Book Selections Celebrating the International Day of the Girl

In honor of the International Day of the Girl on October 11, 2018, Jumpstart is featuring children’s books that celebrate the stories and voices of girls. The International Day of the Girl raises awareness of gender inequities and promotes empowerment, so girls everywhere may reach their full human potential. This year’s Read for the Record book, Maybe Something Beautiful, tells the story of how one girl can help spark change in her community. Learn more about Maybe Something Beautiful at and read Mira’s story with a child in your life on October 25, 2018 for Read for the Record.

Celebrating the International Day of the Girl doesn’t stop there! Share the following books with the young readers in your life, and comment below with your own book suggestions for celebrating the International Day of the Girl.

Drum, Dream Girl

by Margarita Engle

Even though people throughout her life told her she couldn’t be a dancer, this joyful, driven girl felt the rhythm in her soul and just kept playing. This story is inspired by the life and music of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban, and one of Cuba’s first female drummers.

After reading with a child:

  • Make your own drum together using items found around you. Find an empty oatmeal container or a milk carton. Stretch a balloon over an empty can and hold it tightly in place with a rubber band. Explore drumming with your hands and your body. Notice the different sounds that each material makes when you tap it with a mallet like your hand, a stick, or a spoon. Make your own rhythms and patterns of sound.

Mae Among the Stars

by Roda Ahmed

The true story is about Mae Jemison, the first Black female astronaut in space. Mae has a curious, creative, thoughtful mind and a big dream that her supportive family helps her imagine and achieve.

After reading with a child:

  • Go outside and see if you can find the moon together. Notice the shape of the moon. Discuss how each month we see the moon’s illuminated surface change from a tiny sliver to fully round and then back again. If you are able, use white paint to have the child create the moon on dark paper. The child may also use their fingers or bubble wrap to make the bumpy craters.

Malala and the Magic Pencil

by Malala Yousafzai

As a young girl, Malala saw the world and wanted to make it a better place. She thought of all of the wonderful things she could do, if only she had a magic pencil. However, as she grows older, she learns that there are many other ways to make her dreams come true.

After reading with a child:

  • Have the child draw their community using their own magic pencil, or other art material. Encourage them to include the things they love about their community and anything they wish was also a part of it. Discuss together if there are any actions, big or small, they take to make their community more like their picture.

Wangari’s Trees of Peace

by Jeanette Winter

As a child, Wangari loved the lush landscape of Kenya where she grew up. When she returns from completing her higher education abroad, she finds the landscape barren as the trees have been cut down for lumber. Together with the women in her community, she sets out to regrow the trees that she so loved as a girl.

After reading with a child:

  • Go outside and notice growing plants around you. The plants may be small blades of grass or flowers, or a large tree. If you find a tree, notice the parts of the tree and how they resemble the parts of our own body. Point out how the trunk is like the child’s body, the tree’s branches are like the child’s arms, and their fingers are like the twigs. Ask the child to make their body into the shape of the tree and feel the air move around them.

The Water Princess

by Susan Verde

Through this story go on a journey with Gie, as she and her mother take their daily journey across the savanna to retrieve water for their family.

After reading with a child:

  • Go on a water scavenger hunt and notice all the places you find it around you. Water might be in the faucet, in the shower, in the refrigerator, frozen in ice cubes, or outside. Make a gratitude list together by writing down how you use clean, safe water every day.

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