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15 books for children with strong female characters

If you’re looking for children’s stories with a strong female protagonist, we’ve got the lowdown on 15 of our favourite books featuring inspiring girls as the main character.

strong female characters

Strong female leads in fiction

There was a time when female protagonists were rare in fiction books. Women and girls in children’s storybooks were historically portrayed as damsels in distress or a sidekick hidden in the shadows of their male counterpart, giving the sense that females were secondary to males.

Thankfully there has been a gradual shift, and we’ve seen an emergence of strong and brave female characters who go on adventures, becomes the hero or the leader, and save the day.

It’s important to educate our children that girls are just as strong and brave as boys. So let’s inspire our leaders of the future to celebrate girl power.

Here are 15 children’s books featuring strong female characters to inspire our sons and daughters of all ages. Scroll through the gallery or read on for a more detailed look at each book.

By Avi

Set in the 19th Century, this book tells the story of 13-year-old Charlotte, who travels from England to America on a ship. Along the way, Charlotte is pushed outside of her naïve existence and learns to be a sailor as she climbs the rigging, withstands a hurricane and handles a knife.

It’s a tale full of adventure, intrigue and mutiny, as not only does she thwart the captain’s attempts to kill her, she’s also accused of murder, brought to trial and found guilty.

By David Walliams

When Elsie, a 10-year-old orphan from Victorian London hears about a mysterious 10,000-year-old woolly mammoth in the North Pole, she’s intrigued to discover more. Then, when a chance encounter brings Elsie face to face with the creature, it sparks the adventure of a lifetime – from London to the heart of the Arctic!

By Roald Dahl

With the new film currently in cinemas, it’s the perfect time to read this classic story by Roald Dahl.

Matilda is a brilliant child with a magical mind, but her parents and headmistress think otherwise. At just 5 years old, she's solving double-digit multiplication problems and blitz-reading Dickens.

The story of Matilda shows just how extraordinary children can be, and proves that you really can do anything when you put your mind to it.

By Jessica Townsend

Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she's blamed for all manner of local misfortunes – from hailstorms to heart attacks – and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday.

That is until a strange man named Jupiter North appears and whisks her away to a magical city called Nevermoor. Morrigan then discovers that Jupiter has chosen her to compete to join the city's most prestigious organisation: the Wundrous Society.

To enter the society, Morrigan must complete four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, who each have an extraordinary talent that sets them apart – a talent that Morrigan insists she doesn’t have.

If she wants to stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good and not have to confront her deadly fate, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests.

By Alesha Dixon

When Pearl’s mum Patrice becomes the UK's first Black female Prime Minister, they move into 10 Downing Street. Then a chance meeting with Patrice's childhood sweetheart Jackson turns Pearl's glam new life upside-down when Jackson's daughter Izzy shows up.

Pearl and Izzy can’t stand each other and have only one thing in common: a desire to split their parents up.

But as Patrice's popularity in the polls begins to decline as a result of the girls' out-of-control sabotaging, will they realise that they’re stronger as team?

By Paula Harrison

Kitty is special. Her mother is a superhero with catlike powers that Kitty and her little brother Max will someday inherit. But being a superhero involves going on daring adventures at night, and Kitty doesn’t know if she’ll ever be brave enough for that! Join Kitty and her cat crew in a series of enchanting adventures by the light of the moon. In this first tale, Kitty discovers that being a superhero is about more than using her special abilities – she must learn to be courageous too.

Along the way, she makes new friends, uncovers her confidence, and learns what it means to be brave.

By Vivian French

This is the first in a series of books about werewolf, Lottie Luna. She’s super-fast, super-strong and has X-ray vision. But Lottie doesn’t really like to use her skills – she just wants to be like everyone else.

However, when someone keeps destroying the school bloom garden, it’s only Lottie who can come to the rescue.

By Louisa May Alcott

This classic novel has been adapted as part of the Puffin in Bloom series, to appeal to children aged 8-12.

It’s based on the four March sisters, who couldn’t be more different – grown-up Meg, tomboyish Jo, timid Beth, and precocious Amy.

But with their father away at war and their mother working to support the family, they have to rely on each other.

The story details their passage from childhood to womanhood, it explores themes such as love and death, war and peace, and the conflict between personal ambition and family responsibilities.

By Philip Pullman

Part of His Dark Materials, Northern Lights is the first book in the trilogy by Philip Pullman.

Set in an alternative world where everyone has their soul on the outside of their body, Lyra and her dæmon, Pantalaimon, are determined to find Lyra’s friend Roger, who has disappeared. Their quest leads them to the bleak splendour of the North, where armoured bears rule the ice and witch-queens fly through the air. Lyra overcomes these strange beasts, only to find something yet more perilous waiting for her – something with consequences which may even reach beyond the Northern Lights.

Terry Pratchett

Armed with only a frying pan and her common sense, young witch-to-be Tiffany Aching must defend her home against the monsters of Fairyland, in the first of a series of books about young Tiffany.

Luckily, she has some unusual help: the local Nac Mac Feegle – aka the Wee Free Men – a clan of fierce, sheep-stealing, sword-wielding, six-inch-high blue men.

Together they must face headless horsemen, ferocious grimhounds, and ultimately, the sinister Queen of the Elves herself.

By Francesca Gibbons

Imogen should be nice to her little sister Marie, and her mum’s boyfriend too. She certainly shouldn’t follow a strange silver moth through a door in a tree. But then… who does what they’re told? Imogen, and her sister Marie, finds themselves falling into a magical kingdom where the two are swept up in a gripping race against time – helped by the spoiled prince of the kingdom, a dancing bear, and a very grumpy hunter.

By Robin Stevens

When Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong set up a secret detective agency at Deepdean School for Girls, they struggle to find a truly exciting mystery to investigate. That is, unless you count the case of Lavinia's missing tie, which they don't! But when Hazel discovers the body of Science teacher, Miss Bell, and goes to get help - she and Daisy find the body has disappeared when they return five minutes later.

Now the girls have to solve a murder, and prove a murder took place in the first place before the killer strikes again. But will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test?

By BB Alston

Amari’s big brother Quinton has gone missing. But no one will talk about it, and she believes his mysterious job holds the secret.

So when she gets an invitation to the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, Amari decides this is her chance to find Quinton. But first she has to get to grips with the Bureau – where mermaids, aliens and magicians are real, and her roommate is a weredragon.

With an evil magician threatening the whole supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she’s the enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn't pass the three tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton.

This is the first book in a new supernatural adventure series.

This is the first book in an action-packed and empowering superhero series about a British-Nigerian girl who learns that her Afro hair has psychokinetic powers.

Onyeka has always felt insecure about her vibrant curls, until she discovers she can control her hair with her mind! Her mother quickly whisks her off to the Academy of the Sun, a school in Nigeria where Solari – children with superpowers – are trained.

But Onyeka and her new friends at the academy have to put their powers to the test as they find themselves caught up in an epic battle.

By Robert Munsch

When the fiercest dragon in the world destroys Princess Elizabeth’s castle, burns all her clothes, and captures her fiancé, Prince Ronald, the princess takes matters into her own hands.

With nothing but a paper bag to wear, Elizabeth challenges the dragon to show his strength in the hopes of saving the prince.

A classic story of girl power, The Paper Bag Princess is the perfect read for a new generation of young feminists.


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