Do you want to raise a strong, independent girl who thinks outside the box? Here's a selection of picture books to get started early! I highly recommend reading every picture book before you read it to your children. I found one that just sounded like it fit the bill: a girl who liked insects, only to find out that it was very mean-spirited! I also haven't included books that put down other ways of being a girl, even if they promote individualism, i.e. Players in Pigtails by Shana Corey.
1. I can do that!: Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote by Linda White
Did you know that Wyoming was the first state where women were able to vote? When they organized as a territory in 1869, women's suffrage was included. When Wyoming became a state in 1890, the right for women to vote in their state was maintained. Esther Morris, who was instrumental in the right to vote being included as a law in Wyoming. She was also the first woman judge. For older kids, a fun activity is to use genealogy websites to find her in the census. This really shows how we can learn about her using original documents from American history!
100 Years to Suffrage (Library of Congress): http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/naw/nawstime.html Accessed Sept. 13, 2011
National Statuary Hall in Wash DC: http://www.aoc.gov/cc/art/nsh/morris.cfm Accessed Sept. 13, 2011
2. Dahlia by Barbara McClintock
One of my favorites, even though I was never a tom-boy...A little girl who is, gets a very fancy doll from an elderly relative. The illustrations are excellent. The story is set in the past.
3. Pirate Girl by Cornelia Funke
There have been known women pirates: Anne Bonny and Mary Read. But like real pirate stories, they're not really appropriate for children. Thus, we create fun pirate stories for little ones (and maybe for us too). Pirate Girl is a great story for girls, and as fun to read as any pirate tale!
Smithsonian blog entry on Anne Bonny and Mary Read: http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/history/2011/08/if-theres-a-man-among-ye-the-tale-of-pirate-queens-anne-bonny-and-mary-read/ Accessed Sept. 13, 2011
4. My Hippie Grandmother by Reeve Lindbergh
The daughter of Charles Lindbergh wrote this delightful story about a grandmother who thinks outside the box and encourages her granddaughter to do the same! Especially for parents who have a little counter culture in them, as a hint for the future?!
5. Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole
A princess who doesn't want to get married. Probably out-of-print, but hopefully, your library hasn't weeded it out! If they have this one, then they might have Ms. Cole's other gender cliche busting book, Prince Cinders.
6. Stand Tall, Molly Lou Mellon by Patty Lovell
A petite little girl moves to a new town and demonstrates how to be confident under pressure. Not my favorite illustrations, but the story is worth it...
7. Mighty Jackie: The Strike-out Queen by Marissa Moss
Simple story about 17 year old Jackie Mitchell, who struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in an exhibition game. Her contract with the minor league team she was on was voided by the commissioner of baseball. A great story that shows that things can change, that things have been different, and that a young woman can beat two of the heavy weights of baseball...
Biography of Jackie Mitchell on Baseball Almanac: http://www.baseball-almanac.com/articles/aubrecht8.shtml