“Women are not free anywhere in this world until all women in the world are free.”
Leymah Gbowee, 2011
The past year saw tragedies and setbacks but also significant achievements for women throughout the world. When the shooting of girls’ education advocate Malala Yousafzai and the gang rape of Jyoti Singh Pandey received unprecedented media coverage, these issues became catalysts for outrage and an international discussion of women’s rights. In the United States, legislators- shockingly, women as well as men- demeaned women through their draconian statements ranging from binders of women to scientifically preposterous comments about rape and pregnancy.
Yet this was also the year that saw record breaking elections of women to Congress, female athletes dominating the Olympics, and the lifting of the ban on women in combat.
The books on this year’s ABP list of recommended feminist books portray stories of women and girls finding their individual and collective voices. Protagonists advocate for civil rights, equal pay for equal work, treatment of marginalized communities, ecofeminism and the rights to vote and obtain quality education. These books trace the journey from antiquity through the U.S suffrage movement to contemporary feminist manifestos.
Our hope is that the stories’ messages will inspire readers to find their own voices and join the fight to empower all women.
“Feminism is all around us. As girls, we’re all part of it whether we like it or not. We live as we do because of the feminists who came before us. And it’s real.”
Julie Zeilinger 2009
The Amelia Bloomer Project is part of the Feminist Task Force of the American Library Association’s Social Responsibility Round Table. The Amelia Bloomer Project committee members are Jennie Law (co-chair), Angela Semifero (co-chair), Ann Bever, Betsy Miguez, Katie Mitchell, Lalitha Nataraj, Linda Parsons, Kelly Rottmund, April Witteveen, and Joy Worland.
Light, Steve. Zephyr Takes Flight. 2012. Unpaged. Candlewick, $17.95 (978-1-4063-4029-7). PreS-Gr.1.
Zephyr adores airplanes and lets her imagination soar to amazing heights. The author flips gender stereotypes and imbues his heroine’s tale with the clear meaning that no dream is ever out of reach.
Allegra, Mike. Sarah Gives Thanks: How Thanksgiving Became a National Holiday. Illus. by David Gardner. 2012. Unpaged. Albert Whitman & Co., $16.99 (978-0-8075-7239-9). Gr.1-3.
Sarah Hale campaigned to make Thanksgiving a National Holiday and worked as the editor of women’s magazines, highlighting articles on history, science, and new schools for women.
Corey, Shana. Here Come the Girl Scouts!: The Amazing All-True Story of Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low and Her Great Adventure. Illus. by Hadley Hooper. 2012. Unpaged. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (978-0-5453-4278-0). PreS-Gr.3.
“Whatever you take up, do it with all of your might.” This vibrant portrait of the intrepid founder of the Girl Scouts conveys the sense of purpose the organization fostered in young women in the early 1900s.
Hartland, Jessie. Bon Appetit!: The Delicious Life of Julia Child. 2012. Schwartz & Wade Books, $17.99 (978-0-3758-6944-0). Gr.1-4.
Feminist icon Julia Child led an unexpected and exciting life culminating with her success as America’s favorite chef.
Kulling, Monica. In the Bag!: Margaret Knight Wraps It Up. Illus. by David Parkins. 2011. Unpaged. Tundra Books, $17.95 (1-7704-9239-4). K-Gr.4.
Despite narrow societal expectations, Margaret Knight fights sexism to become an inventor with multiple patents to her name.
Lang, Heather. Queen of the Track: Alice Coachman Olympic High-Jump Champion. Illus. by Floyd Cooper. 2012. Unpaged. Boyds Mills Press, $16.95 (978-1-5907-8850-9). K-Gr.3.
As the first African American woman to win an Olympic gold medal, Alice Coachman overcomes the obstacles of class, gender, and race.
Malaspina, Ann. Heart on Fire: Susan B. Anthony Votes for President. Illus. by Steve James. 2012. Unpaged. Albert Whitman & Co., $16.99 (978-0-8075-3188-4) Gr.1-5.
Susan B. Anthony’s bold action to vote inspired like-minded friends to do the same even though it meant facing arrest.
Malaspina, Ann. Touch the Sky: Alice Coachman, Olympic High Jumper. Illus. by Eric Velasquez. 2011. Unpaged. Albert Whitman & Co., $16.99 (978-0-8075-8035-6). PreS-Gr.2.
Alice Coachman teaches herself to high jump and becomes the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal.
Nivola, Claire A. Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle. 2012. Unpaged. Frances Foster Books, $17.99 (978-0-3743-8068-7). PreS-Gr.4.
Earle bucked societal expectations by living in a deep-sea laboratory for two weeks, walking 1,250 feet below the ocean’s surface, and starting three companies to design and build devices which let researchers dive deeper.
Ochiltree, Dianne. Molly, by Golly!: The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter. Illus. by Kathleen Kemly. 2012. Unpaged. Calkins Creek, $16.95 (978-1-5907-8721-2). Gr.1-3.
When a fire breaks out and many of the volunteer firefighters are too sick with influenza to leave their houses, Molly Williams rushes to help and becomes America’s first female firefighter.
Wallner, Alexandra. Susan B. Anthony. 2012. Unpaged. Holiday House, $16.95 (978-0-8234-1953-1). K-Gr.3.
Susan B. Anthony crusades for women’s suffrage, emancipation of slaves, and temperance.
Warren, Sarah E. Dolores Huerta: A Hero to Migrant Workers. Illus. by Robert Casilla. 2012. Unpaged. Marshall Cavendish, $17.99 (978-0-7614-6107-4). K-Gr.4.
Teacher, organizer, warrior, peacemaker – Dolores Huerta organizes migrant workers, calls for nonviolent protest, advocates for women’s rights, and creates a foundation to train future activists to carry on her work.
Avi. Sophia’s War: A Tale of the Revolution. 2012. 302p. Beach Lane Books, $16.99 (978-1-4424-1441-9). Gr.4-8.
Sophia joins the fight for American independence, eventually working as a spy whose work contributes to the downfall of a traitor to the Patriot cause.
DeFilippis, Nunzio and Christina Weir. Play Ball. Illus. by Jackie Lewis. 2012. 144p. Oni Press, $19.99 (978-1-9349-6479-8). Gr.6-9.
In this graphic novel, Dash is excited to start at a new school– she’s determined to join the boy’s baseball team and take them all the way to the championship game!
Hobbs, Valerie. Minnie McClary Speaks Her Mind. 2012. 224p. Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, $16.99 (978-0-3743-2496-4). Gr.4-6.
The new language arts teacher Lindsay Marks inspires Minnie and her friend Amira to think critically about the world around them and stand up for justice.
Levine, Kristin. The Lions of Little Rock. 2012. 352p. Putnam Juvenile, $16.99 (978-0-3992-5644-8). Gr.5-8.
In the tumultuous era following the desegregation of schools in Little Rock, 12-year old Marlee Nisbett finds her voice, as well as the courage to do the right thing.
Manzano, Sonia. The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano. 2012. 205p. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (978-0-5453-2505-9). Gr.6-8.
A visit from her progressive grandmother spurs the development of Evelyn’s personal and political identities.
Rose, Caroline Starr. May B.: A Novel. 2012. 231p. Schwartz & Wade Books, $15.99 (978-1-5824-6393-3). Gr.4-7.
Young May is sent to work at a neighboring homestead on the Kansas prairie. After a series of dramatic events, May is stranded and fights to survive the brutal winter.
Whitley, Jeremy. PrinceLess: Book One, Save Yourself. Illus. by M. Goodwin. 2012. Unpaged. Action Lab Comics, $14.95 (978-1-4507-9894-5). Gr.4-8.
Princess Adrienne doesn’t need anyone to rescue her. She and her trusty girl dragon, Sparky, are on a quest to prove that girls have the power to save themselves!
Branzei, Sylvia. Rebel in a Dress: Adventurers. Illus. by Melissa Sweet. 2011. 96p. Running Press Kids, $10.95 (0-7624-4385-7). Gr.3-6.
Aviator, athlete, and astronaut are some of the jobs held by the pioneering women in this engaging book.
Branzei, Sylvia. Rebel in a Dress: Cowgirls. Illus. by Melissa Sweet. 2011. 96p. Running Press Kids, $10.95 (978-0-7624-3695-8). Gr.3-6.
From the first cowgirls to modern rodeo heroines, this book covers a number of brave women who fought to be included in the male-dominated ranch, range, and rodeo worlds.
Carosella, Melissa and Kuligowski, Stephanie. Founding Mothers: Women who Shaped America. 2012. 32p. Teacher Created Materials, $8.99 (978-1-4333-1505-3). Gr.3-5.
This book introduces women from the early colonial period through the Civil War who helped shape America despite expectations that they should only serve as housewives.
Hollihan, Kerrie Logan. Rightfully Ours: How Women Won the Vote, 21 Activities. 2012. 129p. Chicago Review, $16.95 (978-1-8830-5289-8). Gr.4-8.
This history of the fight for women’s suffrage depicts the plight of women in the early United States and describes the efforts of those who fought against oppression.
Lambert, Joseph. Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller. 2012. 92p. Disney Hyperion Books, $17.99 (978-1-4231-1336-2). Gr.4-8.
Annie Sullivan overcomes personal obstacles and resistance from society to become Helen Keller’s groundbreaking teacher in this beautiful graphic novel.
Lawlor, Laurie. Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World. Illus. by Laura Beingessner. 2012. 32p. Holiday House, $16.95 (978-0-8234-2370-5). Gr.3-5.
At a time when few women worked as biologists, Rachel Carson counted deep-sea fish off Nova Scotia and tracked alligators in the Everglades before tackling the chemical industry with her groundbreaking work Silent Spring.
Ray, Deborah Kogan. Paiute Princess: The Story of Sarah Winnemucca. 2012. 48p. Frances Foster Books, Farrar Straus Giroux, $17.99 . (978-0-3743-9897-2). Gr.3-5.
Sarah Winnemucca encounters prejudice and fights fiercely for her people’s rights, winning the titles of Mother and Chief.
Wadsworth, Ginger. First Girl Scout: The Life of Juliette Gordon Low. 2012. 210p. Clarion Books, $17.99 (978-0-5472-4394-8). Gr.4-7.
Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low spends her childhood summers enjoying the outdoors. As an adult, Daisy is determined to bring new opportunities to all girls.
Bickle, Laura. The Hallowed Ones. 2012. 311p. Graphia, $8.99 (978-0-54785-926-2). Gr.9-up.
Catastrophic events in the outside world prevent Katie from leaving her Amish village for Rumspringa. She defies the commands of the Elders to protect the village and determine her own future.
Cremer, Andrea. Rift. 2012. 430p. Philomel, $18.99 (978-0-3992-5613-4). Gr.9-up.
Ember escapes an arranged marriage to pursue her destiny as a warrior.
Feldman, Ruth Tenzer. Blue Thread. 2012. 302p. Ooligan Press, $12.95 (978-1-9320-1041-1). Gr.7-up.
Inspired by her ancestors and the suffrage movement, Miriam matures into a strong, independent woman who fights for her political convictions and her professional ambitions
Gaughen, A.C. Scarlet. 2012. 292p. Walker Books for Young Readers, $17.99 (978-0-8027-2346-8). Gr.8-up.
Will Scarlet is Robin Hood’s most trusted and dangerous lieutenant. Few know this knife-wielding thief is a young woman.
Griffin, Molly Beth. Silhouette of a Sparrow. 2012. 186p. Milkweed Editions, $16.95 (978-1-5713-1701-8). Gr.7-up.
Set in 1920s Minnesota, artist and ornithologist Garnet longs for independence. A summer away from home presents choices that expand her world.
McCall, Guadalupe Garcia. Summer of the Mariposas. 2012. 355p. Tu Books, $17.95 (978-1-6006-0900-8). Gr.7-up.
15-year old Odilia and her four sisters journey to Mexico to return the body of a dead man they found floating in the Rio Grande to his family. They battle supernatural forces and put aside their own differences for a trip that changes their lives forever.
Otto, Whitney. Eight Girls Taking Pictures. 2012. 342p. Scribner Book Company, $25.00 (978-1-4516-8269-4). Gr.10-up.
Eight women photographers work to find their voices as independent artists against backdrops of war, social change, and romance.
Schrefer, Eliot. Endangered. 2012. 264p. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (978-0-5451-6576-1). Gr.7-up.
When war breaks out and her mother’s bonobo sanctuary is attacked, Sophie escapes into the jungle with the great apes. Their survival depends on her quick thinking and resourcefulness.
Various. Womanthology: Heroic. Illus. by Various. March 2012. 300p. IDW Publishing, $50.00 (978-1-6137-7147-1). Gr.8-up.
This engaging and empowering collection of women and girl created comics features strong female characters and historical figures.
Wein, Elizabeth. Code Name Verity. 2012. 352p. Hyperion, $16.99 (978-1-4231-5219-4). Gr.8-up.
Maddie and Verity risk their lives fighting for Allies during World War II. Their friendship gives them the strength and courage to do what’s right in the gravest of circumstances.
Bartels, Peggielene and Eleanor Herman. King Peggy: An American Secretary, Her Royal Destiny, and the Inspiring Story of How She Changed an African Village. 2012. 333p. Doubleday, $25.95 (978-0-3855-3432-1). Gr.9-up.
A phone call awakens Peggielene Bartels in the middle of the night with news that she’s been chosen the next king of her home village Otuam, Ghana. She overcomes corruption and sexism to bring progress to the village.
Bartsiokas, Tom and Corey Long. Angela James: The First Superstar of Women’s Hockey. 2012. 163p. Women’s Press Literary, $14.95 (978-0-9866-3888-6). Gr.7-up.
The story of Canadian hockey great Angela James and her trailblazing successes as an athlete and woman.
Ditto, Beth with Michelle Tea. Coal to Diamonds. 2012. 176p. Spiegel & Grau, $22.00 (978-0-3855-2591-6). Gr.9-up.
Beth Ditto, feminist punk lead singer of Gossip, shares her journey from humble and troubled beginnings in Arkansas to a member of a world-renowned band.
Gevinson, Tavi (Editor). Rookie Yearbook One. 2012. 349p. Drawn and Quarterly, $29.95 (978-1-7704-6112-3). Gr.7-up.
A thoughtful and provocative collection of the year’s best writing from the feminist online magazine, Rookie.
Lauper, Cyndi with Jancee Dunn. Cyndi Lauper: A Memoir. 2012. 338p. Atria Books, $26.00 (978-1-4391-4785-6). Gr.9-up.
In this inspiring memoir, Cyndi Lauper shares her trials and successes, including her escape from a traumatic home life, her rise in the music industry, and her critical work as a gay rights activist.
Ledbetter, Lilly with Lanier Scott Isom. Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond. 2012. 279p. Crown Archetype, $25.00 (978-0-3078-8792-4). Gr.10-up.
Lilly Ledbetter shares her inspiring journey from underpaid, mistreated factory employee to Supreme Court plaintiff, nationally renowned speaker and namesake of the Fair Pay Restoration Act.
Strayed, Cheryl. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. 2012. 315p. Alfred A. Knopf, $25.95 (978-0-3075-9273-6). Gr.10-up.
A memoir of personal and natural discoveries, Strayed shares her story of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from California to Oregon as a solo woman.
Wahab, Saima. In My Father’s Country: An Afghan Woman Defies Her Fate. 2012. 352p. Crown Publishers, $25.00 (978-0-3078-8494-7). Gr.10-up.
Escaping gender oppression and political strife, Saima immigrates to the US as a teen. Saima later ventures back to Afghanistan as an interpreter and offers a fascinating perspective on Afghan customs including a provocative analysis of gender issues.
Worden, Minky (Editor). The Unfinished Revolution: Voices From the Global Fight For Women’s Rights. 2012. 361p. Seven Stories, $23.95 (978-1-6098-0387-2). Gr.10-up.
This collection of essays explores the status of rights for women and girls worldwide, through the topics of economic issues, violence against women, and harmful traditions.
Zeilinger, Julie. A Little F’d Up: Why Feminism Is Not a Dirty Word. 2012. 249p. Seal Press, $16.00 (978-1-5800-5371-6). Gr.9-up.
Zeilinger makes feminist history and theory accessible and relevant to teen readers from “Part One, The Badasses Who Came Before Us” to “Part Six, Feminism: Your Secret Weapon for Growing Up”.