No catches, no fine print just unconditional book loving for your children with their favourites saved to their own digital bookshelf.
New members get entered into our monthly draw to win £100 to spend in your local bookshop plus lots lots more...Find out more
"Just try new things. Don't be afraid. Step out of your comfort zone and soar" - Michelle Obama
What is feminism, and what does it mean to be a feminist? We have gathered together a range of literature and teaching to provide a wider understanding of this issue. We have selected some of our favourite inspiring and educational books, all with a strong feminist theme, into this new collection. These books are for all readers, regardless of gender, and include fiction and non-fiction for very young readers up to older teens.
"If you’re reading this in the year this paperback is published, it’s 2020. Women have never had more rights, more freedom and more autonomy than they do right now – but we also have a seriously long way to go. Less than 20% of the world’s landowners are women; 75% of HIV-infected youth between the ages of 15 and 24 are girls; 50% of all sexual assaults worldwide are against girls of 15 or younger; 1 in 7 girls in developing countries is married before the age of 15 (excluding China); in 15 Global Economies a husband is allowed to ban his wife from working; at least 200 million girls and women worldwide have undergone FGM. These aren’t just numbers. They are the basis for gender inequality, they are the fire that fuels the fearless activism of millions of women across the globe, they are the reason why feminism will not be ‘done’ until equality is a reality not just for white Western women but for every woman in every corner of the globe. These ‘stats’ are violations of fundamental human rights that take place every second of every day. These ‘stats’ are the core of feminism." From Feminists Don't Wear Pink by Scarlett Curtis
“She Speaks, I must listen”, Yvette Cooper writes in her introduction and this finely-curated anthology that will certainly inspire readers of all ages to pay close attention to the women’s words it shares. The introduction is both inspirational and edifying, with Cooper surveying the hostile landscape women have traversed - and still traverse - while making their voices heard, integrated with personal insights from her career as a Labour MP, Cabinet Minister and Secretary of State. From Boudica to Greta Thunberg and Margaret Thatcher to Malala, Yvette introduces a feast of dynamic and commanding speeches that have made history. She Speaks, an anthololgy introduced and curated by Yvette Cooper.
Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock is passionate about space and has visited over 350,000 school children to help inspire the next generation of scientists. Her message is that science is open to all children, and she particularly encourages girls to believe that science is for them. She should know; her childhood was quite erratic (she attended 13 schools) and she is dyslexic, but her fascination with space helped her persevere. She was born in the late 1960's and suspects she was taking her first steps as the first astronauts were landing on the moon. Now the presenter of The Sky at Night, Maggie has been involved with numerous projects including the James Webb space telescope and the ADM-Aeolus satellite. Her enthusiasm is infectious, and her goal is not only to inspire children but to inspire their parents too - and she has a wonderful mantra - "Desire to Inspire!" Our expert, Andrea Reece reviewed Dr Maggie's Grand Tour of the Solar System and wrote 'features amazing NASA photos alongside full colour illustrations and is packed with up-to-date information presented in blocks of text or via charts and diagrams. It does exactly what books like this should: answering all the questions readers will have, while inspiring them to future journeys of discovery.'
The battle for equality will be won through education and in the workplace, and it is essential to introduce inspiring role models to our young people. We love the Work It, Girl series from Frances Lincoln, a biography series particularly aimed at girls, celebrating modern women who have been successful in their field. Each book includes 10 key lessons, with inspiring quotes and mantras which are perfect for all Gen Z girls wanting to forge their own successful career paths. You can find the series here.
We have also included some resources and events that might help widen and inform your understanding of Feminism, what it is and what it really means to be a feminist.
Women's History Month runs throughout March and is an opportunity to focus upon and celebrate the many contributions women have made to society throughout history. We have added a number of relevant titles below and you can find more books about pioneering, world-changing women in our Women's History Month blog.
And a study of women's rights is incomplete without a look at the Suffragette and Suffragist movement which campaigned for and secured votes for women. We have a special section dedicated to the subject - Suffrage 100.
You also can find plenty of resources at internationalwomensday.com, at thewowfoundation.com and Girl Up - a movement to advance girls’ skills, rights, and opportunities to be leaders. When girls rise, we all rise girlup.org.
This awesome, rawsome, rhyming picture book chomps through gender stereotypes with wit, vitality and a whole lot of dinosaur dynamism – it’s a cautionary tale with swashbuckling twists in its T. Rex tail. And the message? Boys – beware of mansplaining dinosaurs to girls. “Dinos are for boys,” claims Ed, Maisy’s less than enlightened brother as he refuses to share his toys with her. But Maisy knows that’s simply not true. And besides, she doesn’t even need Ed’s toys because she knows T. Rex’s sister, who’s big, bright and every bit as fierce as boy dinosaurs. “My dinosaurs are mean, for sure/And boy, oh boy, can these girls ROAR!” she asserts with convincing glee as Deborah Allwright’s pounce-off-the-page illustrations depict a range of rollicking, roaring, rock ‘n’ rolling dinosaurs in gargantuan glory. As Maisy’s passion gathers apace, so Ed asserts his expertise on the matter, resulting in an uproarious down-to-earth-with-a-bump ending, and an excellent final twist. For more books with girl-power take a look at Work It Girl - Inspiring and Informative Books on Feminism for All Ages
July 2018 Debut of the Month | The Girls is a glorious and uplifting description of female friendship. It stars four girls and simply but beautifully describes in words and pictures their enduring friendship as they grow from little children into adults. In just 32 pages we get to know the girls really well: adventurous Lottie, practical Sasha, clever Leela and Alice, who can always make them laugh. As a result, we follow the ups and downs of their lives with real interest. The book’s message about the comfort, joy and support friends provide is delivered with real charm and this is a story which will reassure all young readers about what they can achieve and which will inspire them for their futures.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2021 | Most people like good, but Sofia likes better. When her Abuelo (Grandad) hurts himself on a mountain of rubbish outside their local landfill site, she determines to take action and turn ‘Mount Trashmore’ into a park. It’s not easy, and she needs all her courage to enter City Hall and put her ideas to the grown-ups in charge. With the help of friends and neighbours, Sofia proves that everyone has the power to change their world. It’s another uplifting and positive story in the thoroughly excellent The Questioneers series, and go-getter Sofia is a wonderful role-model for us all. Credit to David Roberts for his typically stylish and action-packed illustrations too.
Beautifully told and illustrated this luminous allegorical adventure describes how one little girl’s dark and lonely existence is lit up by the arrival of ‘one spark’ in the form of a book – ‘faint and fading in the dark’. The spark’s embers glow and catch light and we see the girl follow them through an extraordinary world, brightened always by books, falling Alice in Wonderland-like from the sky, sprouting flowers and always shining in the dark. Enrolled at school, her heart’s delight, her story takes flight again from the pages of a book to transform another lonely girl’s life. There’s lots to wonder at, but the overall message is clear – the transforming, empowering, joy-bringing importance of books and education. The rhyming text carries readers along and the illustrations seem lit up from within. A book that deserves a wide audience and one that will start both dreams and discussions. For similar books take a look at Girl Power - Inspiring and Informative Books with a Feminist Edge
It’s impossible not to be inspired by this picture book and the great women featured in it: their stories are told across bright spreads, which are enticing to look at, and packed with information all presented in a way that will make readers excited about the remarkable achievements described. It’s a varied line up of subjects, including a scientist, a writer, an athlete, an explorer and fashion designer alongside civil rights campaigner and even secret agent! Each page explains what these pioneering women did, and shows that everyone has the potential to change the world – just follow your heart and don’t listen when people say you can’t do something!
January 2020 Book of the Month | “Your body belongs to you, and you get to set your own rules.” At once inspiring, informative and entertaining, this perfectly-pitched consent primer covers the concept of consent, setting boundaries, having control over your personal space and body, and being self-aware.Ideal for use in the classroom as a fun and enlightening teaching aid, the appealingly bold cartoons present big issues in an admirably relatable manner. Alongside the clear explanation of what consent is and how to set boundaries, this empathy-nurturing book also shares valuable insights into how to be a supportive friend, making it a uniquely useful navigational tool.
Blast off into space like | Part of the inspiring Work It, Girl series, this eye-catching book tells the life story of Mae Jemison, who in 1992 became the first African American woman to go into space. It’s more than just a biography however, because it picks out ten lessons we can all learn from Mae’s life and apply in our own. These include the importance of dreaming big, of asking questions, and of never letting others’ opinions of you determine your future. It’s inspiring stuff, and cleverly laid out to be accessible and properly thought-provoking to all. A final page poses questions so that readers can think about what they’ve learned and how to use the information.
Nothing is higher profile or more topical currently than concern for the planet, making this subject an excellent choice for the next topic to get the highly successful Kate Pankhurst treatment. Continuing her quest to pay tribute to the often-overlooked female pioneers in any field of human endeavour with her mission to provide accessible and engaging non- fiction, Fantastically Great Women Who Saved the Planet does all that and more. Once again, I was struck by the fascinating and diverse choices of the featured women and girls. Some are relatively well-known: such as Anita Roddick who founded the Body Shop and Jane Goodall and her pioneering research and protection work with chimpanzees. But I had never heard of Edith Farkas who discovered the ozone hole in the Antarctic or Mária Telkes and her pioneering work on solar power. Even more inspiring is the evidence that everyone, however humble, can make a difference. Such as Isatou Geesay in the Gambia and her fight against plastic pollution or the Chipko movement in India, village women literally hugging trees to prevent the deforestation of their land and the floods and landslides which would follow. Each double-page spread has accessible paragraphs of text and lively cartoon illustrations and speech bubbles to tell the story concisely and clearly. This visual style is very engaging to young readers and has great shelf appeal. A useful glossary of terms and a page of inspiring calls to action complete the book. Another triumph of information presentation. Highly recommended.
March 2020 Book of the Month | ‘My body is strong. My body can do amazing things. My body is my own.’ That’s the message for young girls to take from this comforting, uplifting and much-needed self-help guide. Our bodies are unique and amazing, it says, all of them, and there’s no one size, shape or colour that’s perfect. The message is demonstrated via colour illustrations featuring a range of young women happy with the way they look and who they are. The accompanying text reinforces this and also provides self-help tips for those times when you’re feeling down or insecure. There’s a really useful ‘Now What?’ section too full of self-care practices, while the jacket doubles as a poster for your wall, a self-care list for everyday life. It’s been carefully thought out from beginning to end, while illustrator Carol Rossetti’s young women feel like a group of friends cheering you on. “When girls are worried about how their bodies look, 8 out of 10 of them will opt out of important life lessons such as engaging with friends and loved ones. This is a feminist issue.” – Jessica Sanders You can find more books with a strong feminist message in our collection; Work It Girl - Inspiring and Informative Books on Feminism for All Ages
March 2017 Non Fiction Book of the Month | Hopefully everyone has heard of Marie Curie, Rosalind Franklin and Ada Lovelace, pioneers in science. But what about Grace Hopper, credited as the mother of computer programming, or Nobel Prize winners Rita Levi-Montalcini or Maria Goeppert-Mayer? Despite all the obstacles put in their way, women scientists have been getting to the head of their fields for thousands of years and this book celebrates 50 of them. There’s a double page on each brilliant woman, full of information about their lives, backgrounds and achievements, and handsomely designed and illustrated too. There are timelines, plus statistics and, a really inspiring touch, quotes from the scientists on nearly every page. A book to excite and energize girls and boys alike.
Women in Sport celebrates the success of the tough, bold and fearless women who paved the way for today's athletes. The sportswomen featured include well-known figures like tennis player Serena Williams and broadcaster Clare Balding, as well as lesser-known pioneers like Gertrude Ederle, the first woman to swim the English Channel, and Keiko Fukuda, the highest-ranked female judoka in history.
Boss the bestseller list like | In this imaginatively illustrated book from the Work It, Girlseries, discover how Harry Potter series creator J. K. Rowling became a bestselling author and publishing sensation in the true story of her life. Then, learn 10 key lessons from her work you can apply to your own life.
Run the show like CEO | In this imaginatively illustrated book from the Work It, Girl series, discover how Oprah became a billionaire CEO and media mogul in this true story of her life. Then, learn 10 key lessons from her work you can apply to your own life.
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. There’s a mass of facts and information of all kinds including scientific evidence that women’s brains are as good as boys but wired differently and that the first woman to swim the channel was faster than any boy who had done it before (14hrs, 31mins). The result is a book which will make girls realise that anything is possible – and that women have already done most of everything already!
This is a reinvention of the most radiant, vital kind; an inspirational re-working of The Twelve Dancing Princesses to devour over and over, and to share aloud. Following the death of his wife, Queen Laurelia, King Alberto “became the sort of person who ate a whole cake without offering anyone else a slice, and who punished his girls for things that weren’t their fault at all.” While Queen Laurelia had “been the one watching them, nurturing their imaginations, their educations”, the King takes away his daughters’ freedoms in the name of keeping them safe. The palace is transformed into a tomb, and “only melancholy was allowed to illuminate the girls’ days”. But brave, clever Frida stands up to her father. “This isn’t fair, and you know it,” she protests. “You cannot tell us how to grieve”. And then, with the grace and strength of a lioness and the potency of her imagination, Frida leads her sisters in a fight to re-find life. The writing pirouettes with the lithe power of a devoted dancer, with Angela Barrett’s elegant illustrations in perfect accord. What a sumptuous, stirring celebration of sisterhood this is. For more books with a feminist feel check out Work it Girl - Inspiring and Informative Books on Feminism.
The amazing story of Malala’s courage and her fight for the education of girls is well known. Here, in her own voice, she tells of her journey from her early days as a clever school girl to her exceptional life as an international speaker on the rights of girls to get an education. Growing up in a village in the Swat valley in Pakistan Malala and her friends faced persecution from Islamic fundamentalists who believed women should not be educated. In 2012, Malala and her two school friends were targeted and shot when travelling home from school one day. Fortunately, Malala and her friends survived. From that day on, Malala campaigned for the rights of all girls to get an education. Hearing her tell her story is inspirational.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2021 | Winner of the Blue Peter Book Awards 2020, Best Book with Facts | Young people looking for inspiration will find it in the true stories told in this book. In punchy, direct text and eye-catching illustrations it introduces 29 young people who have each done something extraordinary and overcome the challenges facing them. Some of them are famous already, their names known across the world: Malala Yousafzai, Greta Thunberg. Other names are less well known but their stories are just as inspirational: Ayesha Farooq, Pakistan’s first female fighter pilot; young Malawian inventor William Kamkwamba. Alongside their stories are tips for readers on how to get your voice heard or, accompanying stories of amazing physical feats, how to push yourself beyond what you think is possible. It’s a book to show just how much can be achieved with courage and determination.
A brilliant introduction for children to the movement, looking at the history of feminism, what it is today and its enormous relevance to young people and a vital tool for children in the process of figuring out the world and how it works. For more books on this theme take a look at Work It Girl - Inspiring and Informative Books on Feminism for All Ages
What might it be like to live surrounded by clocks? Lots of clocks, so that when they all strike you need to cover your ears whilst all their bongs and trills happen. Set in Edwardian Cambridge this is the story of Helena, her Parrot, Orbit, and her father who is employed to keep all the clocks in the house going, the clocks must not stop, or else Helena and her father will lose everything they own. As Helena settles into this new home, she realises that the owner, Mr Westcott, is obsessed by the clocks, there are strange happenings in the house, and glimpses of a strange history to the place. Will Helena and her father get to the bottom of the problems here, or will they lose all their possessions because a clock is allowed to stop? On the surface this is a delightfully odd and slightly sinister story with much to be uncovered as the story develops. It is also an exploration of grief and the strange thoughts that can obsess people after a close bereavement. But the overwhelming message is that friendship, love, empathy and memory are vital to everyone, no matter how strange they may seem. The friendship and caring exhibited between child characters in the story wins out over what seem like insurmountable odds – for a very satisfactory conclusion.
The third in a sequence of stand-alone historical novels, set at key points in the history of the divided island that is currently front and centre in Brexit negotiations, this could not be more topical and very possibly prescient in describing the situation in 1921 and the partition of Northern Ireland and the hard border which quite literally fractures communities. The author talks in the end pages of the book about growing up in this border area with the army and customs check points and how much the community enjoys today’s freedom of movement and is terrified of losing that. But this beautifully written novel is not an ‘issue’ novel, it is full of brilliantly realised characters and a pitch perfect evocation of the period. The story of the bold 14-year-old heroine, Polly and her struggles to find her way forward in life cleverly mirrors the struggles of the newly emerging country. She ran away to Belfast to escape of life of drudgery looking after the men in her family after her mother’s death from influenza. She finds refuge in Helen’s Hope, a feminist hostel where young women live and work together, a haven of tolerance and diversity in an area wracked with division and hatred. The non-partisan mission of this hostel sums up the greatest strength of this fascinating and moving novel in that it absolutely does not demonise either side, while being completely up front about the terrible things that are happening. There are bad, mean and cruel characters but this is not because of the ideologies they follow, but because some people are like that, and we even get insights into why that might be. The second book in this sequence, Star by Star, went on to become the best selling book ever from this small imprint and won Children’s Books Ireland’s Honour Award for Fiction 2018. I can see similar accolades for this ‘sister’ novel and can highly recommend all three (the first being Name Upon Name) as invaluable purchases to support the history curriculum, but absolutely as engaging reads for pleasure too.
Shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2019 | One of our 2018 Books of the Year | Of all the books about the campaign for women’s suffrage in this the centenary year of some women being given the vote, David Roberts’s is the most beautiful to look at. In full page illustrations, vignettes and individual portraits, he brings the movement alive, portraying vividly the women and men involved, as well as the drama, frustration and endurance, violence and cruelty that were all part of the struggle. And though he’s best known for his illustrations, the text is as every bit as powerful as the pictures, meticulously and graphically detailing the words and the deeds that finally brought about change, and the roles of the many different people who played a part. The story he tells is one of the most inspiring of our times, still relevant today, and this book is a brilliant way to discover it.
Born under a blood moon, twin sister travellers, Kizzy - a brave, voluptuous bear dancer - and Lil - slight in frame and blessed with a beautiful voice – are captured after their camp is ransacked on the eve of their divining, the coming-of-age rite that would have seen them learn their fates. With many kinsfolk slain, the twins are enslaved by Boyar Valcar and set to work in the castle kitchens, where rumours about the notorious Dragon loom large over all the female slaves. Separated when Kizzy is snatched away, Lil escapes to search for her sister with Mira, a fellow slave. As they race against time to save Kizzy, encountering the terrifying strigoi (undead) along the way, powerful desires are awakened, which adds extra conflict as the story winds to its transfixing climax. Driven by the sisters’ passion and revenge, loyalty and love, and powerful on the persecution of travellers, this is a dazzling female-focused reimagining of vampire legends, with the writing infused with a lyrical earthiness throughout.
The Power of Women's Voices | International in scope and sweeping in history, Yvette Cooper’s She Speaks compendium gives voice to a dazzlingly diversity of powerful speeches selected on the basis of them being delivered by “women who believe in using words to build a better world, and persuading others to join them as they do so.” The introduction is both inspirational and edifying, with Cooper surveying the hostile landscape women have traversed - and still traverse - while making their voices heard, integrated with personal insights from her career as a Labour MP, Cabinet Minister and Secretary of State.Throughout it’s a joy to the savour the words and wisdom of dozens of seminal female figures, from Boudica’s stirring two thousand year-old polemic against violations of women, to Diane Abbott’s powerful 2019 House of Commons speech on the brutally unjust Windrush scandal. Other British women with political pedigree include the fabulously fierce Barbara Castle (her speech here is an exquisite example of sharp, scathing, socialist-minded oratory), Jo Cox, with her poignant maiden speech as an MP, Yvette Cooper herself, and former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. While it might seem out of place for Cooper to re-amplify the Iron Lady’s inflammatory “ideological assault on the public sector” by including her “the lady’s not for turning” speech, she frames the decision by referring to Thatcher’s mould-breaking persona and indestructible self-belief. Thatcher’s inclusion is also testament to the gracious spirit that runs through the anthology. Indeed, Theresa May’s speech on modernising the Conservative party is also included.Beyond Britain we hear from Audre Lorde, Benazir Bhutto and Michelle Obama; from razor-witted US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Nigerian novelist and feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and young education campaigner Malala Yousafzai. I was especially stirred by the 1851 speech of Sojourner Truth, a former slave turned activist whose work saw her campaign against slavery and champion women’s rights, and whose words sang for the oppressed. The last words are given to Greta Thunberg because “no one speaks about the future with more clarity or urgency than Greta Thunberg”.“She Speaks, I must listen”, Cooper writes in her introduction and this finely-curated anthology will certainly inspire readers of all ages to pay close attention to the women’s words it shares.
I feel like, in an equal world, there would be more penis admin ... Kat Evans doesn't know much about feminism, but she does know this. Utterly hilarious and boldly honest, Kat tells it how it is - and it is INCREDIBLY embarrassing. 15-year-old Kat wants to do GOOD FEMINISM, although she's not always sure what that means. She also wants to be a writer, get together with Hot Josh (is this a feminist ambition?), win at her coursework and not make a TOTAL EMBARRASSMENT of herself at all times. But the path to true feminism is filled with mortifying incidents, muddling moments and Instagram hell. And it doesn't help that Hot Josh is just, well, properly, distractingly hot. And when everything at school starts to get a bit too much, Kat knows she's lost her way, and the only way forward is to ask for help ... Bold, authentic and laugh-out-loud funny, Kat's diary fearlessly navigates mooncups, mental health and #TimesUp - perfect for fans of Geek Girl, Juno Dawson and Sex Education.
(and other lies) Amazing women on what the F-word means to them | Published in partnership with Girl Up, the UN women’s foundation, Feminists Don't Wear Pink (and other lies) is an exhilaratingly empowering anthology of essays by 52 women written in response to the question: what does the F word mean to you? The contributors’ answers are as varied and individual as womankind itself, with the book innovatively divided into sections covering Epiphany, Anger, Joy, Poetry Break, Action and Education, followed by helpful Further Reading recommendations and rousing Last Words essays. Often amusing, and always honest, edifying and powerfully personal, contributors from the world of screen and stage include Keira Knightly, Emma Watson, Lolly Adefope, Kat Dennings and Amy Trigg, while activist authors include anti-FGM campaigner Nimco Ali, Amika George, creator of the #FreePeriods campaign, and Alice Wroe, founder of Herstory. Readers beginning their feminist journey will find Claire Horn’s ‘A Short History of Feminist Theory’ especially useful, summarising as it does the movement’s origins, multi-stranded history and contemporary incarnations. Diverse, empowering, and united by a spirit of sisterly solidarity, these essays are a motivational, supportive rallying call to young women.
Shot-through with a vital message about the importance of giving voice and rightful representation to women who’ve been silenced by centuries of patriarchy, this smart novel melds an intriguing art history mystery with Parisian amour. While Khayyam is clear about what she wants to do with her life - become a respected art historian - her identity is more complex. She’s “French American. Indian American. Muslim American. Biracial. Interfaith.” As such, “Others look at me and try to shove me into their own narrative to define who and what I am. But I’m not a blank page that everyone else gets to write on. I have my own voice.” This statement weaves through the whole novel, which sees Khayyam in Paris for the summer, still reeling from a relationship gone awry back home in Chicago, and from her Young Scholar Prize essay being dismissed as “the work of a dilettante, not a future art historian”. When she happens to run into a cute Parisian boy, who happens to be a descendent of bi-racial French writer Alexandre Dumas, Khayyam and said cute boy (also called Alexandre) embark on an intellectual voyage that leads them to Leila, a nineteenth-century Muslim woman connected to Dumas and Byron. Leila’s forgotten life and silenced voice is revealed through her letters, with Khayyam frequently asserting her desire to right the wrong of “the entire world dehumanizing and erasing this woman who had a life, who mattered.” Through Khayyam the novel also addresses issues around representation and cultural appropriation as she wrestles with determining who has the right to tell Leila’s story, including herself. As Khayyam’s findings hot up, so too does her love life. First there’s the spark between her and Alexandre, then there’s the simmering presence of her Chicagoan ex. With Paris vibrantly evoked as her stage - its history, architecture, secret gardens and food - Leila’s personal life and intellectual prowess combine to create a life-changing summer. This comes hugely commended - and recommended - for its portrayal of an intelligent young woman who refuses to bow to expectations, and who’s determined to give voice to the voiceless. Like Khayyam, it’s smart, thoughtful and inspirational. For more books with a strong, feminist theme, visit our Girl Power feature.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2021 | March 2020 Debut of the Month | This debut novel was inspired by the author’s work creating Run the World, an organisation that empowers women and girls from marginalised backgrounds through sport and storytelling and the authenticity of this, at times harrowing story, is palpably evident. As is the skill of the accomplished writing which makes great use of typography and layout to really make every word count. This speeds the reader through the narrative, but it also cuts deep to reveal the emotions experienced by our narrator. Amber Rai is only ‘truly alive’ when running and shows great potential. But her alcoholic, abusive, misogynistic father refuses to allow her on the track. She has seen her older sister Ruby denied university and married off against her will and her downtrodden, abused mother is literally powerless to help, trapped as much by illiteracy and lack of English as the violence of her equally illiterate, unemployed husband. Amber has friends and teachers who believe in her, but she cannot explain what really goes on at home. She is a complex and believable character with very real flaws that she painfully recognises: ‘inflicting pain on others/halves your own hurt’. But the story is cleverly structured on The Anatomy of a Revolution and inspired by her reading about revolutions for history, Amber, Ruby and her mother gradually empower each other to take small steps to freedom. This is an important, rewarding, highly empathetic read which, despite the dark subject matter, offers hope but no simplistic solutions.
Interest Age Teen Reading Age 8 | Elizabeth Wein’s thrilling new World War II story stars a young Polish pilot – a female one. Kristina Tomiak and her twin brother are members of the White Eagles, Poland’s air force, and at the forefront of their country’s resistance when the Nazis invade. Things quickly turn bad and Kristina is forced to flee in her RWD-8 plane, together with an unexpected passenger. As she makes her escape, her destination changes until finally she is heading towards England. The story is full of excitement and gives readers a broad yet detailed understanding of those early days of the war, and of flying a plane too. Published by Barrington Stoke this is written to be accessible to all readers including those with dyslexia but I recommend it to any reader fascinated by history and the brave individuals who make it.
Love Yourself and Grow Up Fearless | The Body Image Book for Girls, published by Cambridge University Press, is certainly worth a place in any school library. Authored by a Professor in Psychology, whose research specialises in body image issues, the reader can have every confidence that the contents are backed up by authoritative evidence, but this is no dry academic tome. As she states in her introduction, Dr Markey is a mother of teenagers, a boy and a girl, and she really cares about girls having the information they need to make the right decisions and to develop healthy habits. When young girls are bombarded with images of airbrushed celebrities and social media pressures it is no wonder that most girls are dissatisfied with some aspect of their bodies and this can lead to anxiety, depression and worse. With an estimated 1.25 million people in the UK having an eating disorder there can be no doubt that there is a real need for a book like this to counter the misinformation out there. The ten chapters cover very clearly and concisely an enormous amount of information ranging from puberty and body changes to self-care, mental health, basic nutritional science, healthy eating habits and making food fun, physical activity and loving our bodies for what they do (not how they look)and how to handle social media and challenging fat shaming language. Each chapter has My Story sections with real life experiences, myth busting boxes, Q&A and a valuable concluding summary of the key points. Combined with an excellent glossary and helpful illustrations the reader can quickly find the information that they need at any given time. But the unpatronizing and non-didactive tone also makes this an enjoyable and engaging read likely to be read from cover to cover. Highly recommended for age nine upwards to the many adults who would benefit from its wisdom too! For more books with a strong, feminist theme, visit our Girl Power feature.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | March 2019 YA Debut of the Month | Written by the founder of Everyday Sexism, and based on real-life experiences, double-standard “slut shaming” and sexual degradation are here exposed with vital urgency, and interwoven with the gripping story of a medieval woman whose abuse at the hands of a misogynistic society has present-day parallels. Fifteen-year-old Anna and her mum have moved hundreds of miles so she can escape the sexist bullying she was subjected to at her last school. But as Anna tries to make a fresh start, her past rears its head and continues to haunt her. While suffering torrents of abuse from her peers, Anna immerses herself in a history project that draws her into the tragic life of Maggie, an unmarried young woman from the 17th century. In juxtaposing Maggie and Anna’s experiences, the author lays bare an unbroken thread of misogyny from the Middle Ages to today’s culture of “revenge porn” and sexual shaming. Centuries on from scold’s bridles and burnings at the stake, women are still blamed and punished for the brutal behaviour of men. But Anna finds strength in her friendships with Alisha, Cat and Robin, and her connection with Maggie makes this a potent page-turner that will speak to a generation. As the author states in her afterword, “You are not alone, you are not to blame, and you deserve to feel better”. Or, in Anna’s words, “We are the granddaughters of the witches you burned. And we’re not putting up with it any more.”
Ada Lovelace: Rebel. Genius. Visionary | At once a passionate portrait of a scientifically seminal young woman, and a fascinating account of the lives of well-to-women in the early 19th-century, I Ada lays bare the many faces of Ada Lovelace. Ada the inquisitive. Ada the adventuress. Ada the visionary genius who defied convention to become the world’s first computer programmer, the seeds of which are sown in this portrayal of her early life. Driven by drama and a spirit of affection, this is as lively as it is informative. Fathered by flamboyant, notorious Lord Byron, it’s perhaps no wonder how easily Ada slips “into the unbordered realms of the imagination” as a child living on her grandparents’ country estate. Ada thinks of him often, and wonders why her mother speaks little of him. But then, Ada’s relationship with her strict, distant mother is often strained. Ada’s flighty tendencies jar with Lady Byron’s more rigid intellectual outlook. But they’re both inspired by their Grand Tour of Europe - Lady Byron seizes an opportunity to research ideas for her progressive school, while Ada’s mind is opened to a world of possibilities. Back in England, Ada’s desires are constrained by societal conventions, though female thinkers and mathematicians are among her circle, and then she meets a revolutionary inventor whose work chimes with her own innovative scientific ideas…
August 2020 Debut of the Month | In this rip-roaringly feminist re-imagining of Cinderella, our justice-seeking heroine, Sophia, seeks a princess rather than a prince, and bodice-ripping is done in the name of shedding the shackles of patriarchy. Giddily entertaining, and spiced with dagger-sharp dialogue and romantic attraction, one message beams bright through Sophia’s story - “do not be silent. Raise your voice. Be a light in the dark.” Though 200 years have passed since Cinderella’s time, a twisted version of her legacy lives on in Lille, where the present-day Prince Charming, King Manford, has decreed that girls must recite the fairy tale daily and, at the age of sixteen, they will be sent to the palace to be chosen by a man at a grand ball. Attending the ball is law, and, in the words of Erin, Sophia’s best friend and lover, “It is our only hope for making some kind of life”, for those not chosen are doomed to an even worse existence than being married off. As Sophia’s father admits, “I’d rather see you unhappy than imprisoned or killed.” Such is the impossible situation. So, Sophia goes to the ball, still hoping to escape with Erin, still burning with anger that the “founding tenet of our laws is that women, no matter their standing, are at the mercy of the fickle whims of men.” At the grandiose selection event, girls are put on show for the male suitors, some of them old enough to be Sophia’s grandfather, “but that doesn’t stop them from shamelessly ogling the young girls.” As shocking events unfold here, she flees and finds a sisterly comrade in flame-haired Constance, who also sets her heart alight. As the feminist fugitives go on the run, Constance reveals truths about Cinderella’s real story - a story that was suppressed and twisted into patriarchal propaganda by men in power. And so they embark on a quest to find the White Wood, the last known location of the original fairy godmother, who might just hold the key to further truths that will help Sophia rouse revolution. What an inventive, entertaining and flamboyantly feminist treat this is.
Shortlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2019 | Shot through with passion, tension and tragedy, this stunningly illustrated biographical verse novel explores Mary Shelley’s extraordinary life, from her birth to pioneering mother of modern feminism, Mary Wollstonecraft, to her writing of Frankenstein and beyond. It’s the story of the original female teen rebel, of an exceptional young woman who forged her own path and refused to be silenced even when family and friends cast her aside. The framing of Mary’s rebellious life within her mother’s is perfectly expressed: “Mary Wollstonecraft was mother to a rebellion/before she was mother to me.” Though they only had eleven days together, young Mary connects with Wollstonecraft through her books: “Her thoughts and ideas reach across the space of time/and come alive and lodge inside my chest.” In her early teenage years she meets the married poet Shelley and in an instant “the entire landscape of my existence changes”. After vowing in her mother’s revolutionary spirit that “Shelley and I will fight our own/and set the word on its edge”, she and Shelley flee to Paris, then Switzerland, their passion ablaze. Soon after, impoverished and pregnant, she returns to England a shamed figure and then comes tragedy. At seventeen she is “daughter to a ghost and mother to bones”. Of course, she rises and returns to Switzerland where she creates the most memorable of literary monsters among the artistic madness of Shelley and Byron. Suffused in the indomitable spirit of its subject, this beautiful book is a triumph of biographical storytelling.
Brave, Bold and Beautiful Poems by Women | Encompassing works from ancient sages, classic poets, well-known thinkers and emerging contemporary innovators from all walks of life, this involving, inclusive collection inspires, entertains, enthrals and emboldens. Alongside enjoying the work of widely-esteemed names (including Sappho, George Eliot, Sylvia Plath, Carol Ann Duffy, Jackie Kay, Christina Rosetti, Maya Angelou, Emily Dickinson and Margaret Atwood), it was a pleasure to discover contemporary poets whose work I shall seek out, among them Ruth Awola and Remi Graves, and lesser-known names from the past, for example Edith Södergran and Astrid Hjertenaes Andersen. If the diversity of voices is rich, so too are the themes, with growing up, friendship, love, nature, body image and protest covered in staggering depth and diversity. This varied chorus of bold, incisive voices makes for a collection to be savoured and shared.
As Tough Women’s subtitle declares, these are “stories of grit, courage and determination”. True tales from twenty-two tough women who undertake awe-inspiring adventures across the globe, from canoeing the Canadian wilderness, to hiking Pakistan, to cycling South America. Its editor is the intrepid Jenny Tough, a Canadian mountaineering expert who notes in her introduction that “the outdoor industry is actually fully of women, but when it comes to the highest level of media…the demographic dwindles to one”. Fortunately, this sexist state of affairs could be on the verge of changing - through giving voice to the “badass outdoorswomen” who here tell their extraordinary stories, this book might just change that narrow narrative and inspire new generations of female adventuresses. Each account enthrals like the best kind of travel writing. There are dazzling evocations of, for example, rugged Himalayan mountain-scapes, lush South American jungles, and howling Norwegian glacial valleys. Many of the women’s stories reveal monumental physical and emotional challenges - challenges tackled and overcome with super-human strength and resilience - and all of them underpinned by a joyously life-affirming spirit of curiosity. For more books with a strong, feminist theme, visit our Girl Power feature.
Check out the latest activities in our KidsZone.