As someone who wants to promote strong female-lead characters and stories to my young daughter, I thought I would share (in no particular order) some of our current favorite picture books. And as Piratess Tilly (from The Adventures of Piratess Tilly written by Elizabeth Lorayne and illustrated by Karen Watson) is a curious naturalist who is also a leader, explorer and protector, I tend to lean towards books that instill such qualities. I hope you find this list inspiring and helpful!
1. Butterfly Park by Elly Mackay
I have a passion for collage and anything paper related so I was particularly thrilled to discover this unique and stunning picture book designed with paper-cut illustration! Add a beautiful story of a young girl who longs to rebuild a neighborhood butterfly garden by sharing her curiosity and passion with her local community, and I am wholly inspired and touched.
2. Deer Dancer written by Mary Lyn Ray and illustrated by Lauren Stringer
A lovely story about a young girl who finds her inner strength, her “voice”, through dancing in a field where she meets a deer. She practices with the deer, both dancing to a silent song by Mother Nature. The whimsical and lively illustrations perfectly accentuate this empowering story of self-discovery through perseverance, movement and nature.
3. Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
A personal favorite of mine. One that I remember from my own childhood. We follow Miss Rumphius as she pursues her childhood dreams and goals of traveling and eventually settling down by the sea. Her ultimate goal, one that was bestowed on her by her grandfather, of contributing to the world by doing something beautiful, tugs at her heart. She eventually feels inspired by nature and spreads beauty throughout the countryside! A magnificent, gentle story of self-reliance and finding beauty in small acts.
4. Journey by Aaron Becker
An absolutely remarkable book. It is a story without words ~ just amazing artwork that truly inspires the imagination. Without the words, it is a fabulous way to encourage and invite young people to tell the story they see. That alone is empowering!
5. Ladybug Girl (at the beach) by David Soman and Jacky Davis
We found these books (it’s a lovely series) when my daughter was an infant. We’ve both enjoyed being a part of Ladybug Girl’s adventures. They are friendly, while also subtly teaching about bravery, or empathy or compassion, for instance. The beach story is a personal favorite as it follows Ladybug Girl while she visits the beach for the first time ~ an experience that can be overwhelming and frightening. It is fun reading and seeing, in the lovely watercolors, how Ladybug Girl plays and investigates the beach!
6. Rosie Revere, Engineer written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts
Quite the lyrical tale of a small girl who wants to be an engineer! The artwork is fantastic and fun. The historical reference to the original Rosie the Riveter is lovely and intriguing ~ an uplifting story of learning perseverance and the importance of following your heart, even when mistakes are made.
7. Me. . . Jane by Patrick McDonnell
For someone who grew up admiring Dr. Jane Goodall, I knew this book would be enjoyed by myself and my daughter. It is a cute and inspiring account of who Dr. Goodall was as a child and how those interests, her patience, her research and her determination lead her to become as revered and important as she is today. An empowering story told simply and beautifully, followed by a call to action ~ ways to get involved and help make the world a better place.