18 Children’s Picture Books About Girls Being Awesome

Some people believe that boys prefer stories with male lead characters. I’m not sure when that was supposed to kick in, but it never happened at our house. So here’s a selection of our favorite fantastic children’s books about girls being amazing that I enjoyed reading just as much as Boy Detective did. (Disclosure: Amazon links are affiliate links.)

My picture book posts were originally published and then occasionally expanded between 2012-2015, with reviews based on reading with my kiddo between preschool age and about eight years old. As of 2023-24, I’m freshening up my lists and adding more recs.

Mirette on the High Wire (1992) by Emily Arnold McCully

This begins when Mirette, who works in her mother’s boarding house, meets the great high wire walker Bellini and realizes she must become a high wire walker herself. So it’s practice, practice, practice for Mirette as her friendship with her teacher grows. Eventually he’s the one who needs what she can offer: faith. I love the genuine master-apprentice dynamic here, and the art is beautiful.

Loretta: Ace Pinky Scout (2002) by Keith Graves

I didn’t know what Boy Detective would make of Loretta’s attempt to earn a coveted badge for her Pinky Scout sash (in between saving the world from giant space chickens and whatnot every Thursday). I don’t think he knows much, if anything, about Scouting. It may have been the battle with the aforementioned space chicken, or Loretta’s conversation with the ghosts of her Pinky Scout foremothers, but something about this recovering perfectionist really tickled him. Just don’t make Loretta mad, especially if she’s had her oatmeal.

That Rabbit Belongs To Emily Brown (2006) by Cressida Cowell, illustrated by Neal Layton

Her Highness Queen Gloriana the Third keeps interrupting Emily Brown’s adventures with her rabbit Stanley. The Queen is the poshest person on the planet, you see, and she simply MUST have Bunnywunny. Whose name is Stanley, thankyouverymuch, and he’s not for sale, says Emily! Unfortunately the Queen is a bit of a sneak. What will Emily do to get Stanley back?! Cute book, and I especially enjoyed all of Emily and Stanley’s adventures.

Violet the Pilot (2008) by Steve Breen

Violet can fix or build anything. What she really wants, though, is to win the upcoming Air Show so that maybe the other kids will stop teasing her. On her way to the Air Show, though, trouble strikes, and she has to accept a big personal disappointment in order to help others who really need it.

17 Things I’m Not Allowed To Do Anymore (2010) by Jenny Offill with art by Nancy Carpenter

This is just hilarious. The faux innocent narration, the sly humor in the art, the antics of the narrator. Also, the badgers. Some of the parent reviews I’ve seen express horror at the unrepentant main character, but even at a very young age Boy Detective was crystal clear that this gal’s stunts are NOT very good ideas – and that’s what makes it so funny! The follow-up, 11 Experiments That Failed, is also quite pleasing, especially for science fans.

Zephyr Takes Flight (2012) by Steve Light

The drawings in this book are exquisite, from Zephyr herself to the blueprints and flying machines she finds through a secret door behind her dresser. The story is simple but it doesn’t need to be any more complicated. It’s just perfect, and Zephyr is one clever little cookie.

Ruby’s Wish (2013) by Shirin Yim, with art by Sophie Blackall

I cannot read this book without tearing up. It’s made storytime challenging! Ruby’s Wish is based on the story of the author’s grandmother, one of the first women to attend college in China. It’s such a quiet book and conveys such love, even though there’s a family conflict at the core of the plot. Ruby is a distinctive character and her story is a positive tale about progress in gender equality. Love it!

A Pair of Twins (2014) by Kavita Mandana, illustrated by Nayantara Surendranath

Sundari the girl and Lakshmi the elephant were born on the same day, almost the same minute. They grew up together, and Sundari became an expert in all things elephant. However, as a girl, she wasn’t in line to inherit her father’s role as chief mahout, responsible for all the elephants of the palace. I won’t tell you how Sundari gets to a happy ending, but it’s no spoiler to say that she does – and the rich and elegant art bursts with joy for her and Lakshmi. I don’t remember how I ended up with this book in my bag, but I’m so glad I did.

How to Find Gold (2016) by Viviane Schwartz

“Anna and her friend Crocodile set off on an adventure to find sunken gold, even though it is a dangerous and difficult quest.” I love these two friends and their bold ideas, and I feel like it got so overlooked despite being seriously funny.

And here are the books I’ve read on my own since my kiddo got too old for them; they’re all fantastic! I haven’t had a chance to write reviews or pull the covers yet, but click on through and see if one of them might be perfect for you.

And that’s the list!

One thought on “18 Children’s Picture Books About Girls Being Awesome

  1. Sarah

    Wow, we actually haven’t read any of these. I’ll have to rectify that. Especially since Mirette is a redhead…

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