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

The Only Fish in the Sea Book Poster Image
Strong, spunky girl takes lead in quirky rescue tale.
By Philip C. Stead
(2017)
(2017)
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Princesses Wear Pants Book Poster Image
Spunky tale of active princess dressed to get the job done.
By Savannah Guthrie, Allison Oppenheim
(2017)
(2017)
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Eloise Book Poster Image
Spirited Eloise delights her young readers.
By Kay Thompson
(2003)
(1955)
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Lottie Paris Lives Here Book Poster Image
A spunky girl explores the wonders of her everyday world.
By Angela Johnson
(2011)
(2011)
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Malala's Magic Pencil Book Poster Image
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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Dory Fantasmagory Book Poster Image
Funny, relatable tale of 6-year-old with wild imagination.
By Abby Hanlon
(2014)
(2014)
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Goldie Blox Rules the School!: GoldieBlox, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Cheery, messy fun in freewheeling female engineer series.
By Stacy McAnulty
(2017)
(2017)
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Matilda Book Poster Image
Kid genius gets revenge on stupid, mean adults.
By Roald Dahl
(2005)
(2005)
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Nancy Clancy, Super Sleuth Book Poster Image
Chapter book mystery promises more fun for Fancy Nancy fans.
By Jane O'Connor
(2012)
(2012)
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Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters: The Questioneers, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Girl invents a painting machine in fun story of engineering.
By Andrea Beaty
(2018)
(2018)
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Skunked!: Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet, Book 1 Book Poster Image
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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The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle Book Poster Image
Girl bikes across the U.S. in quirky road-trip adventure.
By Christina Uss
(2018)
(2018)
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Coraline Book Poster Image
Strange, surreal tale sure to creep kids out.
By Neil Gaiman
(2004)
(2004)
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The Detective's Assistant Book Poster Image
Action-packed female detective story champions smarts.
By Kate Hannigan
(2015)
(2015)
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Escape from Aleppo Book Poster Image
Gripping, moving tale of Syrian teen fleeing war-torn city.
By N. H. Senzai
(2018)
(2018)
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Frazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom Book Poster Image
Girl conquers middle school worries in fun graphic novel.
By Booki Vivat
(2016)
(2016)
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Gabby Garcia's Ultimate Playbook: Gabby Garcia, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Goal-focused Latina scores big hit in series opener.
By Iva-Marie Palmer
(2017)
(2017)
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Gabriela: American Girl: Girl of the Year, 2017, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Fun American Girl Doll story about finding your voice.
By Teresa E. Harris
(2017)
(2017)
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Guardians of the Taiga: Wild Rescuers, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Minecraft wolf-girl heroine shines in exciting book debut.
By StacyPlays
(2018)
(2018)
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The Islands of Chaldea Book Poster Image
Captivating fantasy has strong heroine with magical powers.
By Diana Wynne Jones
(2014)
(2014)
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Max Einstein: The Genius Experiment Book Poster Image
Orphan uses science to save world in fast-paced adventure.
By James Patterson, Chris Grabenstein
(2018)
(2018)
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May B. Book Poster Image
Riveting and moving account of girl's struggle for survival.
By Caroline Starr Rose
(2012)
(2012)
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Prairie Evers Book Poster Image
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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Spirit Week Showdown: Magnificent Mya Tibbs, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Layered, fun romp focuses on friendship and trust.
By Crystal Allen
(2016)
(2015)
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Stef Soto, Taco Queen Book Poster Image
Warm, funny tale of family, tacos, and middle school.
By Jennifer Torres
(2017)
(2017)
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Tua and the Elephant Book Poster Image
Fun, exciting tale of Thai girl who rescues an elephant.
By R.P. Harris
(2012)
(2012)
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All's Faire in Middle School Book Poster Image
Fun graphic novel about Ren Faire girl has great messages.
By Victoria Jamieson
(2017)
(2017)
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Breadcrumbs Book Poster Image
Brilliant tale of girl's enchanted-woods search for friend.
By Anne Ursu
(2011)
(2011)
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Destiny, Rewritten Book Poster Image
Utterly charming tale of Berkeley girl in search of father.
By Kathryn Fitzmaurice
(2013)
(2013)
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Gertie's Leap to Greatness Book Poster Image
Spunky 5th-grader learns life lessons in warmhearted tale.
By Kate Beasley
(2016)
(2016)
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Harriet the Spy Book Poster Image
Great young sleuth helps kids be true to themselves.
By Louise Fitzhugh
(2003)
(1964)
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Inkheart Book Poster Image
Lengthy but rich fantasy great for book-loving tweens.
By Cornelia Funke
(2005)
(2004)
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Keeper of the Lost Cities, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Super-imaginative adventures of girl whisked to elf world.
By Shannon Messenger
(2012)
(2012)
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The Luck Uglies Book Poster Image
Strong heroine faces monsters and mayhem in fun fantasy.
By Paul Durham
(2014)
(2014)
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The Mad Wolf's Daughter Book Poster Image
Mighty tween heroine rocks fun, thrilling medieval tale.
By Diane Magras
(2018)
(2018)
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The Mighty Miss Malone Book Poster Image
Unforgettable 12-year-old girl battles the Great Depression.
By Christopher Paul Curtis
(2012)
(2012)
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Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow Book Poster Image
First-rate, spellbinding story of misfit girl who's magic.
By Jessica Townsend
(2017)
(2017)
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Rules Book Poster Image
Newbery honoree about life with an autistic sib.
By Cynthia Lord
(2007)
(2006)
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The Secret Garden Book Poster Image
Beautiful classic filled with magic and realism.
By Frances Hodgson Burnett
(2004)
(1911)
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Sophia's War: A Tale of the Revolution Book Poster Image
Girl becomes spy in absorbing American Revolution tale.
By Avi
(2012)
(2012)
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The Spindlers Book Poster Image
Fantastic, creepy tale for tweens features fierce big sis.
By Lauren Oliver
(2012)
(2012)
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Stella by Starlight Book Poster Image
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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Urban Outlaws Book Poster Image
Fun, tech-savvy start to orphaned spy kids series.
By Peter Jay Black
(2014)
(2014)
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Virals: Book 1 Book Poster Image
Exciting story of murder-solving heroine with superpowers.
By Kathy Reichs
(2011)
(2010)
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Wildwood: The Wildwood Chronicles, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Exciting enchanted forest adventure to save baby brother.
By Colin Meloy
(2011)
(2011)
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The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate Book Poster Image
Newbery Honor book about a smart Southern tomboy in 1899.
By Jacqueline Kelly
(2010)
(2009)
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The Glass Town Game Book Poster Image
Fairyland author channels Brontë kids in wild fantasy tale.
By Catherynne M. Valente
(2017)
(2017)
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The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Nail-biting, violent fantasy has elements of mystery.
By Philip Pullman
(2005)
(1998)
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Hattie Big Sky Book Poster Image
Teen girl homesteads alone in Newbery Honor book.
By Kirby Larson
(2011)
(2006)
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Island of the Blue Dolphins Book Poster Image
Smart girl learns to survive alone in compelling adventure.
By Scott O'Dell
(2003)
(1960)
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Lumberjanes, Vol 1: Beware the Kitten Holy Book Poster Image
Wacky, action-packed camp adventures promote girl power.
By Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters
(2016)
(2015)
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Pashmina Book Poster Image
Big-hearted graphic novel explores Indian culture.
By Nidhi Chanani
(2017)
(2017)
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The Scavengers Book Poster Image
Tough tween girl fights to save family in bleak future.
By Michael Perry
(2014)
(2014)
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Turtle in Paradise Book Poster Image
Depression-era story teaches history, meaning of family.
By Jennifer Holm
(2011)
(2010)
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The Voyage of Lucy P. Simmons Book Poster Image
Brave heroine faces danger with help of magic and friends.
By Barbara Mariconda
(2012)
(2012)
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When Mischief Came to Town Book Poster Image
Girl shakes up Danish island in heartfelt outsider tale.
By Katrina Nannestad
(2016)
(2016)
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The Apothecary Book Poster Image
Cold War kids use magic to save world in brilliant novel.
By Maile Meloy
(2011)
(2011)
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The Breadwinner, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Harsh but hopeful story about brave girl defying Taliban.
By Deborah Ellis
(2017)
(2017)
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The Green Bicycle Book Poster Image
Funny, poignant, cheer-worthy tale of spirited Saudi girl.
By Haifaa al Mansour
(2015)
(2015)
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Homecoming Book Poster Image
Classic novel of four brave children looking for a home.
By Cynthia Voigt
(2003)
(1981)
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The Red Pencil Book Poster Image
Moving verse tale of girl's experience in Darfur genocide.
By Andrea Davis Pinkney
(2014)
(2014)
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Dust Girl: The American Fairy Trilogy, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Intricate historical novel contrasts Dust Bowl, fairy world.
By Sarah Zettel
(2012)
(2012)
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The Epic Crush of Genie Lo Book Poster Image
Gripping fantasy with strong characters, humor, adventure.
By F.C. Yee
(2017)
(2017)
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The Hired Girl Book Poster Image
Absorbing tale of feisty, sweet teen will hook girls.
By Laura Amy Schlitz
(2015)
(2015)
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The Hunger Games, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Exciting, provocative tale of lethal reality show.
By Suzanne Collins
(2008)
(2008)
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I Am Still Alive Book Poster Image
Teen survives alone in the wilderness in gripping thriller.
By Kate Alice Marshall
(2018)
(2018)
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Legend, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Stylish dystopian thriller in a not-so-future Los Angeles.
By Marie Lu
(2012)
(2011)
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Outrun the Moon Book Poster Image
Chinese-American girl fights bias in compelling 1906 tale.
By Stacey Lee
(2016)
(2016)
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Rook Book Poster Image
Dynamite heroine in romantic dystopian-future swashbuckler.
By Sharon Cameron
(2015)
(2015)
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Seraphina Book Poster Image
Richly conceived dragon fantasy with stellar young heroine.
By Rachel Hartman
(2012)
(2012)
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Tokyo Heist Book Poster Image
Manga, art, and life lessons in top-notch mystery adventure.
By Diana Renn
(2012)
(2012)
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The Valiant Book Poster Image
Female gladiator brings it in violent, exciting tale.
By Lesley Livingston
(2017)
(2017)
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Wonder Woman: Warbringer: DC Icons Series Book Poster Image
Modern, diverse characters + super action = huge win.
By Leigh Bardugo
(2017)
(2017)
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The Book Thief Book Poster Image
Powerful testament to humanity in Nazi Germany.
By Markus Zusak
(2006)
(2006)
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A Girl Named Digit Book Poster Image
Fun story of math whiz girl who fights crime, finds romance.
By Annabel Monaghan
(2012)
(2012)
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Fallout: Lois Lane, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Comics reporter updated as teen in fun, slick mystery.
By Gwenda Bond
(2015)
(2015)
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Flame in the Mist Book Poster Image
Riveting Mulan-themed adventure set in feudal Japan.
By Renee Ahdieh
(2017)
(2017)
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Girl in the Blue Coat Book Poster Image
Extraordinary tale of Dutch teens resisting the Nazis.
By Monica Hesse
(2016)
(2016)
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Jane Eyre Book Poster Image
Strength of character triumphs in Bronte's masterpiece.
By Charlotte Bronte
(2011)
(1900)
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The Librarian of Auschwitz Book Poster Image
Unforgettable story of a teen heroine of the Holocaust.
By Antonio Iturbe
(2017)
(2017)
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The Poet X Book Poster Image
Powerful, haunting story of finding your voice and power.
By Elizabeth Acevedo
(2018)
(2018)
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Spill Zone: The Spill Zone, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Strong female hero drives exciting sci-fi horror thriller.
By Scott Westerfeld
(2017)
(2017)
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Warcross, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Winning teen girl drives cyberpunk virtual reality thriller.
By Marie Lu
(2017)
(2017)
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Where I Live Book Poster Image
Uplifting story of fearless, homeless teen in high school.
By Brenda Rufener
(2018)
(2018)
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