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READING LIST FOR KIDS AGE 0-14

This is a crowd-sourced list of books, so we haven’t read them all, but they’ve been recommended as suitable to
show kids there is more than one way to live life. It’s a loosely feminist list with a bit of other gender related reading
thrown in. There are plenty of stories for those who prefer a princess who fights the dragon herself. We hope it’s helpful.

If you’d like to suggest books to add to the list then tweet us @GenderDiary .




PRE-SCHOOL AGE
FIX IT! illustrated by Georgie Birkett

A chatty, interactive text and merry illustrations encourage both girls and boys to engage in
their first 'real' tasks.
The Shy Creatures by David Mack

What does a shy girl want to be when she grows up? A doctor, but not just any doctor - this little girl wants to care for creatures who may seem intimidating, but are really very shy, just like she is.
My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis

Dyson loves the colour pink and sparkly things. Sometimes he wears dresses and
sometimes he wears jeans. He likes to wear his princess tiara, even when climbing trees.
He's a Princess Boy.
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko

A princess uses her wit to outsmart a dragon in order to rescue the prince. The prince,
seeing that the princess only has a paper bag for clothes, refuses to leave with her. The
princess then tells the prince he “looks like a bum” and they do not get married. The
classic anti-princess book.
The Knitting Gorilla by Giles Andreae

After six daughters, the Big Gorilla had a son. "You will grow up to be BIG and FIERCE, just like your daddy!" he said proudly. But the Little Gorilla grew up to be small and gentle and not like his daddy at all. And what he liked doing most was knitting. And so begins a story about being yourself.
Free to be...You and Me by Marlo Thomas

The original, innovative book that celebrates diversity, challenges stereotypes, and encourages kids to be themselves in a joyful, positive manner, through a collection of songs, poems, and stories to be read aloud.
​​My Name Is Not Isabella by Mike Litwin and Jennifer Fosberry

My name is not Isabella explores some of the amazing women who changed history including Rosa Parks (It’s from the US) and the reader’s Mum!

​​ The Complete Book Of Farmyard Tales by Heather Amery

Mrs Boot is a farmer. She lives on her farm with her two children, Poppy and Sam, and a dog called Rusty. A welcome alternative to the 'farmer’s wife' trope. Features a little yellow duck to find on every page.

Where's The Bus? by Eileen Browne

I’m told this is the first ever animal picture book with all female characters. Can it be true? We’re very happy for you to tell us otherwise because we’ll add the examples to the list. Young children will love to spot all the buses in the illustrations – which the animals miss
because they are too busy doing something else

Don't You Dare, Dragon! by Annie Kubler

All Dragon wants to do is cool down and have a little fun, but every time she tries, she ruins it for everyone else! Thankfully, she finds some friends who need exactly what Dragon does best. A book about a female dragon with an integral finger puppet for added fun.
I'm Not Scared! by Jonathan Allen

Baby Owl is out for a moonlight stroll through the woods but each animal he bumps into tells him not to be scared. Some of those animals are female, which is unusual, and baby owl’s carer is his dad, who puts him to bed. You don’t often you see fathers in picture books.

​​
Big Noisy Machines – Excavator  by Sue Hendra

Children will love imagining they are driving a big noisy digger with this fun interactive book. The bright, bold illustrations and simple text are accompanied with a noisy sound chip that allows readers to get involved with all the work on the busy building site. Women and men operate the machinery.
AGE 4 - 8 
Handy Girls Can Fix it by Peggy Kahn
(Reading Age: 4+)


A group of girls form a club to fix things. Some paint, some build doghouses, and they get satisfaction helping people by working with their hands.
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
(Reading Age: 4+)


When her school decides to perform Peter Pan, Grace is longing to play Peter, but her classmates say that Peter was a boy, and besides, he wasn't black...But Grace's Ma and Nana tell her she can be anything she wants if she puts her mind to it.
Princess Grace by Mary Hoffman
(Reading Age: 4+)


Grace has the chance to be a princess in a school parade. But what does a princess do, apart from wearing beautiful clothes and looking pretty? With the help of her teacher she learns about warrior princesses such as Pin-Yang of China and Amina of Nigeria. Eventually Grace decides that she wants to dress in West African Kente robes and says: “I feel like a proper princess – ready for an adventure”.
Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully (Reading Age: 4+)

A girl saves the day by doing something heroic. Ms. McCully had originally set out to write a biography of the famous tightrope walker Blondin, when she decided to write this book instead. The Mirette character is based on her own recollections of being a brave girl.
Zog by Julia Donaldson
(Reading Age: 4+)


At Dragon School, Zog tries his best with all of his lessons, but he keeps having accidents. Luckily, every time he gets into a scrape a mysterious girl comes along - can she save the day?
Kate and the Beanstalk by Mary Pope Osborne (Reading Age: 4+)

A clever twist on a classic fairy tale. A clever young girl climbs the beanstalk, outwits
the giant and brings home riches to her mother.
Horace And Morris But Mostly Dolores by James Howe (Reading Age: 4+)

Horace, Morris, and Dolores do everything together until one day, when Horace and Morris become part of an exclusive boys' club. Soon, she, too, finds her own club, where no boys are allowed but they all miss each other. Is it too late to be friends again?
Girls Are Not Chicks Coloring Book by Julie Novak and Jacinta Bunnell (Reading Age: 4+)

This book helps to “deconstruct the homogeneity of gender expression in children's media
by showing diverse pictures that reinforce positive gender roles for girls”. Girls are not
chicks. Girls are thinkers, creators, fighters, healers and superheroes.
Cinder Edna by Ellen Jackson
(Reading Age: 4+)


Cinder Edna was forced to work for her wicked stepmother and stepsisters, just like her neighbour, Cinderella. But while Cinderella had the good fortune to be rescued by her fairy godmother, Edna was strong, self-reliant, spunky- and she lived happier ever after.
Piggybook By Anthony Browne
(Reading Age: 4+)


Mr Piggott and his two sons behave like pigs to Mrs Piggott until she walks out. Left to fend for themselves, the male Piggotts undergo some curious changes.
Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole
(Reading Age: 4+)


Princess Smartypants does NOT want to get MARRIED. She enjoys being a Ms. But
being a rich and pretty princess means that all the princes want her to be their Mrs. Find out how Princess Smartypants fights to preserve her independence in this fairly-tale with a difference…
Girls Will Be Boys Will Be Girls Will Be... By Jacinta Bunnell, Irit Reinheimer
(Reading Age: 4+ )


Girls Will be Boys... pokes fun at the tired constraints of gender normativity, andmakes it okay to step outside the lines.
Prince Cinders by Babette Cole
(Reading Age: 4+)


Prince Cinders leads a very hard life. Bullied by his three hairy brothers he spends all his time cleaning and tidying up after them. One Saturday night his luck changes as a small, dirty fairy falls down the chimney and promises that his wishes shall come true. 
The Tough Princess by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson (Reading Age: 4+)

This book turns the traditional fairytale rules on their heads and recreates the genre in a clear and clever way without confusing the young.
Jane and the Dragon by Martin Baynton
(Reading Age: 4+)


Jane longs to be a knight, but everyone laughs at her. Everyone, that is, except the court jester, who lends her a small suit of armour to help make her dream come true. And when an enormous dragon swoops in and steals the prince, Jane quickly gets the chance to
prove herself!

Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
(Reading Age: 4+)


This story's narrator begins with his parent's divorce and continues with the arrival of "someone new at Daddy's house." The new arrival is male. This new concept is explained to the child as "just one more kind of love."

Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman (Reading Age: 4+)

Heather's favourite number is two. She has two arms, two legs, two eyes, two ears, two hands, and two feet. Heather also has two mommies, Mama Jane and Mamma Kate.

Clever Polly And The Stupid Wolf by Catherine Storr (Reading Age: 5+)

Very popular classic. Polly continually outsmarts the wolf in his elaborate schemes. Polly has a plan that's bound to foil the stupid wolf.

The Great Big Book Of Families by Mary Hoffman (Reading Age: 5+)

What is a family? Once, it was said to be a father, mother, boy, girl, cat and dog living in a house with a garden. But as times have changed, families have changed too. An optimistic look at families of today.

10,000 Dresses by Marcus Ewert
(Reading Age: 5+)


Bailey dreams about beautiful dresses and longs to make them and wear them. “You’re a BOY!” Mother and Father tell Bailey. He meets Laurel, an older girl who is touched and inspired by his imagination and courage. In friendship, the two of them begin making dresses together.

The Big Brother by Stephanie Dagg
(Reading Age: 5+)


Will Dara know what to do when the new baby comes? If only he could have a doll to practise. A challenge to gendered ideas about children's toys. Funny and heart-warming.

The Princess and the Dragon by Audrey Wood (Reading Age: 5+)

When a princess who behaves like a dragon meets a dragon who behaves like a princess, they realise the best thing to do is change roles. The Princess enjoys her life playing devilish tricks upon unsuspecting old knights and the dragon enjoys ballet and playing the
piano.

Captain Abdul's Pirate School By Colin McNaughton (Reading Age: 5+)

This is the story (in diary form) of reluctant pirate pupil, Pickles, at Captain Abdul's awful academy. Discovering a plot to kidnap the pupils and hold them to ransom, Pickles leads a daring mutiny. Pickles is revealed on the last page to be a girl called Maisy.

The Princesses have a ball by Teresa Bateman (Reading Age: 6+)

The king is puzzled. Why aren't his 12 daughters dreaming of princes? Subversive (and rhyming) high jinks by sporty princesses with attitude. The ball they have is a baseball.

Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins
(Reading Age: 7+)


Saleem can drive a rickshaw and help earn money for his family. Naima longs to help but is forbidden as a girl. A wonderfully unique story set in rural Bangladesh exploring the challenges change brings.

Matilda by Roald Dahl
(Reading Age: 7+)


At age five Matilda can do double-digit multiplication problems and blitz-read Dickens but what she would really like is parents who are loving and understanding, but hers are not. Matilda invents a game of punishing her parents when they treat her badly and she discovers that she has supernatural powers.
Bill's New Frock by Anne Fine
(Reading Age: 7+)


Bill’s New Frock offers young male readers insight into how people treat you differently when you’re female. Bill Simpson wakes up to find he's a girl, and his mother makes him wear a pink dress to school. How on earth is he going to survive a whole day like this? Everything just seems to be different for girls.
Petronella by Jay Williams
(Reading Age: 8+)


Princess Petronella challenges the mysterious enchanter Albion for a prince's freedom. She attempts a daring escape - but is she rescuing the right man? A modern fantasy classic, full
of wit and surpise, with an admirable heroine.
Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by Catherine Thimmesh (Reading Age: 8+)

In kitchens and living rooms, in garages and labs and basements, even in converted chicken coops, women and girls have come up with ingenious innovations that have made our lives simpler and better. What inspired these women, and just how did they turn their ideas into realities?

The Wrestling Princes s: and other stories by Judy Corbalis and Helen Craig
(Reading Age: 8+)


Six stories, each about a girl who pursues interests such as driving a forklift truck, fighting dragons, or piloting a helicopter as well as a hungry monster, a pink elephant and a magic
parrot.
My Naughty Little Sister by Dorothy Edwards (Reading Age: 8+)

My naughty little sister is full of mischief. She tries to cut off the cat's tail, she bites Father
Christmas's hand, and eats all of the trifle with Bad Harry at his party.

Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary, illustrated by Tracy Dockray
(Reading Age: 8+)


Ramona the Pest shows us a mischievous girl's perspective on the trials and delights of beginning school.
In this book Ramona is age 5, follow the series right through until the final book Ramona’s World when she turns 10.
The Ordinary Princess by M M Kaye
(Reading Age: 8+)


The youngest of seven princesses is given the gift of being ordinary. When her parents start turning to desperate measures to get her married, Amy runs away to live in the forest. She then gets a job as a kitchen maid at the castle in a neighbouring kingdom and makes an unexpected friend.

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
(Reading Age: 8+)


Children’s Classic. Pippi lives without grown-ups in Villa Villekulla with a horse, a monkey, and a big suitcase full of gold coins. The grown-ups in her village try to make Pippi behave
in ways that they think a little girl should, but Pippi has other ideas. 

AGE 9-12
Seesaw Girl by Linda Sue Park
(Reading Age: 9+)


In 17th century Korea, girls from "good" families stay within the Inner Court until they are married. But Jade yearns to glimpse the world outside these walls. Will she realize her
dream?

Girls are Best by Sandi Toksvig
(Reading Age: 9+)


Women gladiators, women in the Bayeaux Tapestry, women inventors - Sandi Toksvig uncovers them all in her light-hearted approach to the serious message of this book – women have always done amazing things but have mostly been overlooked by history.

His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman
(Reading Age: 9+)


Beginning in Oxford, the story takes Lyra and her animal-daemon Pantalaimon on a
dangerous rescue mission to the ice kingdoms of the far north, where she begins to learn about the mysterious particles they call Dust, a substance for which a terrible war between different worlds will be fought. Won the UK's top awards for children's literature.
The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler by Gene Kemp (Reading Age: 9+)

'Tyke' Tiler is a bold and athletic twelve-year-old with the reputation of being a troublemaker. Up to the end of the penultimate chapter the narrative is written without revealing the protagonist's gender. The story ends with the revelation that Tyke's full name is Theodora.

Bridge To Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (Reading Age: 9+)

Jess pushes himself to win the year's first school-yard race but his victory is stolen by
newcomer Leslie, a girl, who didn't even know enough to stay on the girls' side of the playground. But she completely changes his worldview about what girls can and can’t do and how they’re “supposed” to be. It is Leslie who invents Terabithia, the secret country on an island across the creek.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by JK Rowling (Reading Age: 9+)

This is here as part of the alternative-princess meme. The Tales of Beedle the Bard are the fairy tales that witches & wizards read to their kids and which role in assist Harry Potter in his quests against Voldemort. “You won’t find any princesses sitting around waiting to be
rescued in there.”

The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley (Reading Age: 10+)

There is no place in the country of Damar for Aerin, daughter of a witchwoman, who is
also the king’s daughter; and so she befriends her father's crippled war-horse, Talat, and
teases her cousin Tor into teaching her to handle a sword. But it is Aerin who rediscovers
the old recipe for dragonfire-proof kenet, and when the army is called away to the other
side of the country, it is she who, alone but for Talat, rides out to confront Maur, the Black
Dragon, the last of the Great Dragons, for centuries thought dead.

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (Reading Age: 10+)

Princess Cimerone and the dragon Kazul share a spirited adventure with an extraordinary cast of characters in this first book in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles series.
A Hat Full Of Sky by Terry Pratchett
(Reading Age: 12+)


Terry Pratchett’s 2nd Tiffany Aching novel. She previously saved the world from the Queen of the Elves and is about to discover that battling evil monarchs is child's play compared to mortal combat with a Hiver. At eleven years old, she is the boldest heroine
ever to have confronted the Forces of Darkness while armed with a frying pan.
Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger
(Reading Age: 12+)


Parrotfish can serve as an introduction to transgender issues for curious readers. Angela changes her name to Grady, and begins to live as a boy, and though his family and friends initially have trouble accepting the change, he does find support from them and one
particular teacher.
Dolltopia by Abby Denson
(Reading Age: 12+)


A Barbie-like doll suffers a crisis once she realizes her fate is to live in a dreamhouse and marry a boring, Ken-like doll. So what does she do? She breaks free, gets a punk haircut
and makes her way to Dolltopia, a land full of rebel dolls who refuse to live lives that were planned out for them.

Spindle's End by Robin McKinley
(Reading Age: 14+)


An inventive retelling of Sleeping Beauty but featuring a heroine who is anything but passive–she prefers leather breaches to ball gowns, can communicate with animals and
saves herself and her village from the sleeping enchantment.

Shadows On The Moon by Zoe Marriott
(Reading Age: 14+)


Sixteen-year-old Suzume is able to recreate herself in any form. But who is she really? A powerful tale of magic, love and revenge with a strong female lead, set in fairy-tale Japan. Zoe Williams is a follower of @genderdiary and picked out this one in particular for this
list, but take a look at all her books here.