Feminist Reads for All Year Round

by Kirsti Granholm

Women have been subjected to sexist traditions for hundreds of years. It is true that we have slowly made progress, especially within the last few decades. But that does not mean these conversations should be coming to an end — women all over the world are still facing sexism, racism, discrimination, inequality and displacement. It will always be important for their voices to be heard, and their stories to be told. Check out these engaging feminist Canadian works to get a glimpse at the struggles that women of all ages have been facing for generations.


A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena (Farrar, Straus & Giroux Books for Young Readers, 2018) Ages 14+

A Girl Like That is a heart-breaking but essential book for teens to read. A 16-year-old girl named Zarin Wadia is dealing with the pressure of following tradition but remaining modern in Saudi Arabia. She experiences harsh judgement from her community but remains perseverant throughout her journey. Zarin provides a new perspective on love, loss and teenage conflict. This novel carefully intertwines many difficult subjects with one young woman’s experience.

Bhathena’s novel has been highly praised; it was a Canadian Children’s Book Centre Best Bookin 2018, won the Centre for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature Best Book of 2018 award, and it was a shortlist pick for the Ontario Library Association’s White Pine Award.


Ara the Star Engineer by Komal Singh, illustrations by Ipek Konak (Page Two Books, 2018) Ages 4-8.

Ara the Star Engineer is the fabulous adventure of a curious young girl named Ara. Join Ara in learning all about the different jobs women in STEM do. In this book, Ara meets a few very important people including Code Commander, Intrepid Innovator, Prolific Problem Solver and Tenacious Trouble-shooter. Their ambition and passion for science and technology instill confidence in Ara to try her hand at the industry. She learns to code an algorithm for her computer and instantly falls in love with the process.

This book both applauds the women in STEM, as well as encourages more young women to get involved with the science and technology fields. It’s a perfect pick for all the young readers out there looking for a new hobby.


Fierce: Women Who Shaped Canada by Lisa Dalrymple (Scholastic Canada, 2019) Ages 9-12.

Women have often been disregarded in our standard history books. Sexism and patriarchy have kept the stories of some of Canada’s most innovative women in the dark. Fierce: Women Who Shaped Canada pay’s tribute to those women through sharing their incredible journeys. Learn about Canada’s hidden history through Marguerite de la Roque, Ttha’naltther, Catherine Schubert, Charlotte Small, Alice Freeman, Lucile Hunter, Ada Annie Jordan, Victoria Cheung, Mona Parsons and Joan Bamford Fletcher. These non-fiction accounts of the women who shaped Canadian history will both inspire you and intrigue you to learn more.


How Emily Saved the Bridge: The Story of Emily Warren Roebling and the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge by Frieda Wishinsky and Natalie Nelson (Groundwood Books, 2019) Ages 7-10.

In New York City, a ground-breaking project had been commenced. The Brooklyn Bridge was being built by John Roebling, which would be the first steel wire suspension bridge ever built. Soon John was injured, and his son, William, was forced to take over. William did some really great work, but he also fell ill and could no longer work.

Emily Warren Roebling, William’s wife, then began to study the craft and planned to take over the project on behalf of her husband and father-in-law. Her courage and determination was inspiring for the times; women couldn’t vote, own property, and it was uncommon to go to school. Emily pushed the boundaries and finished the bridge despite the oppression she faced. This inspiring book tells the true story of Emily Warren Roebling, one of the most underrated innovators in North America.


I Am a Feminist: Claiming the F-WORD in Turbulent Times by Monique Polak (Orca Book Publishers, 2019) Ages 12+

Explore gender, sexuality, race, cultural expectation and the history of feminist through Polak’s book I Am a Feminist: Claiming the F-WORD in Turbulent Times. This book analyzes some of the more obvious sexism in our everyday lives, such as unequal pay and sexual harassment. Along with the not-so-obvious patriarchal standards, such as why women put blame on themselves after sexual violence.

Many of the subjects in this book are difficult topics, but they still remain important. Both women and men need to understand the importance of feminism and equal rights for everyone. This book is perfect for young teens who are beginning to notice the social differences amongst the genders. It brings both clarity and reassurance to fight for what is right.


My Body My Choice: The Fight for Abortion Rights by Robin Stevenson (Orca Book Publishers, 2019) Ages 12+

My Body My Choice: The Fight for Abortion Rights is all about abortion and the fight it took to get where we are today. Not only does this book outline the history of the legalization of abortion, but it takes a look at current debates and the future of abortion rights. This novel opens up a new perspectives through analyzing the social and political stigma around abortion and looks to continue to normalize the procedure, all while simultaneously providing comfort for women who have faced abortion discrimination. If your teen is interested in social justice, human rights or international affairs, this is definitely the book for them.


#NotYourPrincess: Voice of Native American Women, edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale (Annick Press, 2017) Ages 14+

#NotYourPrincess: Voice of Native American Women is a collection of poetry, short stories, powerful statements, artwork, music, profiles and more, from Indigenous women across North America. This book brings to light the realities Indigenous women have had to face in the past. Over 50 individuals came together to create this book — together they question the social and political structures that have oppressed Indigenous peoples for centuries. #NotYourPrincess demands justice for the abuse and trauma endured, along with the MMIWG (Murdered & Missing Indigenous Women & Girls).

In 2018, this book won the Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults award, the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction, was nominated for the Red Maple Award, along with many more.


The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan (Scholastic Press, 2019) Ages 14+

Sabina Khan’s The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali is her debut YA novel. Rukhsana is struggling with coming out to her Muslim parents. She fear’s the backlash she may face after telling them because of her parent’s conservative ways. She is set to go away for school soon, so she is waiting to be able to hang out with her girlfriend, without the worry of her parents finding out. But that doesn’t last for long.

This feminist novel by Khan explores many different themes that teens are facing all around the world. It is both relatable and inspiring for young women and men — providing reassurance that no matter what anyone says, you can be yourself and know there are people out there who accept you.


What Makes Girls Sick and Tired by Lucile de Pesloüan, illustrations by Geneviève Darling, translation by Emma Rodgers and Myra Leibu (Second Story Press, 2019) Ages 12+

What Makes Girls Sick and Tired is a powerful feminist graphic novel. Creators de Pesloüan and Darling explore important subjects such as sexism, race, gender, homophobia, expectations and criticisms of the female form. This book holds sexist and patriarchal figures accountable, while uniting women to stand up for themselves.

Paired with simply beautiful graphics, this book is an eye-opening look into the struggles women are faced with daily. The subject matter within this book represent what makes women sick and tired, not only in Canada but around the world.