What comes to mind when you think of a “feminist book”? Something serious and provocative? Something only for girls? The kind of self-improving book no one would pick up just for fun? Rise: A Feminist Book Project for Ages 0-18, part of the American Library Association, puts together an annual list of recommended titles that combine young reader appeal with strong literary and artistic merit. What these books have in common is that they model or advocate for equitable, respectful treatment for everyone regardless of gender. They are books for all readers. The members of this year’s committee (I am one of 11) read widely, voraciously, and critically—and then debated passionately. Our 2023 list consists of 118 books across a range of genres and formats running the gamut from board books for babies to adult crossover titles. These nine YA titles from our list are absorbing reads that demonstrate feminist values.

Scout’s Honor by Lily Anderson (Henry Holt, 2022): This book offers readers a rollicking good time as outwardly prim Ladybird Scouts slay deadly mulligrubs that feed on people’s negative emotions. Sixteen-year-old Prue is wrestling with PTSD and her own conflicted feelings about being a Scout.

No Stopping Us Now by Lucy Jane Bledsoe (Three Rooms Press, 2022): This work of historical fiction set in the 1970s is closely based on Bledsoe’s own teen years. Protagonist Louisa and her teammates struggle against their school’s hostility toward girls’ basketball despite the recent passage of Title IX. Meeting Gloria Steinem inspires Louisa’s fight.

Gender Inequality in Sports: From Title IX to World Titles by Kirstin Cronn-Mills (Twenty-First Century/Lerner, 2022): The author pulls off quite a feat with this work of nonfiction—it’s astonishingly comprehensive yet incredibly compact and highly readable. Readers will be left well informed about Title IX’s impact and present-day issues surrounding equity in sports.

Movements and Moments edited by Sonja Eismann, Ingo Schöningh, and Maya (Drawn & Quarterly, 2022): This remarkable graphic anthology highlights centuries of courageous activism by Indigenous women and was created by women authors and artists from the Global South. The vivid art and riveting storytelling do tribute to their social and environmental struggles.

Huda F Are You? written and illustrated by Huda Fahmy (Dial Books, 2021): This graphic novel inspired by the author’s life is both hilarious and heart-rending. Hijabi teen Huda navigates life with four sisters, the social scene at her new high school, and figuring out who she is and what she wants.

Murder for the Modern Girl by Kendall Kulper (Holiday House, 2022): In this paranormal mystery steeped in a glamorous, gritty 1920s atmosphere, flapper Ruby is a mind-reading teen vigilante who bumps off evil men. She teams up with Guy, who can assume other people’s appearances, to catch a poisoner.

Sugar Town Queens by Malla Nunn (Putnam, 2021): In this textured novel centering mutually supportive women, Amandla is growing up in a South African shanty town with her single White mother. Her Black father and maternal relatives are mysteries to her until a startling revelation changes everything.

Lia and Beckett’s Abracadabra by Amy Noelle Parks (Amulet/Abrams, 2022): Parks immerses readers in the world of stage magic, weaving fascinating information about its misogynistic history into a charming romance as Lia and cute new friend Beckett work to right a historic wrong done to Lia’s magician grandmother.

The Ghosts of Rose Hill by R.M. Romero (Peachtree Teen, 2022): In this verse novel, Czech and Cuban American Ilana, a Jewish teen, is spending the summer in Prague. She stumbles across a neglected Jewish cemetery, a mysterious boy, and dangers that shed light on the “final girl” trope.

Laura Simeon is a young readers’ editor.