A Mighty Girl's favorite stories for young children starring black Mighty Girls.
All children love seeing faces like theirs within the pages of their picture books. While for many years it was often challenging to find books starring kids of color, there has been an explosion in the number of diverse books published in recent years. A study by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that 13.2% of children's books starred African American characters in 2021 — a percentage akin to the African American population in the United States — compared to only 3.3% in 2012. Greater diversity in books not only gives children of color an opportunity to see themselves in stories but also helps broaden the perspective of all children by fostering children's sense of empathy and connection with characters who might look different from themselves.
To help you discover a few new titles perfect for sharing with your kids, in this blog post, we've shared sixty of our favorite stories of everyday life starring African American Mighty Girls for toddlers, preschoolers, and younger elementary school readers. Whether they're fixing robots or outsmarting foxes, going to the library or dancing on stage, these Mighty Girl characters exude confidence and happiness — and with the support of devoted friends and family, there's nothing they can't do!
For more books for all ages starring black Mighty Girls, visit our African American Fiction and our African American History sections. And, to discover more Mighty Girl stories starring girls of many ethnicities and races, visit our Multicultural Fiction section.
Books Starring Black Mighty Girls
"Dance, little baby, / move to and fro / Coo and crow, baby, / there you go." Who would have thought a nineteenth-century poem would capture the joy of moving with baby so perfectly? When Mama falls asleep on the sofa, it's an opportunity for Dad and his little girl to have a swooping, twirling dance, just the two of them. This energetic book is perfect for reading aloud... or dancing to!
Accurate enough to satisfy an expert, yet simple enough for baby, this colorful book about a science-loving little girl explores the basics of flight – from birds, to planes and rockets – and ties it all to a baby’s world. Beautiful, visually stimulating illustrations complement age-appropriate language to encourage baby’s sense of wonder. Parents and caregivers may learn a thing or two, as well! For more volumes from this fun and inspiring series, including ones focused on quantum physics, thermodynamics, and coding, visit our Baby Loves Science Collection.
This little girl is big enough to be ready to say goodbye to her beloved pacifier! She remembers being a baby, when the only thing she could do was cry — but now that she can speak, she can ask for what she needs, whether that's a snack, a nap, or a nice comforting hug. This simple and engaging book presents a little girl who's full of confidence that she can manage this important transition from baby to big kid!
Every toddler loves to play peekaboo, and they’ll have such fun following the active and adorable protagonist of this story as she peekaboos her way through her morning. The game starts with mommy, then daddy, her puppy, and even Grandma and Grandpa get in on the action! The big text and colorful pictures invite children to chime in as they become familiar with the book. This is one of those books kids will want to read again and again.
In the Baby Scientist board book series the littlest readers get to learn all about different kinds of scientists! This book introduces Baby Botanist, who is wondering about how plants grow. Can they grow on water, or underground? Then, she learns about favorite foods that grow from plants — including unexpected ones like noodles and chocolate! Dr. Laura Gehl's knack for explaining scientific concepts to little kids and Daniel Wiseman's colorful, inviting artwork will make this book a favorite.
For this little girl, bedtime means special time with Daddy! In this charming bedtime book, as a father cradles his little girl, she is whisked away on an imaginative adventure swinging above lush floral gardens under the golden moonlight — that ends, naturally, in content slumber. The text, inspired by "Rock-a-bye baby", is engaging and loving, and coupled with the whimsical and peaceful illustrations, this is a fantastic bedtime (or anytime) story.
This little girl is proud to show all the people around her how independent she can be! Whether she’s pouring juice at breakfast or riding a bike, her attempts may not always be perfect, but she knows that, with practice, there’s nothing she can’t learn to do. The bold artwork depicts the adults on one page and the little girl on the other, making this book fun as a read-aloud or for kids to look at independently.
Toddlers can sometimes feel like everyone knows more than them, but if they think about it, they know an awful lot! Heavy and light, day and night, light and dark... they're all important facts that govern the way our world works. In fact, "If you ask me things / I know a lot!" This lighthearted rhyming story, with its stylish, retro-style illustrations, celebrates the small wins of early childhood; it's sure to become a fast favorite.
An exuberant little girl decides to become the catalyst that brings her community together in this charming adaptation of the classic Bob Marley song! She starts with the help of her friends, picking up trash, and eventually enlists all of the adults in the neighborhood to clean, build, fix, and plant. It takes a lot of hard work, but in the end, they all get to enjoy their new “One Love Park.” It’s the perfect way to show the youngest Mighty Girls how beautiful it is when people work together — and teach them the importance of being good stewards for green places.
When Carmin gets gum on her shoe while playing on the playground, she decides it's time that someone did something about the mess — and that "someone" may as well be her! But Carmin's not old enough to clean the whole park by herself, so what can she do? It turns out that even the littlest kids can find ways to encourage people to take care of their community — and their environment. This cheerful picture book with a positive message is a fun read and a great way to prompt discussions about how kids can help.
The endlessly confident and energetic Princess Truly lists off all of her amazing attributes in this book full of affirmations about all of the things she can be and do! Whether she's building a tower or taming a lion, making a root beer float or blasting off into space, Princess Truly knows that she is always up to the challenge. With rollicking rhyming text and vibrant illustrations, this inspiring book, is sure to delight young readers... and get them counting off all the things they can do! Princess Truly also appears in a chapter book series that's perfect for emerging readers.
Special trips to the library are often the spark that starts a love of reading! Tuesdays are library days for Lola and her mother, and every moment is exciting, from packing her backpack with books to return, to storytime and songs, to picking the perfect new story for Mommy to read at night. The simple text and bright illustrations follow this library-loving little girl every step of the way. Fans of Lola can also follow her as she journeys towards being an independent reader in Lola Loves Stories and Lola Reads to Leo — and more of her adventures in the rest of the Lola Reads series.
Lola has really, really big hair — bigger than any of the other kids at school! And while people sometimes stare at her hair, and it can even cause unexpected problems she's still proud to tell everyone who will listen that she loves every curl of her big hair. Kids will giggle at some of the surprising challenges Lola's big hair causes — like making her lose a game of hide and seek! — and cheer "big hair, don't care!" along with her, while parents will love the positive and affirming tone.
Sometimes, even if you give Grandma a very careful list of electronic gadgets you'd like for your birthday... she'll give you a lemon tree instead. If that happens, you should be polite and say thank you, and you definitely should not try to get rid of it (even if you do come up with some clever ideas.) Instead, put it somewhere sunny and give it just enough water, and with a little time, you might just have some delicious home-made lemonade (recipe included)! This wry and clever book about the joys of tending a growing plant is sure to make kids giggle, and give them a new appreciation of all the good things that can come from a little patience.
Lucy's Aunt Augusta loves wearing fancy dresses, and for Lucy's birthday, she offers to buy her the dress of her dreams. They go to the Fabulous Fashion Store to look at all the choices, and while Lucy enjoys the colors and decorations and styles, none of the dresses has the most important thing: POCKETS. How can Lucy carry leaves, and frogs, and mysterious bones, and other treasures, if she doesn't have pockets? The very idea makes one shopkeeper faint, but Aunt Augusta knows Lucy can have everything she wants... and when the store owner shows he has the perfect dress, pockets and all, Lucy isn't the only one who gets one! With rollicking rhyme and fun illustrations celebrating all of Lucy's adventures, this book is a lovely reminder that you don't have to choose between fancy things and outdoor fun.
Grandma Lena takes good care of her veggie garden, but one year, even she outdoes herself and grows a massive turnip! But when the time comes to pull it, Grandma Lena can't make it budge. Even with help from Grandpa, Uncle Izzy, and even the family dog, that turnip doesn't move an inch... until Baby Pearl adds one last bit of oomph to the family's pull. This retelling of a Russian folk tale seems perfectly at home in a modern setting, and makes a great starting point for talking about seeds, farming, and where our food comes from.
This delightful picture book tells the story of a biracial little girl and her relationship with her grandparents, who provide a magical place for her to stay when Mom and Dad are busy. And the portal to this special time is the kitchen window, where she can play pranks on Nanna and Poppy by knocking on the window and ducking down, or peek in to see if they're making silly faces. Then, she can color at the kitchen table, listen to stories about when she was little, and enjoy all the fun of this special time with both of them. Raschka’s evocative illustrations, which won the Caldecott Medal, provide a tribute to the joys of childhood and the special relationship between grandchild and grandparents.
Ruby may be a little girl, but she has big questions — and the enthusiasm to match her curiosity! She likes to excavate (or just dig holes) and to build things, and she's eager to know how everything works. She's not sure if she'll be an animal conservationist, an archaeologist, an inventor, or something else she hasn't even thought of yet. And she's more than happy to bring readers along for the ride. This companion to Sara O'Leary's beloved This Is Sadie encourages young readers to share Ruby's day, and reminds them that questions are the first step to learning more about our world!
In this tenderly funny book, when a little girl meets a lost duckling, it's love at first sight! The pair are soon inseparable, but that doesn't mean there aren't challenges as they clash over midnight feedings, messes, and bathtime. But as both girl and duckling grow, they also grow in their understanding of what it is to care for each other, discovering that love is as much about letting go as it is about holding tight. Parents and children alike will adore this sweet book about growing up and the joys of offering and returning love.
When this little girl gets a penguin costume, she's delighted — and declares that it's much more fun to be a penguin that just to dress up as one. And of course, a REAL penguin doesn't ride the bus, talk, or eat fish sticks. And even when her exasperated family says, "You're not actually a penguin," she knows the truth! But when the day finally comes that the costume needs a wash, will she break character — or will this determined and imaginative girl find a new identity she likes even better? This delightfully light-hearted story is sure to please young readers who love to play pretend.
This Coretta Scott King Award winner explores the relationship between an aunt and niece as they set out on a road trip to North Carolina. In this special trip in Aunt Martha's brand-new car, there will be "no boys and no men — just us women." And with just the two of them, they're free to do whatever they please! The poetic text celebrates the joy of independence and travel, especially with a fun traveling companion. It’s the perfect book to encourage you to look for adventure, whether on a road trip or otherwise.
A walk to the park is full of rhythm for this little girl and her mother! All the ambient sounds come together in a beat that they can’t resist, and soon their joyful dance to the sounds of ice cream sellers, street performers, and even butterflies attracts all the other children to join in. With each double page spread showing a way to capture the rhythm — with hands, knees, feet, and more — this book make a great read-aloud. This exuberant character returns with some holiday flair in I Got The Christmas Spirit.
This beautiful book tells the story of a little girl and her dad as they plan a birthday surprise for her mom: a garden of beautiful flowers. Readers go along for the ride as the girl and her dad travel through an urban landscape to buy a window box, then return home to plant the flowers, light the candles on the cake, and be ready to surprise her mother as she opens the door! A wonderful celebration of family, this story is perfectly complimented by the warm and lush illustrations that show you don't have to have acres of space to have a beautiful garden.
Kenaya is a little girl with a big imagination. Every night, she and her mother sit down for the dreaded ritual of combing Kenaya’s thick hair. But as Kenaya’s mother tells her all the wonderful and different ways she can wear her hair, Kenaya imagines those styles in fantastic ways, from thread on a spinning wheel to rows of plants in a garden to her favorite style, two ponytails that become wings that let her soar high above the world. This tribute to the beauty of naturally textured hair is sure to delight.
The vacant lot where a condemned building was demolished looks strange to Marcy; “like a big smile with one tooth missing.” Then Marcy has a flash of inspiration: instead of growing flowers in coffee cans, she and Miss Rosa will plant a garden in the vacant lot this year. There are plenty of doubters, but once Marcy and Miss Rosa start their garden, it’s amazing how it brightens the neighborhood and brings all their neighbors together. This lovely story of greening city life and the power of community action is sure to inspire children to think about how to brighten up their own community!
In this hilarious and high energy ode to self esteem, a little girl knows that, no matter what she does, where she goes, or what other people think, she is special because “I’m ME!” That means that, even when she's not at her best — like when she wakes up with spectacular bedhead — she's still the same person underneath. Kids will laugh at the silliness of beaver breath and stinky toes, while adults will enjoy its celebration of individuality. David Catrow's vibrant and hilarious illustrations provide a confident young girl as a role model, while Karen Beaumont's rhyming text makes for a great read-aloud.
Lily does NOT like the idea of buying things for school, but when her father buys her a cat mask, she thinks she's found the perfect solution to feeling shy: everything is easier with her mask on! But when she arrives at school, she gets a shock: her teacher tells her she can only wear the mask at recess. At first, Lily doesn't know what to do, but she learns to cope without her mask on all the time... and when she gets a special chance to wear it in class, it even becomes the link that helps her make a new friend! Kids will love watching Lily find both her confidence and her place in her classroom.
A little girl imagines a beautiful garden that starts with a single seed — and a stuffed bear — in this picture book inspired by the Pacific Street Brooklyn Bear’s Community Garden in Brooklyn, New York. Outside her window, there's a vacant lot that she envisions as "a place to grow, a play to play, and a place to love." She starts by planting one seed in a can, which she tends with her beloved stuffed panda. When the can topples and the seedling roots in the lot below, she carefully oversees its growth. The girl has to leave for a while, and leaves her bear to supervise... and when she returns, the community has come together to create something amazing! This charming picture book celebrates the joy of working together to create beauty in surprising places.
When Ruby first meets the Worry, a yellow scribble with a furrowed brow, it's so small that she barely notices it. But over time, it gets bigger and bigger — and it starts draining all the other colors from the page. Before long, it's so big that the Worry keeps Ruby from doing the things she loves. Then one day, she sees a boy at the playground with a blue-scribble Worry of his own... and when she talks to him about it, she discovers that talking about your Worries can help keep them manageable and small. This kid-friendly story is an excellent way to talk to kids about anxiety and worry while highlighting that there are ways to seek support when you need it.
Lena is painting a picture of herself and tells her mother that she needs brown for her skin — but her artist mother isn't going to let her get off that easily! She insists that there are many shades of brown, and to prove it, she takes Lena for a walk through the neighborhood, where she sees skin colors that look like honey, peanut butter, pizza crust, ginger, peaches, chocolate, and more. By the end of her walk, Lena has learned to see "brown" in a whole new way. This positive look at skin color will get kids finding and celebrating the unique color of their own skin tones.
Josie and Richard compete at everything, and Josie always wins... except when it comes to losing teeth. When she finally feels one of her teeth start to wiggle, she's excited to finally catch up, but when she literally loses her tooth, Josie wonders if the Tooth Fairy will come after all. Richard offers her his beloved shark tooth as a substitute, but Josie doesn't think the Tooth Fairy will bite. To her delight, the Tooth Fairy understands... and provides a gift to remind her that her friendship is more valuable than any coin! This charming and relatable story will speak to any child waiting for that first wiggle.
This little girl discovers that shapes are everywhere! As she walks through the city, she sees big rectangle skyscrapers and circular bubbles, diamond kites and more. Cheerful verse encourages young readers to spot the shapes in each illustration — there are plenty more to find than just the one in the text. A sweet ending where the little girl finds "the SHAPE /she loves best. /The SHAPE that is home — / her warm CIRCLE nest" provides a sense of comfort and calm at the end of a busy day.
Sophie and her father are headed to her building's 10th floor party room, where Olive is having a birthday party. But at each floor, the elevator stops, letting in even more of the residents who are eager to celebrate: the tattooed Santucci brothers, the Habibs with their grandchildren, Vi Tweedle with her chihuahua, and more! By the time they reach the top — in a fold out spread that feels just like spilling out of a real elevator — they're packed in tight, but full of a sense of welcome and community. With clever details in the illustrations for kids to find, and a hilarious reveal about the guest of honor, this book is ultimately a celebration of neighbors, whether they're down the road or up a few floors.
Gia liked things the way they were, but now her mother is pregnant and all anyone talks about is the baby: her friends ask if she hopes for a boy or a girl, her relatives fuss over Mama, and even her teacher reads a story about being a big sister. Eventually, Gia explodes, yelling that she’s tired of hearing about the “DING-DANG BABY!” Fortunately, patient, understanding Mama is there to reassure her that, while many things will change, Gia will always have her mother. This lovely story about an unsure soon-to-be big sister is sure to resonate with many Mighty Girls.
A young girl is rapt when she sees a strong woman speaking her mind on TV — but shocked to hear the speaker labeled as "too assertive," "too confident," and "too ambitious." Fortunately, her mother helps her understand that ambition isn't a bad thing: it drove women in the past to fight for the right to vote and the end of segregation, and it helps the girls and women of today strive for their dreams. And when the girl reframes these supposed criticisms for herself, she realizes that she's happy to declare herself ambitious too! Meena Harris, bestselling author of Kamala and Maya's Big Idea, and illustrator Marissa Valdez, work together to create an empowering picture book that reminds young readers to be proud of the ambitions, hopes, and dreams.
In the fields of a farm, a little girl works with her family, loading their beat-up but faithful pickup truck full of the veggies they grow. At night, she imagines what else the truck might be up to: perhaps it sails across the ocean or chases stars across the sky! Time takes its toll on the truck, and soon it's rusted and motionless, hidden in tall grass and overgrown with weeds... until the girl, now grown, tows it out, repairs and repaints, and proudly gets her childhood companion back to work — alongside her own little girl. With appealing retro illustrations and a nostalgic story that celebrates perseverance, creativity, and hard work, this book will make kids look at "old" things in a new way.
Black girls are surrounded by messages to stay put and stay quiet: "Now don’t you dare climb, climb, climb/ Langston’s crystal stair./ You ain’t gonna make it, girl./ Come, get down from there." But this empowering picture book reminds them of their value and their worth: "You are a thousand curls/ unfurling in your hair./You are a thousand fists/ standing proudly in air./ You are the song of swallows,/ lifting sun as they sing—/ breaking light with their beaks,/ breaking sky with their wings." And when they know what they can achieve, they can imagine a future bigger than anything they had thought possible. Incorporating references to figures like Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou, this is a celebration of the beauty, power, and strength of Black girls and women everywhere.
Zuri's full head of naturally textured hair has a mind of its own, but today is a very special occasion and she needs it to look just right! At first, she tries to do it herself, but when Daddy wakes up to see her searching for hairstyles on her tablet, he says he'll help. It's not quite as simple as he expects it to be, but for his little girl, he's determined to do better — and with a little help from a tutorial, Zuri and Daddy style the perfect "funky puff buns" just in time for Mommy's return home! This tender and loving book empowers girls to love their hair — and dads to believe that they can handle whatever their daughters need.
Africa was named after the birthmark on her arm that's shaped just like the continent, and she's always loved hearing about her Nana's double Dutch skills. When she hears about a double Dutch competition — one which will let the winner "show the world what you’re made of" — she's determined to compete, even if she's never done it before! With the help of memories of her grandmother, and lessons from friends and classmates on everything from cartwheels to dance moves to Miss Mary Mack, her confidence grows. On the day of the competition, she may not win, but she'll definitely "jump, fly, double Dutch to the sky" just like her Nana... thanks to her own determination and the support of her community. This is a sweet and empowering picture book that's full of joy and big dreams!
Isobel has math homework, but she doesn't mind: solving problems is her thing! But the new next door neighbors are making so much racket it's hard for her to concentrate. It's so loud she imagines it must be a marching band, a basketball team, or even a family of elephants! At first she tries to get back at the neighbors by making a ruckus herself, but she soon realizes there's probably a kinder way to express what she needs. She and her father make a batch of cookies and leave them with a note asking for quiet... and when she gets a note back, Isobel makes a new (if somewhat unusual!) study buddy. This funny picture book celebrates a math-loving girl who learns the power of stating your needs — and making new friends.
"I wish I could sleep on the cot in the living room," this Dominican American girl says, "but Mami says it’s for guests" — like Raquel, whose father is working overnight at the hospital; Edgardo, whose mother is a singer; and Lisa, whose grandmother cleans offices late at night. She's resentful: why does she have to stay in a tiny bedroom with her sister, when they get the whole living room with its big view of the George Washington Bridge? But when she gets her chance to sleep in the cot herself, she realizes that sleeping in your own bed is best... and that the children who stay overnight with them do so because their families are struggling. This gentle and empathetic book celebrates a supportive network of neighbors who help one another get through difficult times.
Tameika loves to perform on stage — and whether she's acting, singing, or dancing, she always puts on a great show. So when her school decides to put on a musical version of Snow White she can't wait to audition... until she hears her peers talking behind her back about how she's too tall, too chubby, and too brown for the role. Fortunately, Tameika's parents give her just the right reassurance she needs to nail the audition — and show there's no one right way to be a princess. Text that emphasizes Tameika's passion and drive and images that highlight the joy she takes in acting combine to create an empowering story of self-confidence and individuality.
Violet and her family used to make memories together as they prepared and shared a meal, all gathered at the table. But now, she's alone at the table, while her father, mother, and brother grab bites to eat between shows on TV, games on the computer, or texts on their phones. One say, Violet notices that their table is shrinking... and when it disappears altogether, she knows that it's time to remind her family that the most important time is the time they spend together. Bestselling creator Peter H. Reynolds, author of The Dot, has created a lyrical, gorgeous picture book that celebrates multigenerational love, tradition, and the importance of family connection.
This little girl's first day of school was discouraging: nobody could say her name, she tells her Momma, not even the teacher. But Momma knows the perfect solution: she'll turn her name into a song! As they walk through their diverse neighborhood, Momma sings names from African, Asian, Black-American, Latinx, and Middle Eastern families. She even gently tackles the idea that some names are "made up," saying, "Made-up names come from dreamers. Their real names were stolen long ago so they dream up new ones." This poignant and important picture book includes a glossary about name pronunciations, origins, and meanings, and a gentle reminder of the importance of listening closely to someone's name.
Izzy Gizmo loves inventing, even if her inventions sometimes go awry. But when she finds a crow with a broken wing, she has to get things right. Everything she tries to build a new pair of wings seems to fail, and Izzy feels like she wants to give up — but her new friend is counting on her. And it turns out that, if she perseveres, she can find a solution to just about any problem! Tenacious Izzy is an inspiring role model for kids who will know what it feels like to be ready to quit; they'll sympathize with her frustration when things just don't work, and cheer when she wins the day!
Ava and her mother have a very special Saturday routine that's just for them, including storytime at the library, hairdos at the salon, a picnic at the park... and this week, a very special puppet show! But today, everything goes wrong. At each step, Ava's mother reminds her of what they do to calm down when something goes wrong: "They paused, closed their eyes, and — whew! — let out a deep breath." But when it's Mom's mistake that ruins the last part of their day, Mom feels like she's going to fall apart — until Ava is able to remind her that the important thing about Saturday is that they are together. The author / illustrator behind Thank You, Omu! returns with a sweet story, full of radiant artwork, that reminds kids that the love between parent and child is more powerful than any disappointment.
The girl in this book loves to draw, paint, and write stories, but one day she wonders: what would happen if she had no pencil? Well, that's easy: she could fold paper to make origami. If the paper was gone... well, she could "chisel the table" or peel away paint on the wall to create a giant sun! In fact, she realizes, creativity and self-expression is something that's impossible to take away: as long as you have your imagination, your art can always fly free.
It's the midst of the Harlem Renaissance, and Marie's family party is full of energy, fun, and most importantly, music! But while her Uncle Cab encourages her to sing, Marie is too shy... that is, until she falls asleep under the Christmas tree and travels to an imaginary world where the new nutcracker, a drummer boy, joins her on a daring adventure — in which Marie saves the day by scaring away the mouse army with her drumming! The next morning, Marie not only discovers her own drum under the tree, she also realizes that she's found her voice. Inspired by the first act of The Nutcracker and by the history of the Harlem Renaissance, this book is full of vibrant color and bursting with life.
When this little girl steps outside her door, a cacophony of sound bombards her: BEEP! WOOF! VROOM! But a narrator encourages her to pause, closing her eyes and separating out each sound — not just on the street, but also once she gets to school, where she can hear "words of joy... and words that can sting" and the subtle sounds of a classmate who needs help: "A sob, a sigh, or even silence." In fact, her newfound listening and focus even helps her hear her own heartbeat. This gentle, meditative introduction to mindfulness encourages kids to go beyond hearing to listening, developing attention skills that can serve them well no matter where they go.
Space Princess Lex devours books, but when she wakes up on her fifteenth birthday, she's shocked to find the bookshelves empty! It turns out that a fairy has threatened a curse: a death-like sleep caused by a paper cut. Lex doesn't want to live without her beloved books, and she doesn't think the rest of the kingdom should have to either, so the bold princess decides to set out in search of the fairy and convince her to set things right. Set in the same universe as Interstellar Cinderella, this funny twisted fairy tale is a celebration of the power of knowledge and the love of reading.
Zura's school is celebrating Grandparents Day, and her Ghanaian grandmother Nana Akua is "her favorite person in the whole universe" — but she's still hesitant to invite her. Nana Akua's family are Akan, and she has traditional tribal markings on her face. "What if someone at school laughs at you or acts mean?" Zura worries. Fortunately, Nana Akua reassures Zura, and when it's her turn to speak, her poise and gentle explanation help ease her classmates' uncertainty about the markings. Before long, she's painting Adinkra symbols on the faces of anyone who wants one! This charming story about cultural diversity and explaining differences celebrates the special connection grandparents can provide to ancestral culture.
It's 1960, and there's only one think Alta can think about at the parade tomorrow: Wilma Rudolph, the three-time Olympic gold medalist, will be there! Once, she was the quickest kid in Clarksville, Tennessee; now Alta is, and she can't wait to meet her hero. But then a new girl with shiny, fancy shoes challenges Alta to a race. What will happen if Alta isn't the quickest any more? This story about perseverance, teamwork, and following your dream also pays tribute to the first American woman to win three gold medals at one Olympiad.
A little girl finds an odd egg on her “Sunday-before-supper walk” — which hatches a green dragon she immediately names Hank. Raising a dragon isn’t simple, even if Hank proves to be very helpful around the farm, and when Hank starts to attract too much attention, she has to escort him home to the Island of Dragons to live out his days. However, a good dragon keeper is hard to find, and it’s not long before a whole wheelbarrow full of eggs shows up from the island. A delightful story with a folksy tone, this one is sure to be a favorite.
Ernestine has a big adventure planned for this weekend: her first camping trip! Her single dad helps her pack everything on the list her aunt Jackie gave, and even helps her make some special trail mix. But when she gets to the campsite with Jackie and her cousin Samantha, Ernestine gets intimidated. Putting up a tent is hard, there are FISH in the lake she's supposed to swim in, and everything is so quiet and big. Fortunately, with a little encouragement (and a few s'mores), Ernestine realizes that she's up for these challenges! This exuberant story about both the joys and the downsides to a first camping trip provides a powerful lesson about the confidence that comes from getting out of your comfort zone.
Winifred Schnitzel isn't scared of the monsters in her bedroom, but she sure is frustrated — she needs her sleep! Every night they're there, making a ruckus, despite the cleverest traps that Winifred can think up. Perhaps Winifred will have to get a bit more creative to deal with her monster problem (Hint: monsters hate kisses!) This funny bedtime story will have kids giggling — and contemplating how they might deal with their own exasperating fears.
Bear wants to be friends with the other forest animals, but they all think he's frightening because he's so big. His human friend, Coco, decides to help, and latches onto her grandmother's advice that "When life gets dark as winter’s night, share some kindness, bring some light.” The pair take her words literally, and try to deliver cookies and lanterns... but the animals don't trust Bear enough to take them. It's not until they're on their way home, and rescue Baby Deer from being stuck in the snow, that the other animals discover there's more to Bear than they thought! Glowing illustrations and a sweet story of selflessness combine beautifully in this charming picture book.
Sophia has only One True Desire for her birthday: a pet giraffe. But she has Four Big Problems in the way: Mom (a judge), Dad (a businessman), Uncle Conrad (a politician), and Grand-mama (a strict disciplinarian). She gives each member of her family an individualized presentation but none of them are swayed — not until she adds the most important word of all: "Please!" (And follows it up with "Thank you!") This clever book featuring a loving multiracial family blends kindergarten with the board of directors to hilarious result; parents and educators will particularly enjoy the depiction of an African-American female judge.
During spring break, Kenya's teacher wants each student to write about what they did on their vacation... but Kenya doesn't think she's done anything worth writing about. The she takes a trip to a museum that has a recycling exhibit, and on a walk through the neighborhood with her father, she's inspired! First she uses broken toys and other items to make art with her family, and then she gets ready to show her whole class how trash can become a thing of beauty. This fun story is sure to get kids' creative juices flowing about making old things new again.
Sal can't help but feel that her boring human body just isn't suitable for her purposes. "Teeth: okay, could be pointier,” she muses. “Body: Tiny, often ignored." So by concentrating, she manages to achieve a tremendous transformation: she becomes a T. Rex! When you're a T. Rex., you can do what you want and eat what you please, but it's kind of hard to make friends. In the end, Sal realizes, the best choice is to moderate that dinosaur ferocity with a helping of human restraint; that way, nobody walks all over you... but you don't accidentally stomp on someone's feelings. This laugh-out-loud story with an important message about confidence and kindness is sure to delight young dino fans!
Zulay and her first-grade friends all study the same things, even though Zulay is blind. But while she's still self-conscious about her new white cane, when Zulay's teacher asks what activities they want to do for field day, Zulay answers right away: she wants to run a race! Fortunately, with the help of a supportive teacher and caring friends, there's no reason Zulay can't race too. This delightful book simultaneously celebrates everything that people with disabilities can do, while also reminding kids that everyone faces their own challenges.
Meg loves building with boxes, and she always stuns both her peers and adults with what she makes. But then a new kid shows up at Maker School. Simone is a boxitect too — a good one — and it's not long before the two have become fierce rivals. Then the worst happens: the two are paired as a team for the annual Maker Match. Rather than work together, they each take half the materials and build one half of their creation... a plan that ends in disaster. But when they sit down and find a way to combine their talents, it turns out there's nothing they can't do! This funny and realistic story about two girls who realize that they can make amazing things when they work together is sure to inspire a little "boxitecture" in young readers!
This girl has a wonderful dress, that she always wears on her favorite day of the week. And when it's finally too short, she moans and complains — until her mother urges her to "make molehills out of mountains" by thinking of something she could do to address the problem. After a flash of inspiration, with the help of her crafty mama, the dress becomes a shirt, a tank top, a scarf, and so on — until finally, with the last few scraps, she makes something that will preserve the memory of her favorite dress forever. This celebration of ingenuity and resilience is sure to resonate with anyone who's dreaded the loss of a favorite thing.
When Grace hears that America has never had a female president, she decides that she will be the first — and the school mock election provides the perfect opportunity for her to get some political practice. But she runs into some difficulty when her popular opponent's claim that he's "the best man for the job" captures the votes of the boys, who hold the most electoral votes. Undeterred, Grace decides to focus on what she'll do with the position in an effort to prove that elections are about the best person for the job. This fun book teaches the election process — and the importance of every vote — as well as the message that girls can be leaders. Grace and her classmates return in Grace Goes To Washington, where they learn more about the political process — and the joys and challenges of being a public servant.
Flossie has never seen a fox when her mother sends her to take eggs to Miz Viola, whose chickens have been harassed by an egg-eating fox. So when she bumps into a clever, red-furred creature in the woods, she refuses to believe he's a fox like he claims. Offended, the fox tries to point out his very fox-like attributes, only to have Flossie shake her head at every turn... until suddenly he realizes the clever girl has led him straight to the noses of the McCutchins' hounds! This sly tale is a fun read aloud that celebrates a cunning girl who can outfox the fox.
Everyone in Ibb's village is sure there is something awful behind the walls of the nearby castle, but Ibb isn't sure. "Maybe it’s something terrible,” she thinks. “Or maybe it’s something else." When she can't catch the eye of the lone guardsman, she rallies her courage and knocks on the door. It turns out that he's guarding — and tending — a marvelous topiary garden, and with Ibb's help, he not only makes some friends in town, but also agrees to make the garden into a public space for all to enjoy. Ibb is an appealing and determined protagonist, and kids will love her confidence and determination.
Sassy loves ballet more than anything, but she worries that her large feet, her long legs, or her big mouth will keep her from reaching her dream. When a famous director visits Sassy’s class, looking for talent for a dance festival, she tries to get his attention by wearing a vibrant leotard and leaping as high as she can. Soon, Sassy learns that, sometimes, it’s good to stand out from the crowd. Inspired by Debbie Allen’s own experiences as a young dancer, this story encourages empathy, but also captures the joy a dancer who finds her own way to soar.
When a photo of 2-year-old Parker Curry, mesmerized by Amy Sherald's portrait of Michelle Obama in the National Portrait Gallery, went viral, people everywhere wondered how that moment of representation had affected that little girl. Now, Parker and her mother, Jessica Curry, tell the story of that moment. As the little girl and her friend pass portraits, still lifes, and more, their imaginations run wild — and when Parker sees the Michelle Obama's portrait, her imagination turns to what she herself might become in the future. This moving picture book includes a foreword by Sherald and back matter about the paintings Parker sees. Parker returns in her second picture book, Parker Shines On.
Despite Big Mama's exasperated requests to leave the chickens alone, this little girl is determined to become the best chicken-chaser in the county. Soon, she can catch every chicken on the farm... except Miss Hen, the fastest, cleverest chicken around. The summer turns into a battle of wills between the girl and the chicken until she discovers Miss Hen's secret hiding place — and the nest of chicks hidden there — and makes the more mature decision not to trouble Miss Hen while she's with her babies. Full of delightful language that rolls off the tongue, this humorous read aloud will get kids laughing!
Callie and Charlie are twins, but while they have a lot in common, they also have some big differences — including Charlie's autism. Because of that, Callie knows that some things are very hard for Charlie: sometimes he can't speak; other times he doesn't know what to do to keep himself safe. But there are also many things that Charlie does very well, including loving his sister — even if he does have a different way of showing it. This warm story, based on the mother and daughter authors' experiences, fills a much-needed role in helping neurotypical kids understand their autistic peers.
Omu's stew is so delicious that everyone in the neighborhood is drawn to her house by its scent — and Omu dishes out a portion to anyone who asks. But when evening comes, she realizes that she's accidentally given away all of her dinner! She doesn't go hungry for long, however; a knock at the door reveals the whole community, who have brought a potluck feast to thank Omu for her generosity. Author-illustrator Oge Mora notes that "Omu" (pronounced AH-moo) means "queen" in her parents' language, Igbo, but that it meant "Grandma" to her growing up — one of many charming touches in this story of a sharing community.
Grace loves acting out stories, so when she hears that her school will be putting on the play Peter Pan, she is hoping to be cast as Peter. The other kids, though, say that’s impossible — Peter’s a boy, and he’s not black, so how could Grace play him? Grace’s Ma and Grandma, though, think she can do anything she puts her mind to and they might just be right! Fans of Grace will also enjoy checking out Princess Grace, where Grace’s questions prompt her class to find out all about the multicultural and multitalented princesses of the world.
For Faizah's big sister Asiya, the first day of school is also her first day wearing hijab, with a beautiful blue fabric she picked that reminds Faizah of "the ocean waving to the sky." But at school, both a classmate's whispered curiosity and a bully's nasty taunts shake Faizah's confidence. How can people see her sister's hijab as anything but beautiful? Fortunately, with Asiya's example to encourage her, Faizah discovers new strength and pride in the things that make her family unique. Olympic fencing medalist and social justice activist Ibtihaj Muhammad teamed up with S.K. Ali to create this lyrical, uplifting text, while Hatem Aly's vibrant illustrations depict a world of diverse people, supportive friends, and a pair of sisters who are always there for one another.
On a swelteringly hot summer day — after many such days — Tessie waits and waits for the rain to cut through the heat. When it finally does, it is such a welcome relief that even the mamas come out to dance and play in the rain! The refreshing, cool rain leaves everyone ""purely soothed,/ fresh as dew,/ turning toward the first sweet rays of the sun." John J Muth’s vivid watercolors capture the arid feeling of too many hot days in a row — and then the relief when the rain finally falls — while Karen Hesse’s dreamy, poetic text depicts an optimistic little girl and a special friendship between neighbors that's strengthened by a celebration of summer rains.
Every person is here for a reason — every person is enough! This lyrical book from actor and activist Grace Byers captures the power of loving yourself, and the amazing things that can happen when we respect and love others, too. On each page, a one- or two-line affirmation invites kids to consider their place in the world, while stunning illustrations by debut artist Keturah A. Bobo feature diverse girls and celebrate their differences as signs of their uniqueness. This empowering and inspirational book is an ode to the best in all of us.
Violet loves music, and every chance she gets, she’s playing or singing but she never seems to meet other kids like her who want to make music all the time. Everywhere she goes, she looks for like-minded kids, but she doesn’t find them. Still, she’s confident that she’ll find people who understand eventually, and one day, years later, while she’s playing guitar in the park, something wonderful happens. This tribute to kids who follow their passions is perfect for any child who wonders if there are others like her out there.
After her teacher put the word "beautiful" on the chalkboard, this little girl wishes there were something beautiful in her neighborhood: all she sees is ugly and scary, from graffiti on the walls to broken glass on the ground. But when she asks her neighbors what they know that's beautiful, each of them has an immediate answer for her, ranging from a perfectly cooked fish sandwich to a round, juicy apple to a smooth stone. Beauty, she realizes, lies in our own eyes and actions — which means that we all have the power to find it. This engaging book provides an important message about happiness and empowerment.
Jayla has been bullied by her classmate Sam in the past, so when Sam starts to target her friend Luisa, Jayla reluctantly finds herself drawn in. She knows it's wrong, but if she refuses, Sam could target them both. Fortunately, with the help of caring adults and friends, Jayla finds the courage to stand up to Sam. This unique trilogy depicts bullying from three different perspectives — bully, bullied, and bystander — to provide a nuanced discussion of the issue. Check out the other two volumes, Weird! and Tough!,, to complete this powerful series.
After Libby tells a lie, her mother gives her a lesson in the importance of telling the truth. But when Libby decides to be completely honest all the time, people don't seem happy with that either — even if it is true that her friend has a hole in her sock, her classmate forgot his lunch money, and the next-door neighbor's yard that looks like a jungle. It's not until Libby gets a taste of a truth about herself that she begins to understand that the truth can either help or hurt. This excellent lesson on one of childhood's most difficult concepts — truth, lies, and being kind — is lighthearted, witty, and fun.
Young Ada is full of boundless curiosity, so when her house fills with a toe-curling smell, she's determined to track down the cause. Not afraid of failure, she embarks on a fact-finding mission and conducts scientific experiments, all in the name of discovery. But, this time, her experiments lead to even more stink and get her into trouble! Fortunately, Ada and her supportive family realize that it's always worth asking "why", even if only leads to more questions. This title by the author of Rosie Revere, Engineer reinforces the importance of perseverance captured in that book, as well as celebrating a love of science and a burning desire to learn. Fans of this title can also check out Ada Twist's Big Project Book for Stellar Scientists.
Lola's class is full of kids from all over the world, so when her teacher asks them to draw pictures of where they're from, most students are excited... but Lola feels left out. She's from The Island (which adult readers will recognize as the Dominican Republic) but her family left when she was a baby, and she doesn't remember it. So she sets out to learn more about The Island, asking family, friends, and neighbors. The picture she gets is complex — it includes beauties and joys, as well as heartbreak and fears — but the most important thing Lola learns is that a family's shared story is an important part of every member, even those who don't remember it for themselves.
Mari and her mother are going to a march, so Mari is making a sign with crayon. Her mother says they are making "a message for the world," one they'll take out into a big crowd full of people. "How will the whole world hear?" Mari asks. Her mother answers: "They'll hear because love is powerful." Inspired by a girl who joined the 2017 Women's March in New York City, this uplifting and empowering picture book reminds children that their voices matter — and that when we work together, our love can promote change, equality, and peace.
Jazmin has been eagerly waiting for the day of the neighborhood parade, ready to twirl her baton and take the lead... but when the day finally comes, it's grey, rainy, and thunderous. "Mud Puddler...Cloud Crasher...Parade Wrecker," she complains, but the rain keeps coming. Finally, frustration leads her outside to shake her fists and stomp her feet — where she discovers that the rain can be plenty of fun too! Soon all her friends are cheering on Jazmin the Rain Stomper, whose stomping and splashing manages to outlast the rain. This encouraging story about making the best of a situation may inspire a few rain stomping parades!
When Precious is left home along, her Mama gives her an important warning: "Don't let nothing or nobody into this house." After all, the person or thing at the door might be the Boo Hag, a terrifying trickster! But when the Boo Hag really does come calling, can Precious outwit this clever foe? And if she does, is the Boo Hag defeated... or just gone for now? This just-scary-enough story is perfect for a spirited read-aloud.
JoJo loves Tae Kwon Do, but when Master Kim declares she’s ready to take her yellow belt test, suddenly her stomach is tied in knots. Some of the skills, particularly the flying side kick and the board break, are very intimidating, especially when JoJo is still afraid of the tree outside her bedroom window. Her friends and family have lots of advice, but in the end, it’s JoJo who finds the key to turning her fears into success. With dynamic illustrations and a story every young reader can identify with, this story is sure to be a favorite.
Thunder Rose was born on the night of a ferocious storm, and it’s clear early on that she’s just as fierce! Even as a child, she can lift a cow over her head when she wants a drink, and she soon shows a gift for metalwork, making gear to restrain cattle, capture bandits, and even squeeze the rain out of the clouds. And when two tornadoes threaten, her song of thunder is enough to calm them. This wonderful tall tale with exuberant illustrations will have kids dreaming of their own Wild West adventures!
Kameeka and Jamara are going to go head to head today to see who's really the Hula-Hooping Queen of 139th Street... until Kameeka's mother reminds her that today is their neighbor Miz Adeline's birthday and sets Kameeka to work on chores for the party. Kameeka's distraction results in a ruined cake, so she shamefully confesses to Miz Adeline... only to discover that Miz Adeline knows "the hula-hoopin' itch" rather well herself! Before long, the whole neighborhood is hooping together, and Kameeka finds the perfect birthday dessert to celebrate Miz Adeline: a hoop-shaped doughnut. This cheerful story of love and forgiveness is sure to inspire her to pick up her own hula hoop.
When MacKenzie gets teased yet again about her hair, she knows exactly who to talk to: Miss Tillie next door, whose house has a glorious garden — and whose hair is shiny and strong. So MacKenzie asks her: can her hair ever be long and pretty? Miss Tillie does indeed have advice, and uses the backyard garden she tends as a metaphor both for the patience and care required to grow healthy hair — and to show MacKenzie that her natural hair has its own beauty. This empowering book also includes detailed hair-care tips and two home made hair product recipes girls can try.
A young ballerina looks up at her idol and despairs: how can she ever hope to achieve such heights? But her idol speaks back to her, telling her about the thousands of hours of practice that it took to become the Firebird — and the dreams that every generation inspires in the next. Ballerina Misty Copeland's lyrical text is dreamy and poetic, while Christopher Myers' vivid and dynamic illustrations capture the combination of power and serenity in ballet. The book includes an author's note about Copeland's ballet journey, as well as her desire to provide diverse role models for girls.
A girl and her family have just lost their beloved family dog, and all of them are grieving. Eons earlier, a meteor strike creates a strange yellow stone, which humans quarry and carve. As the centuries pass, the stone is broken and re-crafted over and over again, before finally being lost in the ocean and polished by the waves. And when the girl finds the stone at the beach and presses it against her face, she finds a sense of peace: perhaps nothing in life is ever truly lost. Author / illustrator Aaron Becker's first picture book following the conclusion of his best-selling Journey trilogy is an emotionally powerful, achingly satisfying story.
A little girl who loves to tinker and fix things finds a robot in the woods — and is shocked when the push of a button activates him for the first time! Soon, the pair are the best of friends, but the little robot is also curious about its own kind. Unfortunately, the large, sinister robots at the factory that made the little robot are looking for him too and they don’t care who they hurt along the way to get him back. Now, the two new friends will have to fight for the little robot’s freedom! This fun and charming wordless graphic novel, which stars an inventive and intelligent Mighty Girl, will be a hit with any young reader who’s imagined having their own robot friend.
Sulwe has the darkest skin of anyone in her family, and she wishes that she could be lighter like her mother and sister. Despite her mother's advice that "brightness is just who you are," she tries everything she can think of to be lighter, from eating light colored foods to trying to rub out her blackness with an eraser. But one night, a shooting star darts into her room and tells her a fable about Night and Day, opening her eyes to her own beauty. Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o's picture book debut is a moving story about colorism and self-esteem that will encourage all children to be proud of their uniqueness.
There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you.... There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it's how you look or talk, or where you're from; maybe it's what you eat, or because you are quiet when others' voices fill the room. It's not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it. National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson lyrical text and two-time Pura Belpré Illustrator Award winner Rafael López's dazzling art celebrates the courage it takes to go out into a world where you feel strange and alone, and the acceptance and friendship you can find if you do.
Young Misty has just started taking ballet classes when her teacher introduces the class to the story of Coppélia, a ballet about a toymaker with a plot to bring a doll to life — and she is captivated. She's desperate to play the heroine, Swanilda, but she's just beginning to learn dance, so she's worried she won't be up to standard in time for auditions. Fortunately, with the help of her fellow "bunhead" dancers, Misty and her class put on an amazing show! The first in a series of picture books by prima ballerina and New York Times bestselling author Misty Copeland about her early experiences with ballet, this charming story celebrates dance and the courage it takes to take on a new challenge.
"Deep secret brown" is how one little girl describes the river near her grandmother's house — and her own eyes. "Feathery brown," says another, "Like the jagged shadows of hemlock branches thrown over me and Daddy on a gentle mountain hike." There are so many shades of brown out there, both in the beautiful world in which we live, and on the beautiful people around us! Lyrical verse and rich illustrations combine to create a gorgeous celebration of the joy of loving your own skin and recognizing your place in a community and a wide world that's out there for you to find.
Additional Recommended Resources
- For more books featuring diverse Mighty Girls, visit our Multicultural Fiction section.
- To share stories of diverse women who have made their mark on history, visit our selection of biographies of People of Color.
- To introduce children and teens to the girls and women of the Civil Rights Movement, visit our Top Mighty Girl Books on Civil Rights History.