I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou //
This classic autobiography about Angelou’s life is an extremely empowering book for young women to read. The book recounts her life as a young child up until the age of 17. While she talks about the discrimination she had to fight for her skin color, she equally talks about the discrimination against her gender. This is extremely important considering women of color face different discrimination. She talks about the ways in which women are treated and viewed in society and the gender stereotypes that harm young women. Angelou also goes through the different women in her life that she looks up to – strong women that can be example to not only her but the readers. Her experiences are laid out for young women to read and learn from, ultimately hoping to empower them in the end.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas //
This story is based on Starr, a young girl who witnesses her best friend being murdered by the police during a traffic stop. This book focuses on the growth of Starr throughout the story. She is struggling with her identity at her all-white school, and in her black hometown. Above all, she learns to become an activist through the trauma she experiences. This story empowers young women to speak their truth regardless of the backlash they may receive. It is an incredibly powerful novel that is great for young women to get their hands on.
What’s a Girl Gotta Do? By Holly Bourne //
This novel centers on Lottie, a ferocious young woman who is determined to take note of all the sexism she has experienced. Eventually, she starts a vlog that documents her calling out these acts of sexism she experiences. This character is extremely important for young women that want to find their voice like Lottie does. It shows that you do not have to be an adult to be an activist. The way in which Bourne embodies Lottie through the book is relatable to readers – she is fearless, but is still human with weaknesses. By tackling issues of gender inequality and sexual harassment, Bourne does a fantastic job of creating the story that young women should read about in order to become more empowered.
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson //
This is yet another powerful novel that is about a young woman who has to find her voice. Except, this book deals with the issue of sexual assault and coming forward about abuse. The protagonist of the story, Melinda is alienated by her classmates after she busts a party by calling the cops. While everyone ridicules her for this decision, she is the only one that knows the real reason why she called the police. This story is Melinda’s journey of fighting back against abuse and finding the strength to expose injustices. The most powerful part about this book is she not speaking up just for herself, but for many young women who have been taken advantage of.