The essential International Women's Day reading list for all ages

Eight excellent books for March 8 that celebrate, honour and support women all over the world

Image: covers courtesy publishers; artwork: Tana
This world is full of fierce and fearless trailblazing females. The activists who stomp on social norms and pushback against stereotypes, the everyday heroes who support us on the daily, the mothers who raise and nurture us, and the girls who are our future... they all pave the way for the rest of us on our path to greatness.

In honour of International Women's Day on March 8, we've rounded up eight excellent books – for readers of all ages – that support and celebrate some of those many wonderful women.

Young readers

Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls by Francesca Cavallo and Elena Favilli

Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls by Francesca Cavallo and Elena Favilli

Great for all ages, there are now two editions of this excellent series of bedtime stories, each packed with real-life adventures of 100 fearless women from all over the world. Travel to the Altai Mountains with Aisholpan Nurgaiv, hear the extraordinary courage of Chinese feminist revolutionary Qiu Jin, take to the stage with outspoken Afghan rapper Sonita Alizadeh, and discover many more stories – each illustrated by female artists from across the globe.

Get them on Kindle for around 90RMB each or at bookdepository.com for around 150RMB. 

Mulan: A Story in Chinese and English by Li Jian, translated by Yijin Wert

Mulan: A Story in Chinese and English by Li Jian, translated by Yijin Wert

One of the most well-known heroines in Chinese folklore today, the ancient story of Hua Mulan and her bravery has been told for centuries. When her elderly father is conscripted to fight in the army, Mulan defies tradition and laws, disguises herself as a boy and secretly takes his place. Colourfully illustrated in the style of Chinese ink paintings, this bilingual book is a great one for young learners.

Get it at bookdepository.com for around 120RMB.

The Seven Chinese Sisters by Kathy Tucker, illustrated by Grace Lin

The Seven Chinese Sisters by Kathy Tucker, illustrated by Grace Lin

All about the power of sisterhood, in this rework of the Chinese legend Ten Brothers, the sisters each possess a special talent that they use to protect each other – from speed- riding a scooter to karate to cooking. When the youngest sister is taken by a dragon, the others work together to save her.

Get it at bookdepository.com for around 50RMB.

Tweens and young teens

A Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah

A Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah

Falling Leaves author Adeline Yen Mah reworks her autobiographical account of growing up as an unwanted daughter for a younger audience in A Chinese Cinderella. Heroine Jung-ling’s mother died in childbirth, her stepmother is malicious, her father disinterested and her sisters disloyal, but through determination, and with the support of her aunt and grandfather, she goes on to greatness.

Get it on Kindle for around 30RMB or at bookdepository.com for around 55RMB.

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Change by Rachel Ignotofsky

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Change by Rachel Ignotofsky

Women in Science profiles women throughout history who killed it in the male-dominated fields of science, tech, engineering and maths. From the first female and two-time Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie to Qing dynasty scientist Wang Zhenyi, it’s a great choice for kids with an interest in STEM subjects.

Get it on Kindle for around 70RMB or at bookdepository.com for around 85RMB.

Young adults and parents

Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother: Stories of Love and Loss by Xinran

Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother: Stories of Love and Loss by Xinran

Journalist and author Xinran has built her career on giving a voice to unheard women across China. In this collection of heart-wrenching, real-life stories, Xinran goes behind the scenes in the lives of ten mothers who were forced to give up their daughters as a result of the one-child policy, archaic traditions or economic necessity.

Get it on Kindle for around 90RMB or at bookdepository.com for around 75RMB.

Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in China by Leta Hong Fincher

Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in China by Leta Hong Fincher

China women’s rights expert Leta Hong Fincher’s essential read delves into China’s growing feminist movement and looks at some of the inspirational women leading the charge.

Get it on Kindle for around 70RMB or at bookdepository.com for around 100RMB.

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

A mainstay on book club reading lists for the past three decades, Amy Tan’s classic The Joy Luck Club follows the lives and relationships of eight Chinese immigrant mothers in the United States and their American-born daughters as they navigate generational and cultural differences.

Get in on Kindle for around 60RMB or at bookdepository.com for around 70RMB.


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