The 10 Best Books of the Year for Young Feminists

It’s hard to find smart books for kids that have solid female characters but aren’t heavy on the Disney princesses. A part of the American Library Association called the Amelia Bloomer Project tackled the tough job of sorting through all the young adult books published in 2012 and naming their ten favorite picks.  

The books were selected based on their feminist themes, excellence in writing, appealing format, and age appropriateness. The full list is below the cut, but here’s a snapshot: 

The ALA's 10 best feminist books for young readers

Anyone have any additions or opinions on these? As someone without kids, the only one I’ve flipped through is the Rookie yearbook, which I found surprisingly great. It’s a collection of photo essays, interviews, and diaries that my 12-year-old self would have found engrossing, inspring, and comforting. 

Here is the full top ten book list, in order of the author:  

King Peggy: An American Secretary, Her Royal Destiny, and the Inspiring Story of How She Changed an African Village. by Peggielene Bartels and Eleanor Herman (Doubleday)

Rookie Yearbook One. Edited by Tavi Gevinson (Drawn and Quarterly)

In the Bag! Margaret Knight Wraps It Up. By Monica Kulling and illustrated by David Parkins (Tundra)

Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond. by Lilly Ledbetter with Lanier Scott Isom. (Crown Archetype)

Heart on Fire: Susan B. Anthony Votes for President. by Ann Malaspina, illustrated by Steve James. (Albert Whitman & Co.)

Summer of the Mariposas. by Guadalupe Garcia McCall (Tu Books)

Womanthology: Heroic. by various authors (IDW Publishing)

Dolores Huerta: A Hero to Migrant Workers. by Sarah E. Warren (Marshall Cavendish Children)

Code Name Verity. by Elizabeth Wein (Hyperion)

A Little F’d Up: Why Feminism Is Not a Dirty Word. by Julie Zellinger (Seal Press)

by Sarah Mirk
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Sarah Mirk is the former host of Bitch Media’s podcast Popaganda. She’s interested in gender, history, comics, and talking to strangers. You can follow her on Twitter

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8 Comments Have Been Posted

Code Name Verity YES

I would have gotten someone on the PHONE if Code Name Verity hadn't been on there. Best book I read all year.

Title of the Blog

"Bitchmedia" is off-putting for recommending to my young friends and relatives. It spoils the quality of the content.

The name

Well, Bitch Magazine has been in print for more than a decade, so I don't think they're going to change their name now. I guess you can just give young friends the names of these books, rather than a link to this blog if the name offends.

A couple more

Our mother-daughter book club loved The House on Mango Street by Sandran Cisneros and Deenie by Judy Blume. Both of them led to good discussions of parental expectations and girls' body images. Anything by Judy Blume gets our girls talking, including the classic, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret?
This list is a great resource for our next book club meeting.

Age recommendations?

I have a nine-year old niece I'd like to get some books for... are any of these suitable?

Hi, there~ These are just the

Hi, there~ These are just the top ten from the Amelia Bloomer Project--the whole list for 2013 is actually almost
48 books. We also have previous years' lists on our blog. Our books range from early readers all the way up to young adult. We have several middle grade (ages 8-12) level books appropriate for your nine-year old. Here is the link to the Amelia Bloomer Project lists:


Lalitha Nataraj, Amelia Bloomer Project

Thank you!

Thanks for the comment and info, Lalitha! How cool to have a member of the ABP stop by. I went through the long list this morning, and recommend it to all!

In the Bag! Margaret Knight Wraps It Up

Your niece is the perfect age for my story about the woman inventor Margaret Knight. To quote the Amelia Bloomer Project's description:

"Despite narrow societal expectations, Margaret Knight fights sexism to become an inventor with multiple patents to her name."

It's such an honor to have my book listed in the Top Ten. Thank you so much.

Monica Kulling

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