How to raise a strong girl: a book-by-book guide to inspiring young women

A young black girl dressed in a superhero costume holds out her arms in a gesture of strength
(Image credit: Future)

How to raise a strong girl is at the top of the list when it comes to being a mum-of-daughters. Strength in their body language, voice and character is a must as they grow up.

Children literally are the future, and the aim is to raise happy humans, with self-esteem a top priority. Whether emulating famous women in history or learning all about gender equality with the best International Women's Day quotes, the steps are small but important.

A study by Girlguiding UK revealed that over 1 in 4 girls aged seven to ten believed boys were better than girls at “being strong”. While over half of girls under 21 said that they felt they could not speak freely because of their gender.

To celebrate International Women's Day, we spoke to Nicola Rowley, author and Founder of the Working Mum Association, about how to raise a strong girl.

Nicola says, firstly, support and encouragement for children need to start at a young age. “Parents should be mindful of the language they use around their children and look to instill from an early age that their daughters can be and do anything."'s Family Editor, Stephanie Lowe agrees: "Language is so important with young children, especially during their formative years; they're little sponges. Also, tone and mannerisms. So be aware of any eye-rolling, tutting, or huffing, when talking about strength in women and girls, don't be afraid to use that as a conversation opener."

"Nothing is off limits." Nicola emphasizes, "When reading books, be aware if the main characters are all male or if there is a male bias. Girls need to see role models so they can grow up feeling confident that they too can achieve great things.

“There is a saying that empowered women empower women and on this International Women’s Day nothing could be more true. We need to support and guide the next generation of girls so they grow up without limiting beliefs or feeling they can’t do something. We need to harness their inner strength so they too can grow up to be strong, courageous leaders of tomorrow.”

With this in mind, here are seven fantastic books that we love on how to raise a strong girl and equip your daughter so that she grows into the strongest woman she can be...

Martha Maps It Out by Leigh Hodkinson

(Image credit: Leigh Hodkinson)

1. Martha Maps It Out 

Author Leigh Hodgikinson is an award-winning animator and worked as art director on the BAFTA-award winning animated series, Charlie and Lola. This is a beautiful story about how we're all connected. Martha invites us into her wonderful world but she's so tiny, in the context of the universe, that we can't even see her. We zoom as Martha maps out the planet including the solar system down the world around her, and all the way to her bedroom and her head. Follow this with a map-making session and you'll have a whole afternoon's entertainment sorted.

Age suitability: 3+ years |  Paperback


Image of a dark blue book on how to raise strong girls

Credit: Future/Canva

2. Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls

Age suitability: 5+ years Hardback

This beautifully illustrated children’s book is filled with 100 stories about the lives of 100 extraordinary women from around the world. A great conversation starter for International Women's Day.

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls is inspiring young girls to look to the women who have changed the world around them – from medicine and science to film and the media. Whether your little one is reading this by themselves, or you’re reading it to them – it’s perfect for setting them on the path to being confident and strong young women.

We also love this Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 50 Postcards (£13.49) set from Love Reading - the perfect pressie for the rebel girl in your life.


Yellow book with blue text and a little african american girl looking worried for how to raise strong girls

Credit: Future/Canva

3. Ruby’s Worry

Age suitability: 5+ years paperback

It’s important to tell young girls that they can reach for the sky and achieve all their dreams. But sometimes it’s not all rosy growing up. At some point your little one will be worried about something, even something very small. And any parent wants their child to know that they can talk to them, because they’ll always be able to make it better!

This adorable picture book is suitable for any potential worrier over the age of 5, offering a message of ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’.


Dark book cover with an illustrated marie curie on the cover

Credit: Future/Canva

4. Little People, BIG DREAMS

Age suitability: 4-7 years hardback

This extraordinary series of books tells the stories of people like Agatha Christie, suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst and even designer Coco Chanel. All women who have followed their dreams to achieve big things!

Studies show that girls are less likely to push for what they want, so by encouraging them from a young age you can help them dream big and fly high.


Pink cover with an ullustrated unicorn on front as a book journal for how to raise strong girls

Credit: Future/Canva

5. Gratitude Journal

Age suitability: 9+ years hardback

Journaling is known to help children express their thoughts and feelings. It helps them to make connections between how they feel, what is important to them and how that matters in the world around them.

As well as encouraging them to write well, a journal is a great way for your young one to reflect o what they’re good at and what they’d like to achieve in the future. Plus, writing and drawing is known to decrease stress and promote relaxation. This one also comes in a fun unicorn design!


Red black and white cover

Credit: Future/Canva

6. The Confidence Code for Girls

Age suitability: 8-12 years hardback

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook said about this book, “I wish I had this book when I was a girl – and I’m really glad today’s girls have it now.”

It’s the best book for your tween-turning teenager. Packed full of exciting graphic novel strips and illustrations, quizzes and fun lists – this book tells stories from real girls about how to deal with failure, embrace risk and be the most confident they can be.


Red book cover with white text on how to raise strong girls

Credit: Future/Canva

7. Things Nobody Tells You When You're Growing Up

Age suitability: 9+ years  hardback

As much as we might not want it to happen, children grow up quickly. You might have a teenager on your hands before you know it, and it’s important to be prepared.

This book is a no-nonsense guide covering 12 topics, all about the truth of growing up. From the low-down on real friendships, how to be kind to yourself as well as lots about boosting self-esteem and wellbeing – this book is for the ones that want to be independent and find out things for themselves. So basically any teenager!


Green book cover with yellow text

Credit: Future/Canva

8. The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read

Age suitability: Parents  hardback

The number 1 best seller on Amazon. And, straight off the Sunday Times Bestseller List, this is the book that you’ll be glad to have read. In a funny and fascinating manner, renowned psychotherapist Philippa Perry reveals what it means to be a parent, what matters and the behaviour that should be avoided.

Everyone needs a little advice sometimes, even parents!


Grace Walsh
Features Writer

Grace Walsh is a health and wellbeing writer, working across the subjects of family, relationships, and LGBT topics, as well as sleep and mental health. A digital journalist with over six years  experience as a writer and editor for UK publications, Grace is currently Health Editor for and has also worked with Cosmopolitan, Red, The i Paper, GoodtoKnow, and more. After graduating from the University of Warwick, she started her career writing about the complexities of sex and relationships, before combining personal hobbies with professional and writing about fitness.