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When I decided not to return to work after having my first child, a trusted colleague advised me to still “do something” while I was home. She suggested I work part-time, attend conferences, or volunteer – really, anything that would fill the unsightly gap in employment on my resume.

While she supported and respected my choice to be home, she warned that many of her friends who made the same decision struggled to re-enter the workforce. They had to take steps back in their careers and salary because employers found their break from the paid workforce unattractive. She wanted me to avoid this, advising that my skills and time are valuable, and I should be paid accordingly, even if I’ve chosen to exit the fast track for a while.

With this in mind, I took a big gulp and pressed pause on my career, and I don’t yet know how my personal story will go. I hope, when I’m ready, I’m able to press play right where I left off, but I know I may have to rewind to a more junior role to get my foot back in the door. I also know that my situation is not unique.


Paying the price for exiting the fast track

According to the Harvard Business Review’s widely circulated 2005 study “Off-Ramps and On-Ramps:  Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success,” over a third of “highly qualified women” reported voluntarily leaving their careers at some point, and the number increases to 43% among women with children. Almost all of the women surveyed (93%) intended to re-enter the workforce, but only 40% found full-time employment. Others worked part-time or became self-employed.

The authors concluded, “The implication is clear: Off-ramps are around every curve in the road, but once a woman has taken one, on-ramps are few and far between – and extremely costly.” Even with a relatively short break of one to two years, women lost, on average, 18% of their earning power. Unsurprisingly, the longer women stayed out, the larger the penalty. The authors updated the study in 2010 and did not find significant differences in their results.

So, my colleague’s advice to me was sound. As I enter my third year out of the workforce, I can’t help but take another big gulp, wondering just how much money I’m leaving on the table and just how hard it will be to get back to work when I’m ready.

Of course, having a choice of whether to work is a privilege that few American women have. Nonetheless, there’s a group of us who put our professional careers on hold, only to find that the years we invested in schooling and work don’t help very much when we want to get back in the game, and that’s pretty frustrating.

But, employers are feeling pain, too, in the form of talent shortages and the desire to balance gender representation in their workplaces, so they’re taking notice of the “roughly 2.6 million educated mothers of prime working age who are not in the labor force.”

On-ramping with a returnship

The Chicago Tribune reported in February 2016 that seven STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) companies are set to launch re-entrance programs this year for professionals who want to get back into the workforce after taking an extended career break (usually two or more years). These paid internships serve as an outreach opportunity to a pool of talent that, until recently, may have been overlooked because of their break from work.

IBM, GM, Booz Allen Hamilton, Intel, Johnson Controls, Cummins, and Caterpillar committed to pilot programs in cooperation with the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and the consulting firm iRelaunch, which calls itself “the return-to-work experts.” The hope is that more companies in STEM will sign on to start programs of their own in the coming years.

The concept is not new. Goldman Sachs led the pack in 2008 with its Returnship program , and Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, and JPMorgan followed with similar programs. Several big law firms started their own, too, and some companies have expanded their programs globally. According to iRelaunch’s comprehensive list of re-entry programs, there are about 90 active programs across industries.

The details of the programs vary by company, but they generally offer paid internships that last anywhere from nine weeks to an entire year and rotate participants through various departments or roles. Participants receive support through mentorships and workshops, have opportunities to network with other professionals, and adapt their skills for a work environment that may have changed since they’ve been gone.

The programs are competitive and do not guarantee a job offer at the end. At Goldman, 1,000 applicants vied for 19 spots in 2013, and about half of all graduates of the program have received job offers.

The highest users of these internships are women who stepped out of the workforce to raise families, but it’s not exclusively for them. As adults have the burden to care for their aging parents or take leaves of absence for other personal reasons, these programs offer a way to re-adjust to life at work, as The New York Times highlighted in 2014.

Are they really necessary?

Since my background is in human resources, when I first learned about these programs I was intrigued, but as a stay-at-home mom who assumes she’ll have a career again one day, I was miffed. Had I really become so untouchable that I’d need a special program to get back to work? These internships validate the assumption that candidates with a gap in employment are less capable than candidates who’ve continuously worked, and I’m not convinced that’s fair.

In that Harvard Business Review study, women lost earning power after one or two years out of work. How much does one’s professional skill set really diminish over two years, and does it actually justify putting them in a more junior role than the one they left? Does it really take longer to bring them up to speed than any new employee on-boarding into a company?

I was chatting with a friend from my old job, and she filled me in on the latest news from our company. It was kind of like watching a soap opera that I hadn’t seen in a few years. Things had changed, but I could still follow the storyline pretty easily. Surely, I could jump back into my old role after three years of being away. So, then, how big of a disadvantage would I really have at a different company compared to any other new hire?

I channeled my grad school research days and scanned through hundreds of studies on JSTOR looking for data on this — the success and turnover rates of people re-entering the workforce after a career interruption compared to new employees with no such break. I couldn’t find any research on the topic. If you have facts on this, please share them because I really want to know whether the perception is justified that job candidates with a break in service are a high risk hiring decision.

I want more than anecdotes of a mom getting cold feet as she starts a new job. Because for every one of those, I know a woman who hit the ground running at the same speed as any other new employee. Sure, these ladies found the transition mentally taxing at first, but this didn’t diminish their contributions to their new employers. Everyone starting a new job has a learning curve and no one has an absolutely perfect skill set. We all have strengths and weaknesses, regardless of whether we’ve always worked or took a break.

If such research doesn’t exist, then I know what I’ll study for my PhD dissertation when I can’t get a job due to my apparently unbridgeable gap in employment. Because, I actually think I’ll be a better employee than when I left. Motherhood has made me an all-around more competent person. I’m a better advocate for others and a better leader, more mindful of when and how to steer the ship where it needs to go.

In fact, another friend of mine, who’s an attorney, said that early in her career, the lawyer interviewing her noticed she had been a preschool teacher in college. The lawyer told her that if she could successfully negotiate with two- and three-year-olds, then she would have no trouble arguing with opposing counsel. She got the job.

On top of the professional skill set that I’ve retained (and still use, just in different ways), I’m bringing an entire set of experiences that people who’ve always worked don’t have. I may have unique and beneficial insights to share with my new company, and it’s disheartening that it’s not always looked at this way.

I’m not alone in taking offense. Stacey Hawley’s article on WorkingMother.com called returnships a “bad idea” that “take advantage of women who feel less confident after being at home for a few years.” She argues that companies “PLAY on this PERCEIVED lack of expertise or skills. They promote the low self-confidence some people feel after being out of the workforce and use it to their advantage. Under the guise of helping people get up to speed and allowing employees to ‘see if it is the right fit,’ they get a no-risk trial and can fire you.”

Certainly things change over time. New technology, industry innovations, and workplace trends create a learning curve that steepens the longer one’s been gone, but lumping everyone with a gap of two or more years into one group, assuming they need extra help just to function in a workplace, and then funneling them into highly competitive programs that don’t guarantee employment lets companies off the hook of evaluating resumes of career re-launchers in an unbiased way.

But maybe they’re helpful

As I worked myself up into a lather over these re-entry programs, I reached out to my former colleagues still in the trenches of human resources at a variety of well-known and respected companies. They calmed my righteous indignation because they’re not only skilled professionals but also young mothers who know what it feels like to actually make that transition back to work (something I have yet to do). 

They know firsthand how hard it is to transition their mindsets back to work after time off, even if it’s only a four-month maternity leave. “It’s still a very big mental shift to get your brain re-trained to be focused on the business, strategies, etc. To go from family being the number one, to family being one of a few different priorities, it’s a juggle,” Kelly Jones, an HR Business Partner at The Clorox Company explains. Re-entrance programs offer less of a commitment on both sides, which is good if the candidate decides she’s not quite ready to go back to work.

I also talked with Estrella Parker, Chief Human Resource Officer at Satellite Healthcare WellBound, for her take on these initiatives. Her company does not have a re-entrance program, but she sees value in them as an opportunity to rebuild the confidence of people coming back to work, not to take advantage of them.

She explains, “It’s all about transition. How do you support them to prepare for a competitive environment, so they can reintegrate into those [higher] level positions [that they left]?” Even more importantly, she says, these programs offer access to professional networks that may be hard for individuals to tap into on their own. The old adage of, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know” often still holds true for career progression.

Getting your foot back in the door

Whether you think a re-entrance program is right for you, or you want to find other ways to get back to work, think first about what you really want to do. “When you take a break, it changes you, and you might not want to get back into work where you left off,” Parker notes. You’ll be most successful if you find the right fit, even if it’s in a different company, industry, or profession than where you were before. IRelaunch offers numerous resources to get you prepped for returning to work.

Here are some other things to keep in mind:

Introducing the concept of re-entrance programs to desired employers may be tough.

Developing and running programs like these takes time and money, and employers aren’t likely to do it for a single job candidate. Your best bet is to convince them that you already have what it takes to be hired straight away. If you’re set on getting one of these schemes in place, work with current employees inside the company to develop a business case for it. You’ll need to understand where they have talent gaps, demonstrate how these programs can help close those gaps, offer suggestions for program design, and estimate the return on investment the company can expect.

That’s a lot of work, so maybe… 

Consider contracting assignments to ease back in.

Often, companies need extra help from experienced, highly-skilled professionals for specific projects or seasonal work and will contract with temporary agencies and consultants to fill this need. It’s a common re-entry point that provides flexibility and less commitment, but gets a foot in the door and can lead to full-time employment.

Networking is the key.

It really is all about getting that chance to prove you’ve still got it, and often that’s about who you know. Make it vocal to anyone who will listen that you’re ready to return to work. You may be surprised at your own connections.

Bottom line

I’m not convinced that everyone who takes a break from work requires a special set of hoops, like these internships, to prove that we’ve retained our business acumen, technical, and communication skills. I’m afraid that, with the creation of these programs, companies are never challenged to examine their bias against career re-launchers as already-legitimate job candidates. However, since I haven’t transitioned back to work, I don’t fully understand what it takes, and I have to trust my colleagues who have done it.

I do believe these programs were designed to be mutually beneficial to companies and career re-launchers alike, so I support them. Because, really, whenever a company invests time and money into people, it’s a good thing.

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The holidays are quickly on their way, and while there are tons of ways to celebrate, you should feel free to get a little creative with it and make your own traditions (there's no law requiring you to dress everyone in matching red velvet jumpers to sit on Santa's lap). So instead of battling between getting the perfect picture and your baby's natural urge to wiggle, harness the power of those inevitable Hallmark moments—the first giggle, the budding personality, the two-toothed grin—to make your December super special.

Here are six new traditions you can start to meet your little one where they are and celebrate joy in this season—without all the stress.

1. Make DIY ornaments

Decorating the tree is a beloved tradition, and having a little one is all the more reason to get into the spirit of it. Get the baby—and the rest of the family—involved in the fun by letting everyone color or paint on an unbreakable, homemade ornament and hang them towards the bottom of the tree. And sure, your infant may not create any masterpieces at this age, but not only will the precious family heirlooms stay higher up (read: away from tiny hands), you'll also be creating keepsakes to build on for years to come.

2. Bring a holiday scene to life

Connecting your children to the spirit of the season is an important part of teaching them what it's all about, but it's not always so easy to do through books and stories alone. Instead, offer them the chance to live it out! Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas or another significant holiday, playing pretend is the ideal way to teach and have fun along the way for everyone in the family. Use a kid-friendly nativity book as a guide or make your own menorah as you explore the story of the oil that burned for 8 nights—whatever your religion, there's an important tale to tell.

3. Make video cards

There is joy in receiving physical mail and holiday cards are a wonderful way to make your loved ones feel special. But don't stop there! Record a video greeting to send to your nearest and dearest to keep even the most far-away relatives feel like they're right there with you. Everyone will love seeing the baby's latest milestones in live-action, and it's a great way to spread the season's warmest greetings.

4. Start a time capsule box

Making (and maintaining) a baby book is a fabulous idea, but sometimes keeping it up-to-date gets lost in the shuffle of parenthood. Use the holiday season as a time to reconnect with all those beloved memories for your kiddo by starting an annual time capsule box: Each year, have all members of the family add one item of their choosing (or your choosing, depending on age) to the box and label it with a little note. Things can range from a favorite holiday-themed blanket or toy to something they no longer need but aren't ready to throw away.

5. Begin a culinary tradition

Nothing says "cozy" like a yummy-smelling kitchen filled with laughter. While your tot may still be too small to really help in the kitchen, it's never too early to kickstart their love of cooking. Pick a recipe you'll make every year and get them "involved" with a spoon and an empty mixing bowl. You'll get to enjoy the fruits of your labor together and it'll help encourage them to cook with you more year-round, too.

6. Play king for a day

We all know that as babies grow up—independence is a priority, no matter how ready for it we really are. This year, give them the gift of being in charge. By allowing your little one to eat what they want, wear what they pick (a sparkly tutu? No problem. An adorable Christmas cape? Great!) and play with what they prefer, you'll be empowering them with a sense of self and giving yourself the gift of hilarious photo ops for years to come.

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As an ESPN anchor Kevin Negandhi talks to a lot of pro athletes. But as a parent he knows that sometimes raising kids is as hard as training for the big leagues (seriously, science proves that kids energy levels surpass endurance athletes' and parents are running after those kids).

Negandhi knows what it's like to be face-to-face with athletes that so many people idolize, but he also knows that a parent can be more influential than any big league idol, and that's why he's working with Dove Men+Care SPORTCARE to put real dads in the spotlight.

"We have a platform to showcase what they do as everyday athletes, but also as everyday men, everyday fathers," says Negandhi, who has three kids himself. He tells Motherly he tries to make sure he's active with his kids—playing sports with them so that they understand the importance of staying active—but also staying active with the kids when the touch football ends and the real parenting endurance test begins. Like many modern fathers, Negandhi is committed to doing more childcare than his own father did.

"My mom did everything in our house," he tells Motherly. "My dad worked, but my mom worked as well. And she did everything. She raised us. But at the same time she showed me another side. And many times growing up I said, 'How can I be different than my father?'"

Being involved with his kids and doing more of the unpaid work in his household than his own dad did is how Negandhi is doing it, and he's taking time to showcase three fellow dads who—while sharing their names with professional athletes—certainly don't get as much credit as the pros.

That is actually something of a problem in media right now. According to a recent survey by Dove Men+Care, 70% of men wish regular guys who are athletes (but not professionals) got more attention in sports media. Because as much as winning the Superbowl or making it to the major leagues should be celebrated, being a dad who is physically active and active in raising his kids should be celebrated, too.

Research shows that when kids grow up seeing dads exercise they are healthier, and while these three men happen to share their names with famous athletes, they don't get the same glory. So Negandhi and Dove Men+Care are giving these hard working dads some recognition.

Alvin Suarez

Alvin Suarez is teaching his kids that having a disability doesn't disqualify you from being an athlete. As a visually-impaired person, Alvin isn't the standard athlete we see represented in media. He plays Goalball, a sport that relies on keen ear-hand coordination, and he is certainly a keen father, chasing after his twin girls.

Alvin says the difference between sports and fatherhood is that you can train for sports, while parenthood takes you by surprise. "I try to be a good role model for my daughters and I want everyone to know that everyone has potential and that there is no such thing as a nobody."

Alvin has won championships as a Goalball player, but says holding his daughters in his arms for the first time was like winning a medal but multiplied by a million.

Sean Williams

Sean Williams is committed to his community and his kids. He uses physical fitness to connect with his kids and to, literally, save lives. A volunteer firefighter, Sean keeps fit so that he can use his body and energy to maximum impact. He isn't just changing the lives of people impacted by fires, but also his fellow dads.

The founder of The Dad Gang, an organization committed to celebrating and telling the real story of black fatherhood, Sean has created a space for dads to connect with their children and each other while staying active.

"One of the challenges we put out on social media is where you do pushups with our kids on our backs and that merges fatherhood and fitness," he explains.

If there was a Super Bowl for community service, Sean would be wearing the ring.

Chris Paul

A Marine Corps veteran, Chris needs a ton of energy to keep up with his blended family. It started out as an "all-girl Brady Bunch" he explains, as his wife and he had six daughters between them, but they've since added a boy to the family which now included seven kids. .

He's basically got his own sports team at home so it makes sense that Chris is super committed to staying fit for them. The Marine turned realtor takes time to help other dads in his community stay fit and knows when to draw boundaries to protect his time with his kids.

He's got some good endurance, but he's not going to work 15 hours a day when his kids are waiting at home for him. Chris says in former times dads were often passive figures in their kids' lives as the child rearing was done by others.

Like the other men, he's changing that. "I'm an active participant and I want to make sure that I can contribute to my children's lives."

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Back in 2017 when we learned Beyoncé was starring in a new remake of The Lion King I was thrilled. My son (my only child) was almost 2 years old and I told my partner I wanted The Lion King to be our son's first movie theatre experience. Going to see the original Lion King in a movie theatre was a big deal to me as a kid and I wanted to recreate that experience for my son.

Flash forward to July 2019 and The Lion King is in theaters—but my son and I are not. Turns out I really overestimated how long 3-year-olds can sit still. While my son loves watching 1994's Lion King at home (he always stands on the couch and lifts his stuffed animals to the sky during "Circle of Life") he's just not quite subdued enough for the cinema yet.


So we have been waiting to see The Lion King at home, and now we finally can! October 11 marks the film's digital home video release, and the Blu-ray hits stores on October 22.

Rob Legato, a VFX supervisor on the film, tells Motherly that "the visuals are so well preserved on 4K and newer television sets that it is literally the mini theatre experience and you're not missing much by seeing it at home."

Basically, the digital version is going to be just as awesome as seeing it in theaters, except that we will be able to pause for potty breaks and my kiddo can stand on his seat pretending to be Rafiki without blocking anyone's view.

The movie is, of course, incredible, but so are the animals it's based on. Screening the movie at home is an amazing way to start conversations with your kids about the various animals in the film as they are of course more similar to the real animals they are based on then their animated counterparts were in 1994.

The filmmakers went to Africa to research the animals they were bringing to life and they also spent a ton of time at the Harambe Wildlife Reserve inside Disney's Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida watching various species to try to make their movements as realistic as possible. There, 34 species live on 110 acres and the filmmakers got to watch them closely, making this film incredibly detailed.

Some of the animal experts who work with these animals on a daily basis say that when they watch The Lion King, they can actually tell which characters are based on which of the animals they know in real life.

"This film presented a really wonderful and unique opportunity to bring the production crew to the animals here at Disney's Animal Kingdom. They spent about 6 weeks here collecting reference footage of the animals here and we partnered really closely with the animal care teams at Disney's Animal Kingdom to make sure that all of the filming that we were doing, the impact to the animals was minimized," says Jon Ross of Disney's Animals in TV and Film department

The film crew watched the animals from a distance, which is something families can also do at Disney's Animal Kingdom by taking the Kilimanjaro Safari or staying in Jambo House at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, where giraffes and other animals can be seen right from hotel balconies.

But the work Disney is doing with the animals is more than a tourist attraction. The company is serious about conservation and protecting the animal species featured in the park and in its films. "Tied to the Lion King film we launched the Protect the Pride initiative," Claire Martin of Disney's Conservation & Partnerships team tells Motherly. "We realized that we'd lost half of the world's lions since the first Lion King film debuted and we want to turn that around, so we're working with the Wildlife Conservation Network's Lion Recovery Fund to help their vision to double the amount of lions in the wild by 2050," she explains.

Marin suggests that parents watching The Lion King with their kids can use the film to talk to their children about conservation issues and continue the education long after the end credits roll. "We encourage people to learn more, visit the website, get involved and learn more about how they can make an impact on lions and other wildlife across Africa," says Martin.

Through the website, parents can even download an activity packet (you can print it and make your kids a cool book) with all kinds of information and cool activities and to help kids feed their lion obsession in an educational way even when screen time is over.

The Lion King is available to stream now and will be on Blu-ray October 22 (with even more educational features about the animals!)

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For those without a toddler glued to the screen, Blippi is the colorfully dressed, bespectacled YouTube alter ego of Stevin John. He delights children by acting like a little kid as he visits farms, indoor playgrounds, construction sites and more, teaching simple lessons and singing songs about everything he sees. His channel has 5.71 million subscribers, with hits like "The Excavator Song" racking up 50 million views.

This kind of success meant he was long overdue to take the show on the road. Earlier this week, he announced a 30-date U.S. tour with an interview on Billboard, as well as on his social media. But now parents of Blippi fans, are concerned that they won't get the "real" Blippi when they attend Blippi Live shows next year.


Parents flocked to his site to purchase tickets, which cost $26-$70, for the shows running in February and March 2020. But some of them hadn't read the interview, nor did they notice the fine print on the FAQ page of the Blippi Live site that said Stevin John himself was not going to be on the stage.

"I won't be on the road, but I am obviously extremely involved with the whole process," John told Billboard. "Blippi is as a character and I'm the creative force behind it, but since YouTube is a monster and all of these platforms are really crazy I can't go on the road for many weeks or months at a time."

Some parents had even spent $40-$51 on the after-show meet-and-greet before they realized that their kids would be meeting an unfamiliar "performer" instead of John. Many reacted with outrage and immediately tried to get a refund, according to Buzzfeed News.

"I didn't find out until five seconds after I submitted my payment and Ticketmaster refused to refund me," Angelina Sakowski told Buzzfeed after she bought tickets to a New Jersey show.

Stephen Shaw, the producer and promoter of the Blippi Live show, told Buzzfeed that his company would be sending parents a letter informing them about the replacement performer and would offer refunds.

They have also since added this line to the Blippi Live site: "Stevin John is the creator of Blippi and acts as the writer and creative force behind the Blippi character. Now that Blippi has evolved as a character he is excited that a dynamic stage performer has been cast as Blippi to entertain and thrill audiences across all of the tour markets."

It's hard to guess whether Blippi's actual target audience—i.e., not the upset parents—would care that stage Blippi was a slightly different person than the one they see on screens. After all, the Baby Sharks in the live show are 3D and therefore slightly different from the animated versions we all know and love/hate.

Stevin John issued a statement on the official Blippi Instagram account this week, which reads, in part: "We tried to make it clear that I would not be the character at the live show (via Billboard Exclusive Interview + FAQ on BlippiLive.com) but I'm sorry it seems that wasn't enough. We have adjusted and continue to make it even more apparent that it's not going to be me on stage. I will be the creative force behind the live show, as a producer, a writer, and also I am personally casting the live theater performer to play the character on stage."

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Today, October 11th, is the International Day of the Girl. To celebrate, we curated our favorite books showcasing incredible girls from around the globe. These picks challenge the girl-boy binary by breaking gender stereotypes and demonstrate how gender intersects with race, culture and class. These books celebrate the power of girls, and inspire us to create a world where kids are free to be regardless of their gender.

Each of these books have been featured in the Little Feminist book club, and our subscribers have read and loved them all!

1. Rosa Loves Cars

Ages 0-4

What's more empowering than doing what you love? Cars, dinosaurs, dolls, dresses—all kids can love all of these and so much more! We love Rosa's joy in all things wheeled from fire trucks to car races. Celebrate the freedom to play with this adorable board book series.


2. We are Little Feminists series

Ages 0-5

Babies love photos of babies. All kids deserve diverse books. Put that together and what do you get? Our book series!! These three books (Hair, On-the-Go and Family) feature amazing community-sourced photographs of all sorts of people moving, laughing and loving in all sorts of ways. You and your kiddos will want to look at them again and again!


3. Big Mooncake for Little Star

Ages 2-6

Breathtaking illustrations and sweetest insatiable sweet tooth make this book unforgettable. Little Star keeps craving the big mooncake, and her sneaky bedtime nibbles will make you want a bite too! This #OwnVoices story draws on the author's Taiwanese roots to highlight the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. We love how this story perfectly captures love, anticipation and celebration for little readers.


4. Drum Dream Girl

Ages 3-7

Gender minorities (read everyone who's not a cisgendered male) have been historically excluded from countless activities and institutions: schools, sports, and even drumming. We love this unique story of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga- one of Cuba's first womxn drummers! The musical rhymes and colorful Cuban plants that adorn each page will have you dancing as you read.


5. Reading Beauty

Ages 3-7

This is a fairytale done right! The princess's prince is not who you think it will be, in fact there's no male savior in sight. Princess Lex, with her awesome blue afro, is an adventurous problem solver who seeks peace and inclusion instead of revenge. If you have any aspiring little royals at home, this fantastical kingdom is the place for them!


6. My Papi has a Motorcycle

Ages 3-7

Take a motorcycle ride alongside this little girl and her papi and discover what makes community so special. We love how seamlessly the Latinx author and illustrator blend Spanish and English in this #OwnVoices story. Watch out, your little reader might ask you to get a motorcycle after they see the illustrations of this dynamic ride.


7. Separate is Never Equal

Ages 6-10

We all have heard of Malala and Ruby Bridges, but so many girls have fought for equal access to education including Sylvia Mendez. We love how this story puts the Mendez family's activism front and center—shining light on the rich history of self-advocacy in the Mexican-American community. Yes, this is another #OwnVoices stories, and yes those are our favorite.


8. What Do You Do with a Voice Like That?

Ages 6-10

Do you know who Barbara Jordan is?! GO, do all the Googling now! But also, read this book! Minds will be blown- how did we not learn about this powerhouse of a woman in history class?! Glass ceilings will be shattered- Barbara served as a Texas Senator in 1967 along with 30 white men! This book goes to show that children's books are not just for kids.


9. Josephine

Ages 7-13

We are illustrator Christian Robinson's #1 fans! In this book he takes you on a beautiful journey through artist and activist Josephine Baker's life. Josephine felt fearful and angry about all the injustices in society, sound like a familiar feeling? She took all that frustration and transformed into amazing art. We love this book because we believe art is powerful, art is necessary, art is healing. And books about strong black woman without any white saviors lurking on the next page are always a win.


10. Book Uncle and Me

Ages 7-13

A book about a girl's community activism in her Indian city written by an Indian author?! We're here for all these great #OwnVoices stories! We love how this story of Yasmin campaigning for change empowers kids to be changemakers- and also reminds adults to see kids as capable. Yasmin's tenacity will inspire you to channel your inner leader no matter where you live.


While these books feature and celebrate girls, we believe all kids of ALL genders should read these picks. Each child deserves a joyful, healthy, free childhood where they feel safe being who they are.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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