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.
“Because I Am a Girl”
Plan Canada’s Manifesto “Because I Am a Girl…” offers a glimpse at the diverse experiences of girls and women globally. Similarly, each of the selections on this year’s Amelia Bloomer Project List engages readers wherever they are on their own feminist journey. These books offer guidance and inspiration for individual and collective progress.
The world’s young feminists understand that Every Day is Malala Day. Words and photographs in this title capture the joy and determination of their generation’s most famous feminist, Malala Yousafzai. In A Pair of Twins, a girl in an Indian royal court challenges the long-held tradition of elephant trainers being male and with the queen’s assistance, proves she is the best person for the exalted position of Chief Mahout.
In Hidden, older readers will meet Alfhilde, an Irish princess who escapes enslavement and through intelligence and cunning reclaims her life and the ability to determine her future. Readers will find this story not only exciting but also useful for finding their own authentic voice. A Woman in the House (and Senate) celebrates America’s female politicians who have brought their powerful voices to the forefront of American politics.
Axie, the protagonist of My Notorious Life, experiences a childhood marked by abandonment and grinding poverty. Rather than being beaten down by these challenges, she uses them to shape her adult life. She champions women’s reproductive rights while endeavoring to make a safer future for her daughter. Through eerie yet expressive poems, Poisoned Apples deconstructs familiar Western fairy tales, subverting them into a sometimes nightmarish but ultimately truthful and empowering narrative for young women.
As girls determine their own futures, they can look to this list for examples of women across a spectrum of professions including the arts, politics, and business. Leontyne Price stood on the shoulders of Marian Anderson, and in turn paved the way for future opera singers such as Kathleen Battle and Jessye Norman. Dolly Parton made her name through music yet is also a fierce advocate for social justice and a sophisticated businesswoman. Reshma Saujani provides a guide for young women who will be our future leaders, with special attention paid toward politics, technology, and business. That her roadmap includes mentoring and women working together leads us back to Plan Canada’s Manifesto that “Because I am a Girl…I Can Change the World.” (McCarney, Rosemary. With Jen Albaugh and Plan International. Because I Am A Girl: I Can Change the World. 2014.)
The Amelia Bloomer Project is part of the Feminist Task Force of the American Library Association’s Social Responsibility Round Table. The 2015 Amelia Bloomer Project Committee Members are: Linda Parsons, co-chair, The Ohio State University, Marion (OH); Joy Worland, co-chair, Kellogg-Hubbard Library (VT); Ann Bever, Dallas Public Library (TX); Katelyn Browne, Capital City Public Charter School (D.C.); Katie Bruce, Princeton Public Library (NJ); Emily Fear, Sewickley Public Library (PA); Katie Mitchell, Saline District Library (MI); Lalitha Nataraj, Escondido Public Library (CA); Gesse Stark-Smith, Multnomah County Library (OR).
* An asterisk denotes a Top Ten title.
*Mandana, Kavitha. A Pair of Twins. Illus. by Nayantara Surendranath. 2014. Unpaged. Karadi Tales, $11.95 (978-8-181-90302-0). Gr.K-3.
Born minutes apart, a young girl and her beloved elephant break gender roles in India by becoming the first female elephant trainer and lead elephant.
Fern, Tracey. Dare the Wind: The Record-Breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud. Illus. by Emily Arnold McCully. 2014. Unpaged. Margaret Ferguson Books-Farrar Straus Giroux, $17.99 (978-0-374-31699-0). Gr.K-3.
Born with saltwater in her veins in the early 19th century, Ellen grows up to be a ship’s navigator, using her skills to travel the world and sets speed records.
Kelley, True. Who Is Dolly Parton?. Illus. by Stephen Marchesi. 2014. 105p. Grosset & Dunlap-Penguin, $4.99 (978-0-448-47892-0). Gr.1-4.
Dolly Parton’s talent, perseverance, and good business sense have led her to become a successful singer, actress, and philanthropist.
*McCarney, Rosemary. With Plan International. Every Day is Malala Day. 2014. Unpaged. Second Story Press, $18.95 (978-1-927583-31-9). Gr.K-3.
Girls from around the world interpret Malala Yousafzai’s work and express their own ideas about equality, independence, and opportunity.
Roberts, Cokie. Founding Mothers: Remembering the Ladies. Illus. by Diane Goode. 2014. 37p. Harper-HarperCollins, $17.99 (978-0-06-078002-9). Gr.3-6.
Many famous and less-well-known women helped shape the early days of the United States with their industry, creativity and bravery.
Russell-Brown, Katheryn. Little Melba and Her Big Trombone. Illus. by Frank Morrison. 2014. Unpaged. Lee & Low, $18.95 (978-1-60060-898-8). Gr.1-5.
In a world dominated by men, Melba Liston became a renowned jazz trombonist.
Weatherford, Carole Boston. Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century. Illus. by Raul Colon. 2014. Unpaged. Alfred A. Knopf-Random House Children’s Books, $17.99 (978-0-375-85606-8). Gr.K-3.
Leontyne Price overcame racism and hate to become a famed international opera star. Her legacy served as as inspiration for African-American female vocalists such as Jessye Norman and Grace Bumbry.
Winter, Jeanette. Malala, a Brave Girl from Pakistan/Iqbal, a Brave Boy from Pakistan. 2014. Unpaged. Beach Lane Books-Simon and Schuster, $17.99. (978-1-481-42295-6). Gr.K-4.
Malala and Iqbal’s stories show younger readers that women’s and children’s rights are global issues.
Berry, Julie. The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place. 2014. 351p. Roaring Brook Press-Macmillan, $15.99 (978-1-596-43956-6) Gr.5-8.
In this Victorian farce, seven misfit girls conceal the murder of their headmistress in order to live life as sisters in a feminine utopia.
Das, Amrita. Hope is a Girl Selling Fruit. Trans. by Gita Wolf and Susheela Varadarajan. 2014. Unpaged. Tara Books, $16.95 (978-9-383-14502-7). Gr.4-up.
The story of a young woman’s journey to study art and the choices she makes for herself along the way.
Mobley, Jeannie. Searching for Silverheels. 2014. 282p. Margaret K. McElderry Books-Simon & Schuster, $16.99. (978-1-4814-0029-9). Gr.5-8.
During World War I, thirteen-year-old Pearl sets out to solve the mystery of local heroine Silverheels and reluctantly accepts help from an eccentric suffragette.
*Napoli, Donna Jo. Hidden. 2014. 372p. A Paula Wiseman Book-Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (978-1-4424-8300-2). Gr.7-up.
After she escapes from slave traders, young Brigid vows to do everything in her power to save her older sister, who is still held captive.
Pinkney, Andrea Davis. The Red Pencil. Illus. Shane W. Evans. 2014. 336p. Little, Brown-Hachette, $17.00. (978-0-316-24780-1). Gr.4-6.
After her village is attacked by the Janjaweed, Amira takes great risks to make her dream of education come true so that she can help her people.
Benoit, Peter. Women’s Right to Vote. 2014. 64p. Scholastic, $8.95 (978-0-531-25829-3). Gr.4-6.
A concise history of the obstacles American women faced in the struggle for voting rights and political equality.
*Cooper, Ilene. A Woman in the House (and Senate): How Women Came to the United States Congress, Broke Down Barriers, and Changed the Country. Illus. by Elizabeth Baddeley. 2014. 134p. Abrams Books for Young Readers-Abrams, $24.95 (978-1-419-71036-0). Gr.4-8.
Cooper presents a vivid chronicle from the beginning of the suffrage movement to the present, highlighting important women who have paved critical paths in the American political landscape.
Farrell, Mary Cronk. Pure Grit: How American World War II Nurses Survived Battle and Prison Camp in the Pacific. 2014. 160p. Abrams Books for Young Readers-Abrams. $24.95 (978-1-419-71028-5) Gr.5-up.
This little known story highlights the perseverance and strength of military nurses stationed in the Philippines during World War II.
Macy, Sue. Sally Ride: Life on a Mission. 2014. 152p. Aladdin-Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (978-1-4424-8854-0). Gr.3-6.
In an era of feminist activism and change, Sally Ride excelled as an athlete, scientist, astronaut, investigator, and advocate for girls’ STEM education.
*McCarney, Rosemary. With Jen Albaugh and Plan International. Because I Am A Girl: I Can Change the World. 2014. 95p. Second Story Press, $16.95 (978-1-927583-44-9). Gr.4-8.
In the face of overwhelming challenges, girls around the world have found their own voices and fought for justice.
Slade, Suzanne. Friends for Freedom: The Story of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. Illus. by Nicole Tadgell. 2014. 40p. Charlesbridge, $16.95 (978-1-580-89568-2). Gr.2-5.
Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass fought for equal rights for all Americans. Despite political strife, they remained lifelong friends.
*Yousafzai, Malala. With Patricia McCormick. I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World: Young Readers Edition. 2014. 224p. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $17.00 (978-0-316-32793-0). Gr.5-10.
Malala Yousafzai, an international advocate for human rights and girls’ education, retells the story of her own education, activism, and attempted murder.
Abawi, Atia. The Secret Sky. 2014. 290p. Philomel-Penguin. $17.99 (978-0-399-16078-3) Gr.10-up.
Although Fatima’s life choices have been limited by her status and family, she strives for more than an arranged marriage.
Alcott, Kate. The Daring Ladies of Lowell. 2014. 287p. Doubleday-Random House, $25.95 (978-0-385-53649-3). Gr.10-up.
Escaping a life of farm work, Alice finds purpose in advocating for female worker’s rights at the Lowell cotton mill.
Duncan, Alexandra. Salvage. 2014. 520p. Greenwillow-HarperCollins, $17.99 (978-0-062-22014-1). Gr.9-up.
After Ava is cast out of her deep-space patriarchal society, she discovers a world where women have freedoms she never dreamed possible.
Ellis, Deborah. Moon at Nine. 2014. 223p. Pajama Press, Inc., $19.95 (978-1-927-48557-6). Gr.8-up.
Farrin and Sadira fall in love but post-revolutionary Iran’s draconian laws declare homosexuality deviant and punishable by death. The girls soon find they can trust no one but themselves.
Giles, Gail. Girls Like Us. 2014. 210p. Candlewick Press, $16.99 (978-0-763-66267-7). Gr.9-up.
After graduating from their high school’s special education program, Quincy and Biddy learn to trust each other as they navigate an often dangerous world.
Hegamin, Tonya Cherie. Willow. 2014. 374p. Candlewick Press, $16.99 (978-0-7636-5769-7). Gr.7-up.
Willow risks her life to pursue freedom from slavery and an arranged marriage.
Heppermann, Christine. Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty. 2014. 114p. Greenwillow-HarperCollins Books, $17.99 (978-0-06-228957-5). Gr.8-up.
This collection of poems twists and shatters the fairy tale image of women, girls, beauty, love, gender and body.
King, A.S. Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future. 2014. 320p. Little, Brown-Hachette, $18.00 (978-0-316-22272-3). Gr.10-up.
Glory, haunted by her mother’s suicide, is profoundly uncertain about life after graduation–until she starts having startling visions of a future where women’s rights are lost.
*Manning, Kate. My Notorious Life. 2013. 438 p. Scribner-Simon & Schuster, $26.99 (978-1-4516-9806-0). Gr.10-up.
After growing up in poverty, Axie becomes a medical practitioner and businesswoman who insists on providing 19th century women with reproductive choice.
Moran, Caitlin. How to Build a Girl. 2014. 341p. Harper-HarperCollins, $26.99 (978-0-06-233597-5). Gr.10-up.
Fourteen-year-old Johanna Morrigan reinvents herself as music critic Dolly Wilde, gleefully eviscerating bands for a nationally-known music magazine while attempting to navigate the complications love, sex, and family.
*Prince, Liz. Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir. 2014. 255p. Zest, $15.99 (978-1-936976-55-3). Gr.7-up.
With the help of new friends, feminist zines, and the punk scene, tomboy Liz Prince discovers that her problem is not who she is, but society’s restrictive gender roles.
Quintero, Isabel. Gabi, A Girl in Pieces. 2014. 284p. Cinco Puntos Press, $11.95 (978-1-935955-95-5). Gr.9-up.
During Gabi’s senior year of high school, she navigates her family’s ideas about “good girls” and “bad girls” while figuring out who she wants to be.
Sarn, Amélie. I Love, I Hate, I Miss My Sister. Trans. by Y. Maudet. 2014. 152p. Delacorte Press-Random House Children’s Books, $15.99 (978-0-385-74376-1). Gr.9-up.
Sisters Sohane and Djelila are as different as night and day, but both believe in a woman’s right to live as she chooses.
Talbot, Mary M., Kate Charlesworth, and Bryan Talbot. Sally Heathcote, Suffragette. 2014. 163p. Dark Horse Books, $19.99 (978-1-616-55547-4). Gr.9-up.
Maid-of-all-work Sally Heathcote finds a place in the suffrage movement of early 20th century Britain.
Talley, Robin. Lies We Tell Ourselves. 2014. 368p. Harlequin Teen, $17.99 (978-0-373-21133-3). Gr.8-up.
A school project forces two girls on opposite sides of segregation to work together and confront their sexuality.
Waller, Sharon Biggs. A Mad, Wicked Folly. 2014. 431p. Viking-Penguin, $17.99 (978-0-670-01468-2). Gr.9-up.
Vicky dreams of being an artist but is told she is destined for marriage and motherhood. Can she find the courage to join the suffragettes and fight for freedom?
*Wilson, G. Willow. Ms. Marvel: No Normal. Illus. by Adrian Alphona. 2014. Unpaged. Marvel, $15.99 (978-0-785-19021-9). Gr.8-up.
Teen Kamala Khan receives the powers of Ms. Marvel. With her neighborhood in danger, she figures out how to reconcile her own cultural identity with a superpowered alter ego.
Winters, Cat. The Cure for Dreaming. 2014. 352p. Amulet Books-Abrams, $17.95 (978-1-419-71216-6). Gr.7-up.
Olivia dreams of women’s suffrage and obtaining a college education, but her father goes to extreme measures to “cure” her of these ideas.
Armstrong, Sally. Uprising: A New Age is Dawning for Every Mother’s Daughter. 2014. 280p. Thomas Dunne Books-St. Martin’s Press, $26.99 (978-1-250-04528-7). Gr.10-up.
Women around the world rise up against oppression and brutality to empower themselves and control their future.
Cobble, Dorothy Sue, Linda Gordon, and Astrid Henry. Feminism Unfinished: A Short, Surprising History of American Women’s Movements. 2014. 265p. Liveright-W. W. Norton, $25.95 (978-0-871-40676-4). Gr.9-up.
While many think of American feminism as only the suffrage movement, the women’s liberation movement, and recent activism, women’s movements have been transforming the nation throughout the last century.
Gessen, Masha. Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot. 2014. 308p. Riverhead Books-Penguin, $16.00 (978-1-594-63219-8). Gr.9-up
Arrested for their feminist punk performances, members of Pussy Riot shed light on the political corruption and erosion of human rights in Russia.
Hanley, Tim. Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine. 2014. 304p. Chicago Review Press, $18.95 (978-1-61374-909-8). Gr.10-up.
Originally a symbol of the coming matriarchy, Wonder Woman has been both an icon and a source of frustration for feminists.
Manoori, Ukmina. With Stéphanie Lebrun. Trans. by Peter E. Chianchiano Jr. I am a Bacha Posh: My Life as a Woman Living as a Man in Afghanistan. 2014. 154 p. Skyhorse, $19.95 (978-1-62914-681-2). Gr.9-up.
Raised as a boy, Ukmina makes the brave choice to live as a man and later becomes an advocate for the rights of women in Afghanistan.
Saujani, Reshma. Women Who Don’t Wait in Line: Break the Mold, Lead the Way. 2013. 143p. New Harvest-Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $23.00 (978-0-544-02778-7). Gr.10-up.
Despite her unsuccessful bid for a congressional seat, Saujani advocates for increased female political and corporate engagement and encourages women to ignore advice to “wait their turn.”
*Sherr, Lynn. Sally Ride: America's First Woman in Space. 2014. 374p. Simon & Schuster, $28.00 (978-1-476-72576-5). Gr.10-up.
Sally Ride spent her life challenging expectations of what women could and should do, most notably by becoming the first American woman in space.