Monday, 7 November 2016

Feminist Books Gift Guide: Picture Books

As a feminist, in my roles as children's bookseller and a book blogger, I look out for feminist reads, both for myself, to further my own education, and for family, friends and friends' children. With Christmas just around the corner, I thought I'd put together a Feminists Reads Gift Guide and share with you the books I've discovered throughout the year. I'll be sharing with you books for children, teens and young women, fiction and non-fiction, in the hopes you're inspired to buy some books this Christmas for the feminists and budding feminists in your life!

All links go to Goodreads, where you can find out more about the books. There aren't any links to any booksellers, but may I recommend Wordery - I'm not affiliated with them, but I use them myself, and they offer free shipping in the UK.


First up, we have...

Picture Books

I'm a Girl! by Yasmeen Ismail*
(Bloomsbury Children's Books, RRP £6.99)

I'm a Girl! by Yasmeen Ismail

I'm a Girl! actually came out last year, but it's such a great book! It's a wonderful story that challenges gender roles and stereotypes; the little girl isn't into the typical girlie things - in fact, she likes to run around fast, make a mess, and be a little rough and tumble. Because of this, and how she dresses, a lot of people think she's a boy, but she proudly and defiantly declares that, "I'm a girl!" Sadly, there isn't a version for boys, but this book does also touch on stereotypes about boys, too; there's a little boy who enjoys playing with dolls, and another boy who wears a skirt. You can also read my review of I'm a Girl!

I'm a Girl! by Yasmeen Ismail

I'm a Girl! by Yasmeen Ismail

How the Library (Not the Prince) Saved Rapunzel by Wendy Meddour, Illustrated by Rebecca Ashdown*
(Frances Lincoln, RRP £7.99)

How the Library (Not the Prince) Saved Rapunzel by Wendy Meddour, Illustrated by Rebecca Ashdown

How the Library (Not the Prince) Saved Rapunzel also came out in paperback last year, and is an incredible contemporary version of the classic tale. Rapunzel is up in her tower block, and she's down and melancholy. No-one is able to bring her out of her low mood - not the milkman, the postman, not her aunt, and most definitely not even a prince. It's not until she receives a letter telling her she has a job at the library that she finally finds happiness; she now has a purpose! This book promotes a good work ethic, the power of reading and learning, and that a girl doesn't need a guy to be happy - nor that a guy will necessarily make a girl happy. It's also wonderfully diverse, with characters of various ethnicity. You can also read my review of How a Girl (Not the Prince) Saved Rapunzel.

How the Library (Not the Prince) Saved Rapunzel by Wendy Meddour, Illustrated by Rebecca Ashdown

Rosie Revere, Engineer and Ada Twist, Scientist 

Rosie Revere, Engineer and Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, Illustrated by Roberts

These two books are from a series that started with Iggy Peck, Architect, about a class of children who all have various fascinating interests. With Rosie Revere, Engineer and Ada Twist, Scientist, we're introduced to two girls whose interests are typically considered male interests. But Rosie is a keen inventor and loves solving problems by creating devices, and Ada is full of questions she wants answers to, and will conduct experiments to find out those answers. These books are perfect for little girls who aren't interested in stereotypically girlie interests, with two wonderful role models to inspire them to do what they love - and I don't think I need to say how wonderful it is that little girls of colour have someone like them to look up to in Ada. What's also brilliant is each story has a lesson too; Rosie learns that real failure only comes when you give up, not because something didn't work, and Ada learns there's nothing wrong with asking questions.

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty, Illustrated by David Roberts
(Abrams Books for Young Readers, RRP £9.99)

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty, Illustrated by David Roberts

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beat, Illustrated by David Roberts

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, Illustrated by David Roberts*
(Abrams Books for Young Readers, RRP £10.99)

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, Illustrated by Roberts

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, Illustrated by David Roberts

Little People, Big Dreams Series*

Little People, Big Dreams from Frances Lincoln

The Little People, Big Dreams series from Frances Lincoln is a series telling the stories of well known women, and the dreams they had as children, showing that children can one day achieve their dreams, no matter what they might be. They cover the hardships these women faced, but keep the stories appropriate for the readership. Each story also includes a short biography with photographs of the women.

Maya Angelou by Lisbeth Kaiser, Illustrated by Leire Salaberria
(Frances Lincoln, RRP £9.99)

Maya Angelou by Lisbeth Kaiser, Illustrated by Leire Salaberria

Maya Angelou's story covers the racism and sexism she experienced, her selective mutism after being attacked, and how through her love of words she found her voice again, leading her to believe she could be anything she wanted. It also covers her success in various roles, and how she became an activist and a writer, and came to inspire many.

Frida Kahlo by Mª Isabel Sánchez Vegara, Illustrated by Gee Fan Eng
(Frances Lincoln, RRP £9.99)

Frida Kahlo by Mª Isabel Sánchez Vegara, Illustrated by Gee Fan Eng

Frida Kahlo's story covers her sickly childhood and how, after an accident that left her with terrible injuries, to pass the time while she was covering, she started to paint self-portraits. Despite being in so much pain, she honed her skills and became a talented artist. After sharing her paintings with famous artist Diego Rivera, the two fell in love and married, and with his support, she had her first exhibition in NYC. Despite illness, her art was well loved.

Coco Chanel by Mª Isabel Sánchez Vegara, Illustrated by Ana Albero
(Frances Lincoln, RRP £9.99)

Coco Chanel by Mª Isabel Sánchez Vegara, Illustrated by Ana Albero

Coco Chanel's story tells of how young Gabrielle grew up in a convent school became one of the most famous fashion designers. A girl with a passion for sewing, she would sew for a tailors after school, and sang in the evenings, earning the nickname "Coco". From sewing hats and opening a hat shop, to designing clothes that were short and straight, revolutionising women's clothes and freeing them from corsets.  

Amelia Earhart by Mª Isabel Sánchez Vegara, Illustrated by Mariadiamantes
(Frances Lincoln, RRP £9.99)

Amelia Earhart by Mª Isabel Sánchez Vegara, Illustrated by Mariadiamantes

Amelia Earhart's story tells how she always wanted to fly, took lessons, and broke records, being the first woman to reach 14,000 feet, and the first woman to fly across the Atlantic - at first with a pilot and a mechanic, and later, solo. It also covers how she formed the Ninety-Nines, and organisation that supported female pilots. We also hear of her attempt to fly around the world, and how she and her plane disappeared.

There will also be another two books in this series coming out in March 2017 for Agatha Christie and Marie Curie.

Beautiful by Stacy McAnulty, Illustrated by Joanne Lew Vriethoff*
(Running Press Kids, RRP £11.99)

Beautiful by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Joanne Lew Vriethoff

Beautiful is an incredible story that turns the stereotypes of who and what girls should be on their heads. Where make-up is about face paint, where sweet smiles can include buck-teeth and braces, where smelling like flowers means getting your hands dirty, where compliments are about your talents and achievements rather than on how you look. Where being pretty and lovely doesn't mean being "girlie". This book is wonderful diverse, including girls of colour and disabled girls - because all girls are beautiful.

Beautiful by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Joanne Lew Vriethoff

Beautiful by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Joanne Lew Vriethoff

Introducing Teddy by Jessica Walton, Illustrated by Dougal MacPherson*
(Bloomsbury Children's Books, RRP £6.99)

Introducing Teddy by Jessica Walton, illustrated by Dougal MacPherson

I'm also including Introducing Teddy in this gift guide, a story about friendship, acceptance and being true to yourself. Errol and Thomas the Teddy have always been friends, but when Thomas the Teddy gets sad, Errol wants to help, though Thomas is worried that Errol won't want to be friends anymore. Errol promises to always be friends, and Thomas reveals that he is in fact a girl teddy, and wants t be herself and for her name to be Tilly. Author Jessica Walton wrote this book to explain to her son why her father transitioned to the woman she always was. With books like Introducing Teddy, it's never too early to introduce children to different gender identities.

Introducing Teddy by Jessica Walton, illustrated by Dougal MacPherson

I hope you found some books to give to the little ones in your life! Keep an eye out over the next few weeks for more gift guides on feminist non-fiction for children, teens and adults.

*These books were sent to me for the purposes of review, but all opinons are my own.

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