Looking for children’s books with strong, brave and independent female characters to inspire your children? We’ve hand-picked our top ten characters to celebrate International Women’s Day.
1) Winnie the Witch, 2+
Written by Valerie Thomas, illustrated by Korky Paul
Winnie has been inspiring children around the world since her first adventure was published over thirty years ago. She always has a spell up her sleeve to save the day and even if things go wrong (they usually do…) Winnie will boldly take the helm and steer them out of trouble!
But what we love most about Winnie is her loyalty. Wilbur is Winnie’s most favourite cat in the whole world and although she might accidentally sit on him from time to time, she is a loyal friend and gives him plenty of hugs and milk!
2) Isadora Moon, 5-7
Isadora Moon is special because she’s different. Half-vampire and half-fairy, she’s perfect for readers who like their magic and sparkle with a bit of bite. Isadora is ready to take on any challenge and try new experiences, whether it’s riding a dragon to school or investigating a spooky castle dungeon. The series celebrates diversity and individuality and was described in the Guardian as a ‘lively celebration of difference and mixed family heritage’.
3) Riya from The Night Zookeeper, 7+
Written by Joshua Davidson and Giles Clare, illustrated by Buzz Burman
Fast, bold and impulsive, Riya never lets a silly thing like rules stand in her way. Her bravery and adventurous spirit come in handy when the world of The Night Zoo is threatened by a fearsome army of robotic spiders. Riya uses her ingenuity to rescue her best friend Will from the army and shows him the importance of working as a team. Children will love joining Riya on her adventures and exploring the magical world of the Night Zoo at her side.
4) Priti from Bee Boy: Clash of the Killer Queens, +7
Tony De Saulles
Eloquent, smart and brave, we love Priti Kaur from Bee Boy: Clash of the Killer Queens. Priti takes a stand when her friend Melvin Meadly is teased about his love for bees, using her excellent rhetorical skills to convince their neighbourhood and school of the importance of bee conservation.
5) Emily from Jinks and O’Hare, 7+
Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre
Emily loves living at Funfair Moon, especially when she gets to work with Jinks and O’Hare, the fair’s hardworking repair team. Emily’s ambition is to join their team and become a funfair repair person just like them. She is always willing to lend a hand and think on her feet to keep the fair running smoothly. But can she really help with a violent fudgespolsion, a gravity inversion and a marauding candyfloss creature? Emily is smart, practical and very handy with a screwdriver!
6) Pippi Longstocking, 7+
Written by Astrid Lindgren, illustrated by Lauren Child
This list wouldn’t be complete without Pippi, who has become a true icon with her sticky out pigtails and odd stockings. But what is most remarkable about Pippi is her strength and determination; she doesn’t let anyone tell her what to do! She lives alone with a monkey and a horse, and would much rather spend her days on wild adventures and entertaining everyone she meets with her outrageous stories, than following the rules.
7) Nelly from Nelly and the Flight of the Sky Lantern, 7-9
Written by Roland Chambers, illustrated by Ella Okstad
If you like Pippi Longstocking, you’ll love Nelly Peabody. When Nelly says she’s going to do a thing, she does it, whatever it is. Learn to juggle china cups? Of course! Live on lemons for a month? Why not? Set out in a boat with knitted sails to find her long-lost father, with only her turtle Columbus for company? Absolutely! Children will love following this daring and resourceful character as she sets out on a swashbuckling adventure.
8) Electrigirl, 9+
Written by Jo Cotterill, illustrated by Cathy Brett
Holly Sparks is just an ordinary schoolgirl until she gets hit with lightning and realises she has gained some electrifying superpowers! Now she just needs to figure out how to channel these incredible powers for good and become the hero everyone needs… Electrigirl! Comic book and superhero fans will love this unique female superhero, brought to life with action-packed illustrations.
9) Zoya from Sky Thieves, 9+
We absolutely love Zoya, the fearless central character from Dan Walker’s swashbuckling adventure series Sky Thieves. In Dan’s words… ‘Zoya’s my two sisters rolled into one. She’s short, wiry and strong. She’s got a blond bob, (it’s often messy, but hey that’s fine.) She’s smart – capable of running rings around all the boys at her orphanage, and the girls and the teachers too! She’s brave. She never backs down from a fight, and often goes looking for them if she thinks the cause is worthy. She gets scared, like everyone, but her friends give her the courage to battle on. More than anything, you do not want Zoya Delarose as your enemy; she’s not the type to give in.’
10) Nancy Parker, 9+
Written by Julia Lee
Nancy Parker wasn’t exactly thrilled to get her first job as a housemaid, in fact she’d much rather be out solving mysteries. However in her new job, Nancy soon discovers there are plenty of suspicious occurrences going on beneath her very nose … it’s time for her to put her Theory of Detection into practice and uncover some surprising secrets! Living in a time of great social change, Nancy embraces the 20th century with its short hair, short hems, motor cars and moving pictures! She’s stuck as a housemaid for now, but she dares to dream big dreams. Read more in this fantastic blog by Julia Lee.