8 fearless females in children's books to enjoy this International Women's Day


Girl wearing a yellow cape in a superhero pose against a turquoise background


On 8th March 2024 we will be celebrating International Women's Day. As part of the celebrations we've invited Rebecca Pedelty-Cox, Learning & Development Manager at our charity partner Coram Beanstalk, to share her favourite recommendations for books featuring fearless females. There are so many Parrot Street favourites on this list - we hope you enjoy them as much as we do!


Children need to be able to see themselves and their lives in the books they read to feel connected. And it’s equally important for them to read books that widen their understanding of the lives of others too. Coram Beanstalk’s dedicated reading helpers focus on helping children to discover the books and characters which they connect with the most in their one-to-one sessions.

To celebrate International Women’s Day this year we have selected a range of Beanstalk Brilliant books which feature fearless female characters or real-life heroines past and present. Each of these books showcase different stories of girls and women who have demonstrated bravery, courage, inventiveness and creativity when faced with adversity and challenge.


Picture books & non-fiction books featuring fearless females

Malala's Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai

Cover of Malala's Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai

As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil that she could use to redraw reality. She hoped to use it to help make the world a better place. This beautifully illustrated picture book tells Malala’s story, in her own words, for a younger audience, showing how she held onto hope and made a difference.


Speak Up! by Natahan Bryon & Dapo Adeola

Cover of Speak Up! by Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola

In Speak Up! by award-winning duo Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola, we see the brave and passionate side of protagonist, Rocket really coming through. Here we see her use her courage and confidence to save her local library from being close down, after being inspired by reading about Rosa Parks’ life. It will warm your heart and show you the power of peaceful protest and what we can all achieve by speaking up and getting others to listen.


Fantastically Great Women who Saved the Planet by Kate Pankhurst

Cover of Fantastically Great Women Who Saved the Planet by Kate Pankhurst

Fantastically Great Women who Saved the Planet by Kate Pankhurst celebrates a diverse range of female climate activists from Jane Goodall to Ursula Marvin. A great book to dip in and out of with engaging illustrations and arrows that help the reader move from fact to fact.


Little Leaders: Visionary Women Around the World by Vashti Harrison

Cover of Little Leaders: Visionary Women Around the World by Vashti Harrison

Another showcase of exceptional women in history is Vashti Harrison’s Little Leaders: Visionary Women around the World. This book inspires future generations of artists, scientists, architects and leaders through the stories and experiences of women who have persevered to achieve great things.


Children's chapter books with strong female leads

Quiet Storm by Kimberly Whittam

Cover of Quiet Storm by Kimberly Whittam 

In Quiet Storm, we meet Twelve year old Storm whose life is a whirlwind. Despite the noise around her, Storm is quiet and reserved. She’s incredibly shy which means that she finds social situations extremely difficult. She usually relies on her best friend to help her but she’s been put into a different form group so she now she’s has to face challenges alone. That is until one day during her PE lesson, everything changes for Storm. She breaks a school record to become the fastest sprinter ever at her school.


A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll

Cover of A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll 

A Kind of Spark tells the story of 11-year-old Addie as she campaigns for a local memorial in memory of the witch trials that took place in her Scottish hometown. Supported by her older sister, Keedie, Addie hopes to challenge how people see her, and her autism, and make a difference.


Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

Cover of Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson 

In Roller Girl we meet Astrid who is beginning to learn who she really is. She wants to join the roller derby but her best friend, Nicole, wants to do ballet. Astrid decides to be brave and go it alone but she soon discovers it’s harder than it looks.

This graphic novel showcases beautifully the difficult transition into secondary school with struggles and triumphs, navigating changes in friendship, and most importantly the power of perseverance.


Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun by Tọlá Okogwu

Cover of Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun by Tọlá Okogwu


Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun is another great story of female empowerment. The first in this superhero series, this book tells the story of Onyeka, a girl who has often felt insecure about her hair, until she finds out that it is in fact her superpower. She is sent by her mother to train at the Academy of the Sun in Nigeria where she makes friends, who have powers just like her, and finds herself in the middle of an epic battle.


Kimberly Whittam said, “Just like Storm, quiet children across the country let their lack of confidence stop them from joining in. I wrote Quiet Storm to show these children that they can achieve everything that they set out to; if they take the brace leap and go after their dreams.”

We hope that by sharing and celebrating this selection of stories featuring fearless females, many children will feel inspired to do just that!


Even more strong female characters in children's books

Don't miss our collection of inspiring and empowering children's chapter books

Assorted images of chapter books featuring strong female characters


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