Books with Strong Female Characters

If you think "girl books" are just about princesses, romance, gossipy schoolgirls, and vampires, think again. There are plenty of great books featuring strong female main characters in compelling stories that are sure to appeal to boys as well as girls. We've selected a pile of books with universal appeal for kids of different ages and tastes, from best-selling picture books to young adult novels in just about every genre: adventure, fantasy, sci-fi, historical fiction, and family and school dramas. Check 'em out! And for more strong women, check out these movies with strong female characters.

Browse Books with Strong Female Characters

Strong, spunky girl takes lead in quirky rescue tale.
By Philip C. Stead
(2017)
(2017)
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Spunky tale of active princess dressed to get the job done.
By Savannah Guthrie, Allison Oppenheim
(2017)
(2017)
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Spirited Eloise delights her young readers.
By Kay Thompson
(2003)
(1955)
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A spunky girl explores the wonders of her everyday world.
By Angela Johnson
(2011)
(2011)
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Nobel winner tells what inspired activism in relatable tale.
By Malala Yousafzai
(2017)
(2017)
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The Princess in Black Book Poster Image
Fun tale of monster-fighting princess who leads double life.
By Shannon Hale, Dean Hale
(2014)
(2014)
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Funny, relatable tale of 6-year-old with wild imagination.
By Abby Hanlon
(2014)
(2014)
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Cheery, messy fun in freewheeling female engineer series.
By Stacy McAnulty
(2017)
(2017)
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Kid genius gets revenge on stupid, mean adults.
By Roald Dahl
(2005)
(2005)
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Chapter book mystery promises more fun for Fancy Nancy fans.
By Jane O'Connor
(2012)
(2012)
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Laughs, science in new Callie series for younger readers.
By Jacqueline Kelly
(2016)
(2016)
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Zita the Spacegirl Book Poster Image
Brave girl seeks missing friend in exciting graphic novel.
By Ben Hatke
(2011)
(2011)
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Strange, surreal tale sure to creep kids out.
By Neil Gaiman
(2004)
(2004)
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Action-packed female detective story champions smarts.
By Kate Hannigan
(2015)
(2015)
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Gripping, moving tale of Syrian teen fleeing war-torn city.
By N. H. Senzai
(2018)
(2018)
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Girl conquers middle school worries in fun graphic novel.
By Booki Vivat
(2016)
(2016)
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Goal-focused Latina scores big hit in series opener.
By Iva-Marie Palmer
(2017)
(2017)
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Fun American Girl Doll story about finding your voice.
By Teresa E. Harris
(2017)
(2017)
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Captivating fantasy has strong heroine with magical powers.
By Diana Wynne Jones
(2014)
(2014)
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Riveting and moving account of girl's struggle for survival.
By Caroline Starr Rose
(2012)
(2012)
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Great novel about a girl, her chickens, and her best friend.
By Ellen Airgood
(2012)
(2012)
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Ronia, the Robber's Daughter Book Poster Image
Enchanting fantasy boasts spirited heroine, loving family.
By Astrid Lindgren
(2016)
(1985)
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Layered, fun romp focuses on friendship and trust.
By Crystal Allen
(2016)
(2015)
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Warm, funny tale of family, tacos, and middle school.
By Jennifer Torres
(2017)
(2017)
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Fun, exciting tale of Thai girl who rescues an elephant.
By R.P. Harris
(2012)
(2012)
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Fun graphic novel about Ren Faire girl has great messages.
By Victoria Jamieson
(2017)
(2017)
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Brilliant tale of girl's enchanted-woods search for friend.
By Anne Ursu
(2011)
(2011)
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Utterly charming tale of Berkeley girl in search of father.
By Kathryn Fitzmaurice
(2013)
(2013)
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Spunky 5th-grader learns life lessons in warmhearted tale.
By Kate Beasley
(2016)
(2016)
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Great young sleuth helps kids be true to themselves.
By Louise Fitzhugh
(2003)
(1964)
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Lengthy but rich fantasy great for book-loving tweens.
By Cornelia Funke
(2005)
(2004)
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Super-imaginative adventures of girl whisked to elf world.
By Shannon Messenger
(2012)
(2012)
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Strong heroine faces monsters and mayhem in fun fantasy.
By Paul Durham
(2014)
(2014)
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Unforgettable 12-year-old girl battles the Great Depression.
By Christopher Paul Curtis
(2012)
(2012)
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First-rate, spellbinding story of misfit girl who's magic.
By Jessica Townsend
(2017)
(2017)
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Newbery honoree about life with an autistic sib.
By Cynthia Lord
(2007)
(2006)
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Beautiful classic filled with magic and realism.
By Frances Hodgson Burnett
(2004)
(1911)
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Girl becomes spy in absorbing American Revolution tale.
By Avi
(2012)
(2012)
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Fantastic, creepy tale for tweens features fierce big sis.
By Lauren Oliver
(2012)
(2012)
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Compelling, nuanced tale of loving family under segregation.
By Sharon M. Draper
(2014)
(2015)
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The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle Book Poster Image
Brilliant high-seas adventure is a classic.
By Avi
(2009)
(1990)
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Fun, tech-savvy start to orphaned spy kids series.
By Peter Jay Black
(2014)
(2014)
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Exciting story of murder-solving heroine with superpowers.
By Kathy Reichs
(2011)
(2010)
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Exciting enchanted forest adventure to save baby brother.
By Colin Meloy
(2011)
(2011)
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Newbery Honor book about a smart Southern tomboy in 1899.
By Jacqueline Kelly
(2010)
(2009)
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Fairyland author channels Brontë kids in wild fantasy tale.
By Catherynne M. Valente
(2017)
(2017)
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Nail-biting, violent fantasy has elements of mystery.
By Philip Pullman
(2005)
(1998)
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Teen girl homesteads alone in Newbery Honor book.
By Kirby Larson
(2011)
(2006)
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Smart girl learns to survive alone in compelling adventure.
By Scott O'Dell
(2003)
(1960)
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Wacky, action-packed camp adventures promote girl power.
By Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters
(2016)
(2015)
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Big-hearted graphic novel explores Indian culture.
By Nidhi Chanani
(2017)
(2017)
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Tough tween girl fights to save family in bleak future.
By Michael Perry
(2014)
(2014)
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Depression-era story teaches history, meaning of family.
By Jennifer Holm
(2011)
(2010)
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Brave heroine faces danger with help of magic and friends.
By Barbara Mariconda
(2012)
(2012)
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Girl shakes up Danish island in heartfelt outsider tale.
By Katrina Nannestad
(2016)
(2016)
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Cold War kids use magic to save world in brilliant novel.
By Maile Meloy
(2011)
(2011)
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Harsh but hopeful story about brave girl defying Taliban.
By Deborah Ellis
(2017)
(2017)
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Funny, poignant, cheer-worthy tale of spirited Saudi girl.
By Haifaa al Mansour
(2015)
(2015)
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Classic novel of four brave children looking for a home.
By Cynthia Voigt
(2003)
(1981)
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Moving verse tale of girl's experience in Darfur genocide.
By Andrea Davis Pinkney
(2014)
(2014)
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Intricate historical novel contrasts Dust Bowl, fairy world.
By Sarah Zettel
(2012)
(2012)
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Gripping fantasy with strong characters, humor, adventure.
By F.C. Yee
(2017)
(2017)
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Absorbing tale of feisty, sweet teen will hook girls.
By Laura Amy Schlitz
(2015)
(2015)
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Exciting, provocative tale of lethal reality show.
By Suzanne Collins
(2008)
(2008)
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Stylish dystopian thriller in a not-so-future Los Angeles.
By Marie Lu
(2012)
(2011)
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Chinese-American girl fights bias in compelling 1906 tale.
By Stacey Lee
(2016)
(2016)
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Dynamite heroine in romantic dystopian-future swashbuckler.
By Sharon Cameron
(2015)
(2015)
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Richly conceived dragon fantasy with stellar young heroine.
By Rachel Hartman
(2012)
(2012)
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Manga, art, and life lessons in top-notch mystery adventure.
By Diana Renn
(2012)
(2012)
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Female gladiator brings it in violent, exciting tale.
By Lesley Livingston
(2017)
(2017)
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Modern, diverse characters + super action = huge win.
By Leigh Bardugo
(2017)
(2017)
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Powerful testament to humanity in Nazi Germany.
By Markus Zusak
(2006)
(2006)
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Fun story of math whiz girl who fights crime, finds romance.
By Annabel Monaghan
(2012)
(2012)
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Comics reporter updated as teen in fun, slick mystery.
By Gwenda Bond
(2015)
(2015)
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Riveting Mulan-themed adventure set in feudal Japan.
By Renee Ahdieh
(2017)
(2017)
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Extraordinary tale of Dutch teens resisting the Nazis.
By Monica Hesse
(2016)
(2016)
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Strength of character triumphs in Bronte's masterpiece.
By Charlotte Bronte
(2011)
(1900)
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Unforgettable story of a teen heroine of the Holocaust.
By Antonio Iturbe
(2017)
(2017)
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Strong female hero drives exciting sci-fi horror thriller.
By Scott Westerfeld
(2017)
(2017)
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Winning teen girl drives cyberpunk virtual reality thriller.
By Marie Lu
(2017)
(2017)
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