Power of the Girl: Books for the International Day of the Girl

October 11 is International Day of the Girl, a UNICEF annual campaign for young girls to to amplify their voices and stand up for their rights. This year’s theme is “My voice, our equal future”, a perfect opportunity to reimagine a world that is inspired by adolescent girls. UNICEF has a great platform and resources to help celebrate this necessary day.

But as always, a terrific way to celebrate a great like today is reading great stories about young girls who strived to make a difference in this world. Take the time today to read these books together as a family (or as a group of friends). Highlight why inspiring young girls is so important:

Malala: My Story of Standing Up for Girls’ Rights by Malala Yousafzai

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.

Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen she became a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize. (Credit: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace … One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

Anyone who despairs of the individual’s power to change lives has to read the story of Greg Mortenson, a homeless mountaineer who, following a 1993 climb of Pakistan’s treacherous K2, was inspired by a chance encounter with impoverished mountain villagers and promised to build them a school. Over the next decade he built fifty-five schools—especially for girls—that offer a balanced education in one of the most isolated and dangerous regions on earth. As it chronicles Mortenson’s quest, which has brought him into conflict with both enraged Islamists and uncomprehending Americans, Three Cups of Tea combines adventure with a celebration of the humanitarian spirit. (Credit: Penguin Books)

Muslim Girls Rise: Inspirational Champions of Our Time by Saira Mir and illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel 

Discover the true stories of nineteen unstoppable Muslim women of the twenty-first century who have risen above challenges, doubts, and sometimes outright hostility to blaze trails in a wide range of fields. Whether it was the culinary arts, fashion, sports, government, science, entertainment, education, or activism, these women never took “no” for an answer or allowed themselves to be silenced. Instead, they worked to rise above and not only achieve their dreams, but become influential leaders.

Through short, information-rich biographies and vibrant illustrations, Muslim Girls Rise introduces young readers to the diverse and important contributions Muslim women have made, and role models they may never have heard of before, but whose stories they will never forget. (Credit: Salaam Reads / Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers)

Lifting as We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box by Evette Dionne

For African American women, the fight for the right to vote was only one battle.

An eye-opening book that tells the important, overlooked story of black women as a force in the suffrage movement–when fellow suffragists did not accept them as equal partners in the struggle.

Lifting as We Climb is the empowering story of African American women who refused to accept all this. Women in black church groups, black female sororities, black women’s improvement societies and social clubs. Women who formed their own black suffrage associations when white-dominated national suffrage groups rejected them. Women like Mary Church Terrell, a founder of the National Association of Colored Women and of the NAACP; or educator-activist Anna Jullia Cooper who championed women getting the vote and a college education; or the crusading journalist Ida B. Wells, a leader in both the suffrage and anti-lynching movements. (Credit: Viking Books for Young Readers)

Our Stories, Our Voices: 21 YA Authors Get Real About Injustice, Empowerment, and Growing Up Female in America

From Amy Reed, Ellen Hopkins, Amber Smith, Sandhya Menon, and more of your favorite YA authors comes an anthology of essays that explore the diverse experiences of injustice, empowerment, and growing up female in America.

This collection of twenty-one essays from major YA authors—including award-winning and bestselling writers—touches on a powerful range of topics related to growing up female in today’s America, and the intersection with race, religion, and ethnicity. Sure to inspire hope and solidarity to anyone who reads it, Our Stories, Our Voices belongs on every young woman’s shelf. (Credit: Simon Pulse)

She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton and illustrated by Alexandra Boiger

Throughout American history, there have always been women who have spoken out for what’s right, even when they have to fight to be heard. In early 2017, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s refusal to be silenced in the Senate inspired a spontaneous celebration of women who persevered in the face of adversity. In this book, Chelsea Clinton celebrates thirteen American women who helped shape our country through their tenacity, sometimes through speaking out, sometimes by staying seated, sometimes by captivating an audience. They all certainly persisted.

She Persisted is for everyone who has ever wanted to speak up but has been told to quiet down, for everyone who has ever tried to reach for the stars but was told to sit down, and for everyone who has ever been made to feel unworthy or unimportant or small.

With vivid, compelling art by Alexandra Boiger, this book shows readers that no matter what obstacles may be in their paths, they shouldn’t give up on their dreams. Persistence is power. (Credit: Philomel Books)

Make More Noise!: New Stories in Honour of the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage

Each story, written by a star-studded list of contributors, including well-known, award-winning and new voices in children’s literature, celebrates strong female characters, with subjects ranging from the ’43 Group to modern ghost stories. (Credit: Nosy Crow)

Yes She Can: 10 Stories of Hope & Change from Young Female Staffers of the Obama White House, compiled by Molly Dillon

Meet ten amazing young women who were so inspired by Barack Obama’s inclusive feminist politics that they decided to join his White House. Although they were technically the lowest ranked members—and all in their early to mid-twenties at the time—their high levels of responsibility will surprise you.

There’s Kalisha Dessources, policy advisor to the White House Council on Women and Girls, who recounts the day she brought a group of African American girls (and world-renowned choreographer Debbie Allen) to the White House for Black History Month to dance for Michelle Obama; Molly Dillon, who describes organizing and hosting an event for foster care reform with Vice President Biden, Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz, and a hundred foster kids; Jenna Brayton, one of the members of the first White House digital team, who talks about an Obama initiative to bring together students of all backgrounds and ages from across the country to showcase their vision for the future through cinema; and more. (Credit: Schwartz & Wade)

Rad Girls Can: Stories of Bold, Brave, and Brilliant Young Women by Kate Schatz

In Rad Girls Can, you’ll learn about a diverse group of young women who are living rad lives, whether excelling in male-dominated sports like boxing, rock climbing, or skateboarding; speaking out against injustice and discrimination; expressing themselves through dance, writing, and music; or advocating for girls around the world. Each profile is paired with the dynamic paper-cut art that made the authors’ first two books New York Times best sellers. Featuring both contemporary and historical figures, Rad Girls Can offers hope, inspiration, and motivation to readers of all ages and genders. (Credit: Ten Speed Press)

Warriors and Witches and Damn Rebel Bitches: Scottish Women to Live Your Life By by Mairi Kidd

Throughout history, Scottish women have broken the rules with attitude. WILLIAMINA FLEMING reached for the stars and took Harvard by storm. MARY SOMERVILLE challenged prejudice to claim the title ‘scientist’ for women. EFFIE GRAY knew the power of language to name and shame bullies and belittlers. AGNES RANDOLPH stood up to a siege and owned every minute of it like a boss. Inspirational and fierce in every sense, these sisters will fire you up to face your own modern-day dilemmas with serious style. ‘I loved these powerful, moving and inspiring stories about women and sisterhood. I know so many activists and change-makers who will connect with this brilliant book and I can’t wait to share it with the women in my life.’ DAISY BUCHANAN (Credit: Black & White Publishing Ltd.)

The Woman’s Hour (Adapted for Young Readers) Our Fight for the Right to Vote by Elaine Weiss

American women are so close to winning the right to vote. They’ve been fighting for more than seventy years and need approval from just one more state.

But suffragists face opposition from every side, including the “Antis”–women who don’t want women to have the right to vote. It’s more than a fight over politics; it’s a debate over the role of women and girls in society, and whether they should be considered equal to men and boys.

Over the course of one boiling-hot summer, Nashville becomes a bitter battleground. Both sides are willing to do anything it takes to win, and the suffragtists–led by brave activists Carrie Catt, Sue White, and Alice Paul–will face dirty tricks, blackmail, and betrayal. But they vow to fight for what they believe in, no matter the cost. (Credit: Random House Books for Young Readers)

Girl Rising: Changing the World One Girl at a Time by Tanya Lee Stone

Girl Rising, a global campaign for girls’ education, created a film that chronicled the stories of nine girls in the developing world, allowing viewers the opportunity to witness how education can break the cycle of poverty.

Now, award-winning author Tanya Lee Stone uses new research to illuminate the dramatic facts behind the film, focusing both on the girls captured on camera and many others. She examines barriers to education in depth—early child marriage and childbearing, slavery, sexual trafficking, gender discrimination, and poverty—and shows how removing these barriers means not only a better life for girls, but safer, healthier, and more prosperous communities. (Credit: Wendy Lamb Books)

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