What's On the bookshelf: 4 stories to empower young girls
To all our little superheroines in the making…
Let’s take the time to celebrate the young women in our lives — and what better way to do it than by reading them books starring brilliant and brave young girls? Our friends at the Emirates Literature Foundation have put together a list of books to get our girls inspired!
These four amazing titles are ever relevant and a must for every bookshelf, pushing the boundaries for what it means to be a young girl in a way that is both loving and fearless. But these books are not just for the girls, every child can take away a valuable life lesson from these heart-warming stories.
The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammed, S.K. Ali, and Hatem Aly
Faizah’s first day of school is extra special because it’s also her older sister Asiya’s first day of wearing the hijab. But to Faizah’s surprise, not everyone has the same reaction to Asiya’s beautiful blue hijab.
Despite her classmates’ hurtful words, Faizah watches as Asiya wears it with pride — strong like the ocean tides and graceful like a clear blue sky. At first, Faizah is confused and overwhelmed. Then, she remembers her Mama’s words and learns to find her own strength like her sister.
Ibtihaj Muhammed was the first Muslim-American fencer in hijab to represent the United States in the Olympic Games. She wrote The Proudest Blue with award-winning young adult novelist S. K. Ali (Love from A to Z, Saints and Misfits), whose works feature young Muslim characters exploring faith and love.
Illustrator Hatem Aly breathes life into Asiya’s hijab with vibrant shades of blue that soar across double-page spreads, a true testament to his work that celebrates being Muslim. Together with these creative powerhouses, Muhammed imparts her resilience and determination to young girls everywhere. This book is a special collaboration you shouldn’t miss!
Not Quite Snow White by Ashley Franklin and Ebony Glenn
There’s no doubt that Tameika is the perfect Disney princess. She loves to sing and dance, and she’s a natural on stage. So, when she finds out that her school is performing Snow White, she can’t wait to give it a shot! But when Tameika’s confidence suddenly falters, her parents remind her that she’s ‘just enough of all the right stuff.’
Ashley Franklin’s debut book is filled with honesty and warmth as she addresses the insecurities that young girls face. Paired with Ebony Glenn’s sweet and light-hearted illustrations, Franklin’s story holds up a mirror for young girls to see their true beauty and gives them the confidence to pursue their heart’s greatest desires. This book reminds young girls that princesses come in every shape and colour, but most importantly, that they come from within.
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts
This book is the second in Beaty and Roberts’ Questioneers series, but the first to feature an inspiring young girl. Rosie dreams of becoming a great engineer.
She is a brilliant inventor whose gadgets find inspiration in the most unexpected places. Hot-dog dispensers, helium pants, python-repelling cheese hats — no gizmo is too strange for this little genius! But Rosie hides away her inventions in fear of failure, until one special visitor teaches her that failure isn’t something to fear, but to celebrate.
Andrea Beaty is a New York Times bestselling author who has written several books celebrating the journeys of a diverse group of curious and passionate young people, with their creations brought to life in David Roberts’ award-winning playful style.
Rosie’s character also features in the adorable, animated Netflix series Ada Twist, Scientist — based on the book of the same name — alongside the rest of her questioneer friends. But what makes Rosie’s story stand out are her realistic experiences with uncertainty and self-doubt, which makes young readers root for her. Rosie and her readers learn together that you must dare to try, and fearlessly pursue what excites and inspires you.
The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke and Kerstin Meyer
Violetta has a very different upbringing from most princesses. She trains alongside her three older brothers in jousting and sword-fighting but with little success.
When she struggles to mount a horse or lift her sword, they tease her to no end. Violetta wishes to prove that she can be strong and brave, but the king insists that she should marry instead. Soon, Violetta realizes that she must use her wits and courage to win her freedom.
Cornelia Funke, the beloved author of The Thief Lord and the Inkheart trilogy, has been empowering young girls with this debut picture book for nearly twenty years.
Young readers can experience Violetta’s journey to mastery through Kerstin Meyer’s flowing action frames, with Violetta’s movements becoming more clearly refined as she practices.
Funke’s timeless tale serves as a reminder to young girls that they can do anything that a boy can do. Who says you can’t be a princess and a knight?
If you enjoyed today’s variety of book recommendations from Ayla Tosun, an intern at ELF Publishing, then don’t miss the Emirates Literature Foundation’s other exciting bookish content on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. Or sign up for one of their five official book clubs!
Images: Unsplash by Mi Pham