Dear Girl, (Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Paris Rosenthal)

Hello friends, and Happy International Women’s Day! We wanted to pick the perfect book to celebrate, so our review today is of Dear Girl, written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Paris Rosenthal, and illustrated by Holly Hatam, a simple yet empowering series of notes to girls of every age.

“Dear Girl,” each page begins, before imparting bite-sized wisdoms to its reader: “Keep that arm raised! You have smart things to say!”, “Look at yourself in the mirror. Say ‘thank you’ to something that makes you YOU”, and “Find people like you. Find people UNLIKE you.” Readers are encouraged to form supportive friendships, to ask questions, and to trust their instincts. And if they ever need encouragement, they can turn to any page in the book, and remember that they are appreciated, celebrated and loved for the dear girl that they are.

Beautiful. The late, great Rosenthal’s books are always tinged with a bit of sadness – each a reminder of what a lovely and profound writer she was. Yet reading this earnest, guileless, and heartfelt message to the special girls in our lives with JJ was more than enough to leave me misty-eyed by the end. So many positive messages are woven in: confidence, loyalty, kindness, wonder, individuality, inclusion, hope and more. It encourages girls to think and speak for themselves, and a particularly powerful page reminds them that they always, in any situation, have the right to say “NO”. The art keeps it simple and does exactly what it needs to do, using ink lines with mixed-media and paint embellishments to keep the art minimalist yet impactful. The length is perfect, and JJ and I both adored it. A lovely read to remind each girl of their power and potential, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved.

For The Right To Learn: Malala Yousafzai’s Story (Rebecca Langston-George)

Hello, friends! In honor of International Women’s Day, our book today is For The Right To Learn: Malala Yousafzai’s Story, written by Rebecca Langston-George and illustrated by Janna Bock, the story of the courage and determination of the youngest Nobel Prize winner to fight for the right to education.

Malala Yousafzai was born in Pakistan, in a once beautiful and peaceful mountain town, to loving parents who encouraged learning. Her father ran a local school, and did everything he could to provide education to any boy or girl who sought it. But when the Taliban took over her town, Malala saw the rights and freedoms of her and her fellow girls begin to disappear as they were banned from school and threatened with violence. Unwilling to give up her rights, Malala spoke out against this injustice, risking her life to continue her studies. Despite threats, obstacles, and even an attempt on her life, Malala continues her fight to this day.

Malala is a powerful figure as a relentless yet peaceful advocate for women’s and children’s rights, and kids can identify strongly to her, so this biography is a fantastic way to introduce her story to young readers. The illustrations are sweeping and emotional, and the text is perfect, focusing on Malala’s activism through adversity rather than the assassination attempt she survived (an event which made her famous, but is hardly her most significant accomplishment). Both the text and the art handle the event subtly yet poignantly; still, the subject matter should be considered before choosing this one. The length is also a bit much for baby bookworms (even JJ), but older kids could handle this one easily. Overall, it is a beautiful and moving true story of a remarkable young woman. Baby Bookworm approved!