I love taking my nephew to the kids section of Waterstones. I personally believe that adults would be happier if they read more children’s books. (Adulting can all get a bit too much sometimes). I’ve noticed more and more recently that there seems to be a deluge of feminist books for kids. How I wish that these had been published when I was a little girl. Opening the minds of both boys and girls to feminism can only be a good thing, surely? Inspiring girls to do male-dominated jobs in areas like science and engineering, and educating boys about the struggles that women have faced throughout history seems like one way to attempt to destroy the patriarchy.
I got so excited when I saw these books, and wanted to buy them all and tell everyone about them. I love the idea of writing a children’s book and planting a seed in some kid’s mind that they can aim higher or entertain the idea of becoming something that would never have been on their radar, but for the book. After feeling pressure to choose a traditional professional career too early, I also think it’s important for kids to be aware of their options. To never stop dreaming and learning, and not to pigeon-hole themselves too early. To realise that they can change their direction and career as many times as they want, depending on where they’re at in life. Not to stay stuck doing something that doesn’t set their soul on fire. That it’s fine to be a late bloomer, and it’s healthy to try lots of different things and not just choose a career based on status and money. Here are some of my favourite feminist kids books…
Instead of traditional fairy tales and ‘princess getting rescued by the prince’ nonsense, why not enthral your kids (and yourself) with real life tales of heroines like Ada Lovelace, Malala, Emilia Earhart and Michele Obama. These true tales of spies, pirates, activists, scientists and astronauts will expand minds and maybe even blow them with the possibilities that are out there. There’s even space at the end to write a story and draw a portrait. This book came about due to a highly successful Kickstarter campaign that attracted worldwide attention. I love the fact that the key message is perseverance rather than success, and is more of a history book for all kids, not just girls.
Yes, the author is related to Emmeline. It makes sense that she would be inspired to write about her ancestor plus a whole host of great women, such as Frida Kahlo, Gabrielle Chanel, Mary Anning (palaeontologist), Gertrude Ederle (the first woman to swim the Channel), Marie Christie Chilver (Agent Fifi – a British secret agent) and Mary Seattle (heroine of the Crimean War). It’s beautifully illustrated and not overly complicated (each woman gets a two page spread). Should be in every classroom.
Although not a scientist, I never fail to be inspired by amazing female pioneers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). My Dad tried to get me to go into engineering when I was a teenager but unfortunately my brain isn’t wired up like that. This celebration of trailblazing women features Marie Curie, Alice Ball (the chemist who cured leprosy) and Katherine Johnson (mathematician who calculated Apollo 11’s trajectory to the moon). The books also contains interesting infographics and an illustrated scientific glossary. There are plenty of women included who are not well known who deserve to have their contribution acknowledged.
I recently saw Joy with Jennifer Lawrence and found it so inspiring. She plays a female inventor who invents a super mop, and accurately portrays the ups and downs of invention and success. So I love the fact that this book is all about female inventors. Did you know a woman invented the windscreen wiper? I particularly love the amazing collages in the book by Melissa Sweet. It includes Stephanie Kwolek (inventor of synthetic fibre Kevlar), Bette Nesmith Graham (invented Tippex), Grace Hopper (computer programmer) and younger inventors. Aimed at older readers (11+).
Little People, Big Dreams – Frida Kahlo
– Isabel Sanchez Vergara, Eng Gee Fan (£9.99)
I absolutely love this series (you can also get Maya Angelou, Marie Curie, Coco Chanel, Agatha Christie, Amelia Earhart, Emmeline Pankhurst, Rosa Parks and Audrey Hepburn). I’m obsessed with Frida anyway, but I love how this tells her amazing story is such a charming way, with bold and bright illustrations which will inspire kids to paint and find out more about her life. The story of Frida’s talent, spirit and determination to produce over 140 works following her recovery from a devastating accident is beautifully told.
I’d love to hear about more inspiring children’s books!