strong Female Characters

A Final Thought – From the Pillow

Be fearless. Be fierce.

So pull in your horizon like a fishnet and hoist it over your shoulder. Show your children how to catch their dreams. Don’t be horizon pinchers, be horizon expanders.

What other picture books would you add the list?

11 thoughts on “Picture books featuring strong female characters

Add yours

  1. Good book picks, I love Madeline! my girls are still a little young to have a good attention span for longer books….I read “this little trailblazer, girl empowerment” by Joan Holub to them. We love reading! “Hilda must be dancing” looks like a fun book, I’ll have to check it out next bookstore visit 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha, I can relate. My almost 4-year-old‘s attention span is getting better, but we have to paraphrase a lot of picture book text for my almost 2-year-old. It’s amazing though how she can sit through a text heavy book if the illustrations pull her in.

      I’m going to check out the Joan Holub Story – thanks so much for the suggestion!


  2. Love this post! I remember that quote for Madeline so clearly! 😂
    Love your page – I’m thinking of doing a post with the same title and referencing your page as the original if that’s alright with you?

    Liked by 1 person

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