Friday, March 10, 2017

#SOL17: 60 Can-Do Girl Protagonists I Wish I Met Years Ago


I can remember as a child skipping meals so I could read.  I would resist the call to lunch on Saturdays. Stretched out on top of the white bed spread in my room, I would read. Novels. I grew up in a home where reading was privileged--so no one thought it too odd that I was choosing to finish that last chapter to two instead of eating a sandwich.




My mom and me. She taught me to love reading by example.
Books brought me to other places, introduced me to people I did not know, and invited me into the ways of the world that were often different from ones I knew by heart. Most of the books, however, celebrated men and boys who could dare and did. I found a glimmer of self, of girlhood, when I got to high school and began to read poetry and fiction written by women and later--feminist novels from the 19th and 20th centuries. These were a far cry from the life I was making as I grew up by the George Washington Bridge. And though the circumstances depicted were very different, the feelings of women doing, knowing, and feeling were not.


In acknowledgement of National Women's History month, I wanted to do a post about more recent picture books I have enjoyed that feature girls doing and being and knowing. In my youth, these books were simply not possible. I am so pleased that more generous and representative publishing is occurring now so that children, especially girls, can see themselves and what is other in the books they read.


In this post, I recommend some picture books that feature can-do girls. Enjoy.


from Every-Day Dress Up



  1. Alko, Selina. (2011). Every-Day Dress Up. New York: Knopf Books for Young Readers.
  2. Alrawi, Karim. (2000). The Girl Who Lost Her Smile. Illustrated by Stefan Czernecki. Vancouver, BC: Tradewinds.
  3. Atkins Jeannine. (2000). Aani and the Tree Huggers. Illustrated by Venantius J. Pinto. New York: Lee and Low Books.
  4. Barber, Barbara E. (2013).  Allie’s Basketball Dream. Illustrated by Darryl Ligasan. New York: Lee and Low Books.
  5. Beaty, Andrea. (2016). Ada Twist, Scientist. Illustrated by David Roberts. New York: Harry N. Abrams. 
  6. Beaty, Andrea. (2013). Rosie Revere, Engineer. Illustrated by David Roberts. New York: Harry N. Abrams. 
  7. Been, Steve. (2016). Violet the Pilot. New York: Puffin Books.
  8. Brown, Monica. (2011). Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/Marisol McDonald no combina. Illustrated by Sara Palacios. San Francisco, CA: Children’s Book Press.
  9. Casteñeda, Omar S. (1995). Abuela's Weave. Illustrated by Enrique O. Sanchez. New York: Lee and Low Books.
  10. Choi, Yangsook. (2003). The Name Jar. New York: Dragonfly Books.
  11. Croza, Laurel. (2014). From There to Here. Illustrated by Matt James. Toronto: Groundwood Books.
  12. Croza, Laurel. (2011). I Know Here. Illustrated by Matt James. Toronto: Groundwood Books.
  13. Daly, Niki. (2007). Pretty Salma: A Little Red Riding Hood Story from Africa. New York: Clarion Books.
  14. DiPucchio, Kelly S. (2012). Grace for President. Illustrated by LeUyen Pham. New York: Disney-Hyperion.
  15. Dole, Maura. (2013). Drum, Chavi, Drum! / ¡Toca, Chavi, Toca! Illustrated by Tonel. New York: Lee and Low Books.
  16. Elya, Sarah Middleton. (2014). Little Roja Riding Hood. Illustrated by Susan Guevara. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers.
  17. Elya, Sarah Middleton. (2006 ). Home at Last. Illustrated by Felipe Davalos. New York: Lee and Low Books.
  18. Engle, Margarita. (2015). Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl's Courage Changed Music. Illustrated by Rafael López. New York: HMH Books for Young Readers.
  19. Flett, Julie. (Metis and Cree) (2014). Wild Berries. Translated by Earl N. Cook. Vancouver, BC: Simply Read Books.
  20. Forman, Ruth. (2014). Young Cornrows Callin Out the Moon. Illustrated by Cbabi Bayoc. New York: Lee & Low Books. 
  21. Fosberry, Jennifer. (2010). My Name Is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream? Illustrated by Mike Litwin. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky.
  22. Gaiman, Neil.  (2005). The Wolves in the Walls. Illustrated by Dave McKean. New York: HarperCollins.
  23. Gunning, Monica. (2013). A Shelter in Our Car. Illustrated by Elaine Pedlar. New York: Lee & Low Books. 
  24. Haas, Irene. (1975). The Maggie B. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books.
  25. Herrera, Juan Felipe. (2003). Super Cilantro Girl/ La superniña del cilantro. Illustrated by Honorio Robleda Tapia. San Francisco: Children's Book Press.
  26. Hohn, Nadia. (2016). Malaika’s Costume. Illustrated by Irene Luxbacher. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
  27. Hubbard, Crystal. (2010). Catching the Moon: The Story of a Young Girl's Baseball Dream. Illustrated by Randy Duburke. New York: Lee and Low Books.
  28. Isadora, Rachel. (2008). Rapunzel. New York: G.P. Putnam. 
  29. Johnson, Angela. (2004). Violet's Music. Illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith. New York: Dial Books.
  30. Krishnaswami, Uma. (2015). Bright Sky, Starry City. Illustrated by Aimée Sicuro. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
  31. Lacamara, Laura. (2010). Floating on Mama's Song/Flotando en la cancion de mama. Illustrated by Yuyi Morales. New York: Katherine Tegen Books.
  32. Lindenbaum, Pija. (2007). Mini Mia and Her Darling Uncle. Translated by Elisabeth Kalick Dyssegaard. Stockholm: R & S Books.
  33. Lofthouse, Liz. (2007).  Ziba Came on a Boat. Illustrated by Robert Ingpen. La Jolla, CA: Kane Miller.
  34. Lawson, JonArno. (2015). Sidewalk Flowers. Illustrated by Sydney Smith. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
  35. Maclear, Kyo. (2012). Virginia Wolf. Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. Tonawanda, NY: Kids Can Press.
  36. Malaspina, Ann. (2015). Yasmin's Hammer. Illustrated by Doug Chayka. New York: Lee and Low Books.
  37. McKissack, Patricia. (1986). Flossie & the Fox. Illustrated by Rachel Isadora. New York: Dial Books.
  38. McKissack, Patricia. (2008). Stitchin' and Pullin': A Gee's Bend Quilt. Illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera. New York: Random House Books for Young Readers. 
  39. Medina, (2016). Tia Isa Wants a Car.  Illustrated by Claudio Munoz.  Somerset, MA: Candlewick Press.
  40. Miyakoshi, Akiko. (2015).  The Tea Party in the WoodsTonawanda, NY: Kids Can Press.
  41. Moon, Nicola. (1997). Lucy’s Picture. New York: Puffin.
  42. Noguchi, Rick  & Deneen Jenks. (2016).  Flowers From Mariko. Illustrated by Michelle Reiko Kumata. New York: Lee and Low Books.
  43. Nolen, Jerdine. (2002). Raising Dragons. Illustrated by Elise Primavera. San Diego, CA: Harcourt. 
  44. Nolen, Jerdine. (2007). Thunder Rose. Illustrated by Kadir Nelson. San Diego, CA: Harcourt. 
  45. Polacco, Patricia. (2001). Thank You, Mr. Falker. New York: Philomel.
  46. Ramsey, Calvin Alexander. (2010). Ruth and the Green Book. Illustrated by Floyd Cooper. Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda Books.
  47. Ringgold, Faith. (1996). Tar Beach. New York: Dragonfly Books.
  48. Schimel, Lawrence. (2011). Let’s Go See Papa. Illustrated by Alba Marina Rivera. Translated by Elisa Amado. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
  49. Seeger, Laura Vaccaro. (2015). I Used To Be Afraid. New York: Roaring Brook Press.
  50. Smith, Cynthia Leitich. (2000). Jingle Dancer. Illustrated by Ying-Hwa Hu and Cornelius Van Wright. New York: HarperCollins.
  51. Spires, Ashley. (2014). The Most Magnificent Thing. Tonawanda, NY: Kids Can Press.
  52. Steig, William. (2011). Brave Irene. New York: Square Fish.
  53. Trottier, Maxine. (2011). Migrant. Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
  54. Uegaki, Chieri. (2014). Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin. Illustrated by Qin Leng. Tonawanda, NY: Kids Can Press.
  55. Waboose, Jan Bordeau. (2000). Sky Sisters. Illustrated by Brian Deines. Tonawanda, NY: Kids Can.
  56. Watson, Renee. (2010). A Place Where Hurricanes Happen. Illustrated by Shadra Strickland. NY: Random House.
  57. Woloson, Eliza. (2003). My Friend Isabelle. Illustrated by Bryan Gough. Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House.
  58. Woodson, Jacqueline. (2013). This Is the Rope: A Story From the Great Migration. Illustrated by James Ransome. New York: Nancy Paulsen Books.
  59. Yolen, Jane & Heide Semple. (2010). Not All Princesses Dress in Pink. Illustrated by Anne-Sophie Lanquetin. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
  60. Yolen, Jane. (2000). Not One Damsel in Distress: World Folktales for Strong Girls. Illustrated by Susan Guevara. San Diego: Silver Whistle.

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9 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Wow, what a phenomenal list! I love the Andrea Beaty/David Roberts series, and hadn't realized there was a third: Ada Smith Scientist! Will have to look for it ASAP in the library!

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    1. Good to know. Hope you are able to read it.

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  3. Thanks for the amazing list, Mary Ann, which I will share far and wide.

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  4. Quite a few I didn't know. My favorite is Brave Irene.

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    1. I love that one too. Really anything by Steig.

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  5. I love when you make lists. I look at them carefully and always walk away with new to me titles.

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