Since 2002, the Amelia Bloomer Project has created an annual booklist of the best feminist books for young readers, ages birth through 18. We are part of the Feminist Task Force of the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association.
Since 2002, when the Amelia Bloomer Project published its first bibliography of feminist books for young readers, American culture has undergone radical change. During this decade, many in U.S. society turned their backs on the ideals of equality and tried to return to the restrictive attitudes of the 1950s, reveling in a backlash that attempts to roll back Social Security and Medicare as well as passing laws that limit women’s rights to our own bodies.
Although the inauguration of President Barack Obama, just one year ago, raised hopes that the anti-women excesses of the previous administration would be overcome, conservative rhetoric co-opting feminist arguments remains deeply imbedded in U.S. society. Purity balls “empower” pre-teen and teenage girls to promise their virginity to their fathers as these children pledge to abstain from sex until they are married. So-called crisis pregnancy centers deliberately set up shop near high schools with the intention to counsel young women against having abortions. A U.S. Army Major General commanding U.S. forces in Northern Iraq added pregnancy to the list of prohibitions, with punishments that include courts martial. At the same time, the U.S. military has made few provisions to protect women soldiers from rape and sexual assault by other U.S. soldiers.
On the global scale, sex trafficking in girls and young women has increased. Women in Afghanistan and Iraq have lost almost all civil rights since the beginnings of the American invasions of their countries. At the same time, increasing poverty on a global scale has disproportionately affected women and the children for whom they care. In general, sexism results in preference for male babies and higher rates of female infanticide. On a global level, girls and women face the lack of educational and economic opportunities, lack of health care, and higher levels of malnutrition. These facts remain unacceptable.
The news is not all bad. An internet search for “women’s rights 2009” found a positive link: The “Hillary effect” has brought about an increase in the number of women ambassadors from around the world who have been assigned to posts in Washington, D.C. But, the overwhelming bad news for women shows that we still need positive, feminist information resources and actions.
In an effort both to alert readers to society’s opposition toward women’s equality and to highlight progress toward this vital goal, the 2010 Amelia Bloomer Project members selected 54 books notable for feminist content, quality of writing, and appeal to young readers. We applaud all the authors, editors, illustrators, publishers and others who have participated in their publication. This bibliography is intended to highlight feminist books examining women’s history, those that celebrate women who have blazed trails, and those that describe problems and identify solutions for situations we face today. We hope that all young readers will have an opportunity to experience the spectrum of feminism that these titles represent.
The Amelia Bloomer Project is part of the Feminist Task Force of the American Library Association’s Social Responsibility Round Table. The committee members are Angela Semifero, Marshall District Library (MI); Barbara Ward, (LA); Beth Olshewsky, Tulare County Office of Education (CA); Christie Gibrich, co-chair, Bowles Life Center Branch Library (TX); Dana Campbell, Corvallis-Benton County Public Library (OR); Jane Cothron, co-chair, Lincoln County Library District (OR); Jennie Law, John Bulow Campbell Library (GA); Laurene Zaporozhetz, Air Force Institute of Technology (OH); Maureen McCoy, Brooklyn Public Library (NY).
DiCamillo, Kate. Louise, the adventures of a chicken. Illustrated by Harry Bliss. 2008. 56 p. Joanna Cotler Books, $17.00. (9780060755546). Grades Preschool-2.
Louise, a courageous hen longing for adventure, leaves her home to sail the high seas, joins the circus, and saves herself and others along the way.
Fleming, Candace. Imogene’s last stand. Illustrated by Nancy Carpenter. 2009. 40 p. Schwartz & Wade Books, $16.99. (978-0-3758-3607-7). Grades K-2.
When her local historical society building is scheduled for demolition, Imogene takes dramatic action, mobilizing the townspeople to save the building and preserve the history of their town.
Fosberry, Jennifer. My name is not Isabella. Illustrated by Mike Litwin. 2008. Unpaged. Monkey Barrel Press, $19.99. (978-0-9802000-7-2). Grades K-2.
In the course of an ordinary day, Isabella imagines herself in the roles of extraordinary women such as Sally Ride, Rosa Parks, Annie Oakley, and others.
Gerstein, Mordicai. A book. 2009. Unpaged. Roaring Book Press, $16.95. (978-1-59643-251-2). Grades K-3.
A young girl sets out to discover her own story: it’s not a nursery rhyme nor a fairy tale, but what is it?
Jamieson, Victoria. Bea rocks the flock. 2009. Unpaged. Bloomsbury, $16.99. (978-1-5999-0260-9). Grades Preschool-K.
Needing to express her “ewe-niqueness,” Bea leaves the flock and strikes out on her own, returning to inspire her flock to rock.
Meng, Cece. Tough chicks. Illustrated by Melissa Suber. 2009. Unpaged. Clarion, $16.00. (9780618824151). Grades Preschool-2.
Tough chicks Molly, Polly and Peep, wrestle worms, rope roosters, work on tractor engines, and love mud. Watch out–peep, peep, zoom, zip, cheep!
Pennypacker, Sara. Sparrow Girl. Illustrated by Yoko Tanaka. 2009. Unpaged. Disney/Hyperion, $16.99. (978-142311187-0). Grades K-3.
When Mao Tse-Tung orders Chinese farmers to kill sparrows to increase the wheat crop, Ming-Li rescues a few of the frightened birds, releasing them when the locusts come to eat the crops and saving the village from famine.
Winter, Jeanette. Nasreen’s secret school: a true story from Afghanistan. 2009. Unpaged. Beach Lane Books, $16.99. (9-781416-99437-4). Grades 2-4.
In war-torn Afghanistan, a secret school brings girls together to gain an education forbidden them by the Taliban government.
Corey, Shana. Mermaid queen: the spectacular true story of Annette Kellerman, who swam her way to fame, fortune and swimsuit history. Illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham. 2009. 48 p. Scholastic, $17.99. (9780439698351). Grades 2-5.
In the late 1800s, Australian swimmer Annette Kellerman splashed and made waves while breaking down gender barriers and showing exactly what girls could do in the water.
Lantier, Patricia. Rachel Carson: fighting pesticides and other chemical pollutants. (Voices for Green Choices series). 2009. 28 p. Crabtree Publishing, $9.95. (978-0-7787-4676-8). Grades 2-5.
Through her books and articles, naturalist-author Rachel Carson introduced the science of the natural world to the general public and exposed the threat of DDT and other pesticides, bringing the ecology movement into being.
Moss, Marissa. Sky high : the true story of Maggie Gee. Illustrated by Carl Angel. 2009. Unpaged. Tricycle Press, $16.99. (978-1-5824-6280-6). Grades 1-4.
Maggie Gee’s dream of being a pilot comes true when she becomes one of two Chinese-American women to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots during World War II.
Rappaport, Doreen. Eleanor, quiet no more. Illustrated by Gary Kelley. 2009. Unpaged. Hyperion Books for Children, $16.99. (9780786851416). Grades 2-5.
Stunning illustrations combined with Eleanor Roosevelt’s own words in a picture-biography bring to life a woman who overcame a lonely childhood to become one of the world’s most beloved and effective humanitarians.
Tanaka, Shelley. Amelia Earhart: the legend of the lost aviator. Illustrated by David Craig. 2008. 48 p. Abrams Books for Young Readers, $18.95. (978-0810970953). Grades 1-4.
Ever searching for the next adventure, Amelia Earhart took to the skies and captured America’s heart, imagination, and curiosity.
Whitaker, Suzanne George. The daring Miss Quimby. Illustrated by Catherine Stock. 2009. Unpaged. Holiday House, $16.95. (978-0-8234-1996-8). Grades 1-4.
Harriet Quimby blazed a trail for future women fliers and astronauts when she became the first woman to get her pilot’s license and the first woman to fly across the English Channel.
Carter, Anne Laurel. The shepherd’s granddaughter. 2008. 221 p. Groundwood Books, $17.95. (9780888999023). Grades 5-8.
Amani defies family tradition and cultural expectations to become a shepherd, but when Israeli settlers threaten to take over her family’s land, she must choose between violent reaction and peaceful resistance.
Cochrane, Mick. The girl who threw butterflies. 2009. 177 p. Alfred A. Knopf, $15.99. (9780375856822). Grades 5-8.
For Molly, baseball helps her feel close to her dead father, but only boys play on the school baseball team. Is she good enough to play? And, what will her friends say if she makes the team?
Ebbitt, Carolyn Q. The extra-ordinary princess. 2009. 324 p. Bloomsbury, $16.99. (9781599903408). Grades 5-8.
Princess Amelia has always felt entirely ordinary compared with her talented older sisters, but when the her parents die of plague and an evil sorcerer transforms her sisters, this lowly fourth daughter takes the lead to free her sisters and save the kingdom.
Hale, Shannon and Dean Hale. Rapunzel’s revenge. Illustrated by Nathan Hale. 2008. 144 p. Bloomsbury, $16.99. (9781599902883). Grades 5-8.
No longer a merely a passive fairy tale heroine, Rapunzel escapes her towering prison using only her long, red braids. Accompanied by a young man named Jack and his pet goose, she heads out on swashbuckling Wild West adventure to defeat the witch and free the downtrodden.
Kelly, Jacqueline. The evolution of Calpurnia Tate. 2009. 340 p. Henry Holt, $16.99. (978-0-8050-8841-0). Grades 4-7.
At the end of the nineteenth century, Calpurnia Tate, the only girl in her large East Texas family, discovers science, Darwin, and evolution, winning the support of her naturalist grandfather in her rebellion against her destiny as a proper young lady.
Springer, Nancy. The case of the cryptic crinoline. 2009. 162 p. Philomel, $14.99. (978-0-399-24781-1). Grades 4-6.
When her landlady is kidnapped, Enola Holmes takes the case only to learn that the kidnappers have mistaken Mrs. Tuppet for one of Florence Nightingale’s spy birds. Enola must enlist the help of the famous nurse/spy in order to effect a rescue while avoiding her brother Sherlock who wishes to send her to finishing school.
Hoose, Phillip. Claudette Colvin : twice toward justice. 2009. 144 p. Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers, $19.95. (978-0-3743-1322-7). Grades 6-up.
Nine months before Rosa Parks’ stand for equality, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus to a white passenger. The unexpected consequences of her decision to take a stand against the injustice of segregation and her perseverance make her an unsung heroine in the Civil Rights Movement.
Macy, Sue. Bylines: a photo-biography of Nellie Bly. 2009. 64 p. National Geographic, $19.95. (978-1-4263-0514-6). Grades 5-8.
Intrepid woman reporter Nellie Bly cracks open the male-dominated field of journalism in the late 1800’s with her astute articles, scandalous exposes, and record-breaking trip around the world.
Nelson, Marilyn. Sweethearts of rhythm: the story of the greatest all-girl swing band in the world. Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. 2009. 80 p. Dial Books, $21.99. (9780803731875). Grades 4-up.
Connected through their passion for music, the all-girl African-American swing band laid down a rhythm that overcame sexism and racism to swing the hearts and tap the toes of those who heard them.
Ornes, Stephen. Sophie Germain. 2009. 112 p. Morgan Reynolds, $28.95. (978-1-59935-062-2). Grades 4-6.
Sophie Germain changed the course of mathematics and scientific thinking in the early 1880s through her insight, intellect and unflagging determination regardless of opposition and ridicule.
Silvey, Anita. I’ll pass for your comrade: women soldiers in the Civil War. 2008. 128 p. Clarion Books, $17.00. (978-0-6185-7491-9). Grades 5-8.
Amazing photographs and contemporary accounts commemorate the bravery of women soldiers in both the Union and Confederate forces during the Civil War.
Stone, Tanya Lee. Almost astronauts: 13 women who dared to dream. 2009. 134 p. Candlewick, $17.99. (978-0-7636-4502-1). Grades 5-8.
Women pilots saw an opportunity to serve their country when the U.S. joined the space race, but, despite proving themselves superior to the male candidates in many ways, the “Mercury 13” were never allowed to participate in the space program.
Todd, Anne M. Susan B. Anthony: activist. 2009. 128 p. Chelsea House Publishers, $30.00. (978-1-6041-3087-4). Grades 4-6.
A tireless worker, Susan B. Anthony strove to achieve equality under the law for women and African Americans.
Venkatraman, Padma. Women mathematicians. 2009. 160 p. Morgan Reynolds, $28.95. (978-1-59935-091-2). Grades 4-6.
Between the early 1700s and the mid-1930s, often when women were expected to receive only a minimal education, six fascinating women transformed the field of mathematics, paving the way for women mathematicians and scientists of the future.
Anderson, Laurie Halse. Wintergirls. 2009. 278 p. Viking. $17.99. (978-0-670-01110-0). Grades 9-12.
Once friends, Lia and Cassie become the wintergirls, locked in a contest to see who can be skinniest, but Cassie is dead and Lia did not pick up her calls the night she died. Will Lia continue the contest or are there other choices for her?
Bechdel, Alison. The essential dykes to watch out for. 2008. 416 p. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25.00 (9780618968800). Grades 10-up.
Challenge, wonder, love, and live with the women of Madwimmin Books as they find their way through everyday life.
Bowen, Rhys. In a gilded cage. 2009. 276 p. Minotaur Books, $24.95 (978-0-312-38534-7). Grades 7-up.
Private investigator Molly Murphy becomes involved with the women’s suffrage movement while balancing her attraction to NYC police captain Daniel Sullivan with the knowledge that marriage may well mean the end of both her freedom and to running her own business.
Bradley, Alan. The sweetness at the bottom of the pie. 2009. 384 p. Delacorte Press, $23.00 (978-0385342308). Grades 7-up.
Eleven-year-old Flavia De Luce spends her time studying chemistry, creating poisons, and spying on her family and neighbors. When a dead snipe with a postage stamp clutched in its beak appears just before Flavia discovers a man dying in the kitchen garden, she uses her skills to solve the mystery and save her family.
Chaltas, Thalia. Because I am furniture. 2009. 352 p. Viking, $16.99 (978-0-670-06298-0). Grades 9-12.
Anke’s family is terrorized into silence by their father’s sexual and emotional abuses. Can she find the courage to speak out and save them all?
Davis, Tanita S. Mare’s war. 2009. 352 p. Alfred A. Knopf, $16.99. (9780375857140). Grades 7-10.
Forced to join their grandmother on a cross-country journey, Tali and Octavia become absorbed in her life story. From a childhood of domestic service and fighting to protect herself and her sister from her mother’s boyfriend to enlisting as a member of the African-American 6888th Battalion of the Women’s Army Corp in World War II, Mare’s stories help the sisters understand the importance of finding your own way.
Frost, Helen. Crossing stones. 2009. 192 p. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $16.99. (978-0-3743-1653-2). Grades 6-10.
In a small farming community in the tumultuous year of 1917, the Great War and the influenza epidemic complicate Muriel’s life. On a trip to Washington, D.C. to care for her suffragist Aunt Vera, recently released from prison and weak from a hunger strike, Muriel discovers what she wants to do with her life.
Goddard, Drew & Joss Whedon. Buffy the vampire slayer. Wolves at the gate. Illustrated by Georges Jeanty & Jo Chen. 2008. Unpaged. Dark Horse Comics, $15.95. (978-1-5958-2165-2). Grades 9-up.
Lured to Japan, Buffy and her sisterhood of newly activated slayers, along with old and new allies, face off against a group of shape-shifting vampires threatening to take over the world.
Goodman, Alison. Eon: Dragoneye reborn. 2008. 531 p. Viking, $19.99. (978-0-670-06227-0). Grades 8-up.
Disguised as a boy in a world ruled by male Dragoneyes, Eon must embrace her true identity before she can gain the power to stop a despot from destroying her country and the entire balance of magic.
Griffin, Paul. The Orange Houses. 2009. 147 p. Dial Books. $16.99. (978-0-8037-3346-6). Grades 10-12.
In the housing projects of New York, three outsiders form unlikely friendships to face the harsh and violent world around them, struggling to save themselves and each other.
Perkins, Mitali. The secret keeper. 2009. 225 p. Delacorte Press, $16.99. (0385733402). Grades 7-10.
Amid the social and political turmoil of 1970s India, traditional views and familial expectations threaten Asha’s dreams of attending university and pursuing a career.
Pierce, Tamora. Bloodhound. 2009. 551 p. Random House, $18.99. (978-0-375-81469-3). Grades 7-up.
Beka Cooper, now a full-fledged Dog in the Provost’s Guard, teams with her seasoned partner Clary to uncover a counterfeiting ring that threatens to bring down the kingdom.
Smith, Sherri L. Flygirl. 2009. 273 p. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, $16.99. (9780399247095). Grades 6-10.
In the Jim Crow South, Ida Mae Jones joins the Women’s Airforce Supply Pilot Program, hiding behind her light skin and “good hair” to pass as a white woman, gaining her pilot’s license, and making her own contribution to the war effort.
Scalzi, John. Zoe’s tale. 2008. 336 p. Tor, $24.95. (9780765316981). Grades 8-up.
When Zoe joins her parents to lead the new space colony of Roanoke, she finds herself stranded on a deadly pioneer world where who she is and the choices she makes are central not only to her family’s and the colony’s survival but also to preserving intergalactic peace.
Stockett, Kathryn. The help. 2009. 464 p. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, $24.95. (978-0-3991-5534-5). Grades 10-up.
In the South of the 1950s, black women are trusted to raise white children but never allowed to forget their place. In an act of courage and desperation, three women–two black and one white—come together to fight the racism and sexism deeply embedded in their small Mississippi town.
Williams, Carol Lynch. The chosen one. 2009. 213 p. St. Martin’s Griffin, $16.95. (978-0-312-55511-5). Grades 8-up.
In an isolated polygamist community, 14-year-old Kyra must choose between love for her family and her desire for freedom when she is chosen to be the seventh wife of Prophet Chiles, her father’s 60-year-old brother.
Wolff, Virginia Euwer. This full house. 2009. 476 p. HarperTeen, $17.99. (978-0-06-158304-9). Grades 8-12.
Hit with new discoveries that turn her world and her friendships upside-down, LaVaugh must decide whether to risk her place in the Women in Science program and her chance at college to do the right thing.
Benedict, Helen. The lonely soldier: the private war of women serving in Iraq. 2009. 264 p. Beacon Press, $25.95. (9780807061473). Grades 10-up.
Although more women than ever before are serving in U.S. military units in the war in Iraq, the most horrifying attacks they face may be from soldiers in their own units. Candid interviews with active and retired female soldiers document widespread incidents of rape, harassment, abuse, and discrimination experienced by American military women serving in Iraq.
Friedman, Jaclyn & Jessica Valenti. Yes means yes!: visions of female sexual power & a world without rape. 2008. 256 p. Seal Press, $16.95. (978-1-5800-5257-3). Grades 10-up.
Twenty-seven essays present a pro-active look at feminism, sex, and learning to love oneself before saying “Yes” to someone else.
Hemming, Heidi and Julie Hemming Savage. Women making America. 2009. 378 p. Clotho Press, $28.95. (9780982127100). Grades 7-up.
The untold history of women’s work throughout the history of the United States includes stories of doctors, lawyers, stagecoach drivers, Apache warriors, and outlaws—women of all races and classes—accompanied by photos, graphics, and pop culture. If you’ve ever wondered what wasn’t included in your U.S. history classes, this book is for you.
Hopper, Jessica. The girls’ guide to rocking. 2009. 288 p. Workman Publishing Company, $13.95. (978-0-7611-5141-8). Grades 7-up.
Everything a girl musician needs to know, from shopping for an instrument and learning to play to putting together a band, dealing with the music industry, and recording a demo with sidebars featuring famous female musicians and a detailed time-line of women in rock.
Kristoff, Nicholas D. and Sheryl WuDunn. Half the sky: turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide. 2009. 320 p. Alfred A. Knopf, $27.95. (9780307267146). Grades 10-up.
Sexism in the developing world devalues girls and women through rape, culturally sanctioned violence, sex trafficking, forced prostitution, inadequate health care, and lack of education. Interviews with women from around the world highlight their courage and determination to overcome this oppression showing that the economic emancipation of women in the developing world is crucial to ending poverty.
Loughead, Deb and Jocelyn Shipley. Cleavage: breakaway fiction for real girls. 2008. 186 p. Sumach Press, $12.95. (978-1-894549-76-9). Grades 8-12.
In these 15 short stories, teenage girls’ relationships with their mothers and with their changing bodies each give a new take on the meaning of “cleavage.”
Madrid, Mike. Supergirls: fashion, feminism, fantasy, and the history of comic book heroines. 2009. 334 p. Exterminating Angel Press, $16.95. (978193525039). Grades 8-up.
From the super heroines of today to “Goddesses of Tomorrow,” Madrid questions the position of women in the world of superhero fantasy, showing the parallels between society’s expectations and the depiction of American women in comic fiction.
Mam, Somaly. The road of lost innocence. 2008. 208 p. Spiegel & Grau, $22.95. (9780385526210). Grades 10-up.
Sold as a child-slave into the brutal life of a Cambodian brothel, Somaly Mam escapes to create an organization that rescues other girls from prostitution in Southeast Asia.
Slavicek, Louise Chipley. Women and the Civil War. 2009. 128 p. Chelsea House Publishers, $35.00. (978-1604130409). Grades 6-9.
Some fought for country, some sought adventure, and some couldn’t bear to part with a husband or sweetheart. No matter the reason, women from both the North and South took part in the Civil War as scouts, soldiers, nurses, and spies.
Strebeigh, Fred. Equal: women reshape American law. 2009. 592 p. W.W. Norton, $35.00. (978-0393065558). Grades 11-up.
Stories of lawyers, litigants, and judges bring to life the people and issues behind the major legal cases affirming women’s constitutional rights to equality that made most discrimination on the basis of sex illegal under U.S. law.