10 Empowering Books for Girls & Young Women

You know child-raising is done right when a girl has crazy aspirations like being the first female president of Mars. Kids these days… where do they get these ideas? Well… books, obviously.

10 Empowering Books for Girls & Young Women

Nearly every bookworm out there has a book or two which they’ve read in their childhood or adolescence that has stuck with them. Books are immensely influential. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult for women or girls to find literary characters with which they can truly identify.


The simple fact is: there are just not as many heroines in literature as there are heroes. There are, however, some fantastic heroines out there. Here we handpicked 10 books for all age groups that feature funny, feisty, brainy, tough, prince-rescuing and/or history-making female characters that girls and young women can look up to.

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch

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The Paper Bag Princess is not your typical prince-rescues-princess story. Elizabeth is a princess, rich as they come, with her fancy clothes and castle. When a dragon comes and burns down her castle, her clothes and steals her prince, she doesn’t get flustered. She simply puts on a paper bag and goes on a quest to rescue her prince. A funny and engaging book with vivid illustrations and a great message!

Recommended Ages: 4-7

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World by Kate Pankhurst

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World by Kate Pankhurst

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A wonderfully inspirational book that offers plenty of role models for girls. However, this surely great fun to read for all genders. Great Women Who Changed the World features a number of influential women in history such as Jane Austen, Coco Chanel, Marie Curie, Amelia Earhart and Rosa Parks.

Fun fact: The author Kate Pankhurst is a descendant of famous women’s rights activist Emmeline Pankhurst, who is also featured in this book.

Recommended Ages: 6+

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli

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Another great book featuring influential women in history, this time with a rebellious twist. The aim of this book is to create strong role models for girls and show them that they can become just about anything they want when they grow up. It features 100 tales about scientists, painters, engineers and more with incredible artwork from 60 different female artists from around the world.

Recommended Ages: 5+

Matilda by Roald Dahl

Matilda by Roald Dahl

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Matilda is a piece of genius by the amazing Roald Dahl, who wrote a number of children’s classics (such as Charlie and The Chocolate Factory). The main character Matilda is a little trouble-maker who loves pranking her neglectful parents. Meanwhile, Matilda is a child prodigy, an avid reader at the tender age of five-and-half, and a telekinetic. It explores the feelings of frustration that come up when children feel out-of-place in a heartwarming and funny story. The movie adaptation is also highly recommendable!

Recommended Ages: 6+

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

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A Wrinkle in Time is the first book of L’Engle’s Time Quintet, a science fiction fantasy series, which makes this a great read for young readers who are into themes like time travel (and, seriously, who isn’t?). The protagonist is a 13-year-old girl, Meg Murry, who is awkward, nerdy, and stubborn. She just doesn’t fit in, which makes it so relatable for many young women. It should also be mentioned that the book has underlying Christian themes -reminiscent of the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis- but at its core, it’s about love, compassion, and girls kicking butt at maths. The book has been so popular throughout generations that it has been adapted into a graphic novel and a movie, as well.

Recommended Ages: 9-14

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

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A wonderfully written, engaging coming-of-age book about a 14-year-old girl. While this novel is a favorite amongst women's book clubs, it should certainly not be written off as a typical sappy "coming-of-age" novel. The characters feel real and the story deals with serious issues such as abusive parents, relationships, and race. A great read, not only for women of all ages but also for men to offer some insights on the female existence.

Recommended Age: 11-17

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

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The movies featuring the wonderful Jennifer Lawrence as the “girl on fire” were a huge hit, but need it be said that the books are better? Whether you've seen the films or not, this dystopian sci-fi fantasy trilogy by Suzanne Collins is a great read, packed with adventure and emotion. However, it makes it on our list due to the heroine: Katniss Everdeen. She is a tough, passionate young woman who tries everything in her power to save the people she loves. The complexity of her character makes the books much more enjoyable than the movies, in our humble opinion.

Recommended Age: 12+

The Trouble With Women by Jacky Fleming

The Trouble With Women by Jacky Fleming

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The Trouble With Women is a brilliant cartoon deconstructing many prejudices about women that were common in the not-so-distant past, while simultaneously introducing us to some less-known women in history. The Trouble With Women is incredibly funny, sarcastic, and yet somehow a little sad, considering some prejudices still persist. A great read for adolescents and adults. 

Recommended Age: 14+

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

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This graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel tells the moving story of a daughter trying to come to terms with her father’s death while dealing with issues of sexual identity. While Alison is an open lesbian, she later finds out that her father was a closeted homosexual and that he has been living a secret life. This similarity, yet the distance between her father and Alison is the central conflict of the graphic novel. It is a gripping, emotional, albeit fun story. The very detailed drawings are full of allusions to be discovered.

The famous Bechdel test that is used as an indicator of gender inequality in fiction was coined after Alison Bechdel, as it appears in her comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For.

Recommended Age: 14+

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

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While I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is an autobiography, it reads very much like a work of fiction in terms of flow and structure. Set in Angelou’s childhood, the book is a coming-of-age story of a black girl growing up in a segregated little town in Arkansas. Angelou lays bare the difficulties of her childhood with brutal honesty, dealing with issues such as poverty, racism, and rape. Still, Angelou manages to sprinkle her humorous and hopeful outlook throughout the novel, which makes this a rich reading experience. Maya Angelou is an outstanding example that no matter how hard you fall in life, you can still achieve greatness.

Recommended Age: 14+