Librarians Choose 10 Best Feminist Books of 2013

The Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association has a Feminist Task Force and for several years now they have been running what they call the Amelia Bloomer Project, which annually produces a list of the best feminist books of the year. They have impressive, especially thoughtful and politically conscious, criteria spelled out in depth. The emphasis is not just on feisty female protagonists (though I would love to see a list just on the best of those for the year separately) but on women and girls who empower others beyond themselves:

With the current trend of using strong female protagonists in fiction, a more specific explanation of feminism may be in order. Feminist books for young readers must move beyond merely “spunky” and “feisty” young women, beyond characters and people who fight to protect themselves without furthering rights for other women. Feminist books show women overcoming the obstacles of intersecting forces of race, gender, and class, actively shaping their destinies. They break bonds forced by society as they defy stereotypical expectations and show resilience in the face of societal strictures.

In addition, feminist books show women solving problems, gaining personal power, and empowering others. They celebrate girls and women as a vibrant, vital force in the world. These books explain that there is a gender issue; they don’t leave the reader to guess. A book with a strong female character that does not demonstrate that an inequality exists may not be a feminist book. Strong female characters may be plucky, perseverant, courageous, feisty, intelligent, spirited, resourceful, capable, and independent–but the book’s presentation may still not be feminist.

More on the criteria here.

Below are their picks for 2013. A few look like kids books but most look highly valuable for adults too. Click on the titles to learn more about each book.

Cummins, Julie. Flying Solo: How Ruth Elder Soared into America’s Heart. Illus. by Malene R. Laugesen. Roaring Brook Press. K-Gr.2

Gevinson, Tavi (Ed.). Rookie Yearbook Two. Drawn & Quarterly. Gr.7-up.

Global Baby Girls (Global Fund for Children). Charlesbridge Publishing. PreS.

Markel, Michelle. Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909. Illus. by Melissa Sweet. Balzer + Bray. K-Gr.4.

Molloy, Aimee. However Long the Night: Molly Melching’s Journey to Help Millions of African Women and Girls Triumph. HarperOne. Gr.10-up.

Mullenbach, Cheryl. Double Victory: How African American Women Broke Race and Gender Barriers to Help Win World War II (Women of Action). Chicago Review Press. Gr.9-up.

Povich, Lynn. The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued their Bosses and Changed the Workplace. PublicAffairs. Gr.10-up.

Schnall, Marianne. What Will It Take to Make A Woman President?: Conversations About Women, Leadership and Power Seal Press. Gr.10-12.

Wishinsky, Frieda. Profiles #4: Freedom Heroines Scholastic. Gr.4-6.

Yousafzai, Malala with Christina Lamb. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban. Little, Brown and Company. Gr.8-12.

H/T: Bitch Magazine

Your Favorite Feminist Books?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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