raising girls who rock the world: books, motivation, and more

raising girls who will rock the world

Raising kids–kids who are strong and confident and smart and happy and kind–is a job that I take very seriously.

But I especially think that raising girls who are strong and confident and smart and happy and kind is a particularly difficult piece of this puzzle. It’s hard being a kid, but part of me thinks it’s sometimes really hard being a girl.

It’s not easy being an adult woman who is strong and confident and happy and kind, so why would it be easy for a growing girl to do the same?

A perpetual work in progress is what this parenting gig is to me.  It’s school every day. Reading what I can, talking to friends, listening to tales of folks who’ve been there.

Quite frankly, I’m scared. Scared silly about parenting in general, let alone parenting tween and teen girls. So, in honor of International Women’s Day, I thought today would be an ideal time to put those fears aside and share some of my favorite tools for raising (or trying to raise!) girls who rock the world.

Books, motivation tools, and more.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Raising Girls Who Rock the World– Books, Motivation, and More:  Books are a huge motivator for us over here–and finding rich books with strong female leads has not been an easy feat.

But here are some of our faves:raising girls who rock the world books 1

  •  Girls Who Rocked the World, by Michelle Roehm McCann & Amelie Weldon: Love. This. Book. Read about it in the Kids Post this fall, and we found this book and its brother book, Boys Who Rocked the World (by the same authors) under our Christmas tree this holiday.  We take this book one chapter at a time, reading about gals from Joan of Arc to Mother Teresa, from Coco Chanel to Mary Lekey, and how they really made a difference in the world before they hit adulthood.  It’s empowering.
  • Of Thee I Sing, by Barack Obama and illustrated by Loren Long: One of the most beautiful books we own, this book is written from a father to his daughters–telling them how special and creative and amazing they are, while at the same time teaching them about the special, creative, and amazing Americans who came before them. It makes me weepy. Every time I read it. It makes me feel connected.

raising girls who rock the world, early books

  • Dora the Explorer books: Don’t laugh. Don’t judge. The books by Kiki Thorpe and other authors center on a confident little gal who knows what she wants and finds it. Even if it takes her over the Troll Bridge and through the Nutty Forest.  The repetition is great for kids. The patterning is great for kids. And the Spanish is great for kids.  A smart young gal with a backpack and a purpose is great for our girls.
  • Fancy Nancy books: All of these books by the talented and oh-so-fancy Jane O’Connor are worth reading.  Nancy is a smart girl who marches to her own drummer.  She likes fancy. And she goes fancy.  She admits her faults, she is sensitive, and she tries hard.  She’s always learning, and the word consciousness in these books, the lessons, and the language is great for our girls.

raising girls who rock the world books later

  • Grace for President, by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by LeUyen Pham: Grace wants to be the first female president. And why shouldn’t she be? So she works hard, runs a great campaign, and wins–because she’s ‘the best person for the job’.  Grace is a tough cookie and a sassy, smart young girl.  Love her and would totally vote her in.
  • Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore and illustrated by Kristi Valiant: I may be biased, and I know I’ve shared our pancit love before, but I love this coming-of-age story where our sweet Cora steps up and takes on a new role in her family.  I love that she admits she’s nervous, makes a few mistakes, and comes out on top.

raising girls who rock the world nancy

  • Nancy Drew books, by Carolyn Keene: What’s not to love about a smart, energetic, and creative female detective?  These early-reader chapter books are super first chapter books for first through third graders, and the main character is a role model for our girls.
  • Cam Jansen books, by David A. Adler: Another female heroine here–Cam Jansen! Don’t be fooled by her name; ‘Cam’ is short for ‘The Camera’ which is the nickname people gave Jennifer Jansen after they learned of her photographic memory.  Similar mystery-series to Nancy, but a cool twist with her unique problem-solving skills.  Worth reading and a super series to get ‘hooked’ on as a first chapter book for kids.
  • Bindi Irwin books, by Bindi Irwin & Chris Kunz: Bindi! Irwin! in book form! We are huge fans of Bindi over here, because we loved her dad, we love her on the big screen, and we love her on the pages, helping solve mysteries and help with the animals at Australia Zoo. She’s crazy smart and confident. A great gal for our gals, and a fun series to collect.

raising girls who rock the world

  • Rainbow Magic books, by Daisy Meadows: There are about a million of these books, which is great because once your girls start reading them, they most likely won’t want to put them down until they’ve finished every single one.  They, like many early-reader series, follow a very distinct pattern–but this type of patterning is great for developing stronger comprehension skills.  I really like how the girls work together in this series and how kindness is stressed above all.
  • American Girl books, by various authors: The Kanani books, by the incredible Lisa Yee, the Caroline books, by crazy-talented Kathleen Ernst, the McKenna books, by Jade Pettyjohn–all of the American Girl books are worth reading. They all, obviously, feature a young woman, and there’s some serious learning along the way–cultural, historical, social, or otherwise–and the resources available on the American Girl site that support each text is amazing.

raising girls who rock the world ag collection

  • American Girl Magazine: We’ve only just begun our subscription to American Girl Magazine for Maddy and Cora, and I’m already loving it. The girls are loving it. They each find something new and cool to try after reading it, which I love. Any reading that inspires action is fabulous in my book, and this action is community-building, self-strengthening, and friendship cultivating.
  • American Girl Library books: Love. These. The Care and Keeping of FriendsThe Care & Keeping of You.  The whole Care and Keeping Collection is fantastic. It’s perfect for girls–tweens and teens–because these books cover everything they need to know, everything that’s on their mind and heavy on their hearts.  My mom found them for us, and I am so thankful she did. Maddy loves, loves, loves them.

pinterest board: raising girls

Resources for Raising Girls Who Rock the World are always changing, so the best way to share them is via Pinterest.   Feel free to follow me on Pinterest (you’ll love it if you’re not already there!) or just follow the Raising Girls Who Rock The World board for the latest.

And to honor International Women’s Day–or any day, for that matter–I want to share this amazing piece by Linda Wolf: I Am a Full Woman. I think it’s worth sitting down and watching ourselves every once in a while so we stay grounded and remain connected.  And it’s totally worth sharing with our daughters as well.

I Am a Full Woman from Linda Wolf on Vimeo

And that’s it.

One small step in the journey toward raising girls who rock the world, but a big one at that. Reading with, supporting, talking to, and every day loving our girls–and ourselves–is just about the most important thing we can do, right?

We’re in this together–if you have resources, books, ideas, or anything you’d like to add to this resource list, please do share! It’s just a start, that I know–and I’m learning!


fyi: Google affiliate links are used in this post. Feel free to consider using if you would please!




  1. says

    I have three daughters and I am a voracious reader (I majored in Comparative Literature in college, then went to film and law school for grad school) – so this topic is close to my heart.

    I love the My First Little House series for my daughters – it’s a great intro to Little House on The Prairie – and is right at their level (ages 6, 3, and 1). I am not so into American Girl bc of the commercialism (we have been to the store many times – my husband works around the corner from their LA shop)…but mayyyybe I’ll give them a chance. 😉


    • amy says

      Erika! THANK you for sharing–SUPER series that we have not hit yet (embarrassed!) but we will look at them this spring. Thank you! And do give the American Girl collection a shot–really just one or two?

    • amy says

      thanks, Mia–it’s in conflict with another and I need to fix–but if you double-click it should work? I KNOW it’s a pain.. . thank you for letting me know.

  2. Lynda Watson says

    Just found this excellent post – thanks for compiling it as I am always on the lookout for books with strong female lead characters, both for my 3.5 year old daugter and my 6 year old son. Don’t know how many of these are available in the UK, but thought you might like to know about our current favourites of this type of book – the series of 5 books about Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke. Anna lives in amazing Africa with her mother, her father, her baby twin brothers, and lots and lots of her family. These are stories of the everyday, but the African setting means that Anna’s everyday is fascinating. They are very warm stories set in a loving family where Anna learns from her mistakes and has fun. The illustrations are lovely and both my kids love these books. Hope you do too!

    • says

      WOW thank you thank you thank you! I will definitely check out those books, my friend, as they are totally new to me!
      Huge thanks for reading and bigger thanks for taking the time to write. Best to you!

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