"Girls are people" books for young kids
"Dad, how come in most stories, it's a boy that does stuff?" said my daughter last year sometime. "Well, uh, because for a long time… Um, well, you see… hmmm…" I'm not sure what I eventually got out, but I vowed to try to find books where it was a girl who went out and did things. I know there are lots of them out there, but they're not easy to find. So I thought I'd list the ones I have personally vetted and read to my daughter.
The criteria to be included on this list:
1) A girl main character, or co-lead.
2) Kind of adventurey.
3) Doesn't make a big deal about how it's a girl lead.
4) I have read it with my daughter, and we both liked it.
"2" is a bit more nebulous, but mainly I mean the character has to do stuff and take actions, not just wander around a school (or a castle) and talk/gossip about boys, parties, or dresses. The girl doesn't have to go out and fight dragons in every book or anything, but she does have to have an adventure or take some risk.
"3"… I don't like explicit "I'm a girl and can do stuff, too!" moments, because that means they've previously set up a situation where girls aren't supposed to "do stuff". There are times and places for books like those, but that's not what this list is about. This list is mostly for stories where gender is incidental or irrelevant.
"4"… I'm sure there are other books out there like this, but this is my personally-vetted list. These tend to be shorter and "exciting" books, because she has just turned six and gets bored with plodding text, even when someone else is reading it.
I'm not a "girl power" Nazi: We do read all kinds of books, including ones where it's mostly boys who "do stuff" (the majority), and ones where girls mostly do "girly" things (no shortage of those, either), but I like these books because they reinforce her understanding that there are many ways to be a girl.
I found some of these books from the Mighty Girl page, and my wife brought home a few that she knew of, and many I stumbled across just browsing at the library.
These range from very short picture books to chapter books. I'd recommend these for all the childrens.
Magic Pickle series.
Franny K Stein series.
Magic Tree House series.
Ivy and Bean series. ( Usually funny, but not as "adventurey" as the rest. )
Keeker (Not my favorite: A "well-to-do" girl who loves her pony and rides her pony and rich girl pony pony. Pony. Pony… But, she does things.)
These are some I've not read personally, but my wife read and my daughter likes:
Giants Beware! The bits I heard sounded good.
And some we own and I plan on trying soon:
Sophie the … series.
Christina Katerina & the Box.
Feel free to leave your personal suggestions in the comments.