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15 Fierce Books about Fearless Females

I decided, that this holiday season, my focus—when it comes to my children (and all children)—will be books. Specifically, books about extraordinary women and girls who refused to accept inequality, bigotry and fear as status quo. It started with the purchase of "I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark" by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley. It was recommended by a reader and, while I knew Fable would appreciate it, I didn't realize how deeply and profoundly it would resonate with her.

A few days later, I once again went shopping, purchasing a larger selection of books for Fable and her younger sisters, as well as those in the extended family. (I also made a list of books we don't yet have but would like in our book shelf, for next time we go to the library.) At home, I created a stack of books that inspired ACTION, LEADERSHIP and DISSENT in small children. Because saying NO to what is so is often the only way to say yes to what is right. Because children need to know that their voices matter, that by speaking out and standing up, they can and will change the world. Because there IS such thing as superheroes. Because I would much rather my kids FIGHT and CHALLENGE me than acquiesce and fall in line. Respecting adults is one thing. Blindly following them is quite another.

And with that, here are:

15 Fierce Books About Fearless Females

(written by fearless females, because that matters, too)

1. "I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark" by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley

This biographical picture book tells the story of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg through the lens of her many famous dissents, or disagreements, a reminder to all that dissent is a patriotic act.

2. "Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers and Visionaries who Shaped Our History" by Kate Shatz

A is for political activist Angela Davis. B is for Billie Jean King, the athlete who shattered the glass ceiling of sports. C is for comedian Carol Burnett. D is for organizer Dolores Huerta. E is for Ella Baker, who helped shape the civil rights movement. This collection includes 26 women who changed the world and continue to inspire.

3. "Mala Yousafzai: Warrior with Words" by Karen Legget Abouraya, illustrated by L.C. Wheatley

Winner of the California Reading Association's 2015 EUREKA! Honor Award, "Malala Yousafzai: Warrior with Words" is the story of a fearless teenager who continues today to fight for the rights of ALL girls to get an education.

4. "Rosa" by Nikki Giovanni, illustrated by Bryan Collier

Beautifully illustrated, Rosa celebrates the heroic mother of the civil rights movement.

5. "Hillary Rodham Clinton: Some Girls Are Born to Lead" written by Michelle Markel, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

"Some Girls Are Born to Lead" tells the inspiring story of Hillary Rodham Clinton, the most qualified presidential candidate of all time. Sigh.

6. "Women Who Broke the Rules: Sonia Sotomayor" written by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Angela Dominguez

Other books in this series include the stories of:

- Judy Blume

- Sacajawea

- Coretta Scott King and more

7. "The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist" by Cynthia Levinson, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton

Nine-year-old Audrey Faye Hendricks was the youngest known child to be arrested at a civil rights protest. This book proves you're never too young to make a difference and that BEING BOLD and FEARLESS and FIGHTING FOR WHAT'S RIGHT isn't just for grown-ups. Not even close.

8. "Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers Strike of 1909" by Michelle Markel, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Clara Lemlich was a 19-year-old Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history. This book celebrates her fight.

9. "Ada Lovelace: Poet of Science" by Diane Stanley, illustrated by Jessie Hartland

The first computer programmer was a woman named Ada Lovelace. Poet of Science celebrates her trailblazing spirit, while promoting STEM and exciting young readers.

And speaking of STEM:

10. "Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World" by Rachel Ignotofsky

"Women in Science" highlights the contributions of 50 women and their influence in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from the ancient to the modern world.

11. "Drum Dream, Girl: How One Girl's Courage Changed Music" by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael Lopez

Inspired by the childhood of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba's traditional taboo against female drummers, "Drum Dream Girl" tells the story of a girl who bravely made her dreams come true.

12. "Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker" by Patricia Hruby Powell, illustrated by Christian Robinson

"Josephine" is a stunning introduction to the legendary Josephine Baker, performer and civil rights advocate.

13. "Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer" by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Ekua Holmes

"Voice of Freedom" celebrates Fannie Lou Hamer's life, legacy and determination. (Grade 6 and up.)

14. "Little People, Big Dreams" series

Beautifully illustrated and ideal for kids 5-8, the "Little People, Big Dreams" books explore four fearless heroines who overcame great obstacles to be their best selves and inspire the world.

Famous ladies featured include:

- Maya Angelo

- Frida Kahlo

- Coco Chanel

- Amelia Earheart

15. "Who Is/Who Was" series

The "Who Is/Who Was" books are a great historical resource for kids. There are a zilion great books featured in the series, including:

- "Who Is Gloria Steinem?"

- "Who Is Jane Goodall?"

- "Who Was Anne Frank?"

- "Who Was Harriet Tubman?"

- "Who Was Marie Curry?"

(And 7,928,792,798,723 more.)

Surrounding children with brave voices that speak directly into the microphone and refuse to accept or normalize inequality and fear-based government is necessary and important right now. Reading is power. Books change lives. Education is the key to lasting change. And now, more than ever, we are all in need of heroes.

Which brings me to Bright Lite, another would-be wonderful addition to your child's holiday experience . Bright Lite is a magazine BY and FOR tween girls. Read my interview with two of its young contributors, and visit the site to learn more about how you can be involved.

I cannot WAIT to see what our children do. I have already, in the last four weeks, seen NOTICEABLE changes in my children and I marvel every day as they harvest their truths and find, in four very distinct and unique-to-them ways, their power. Books, magazines, films: these things matter. That said, please go take your family to see "Moana." If ever there was a time that we needed this film, it's now. I will say nothing more. It is INCREDIBLE. I SOBBED. IT'S PERFECT.

"See the line where the sky meets the sea? It calls me

And no one knows, how far it goes

If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me

One day I'll know, how far I'll go"


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