Feminism Lifestyle

Feminist Reads for All Ages

I can probably count using my fingers the number of women we *vaguely* learned about in primary school growing up. (Elizabeth I, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Anne Frank immediately spring to mind). Middle school and high school are only slightly more gender inclusive – (AP European History cemented my love for Mary Wollstonecraft).

But I can remember thirsting for wanting to know more about famous women – it’s why when we were all able to chose a historical figure to do a 4th grade (age 9ish) presentation on, I chose Marie Curie. Because I was obviously a baby feminist without even knowing it. 

There’s a lot of great books about women and feminism these days and I thought I’d put together a reading list for any age. Some of these books would make great gifts for the kids in your life. 

And yes, I said “kids” not just “girls”. Because how can little boys grow up to truly respect women when they never learn what women are capable of? 

FEMINIST READS FOR ALL AGES

For kids: 

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo
Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers who Changed the World by Wren & Rook
Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty 
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty 
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
Matilda by Roald Dahl
A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara
Rad American Women: A to Z by Kate Schatz 
Tough Guys Have Feelings Too by Keith Negley
Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World by Kate Pankhurst
Tiger in a Tutu by Fabi Santiago
Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio
Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

For tweens: 

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery 
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle 
His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman
Speak by Laurie Andersen 
The Ruby in the Smoke by Phillip Pullman
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott 

For teens: 
 
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath 
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Female of the Species by Lionel Shriver
You Don’t Have to Like Me by Alida Nugent
Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu 
Poisoned Apples by Christine Heppermann
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Milk & Honey by Rupi Kaur
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

For adults: 

Antigone by Sophocles 
The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan 
A Vindication of the Rights of Women *(I told you I like Mary Wollstonecraft. Here’s a woman that was ahead of her time. I also love her daughter Mary Shelley. Basically Mary Shelley showed two man babies ((Lord Bryon and Percy Bryce Shelley)) how to write a NOVEL. They wanted to tell spooky stories to scare each other. Bryon and Shelley were both like “oooooohhhh scary ghostsies” And Mary Shelley was like “BAM! Here’s a story: Frankenstein.”)  **** story not edited for historical accuracy 
How to Be A Women by Caitlin Moran
Sexual Politics by Kate Millett
Ain’t I A Woman? by Bell Hooks
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood 
Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
Shrill by Lindy West 
The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf
The Native Tongue by Suzette Elgin
Men Explain Things To Me by Rebecca Solnit
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant 
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay 
Fat is a Feminist Issue by Susie Orbach
The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
The Female Eunuch by Gremaine Greer 
We Were Feminists Once by Andi Zeisler

Is there anything not on this list that you feel I’ve really missed out? 

Read similar posts: 

Women Who Inspire Me #1: Joan Didion
A Christmas Gift Guide for Your Favourite Feminist
Women Who Inspire Me #2: Sylvia Plath

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  • Love, love, love this list. I’d also include the Murder Most Unladylike series by Robin Stevens. The two main characters are so clever and capable and I’d have been obsessed with these just like I was with Matilda.
    You’re also so right about what we learn at school. Apart from Elizabeth I and maybe Marie Curie I don’t think we learnt about women at all, which is crazy and MUST change soon. Laura x

    • I don’t know the Murder Most Unladylike books but I’m adding them to my goodreads list immediately! x

      • I highly recommend. They’re Agatha Christie crossed with Mallory Towers set in the 1930s. Full disclosure in that I know the author, but I was obsessed with the books before I became friends with Robin! I hope you enjoy. x

  • Hecks. Yes.

    Such a magnificent list! I’d happily read any one of these books (and have added a heap to my To Read list!!). Can we start a Mary Wollstonecraft fan club?? If you haven’t already, treat yourself to Romantic Outlaws by Charlotte Gordon… what. a. read.

    Fabulous post!

    Gemma
    http://www.fadedwindmills.com

    • I LOVED Romantic Outlaws. I read it over the summer. Yes. Let’s please start a fan club!!! xxx

  • I’m ashamed at how few of these I’ve read :-/
    I want to add the “Incorrigible Children” series to that list (for tweens). The governess is the perfect example of a clever, capable female.

    • Oh, I’m going to add “Incorrigible Children” to my goodreads list. Our local library is really great so hopefully it’s there! x

  • AMAZING. I am saving this list for any time I am looking for my next book! I was actually so happy last month to notice that by accident every book I read that month was written by a woman. And yeah… I so agree that women are not represented well enough in education. It’s really sad, but your list of books for all ages is great, I hope some teachers and parents will see that!

    I actually have a super similar memory to your Marie Curie experience!! In 4th grade we had to dress up and present about a famous person… I’m pretty sure 90% of my class chose men like Abraham Lincoln or George Washington, but I remember my mom deciding I was to be Joan Baez, LOL. Imagine a 4th grader dressed as Joan Baez. And the next year, at her suggestion, I was Rachel Carson who was instrumental in exposing DDT risks and creating the US environmental movement. Pretty sure my classmates were a bit confused lol, but basically, GIRL POWER.

    • That is an amazing story! I’m so glad that you shared it with me. Are there pictures of you as Joan Baez? Because I think that is AMAZING! (Likewise Rachel Carson – that is a truly cultures and mature choice!) x

  • I can count one one hand with five fingers left over the number of women I can remember learning about at school but since school I have enjoyed reading about many strong women and can tell you I like the sound of this list

  • This reading list is going to be imported to my Amazon wishlist right now…!

  • Love this list! Pinning it! I would also add in The Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce for preteens

  • Great post and lovely list! And absolutely loved the parenthesis on A Vindication of the Rights of Women haha SO TRUE!