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.
“However bad this is, it’s always the very best time that there has ever been.”
-Melissa Harris-Perry (from p.15 of Marianne Schnall’s What Will it Take to Make a Woman President?)
The 2014 Amelia Bloomer Project list highlights the power of the individual and the collective voices of women across time and around the world. We celebrate the legacy of Lynn Povich and her female colleagues who resisted the patriarchy of mass media. The Riot Grrrls of the 1990s introduced a new generation of young women to the right and importance of expressing themselves with loud and unapologetic voices. And today, Tavi Gevinson and her Rookie contributors challenge mainstream media and insist on using their unique talents to claim their share of the global conversation.
Powerful manifestations of contemporary, global feminist movements improving the lives of girls and women include Sampat Pal and her Gulabi Gang in India, and the work of Dr. Hawa Abdi in Somalia. Rather than being silenced by tyranny, Malala Yousafzai became an internationally recognized advocate for the rights of girls. Highlighting the value and potential of our youngest audience, a board book from the Global Fund for Children is a top ten title. Through feminist treatments of traditional tales, swashbuckling heroines, and fictional and biographical portrayals of female scientists and artists who refused to accept limited opportunities, the books on this list examine the feminist experience across genre and age.
The Amelia Bloomer Project is part of the Feminist Task Force of the American Library Association’s Social Responsibility Round Table. The 2014 Amelia Bloomer Project committee members are Jennie Law (co-chair), Joy Worland (co-chair), Ann Bever, Katelyn Browne, Katie Mitchell, Lalitha Nataraj, Linda Parsons, Kelly Rottmund, Gesse Stark-Smith, April Witteveen.
*An asterisk denotes a 2014 Top Ten Amelia Bloomer book!
Beaty, Andrea. Rosie Revere, Engineer. Illus. by David Roberts. 2013. Unpaged. Abrams Books for Young Readers, $16.95 (978-1-4197-0845-9). K-Gr.2.
Shy Rosie dreams of being an engineer and is encouraged by her aunt to celebrate each failure as a raging success.
Coh, Smiljana. Princesses on the Run. 2013. Unpaged. Running Press Kids, $15.95 (978-0-7624-4612-4). K-Gr.2.
Rather than waiting for handsome princes to rescue them, fairy tale heroines take charge of their own lives, embarking on adventures and fostering positive friendships with each other.
Underwood, Deborah. Part-time Princess. Illus. by Cambria Evans. 2013. Unpaged. Disney/Hyperion Books, $16.99 (978-1-4231-2485-6). K-Gr.2.
Every night a little girl dreams she is a firefighting princess protecting her kingdom. There is no task too dangerous for this intrepid royal!
Burleigh, Robert. Look Up!: Henrietta Leavitt, Pioneering Woman Astronomer. Illus by Raùl Colòn. 2013. Unpaged. Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, $16.99 (978-1-4169-5819-2). Gr.2-4.
Henrietta Leavitt’s love of the sky as a child led to an inspiring career as an astronomer.
*Cummins, Julie. Flying Solo: How Ruth Elder Soared into America’s Heart. Illus. by Malene R. Laugesen. 2013. Unpaged. Roaring Brook Press, $17.99 (978-1-5964-3509-4). K-Gr.2
Pioneering female aviator Ruth Elder used her personality, style, and marketing skills to compete in an area that did not readily welcome women.
Edison, Erin. Susan B. Anthony. 2013. 24p. Capstone Press, $21.00 (978-1-6206-5075-2). Gr.1-3.
Susan B. Anthony’s life and work are given a brief but informative treatment in this early reader.
Gilpin, Caroline Crosson. Amelia Earhart. 2013. 32p. National Geographic, $3.99 (978-1-4263-1350-9). K-Gr.2.
Amelia Earhart’s life, up to her mysterious final flight, is detailed in this early reader.
*The Global Fund for Children. Global Baby Girls. 2013. Unpaged. Charlesbridge, $6.95 (978-1-5808-9439-5). PreS.
Baby girls around the globe are beautiful, strong, bold, and bright.
Harness, Cheryl. Mary Walker Wears the Pants: The True Story of the Doctor, Reformer, and Civil War Hero. Illus. by Carlo Molinari. 2013. Unpaged. Albert Whitman & Company, $16.99 (978-0-8075-4990-2). K-Gr.3.
Mary Walker broke barriers by championing women’s rights, bravely serving in the Civil War, and being the only woman to earn the Medal of Honor — and she wore pants!
Hopkins, H. Joseph. The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever. Illus. by Jill McElmurry. 2013. Unpaged. Beach Lane Books, $16.99 (978-1-4424-1402-0). K-Gr.3.
Kate Sessions loved natural science and had the vision to transform San Diego from a desert to a green oasis.
*Markel, Michelle. Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909. Illus. by Melissa Sweet. 2013. Unpaged. Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (978-0-0618-0442-7). K-Gr.4.
Clara Lemlich bravely protested unfair working conditions in New York, and in 1909 she led the largest walkout by women workers in U.S. history.
McCarthy, Meghan. Daredevil: The Daring Life of Betty Skelton. 2013. Unpaged. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, $16.99 (978-1-4424-2262-9). K-Gr.3.
The First Lady of Firsts, Betty Skelton blazed the trail for women in aviation, auto racing, and aeronautics. She soloed when she was just 12 years old and set records throughout her life.
Novesky, Amy. Imogen: The Mother of Modernism and Three Boys. Illus. by Lisa Congdon. 2012. Unpaged. Cameron + Company, $16.95 (978-1-9373-5932-4). Gr.K-3.
During the early twentieth century, an era when women were expected to devote themselves to their families, Imogen Cunningham successfully balanced motherhood and her art.
Stone, Tanya Lee. Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell. Illus. by Marjorie Priceman. 2013. Unpaged. Christy Ottaviano Books/ Henry Holt & Co., $16.99 (978-0-8050-9048-2). PreS-Gr.2.
The story of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor in the U.S., told with playful and informative text and pictures.
Wheeler, Jill C. Chien-Shiung Wu: Phenomenal Physicist. 32p. ABDO Publishing Company, $25.99 (978-1-6178-3451-6). Gr.2-4.
Chien-Shiung Wu, a pioneering woman physicist, fought to have her work recognized in a male-dominated field.
Wheeler, Jill C. Joanne Simpson: Magnificent Meteorologist. 2012. 32p. ABDO Publishing Company, $25.99 (978-1-6178-3449-3). Gr.2-4.
Joanne Simpson broke new ground in the world of meteorology, paving the way for other female scientists to follow.
Carlson, Caroline. Magic Marks the Spot. Illus. by Dave Phillips. 2013. 344p. Harper, $16.99 (978-0-0621-9434-3). Gr.4-7.
Hilary wants to be a pirate but is told a girl on the high seas is undignified. She stands her ground and becomes the heroic Terror of the Southlands!
Kladstrup, Kristin. Garden Princess. 2013. 261p. Candlewick Press, $15.99 (978-0-7636-5685-0). Gr. 4-6.
Princess Adela’s love of gardens leads her to the evil witch Hortensia. She needs all of her wits, friendship, and perseverance to change the fate of herself and others.
Larson, Kirby. Hattie Ever After. 2013. 230p. Delacorte Press, $16.99 (978-0-3857-3746-3). Gr.6-up.
Hattie overcomes personal and professional challenges as she pursues her dream of becoming a reporter.
La Valley, Josanne. The Vine Basket. 2013. 252p. Clarion Books, $16.99 (978-0-5478-4801-3). Gr.5-8.
Mehrigul pursues her dream of becoming an artisan in a culture where only men are allowed to learn a craft and earn money.
Parry, Rosanne. Written in Stone. 2013. 196p. Random House, $16.99 (978-0-3758-6971-6). Gr.5-7.
Pearl wants to be a whaler and a drummer. She subverts the expectations for Makah girls when she thwarts an intruder and stands up for her community.
Quirk, Katie. A Girl Called Problem. 2013. 243p. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, $8.00 (978-0-8028-5404-9). Gr.6-9.
When bad things keep happening in Shida’s village, some villagers say they’ve been cursed for allowing girls to go to school. Shida sets out to discover what is really going on.
Whitley, Jeremy. PrinceLess, Book Two: Get Over Yourself. Illus. by Emily Martin. 2013. Unpaged. Action Lab Entertainment, $14.95 (978-0-9859-6524-2). Gr.6-10.
Princess Adrienne and her friend Bedelia continue on their quest to save the remaining princesses of their kingdom, each trapped in a tower. No knights in shining armor need apply!
Williams-Garcia, Rita. P.S. Be Eleven. 2013. 274p. Amistad, $16.99 (978-0-6193-862-7). Gr.3-7.
Everyone around Delphine has different expectations of how a girl her age should behave. Can Delphine figure out her own way to be eleven in the rapidly changing Brooklyn of the 1960s?
DeAngelis, Therese. Women’s Rights on the Frontier. 2013. 64p. Mason Crest Publishers, $22.95 (978-1-4222-2359-8). Gr.4-8.
The women’s suffrage movement swept the western territories of the U.S., where pioneering women ran businesses and worked outdoors.
Gelletly, LeeAnne. A Woman’s Place in Early America. 2013. 64p. Mason Crest Publishers, $22.95 (978-1-4222-2355-0). Gr.4-8.
Despite having extremely limited rights in eighteenth-century America, some women stood up for change.
Humphrey, Elizabeth King. The Feminist Movement Today. 2013. 64p. Mason Crest Publishers, $22.95 (978-1-4222-2352-9). Gr.6-10.
The current state of women’s rights and feminist activism are explored through court cases, profiles of activists, and historical landmarks.
Jennings, Terry Catasús. The Women’s Liberation Movement, 1960-1990. 2013. 64p. Mason Crest Publishers, $22.95 (978-1-4222-2358-1). Gr.6-10.
During the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, many different groups of women organized to fight for their rights.
Rappaport, Doreen. Helen’s Big World: The Life of Helen Keller. Illus by Matt Tavares. 2012. Unpaged. Disney/Hyperion Books, $17.99 (978-0-7868-0890-8). Gr.3-6.
A beautiful biography depicting Helen Keller’s activism, struggles, and triumphs.
Stine, Megan. Who Was Sally Ride? Illus. by Ted Hammond. 2013. 103p. Grosset & Dunlap, $14.99 (978-0-4484-6688-0). Gr.3-5.
Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, was also a tennis player, astrophysicist, and educator. This biography explores her life and her passion for helping girls become scientists.
Welldon, Christine. Reporter in Disguise: The Intrepid Vic Steinberg. 2013. 78p. Fitzhenry & Whiteside, $19.95 (978-1-5545-5233-7). Gr.5-8.
Vic Steinberg, an early female reporter, used disguises to go places most women of her time weren’t allowed.
*Wishinsky, Frieda. Profiles: Freedom Heroines. 2012. 144p. Scholastic Inc., $6.99 (978-0-5454-2518-6). Gr.4-6.
These six engaging profiles of women, including Alice Paul and Ida B. Wells, show how the causes of civil rights and feminism remain entwined.
Brill, Amy. The Movement of Stars: A Novel. 2013. 388p. Riverhead Books, $27.95 (978-1-5944-8744-6). Gr.10-up.
Hannah’s interest in the night sky leads her to become an astronomer and an independent woman, despite the expectation that she would merely serve her father and an eventual husband.
Brink, André. Philida: A Novel. 2012. 310p. Vintage Books, $15.00 (978-0-3458-0503-4). Gr.10-up.
Although she is denied justice through official avenues, Philida fights to reclaim her life and her soul.
Cliff, Tony. Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant. 2013. 167p. First Second, $15.99 (978-1-5964-3813-2). Gr.7-up.
Swashbuckling heroine Delilah Dirk partners with Selim, a mild-mannered Turkish lieutenant, in a series of globetrotting adventures.
Engle, Margarita. The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist. 2013. 182p. Harcourt, $16.99 (978-0-5478-0743-0). Gr.9-up.
Through her poetry, young Tula is liberated and inspired to become an abolitionist and feminist in nineteenth-century Cuba.
Galang, M. Evelina. Angel de la Luna and the 5th Glorious Mystery. 2013. 347p. Coffee House Press, $12.00 (978-1-5668-9333-6). Gr.8-up.
Angel finds purpose, strength, and peace in feminist activism.
Klaber, William. The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell. 2013. 292p. Greenleaf Book Group Press, $24.95 (978-1-6083-2562-7). Gr.9-up.
Based on a true story, Lucy decides to pass as male to take advantage of the greater opportunities available to men in the late 1800s.
Sharafeddine, Fatima. The Servant. 2013. 157p. Groundwood Books, $12.75 (978-1-55498-307-0). Gr.9-up.
Fifteen year old Faten’s father forces her to leave school to work as a maid. Despite rigid Lebanese social expectations and an unsupportive family, Faten forges ahead to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse.
Smelcer, John. Lone Wolves. 2013. 189p. Leapfrog Press, $12.16 (978-1-9352-4840-8). Gr.7-up.
Denny inherits her grandfather’s passions for dogsledding and preserving their Native culture. Despite being told that girls don’t sled, she participates in the Great Race, an epic competition in the Alaskan wilderness.
Whitman, Sylvia. The Milk of Birds. 2013. 363p. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, $16.99 (978-1-4424-4682-3). Gr.8-up.
A fourteen-year-old Sudanese refugee and an American teenager become pen pals for a year. Although their circumstances are vastly different, they come to understand that “when a tree leans, it will rest on its sister.”
Abdi, Hawa. Keeping Hope Alive: One Woman: 90,000 Lives Changed. 2013. 246p. Grand Central Publishing, $26.99 (978-1-4555-0376-6). Gr.10-up.
Dr. Hawa Abdi, the first female gynecologist in Somalia has saved, housed, and provided free education to thousands of Somali women.
Bagge, Peter. Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story. 2013. 72p. Drawn & Quarterly, $21.95 (978-1-7704-6126-0). Gr.10-up.
Margaret Sanger’s work as the mother of modern birth control comes alive in this brash and gripping examination of her life.
Beram, Nell & Carolyn Boriss-Krimsky. Yoko Ono: Collector of Skies. 2013. 177p. Amulet Books, $24.95 (978-1-4197-0444-4). Gr.7-up.
Despite years of sexism, racism, and criticism in the public eye, Yoko Ono continues to create groundbreaking art and music.
Darms, Lisa (ed.). The Riot Grrrl Collection. 2013. 362p. The Feminist Press, $34.95 (978-1-5586-1822-0). Gr.9-up.
This collection brings together flyers, letters, and zines which show the beginning, evolution, and decline of the Riot Grrrl movement.
Erdreich, Sarah. Generation Roe: Inside the Future of the Pro-Choice Movement. 2013. 271p. Seven Stories Press, $16.99 (978-1-6098-0458-9). Gr.10-up.
A well-researched and readable treatment of the personal, political, cultural, and medical aspects of abortion and the pro-choice movement.
Fontanella-Khan, Amana. Pink Sari Revolution: A Tale of Women and Power in India. 2013. 284p. W.W. Norton & Company, $26.95 (978-0-3930-6297-7). Gr.9-up.
Women’s rights crusader, Sampat Pal, uses grassroots activism to bring justice to women in India.
*Gevinson, Tavi (ed.). Rookie Yearbook Two. 2013. 348p. Drawn & Quarterly, $29.95 (978-1-7704-6148-2). Gr.7-up.
Thoughtful and provocative writing from Rookie’s second year continues to promote equality and feminism.
*Molloy, Aimee. However Long the Night: Molly Melching’s Journey to Help Millions of African Women and Girls Triumph. 2013. 252p. HarperOne, $25.99 (978-0-0621-3276-5). Gr.10-up.
Molly Melching developed a holistic, community-driven education system that respectfully ensures the well-being and health of Senegalese women and girls.
*Mullenbach, Cheryl. Double Victory: How African American Women Broke Race and Gender Barriers to Help Win World War II. 2013. 266p. Chicago Review Press, $19.95 (978-1-5697-6808-2). Gr.9-up.
Many African American women overcame legal and social barriers to serve their country during World War II and helped lay the foundation for the civil rights movement.
*Povich, Lynn. The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued Their Bosses and Changed the Workplace. 2012. 249p. PublicAffairs, $25.99 (978-1-6103-9173-3). Gr.10-up.
The 1970 discrimination lawsuit against Newsweek powerfully impacted workplace policy and the lives of the women involved.
Reef, Catherine. The Brontë Sisters: The Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne. 2012. 230p. Clarion Books, $18.99 (978-0-5475-7966-5). Gr.7-up.
The Brontë sisters rocked Victorian society with their progressive and unconventional writing.
*Schnall, Marianne. What Will It Take To Make a Woman President? 2013. 386p. Seal Press, $17.00 (978-1-5800-5496-6). Gr.10-up.
After her young daughter asks why a woman has never been president, Schnall interviews a variety of public figures who reflect on the obstacles to this goal and explore how to make this dream a reality.
*Yousafzai, Malala with Christina Lamb. I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban. 2013. 327p. Little, Brown and Company, $26.00 (978-0-3163-2240-9). Gr.8-up.
Recovered from her attack, Malala Yousafzai has come back stronger than ever, engaging in consciousness-raising and serving as an inspiration to girls and women all over the world.