The Most Empowering Books about Women for All Ages

In world history, there have been countless amazing women whose work and accomplishments have altered the way we live. From the activism of Rosa Parks and Emmeline Pankhurst to the artistry of Coco Chanel and Maya Angelou to the pioneering spirits of Amelia Earhart and Ada Lovelace, there is an incredible amount of women whose stories will get you feeling really empowered to be female or really appreciate the women around you. In the following books, you can read stories of inspiring and empowering women of the past and present from around the world and find great reads for children and adults alike.

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1. Little People, Big Dreams Series

Isabel Sanchez Vegara and Lisbeth Kaiser

5 years +

This series of books follows the achievements of various influential women from history that all started out as a child with a dream. Written as short biographies for children aged 5 and up to understand, each book shines a light on an amazing role model for your young readers. The series includes Maya Angelou, Emmeline Pankhurst, Frida Kahlo and more.

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2. Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World

Kate Pankhurst

7 years +

This terrific book brings together some of the stories of the women whose contributions to the world have really made a difference. Bursting with facts and entertaining illustrations, this is a hugely empowering read for all children. Kate Pankhurst includes the achievements of Emmeline Pankhurst (a relative of Kate's!), Rosa Parks, Marie Curie, Jane Austen and Mary Seacole.

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3. Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls

Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo

7 years +

Are you in need of some feisty new bedtime stories? Then, look no further than this book of 100 tales of rebel girls. Each story is a short biography about an influential woman in history, told in the style of a traditional bedtime story - minus the prince charmings and knights in shining armour. With illustrations by female artists from every corner of the world, and the stories of women such as Elizabeth I, Serena Williams, Malala and more, your young readers can discover the work of loads of incredible women past and present.

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4. I am Malala

Malala Yousafzai

Malala's story is a powerful and inspiring read. After her home came under the control of the Taliban, Malala took to writing a blog about life in the Swat Valley where girls were banned from school. As her blog gained more and more readers she started appearing in the worldwide media to discuss the issues surrounding girls not getting an education. In 2012, Malala was shot in the head by a gunman and miraculously managed to survive. Since then, she has been boldly campaigning for education for all and sharing her eye-opening story.

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5. Joan

Simon Fenwick

The World War Two photographer, Joan Leigh Fermor has often been outshined by the work and attention placed on her husband, the writer Patrick Leigh Fermor. In this startling biography, Simon Fenwick has turned the spotlight onto Joan, a socialite who, in a time where women were expected to rely completely on their husbands and families, made her own living through her skills as a photographer. Her remarkable life saw her move through the wild bohemian social circles of the 1930s and into the chaos and trauma of war in the 1940s.Compelling and empowering, this book is a must for anyone who wants to uncover the role women played in the Second World War.

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6. A Woman Lived Here

Allison Vale

With 903 blue plaques dedicated to the individuals whose work has been invaluable in the arts, science, technology, sport, politics and more, Allison Vale was saddened to see that only 111 of these were commemorating the work of women. In her brilliantly empowering book, she introduces you to the women whose achievements have been overlooked in history. If you're after a quick, empowering read then be sure to add this excellent book to your list.

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7. Take Courage: Anne Bronte and the Art of Life

Samantha Ellis

When it comes to the Bronte sisters, Emily and Charlotte are often given the most attention and praise by literary critics and history scholars alike, while Anne is pushed to the wayside. Samantha Ellis decided to research into the life of the most underappreciated Bronte sibling and what she found was a brave and talented writer who deserves as much admiration as her sisters. Uncover the life of one of the most overlooked authors in English literature in this unique biography.

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8. The Crown

Robert Lacey

This book is much more than a companion to the hit Netflix series about the early days of the reign of Elizabeth II, it is a fascinating biography about possibly the most famous woman of the 20th and 21st centuries. Queen Elizabeth II took to the throne at a young age after the sudden death of her father but has since become the longest reigning monarch of Britain. Robert Lacey traces the details of her life through both personal traumas and public events; get a glimpse of this amazing monarch as you've seen her before.

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9. This Mum Runs

Jo Pavey

At the age of 40, Jo Pavey won a gold medal for the 10,000 metre run at the European Championships. She achieved this amazing feat just 8 months after giving birth, earning her the well-deserved title "Supermum". In her autobiography, she shows how her determination and drive managed to make her into a mum with a medal. This book is a joyful read that shows you if you put your mind to it, you really can achieve anything.

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10. March Women March

Lucinda Dickens Hawksley

A century ago some women were officially given the right to vote in the UK but how did they get to this point? Lucinda Dickens Hawksley's brilliant history book seeks to find out just that. Starting with Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication on the Rights of Women in 1792 and tracking the progress of women's rights to the Suffragette movement in the 1900s, this book is as empowering as they come.

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If you need some unique bedtime reading or want to know more about the women who are often overlooked in history, we've given you plenty of options. So, discover the most amazing women in history and how they've impacted the world in these empowering books that will have you your kids feeling inspired!

  • COUR
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    In this fascinating biography, Samantha Ellis examines the life of Anne Bronte, an ahead-of-her-time feminist writer who is often unfairly returned to as 'the other Bronte'.

    Overshadowed by her older sisters Charlotte (the successful author of Jane Eyre), Emily (Wuthering Heights) and her brother Branwell, Anne is seen as a tragic, virginal and selfless figure... Samantha believed this before she started researching into the life of Anne.

    In this poignant book, she gives a hugely personal insight into the life and work of a woman who has been sidelined by history. She asks why this is the case and also reveals what we can learn from Anne Bronte's writing.
  • APGQY 11 years +
    11 years +
    • £7.19
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    Written by Malala for her peers, this is the girl behind the Nobel Prize-winning icon. Film tie-in edition with HE NAMED ME MALALA, released 6th November, which tells Malala's story from Nobel Peace Prize to netball courts. Malala is the most significant teenager of the twenty first century. She was only ten years old when the Taliban took control of her region. They said music was a crime. They said women weren't allowed to go to the market. They said girls couldn't go to school. Raised in a once-peaceful area of Pakistan transformed by terrorism, Malala was taught to stand up for what she believes. So she fought for her right to be educated. And on 9 October, 2012, she nearly lost her life for the cause. She was shot point-blank on her way home from school. No one expected her to survive. Now she is an international symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize winner. This is the remarkable story of a girl who knew from a young age that she wanted to change the world-and did. It will open your eyes to another world and will make you believe in hope, truth, miracles, and the determination of one person to inspire change. 'It's a searing and personal portrait of a young woman who dared to make a difference' PW
  • AUVQP 5 years +
    5 years +
    • £7.99
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    In the Little People, Big Dreams series, discover the lives of outstanding people from designers and artists to scientists. All of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. The book follows Maya Angelou, from her early traumatic childhood to her time as a singer, actress, civil rights campaigner and, eventually, one of America's most beloved writers. This inspiring and informative little biography comes with extra facts about Maya's life at the back.
  • FGK2 7 years +
    7 years +
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    Full of fantastic facts, this illustrated book provides children with an introduction to some of the greatest women of all time - and reveals their actions that shaped and changed the world.

    Presented in a very contemporary style by Kate Pankhurst - a descendant of Emmeline Pankhurst, no less - this book has cool artwork and accessible, bite-sized facts for children (and you!) to pore over.

    Among the incredible women it covers are leader of the Suffragettes Emmeline Pankhurst, adventurer and pilot Amelia Earhart and African-American civil rights activist Rosa Parks. This is an inspirational book that covers some of the key moments in history and it's sure to encourage children to read further.
  • THCN
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    Starring Claire Foy and Matt Smith, Netflix's The Crown is one of the streaming services most critically acclaimed and popular (not to mention, most expensive!) Originals and this companion hardback follows the journey of Britain's longest-reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.

    Written by royal biographer Robert Lacey, this book looks back at the Queen's reign, explaining how, after the sudden death of her father, she had to learn her duties very quickly. She was already a wife and mother when she had her coronation and there were also wider issues throughout Britain as the country tried to lift itself after the end of the war.

    Elizabeth also had various personal issues to deal with: her mother doubted her marriage; her husband resented the sacrifice of his career and family name; and her sister had an affair that threatened to destroy the close bond between the church and the crown. Despite all this, she always made sure she came out on top. Fully researched, this is an intimate and informative account of Elizabeth II ? both as a private person and as a public figure.
  • MRJP
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    An Olympian who won the 10,000m at the European Championships (her first ever Gold!) in 2014 at the age of 40, Jo Pavey has quite the story to tell...

    On 10 May, 2015, Jo achieved the seemingly impossible by winning the 10,000m just eight months after giving birth and in 'a running vest older than most of the girls I was competing against'. In this inspiring autobiography, the athlete dubbed 'Supermum' reveals how she has managed to combine parental responsibilities and an elite sporting career with such success.

    From pushing a buggy on training runs to leaving the kids to build sandcastles in the long jump pit while she hits the track, there are so many situations that will feel familiar to any career parents who try to balance work and life. A positive and uplifting read, this is the story of a mum that runs and a runner that mums.
  • AXDIA 7 years +
    7 years +
    • £16.00
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    What if the princess didn't marry Prince Charming but instead went on to be an astronaut? What if the jealous step sisters were supportive and kind? And what if the queen was the one really in charge of the kingdom? Illustrated by sixty female artists from every corner of the globe, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls introduces us to one hundred remarkable women and their extraordinary lives, from Ada Lovelace to Malala, Elizabeth I to Serena Williams. Empowering, moving and inspirational, these are true fairy tales for heroines who definitely don't need rescuing.

    This title has been shortlisted for 2018's British Book Award Children's Book of the Year.
  • JOAN
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    This is the first ever biography of Joan Leigh Fermor - a social beauty, professional photographer and muse who made a huge cultural impact during the 1930s.

    Although her husband, the author and soldier Patrick Leigh Fermor, has been written about extensively, little is known about Joan. This book, written by acclaimed archivist Simon Fenwick, reveals her to be a woman who defied the social conventions of the times and how, despite her family's wealthy status, she managed to earn her own living.

    Joan met and mingled with some of the leading lights of 1930s bohemia including John Betjeman, Evelyn Waugh and Maurice Bowra and was a regular feature in gossip columns for her affairs, fashion and travels.

    This book covers her marriages and fall-outs and reveals her to be a highly intellectual and sexual woman who lived life to the full, no matter what the consequences.
  • AWLH
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    Only 111 of the 903 Blue Plaques that honour Londoners belong to women. This, despite thousands of truly remarkable women making significant and lasting impacts on every aspect of modern life...

    From politics and social reform to arts, medicine, science, technology and sport, this book celebrates those women whose achievements have largely went unnoticed and explains how their actions, ideas and inventions helped make the world a richer place to live in.

    Some of these women went about their lives and worked quietly with courage, conviction, skill and compassion, while others were fearless trailblazers who shattered the status quo of a 'man's world'.
  • March, Women, March - Hardback - 9780233005256 - Lucinda Dickens Hawksley
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    It is now a hundred years since the suffragette movement helped belatedly gain women (aged over 30 who met certain property qualifications) the right to vote. This must-read book marks the centenary by focusing on the courageous campaigners who refused to accept that men knew what was best for them.

    Based on archive letters, diaries and anecdotes, this hardback will take you from the publication of Mary Wollstencraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Women in 1792 through to the battle cries and slogans of the Suffragette movement during the early 20th century.

    The quest for equal rights changed the world and this compelling and important read - complete with a foreword by Dr. Helen Pankhurst - shows you how. It's an inspiring account of a very important time in our history.