15 Kids' Books Featuring Characters Who Speak Their Minds

Strength isn't just a physical attribute and courage, or ometz lev, isn't reserved strictly for feats of daring. Speaking one's mind, doing the right thing, or being a mensch, isn't always easy, especially when doing so means going against popular opinion.

This book list features stories about characters--real and fictional--who weren't afraid to speak up and speak out.

Who are some of your favorite outspoken PJ Library characters? Help us add to the book list by joining the conversation on Facebook and Instagram.



Albert Einstein — On a Beam of Light

Children (and grownups too) will be inspired by Einstein's example of intellectual curiosity and in his tenacity to do things in his own way on his own time.

Clara Leimlich — Brave Girl

This book follows the real-life story of organizer Clara Lemlich. She lead the largest ever strike of women workers in the United States and fought for fair labor practices.

Emma Lazarus — Emma's Poem

The beautiful words of poet Emma Lazarus stand as a reminder that the United States is a place of opportunity for all.

George Gershwin — Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue

As an up and coming composer, Gershwin is not sure what to write about, but then he finds his voice.

Golda Meir — Goldie Takes a Stand

Long before she was Israel's first female prime minister, Golda Meir was a precocious nine year old, mobilizing and organizing her peers.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — I Dissent

The "Notorious RBG" proves that one can "disagree without being disagreeable" in this award-winning children's book about her life.

Zishe — Zishe The Strongman

This story proves that strength is about more than physical prowess.


King Solomon

Wise King Solomon lead his people by acting fairly and speaking with integrity and honesty. Read King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba or King Solomon and the Bee to learn more.


Moses definitely knew how to use his voice--to challenge authority and to lead. There are lots of fantastic books featuring Moses and the Passover story. You can find our full list here. Older kids will want to check out Exodus an elaborate picture book with vibrant illustrations.

Queen Esther

The star of the Purim story, Queen Esther foiled an elaborate political plot and saved the Jewish people. Learn more with Queen Esther Saves her People or The Story of Esther: A Purim Tale.


Ellie Taylor — OyMG

In this PJ Our Way selection, outspoken Ellie is faced with a tough dilemma when she earns a scholarship to a prestigious performing arts camp.

Pearl — Pearl Moscowitz's Last Stand

The crew from the city thinks chopping down a tree on one block is no big deal--then they meet Pearl. This book is proof that one person with deep convictions can make a big impact.

Rifka — Rifka Takes a Bow

Rifka is growing up in the world of 1920s Yiddish theater on the Lower East Side, where both her parents are actors. One day, little Rifka gets to take a turn in the spotlight too.

Shira — The Kugel Valley Klezmer Band

Shira's not content to sit on the sidelines and be "with the band"--she wants to be in it and on stage too! When the fiddle player has to step out for a gig, Shira is ready to take his place.

Yuvi — Yuvi's Candy Tree

Based on a true story, this book follows Yuvi, a young girl from Ethiopia who makes a courageous journey to Israel.

Who would you add to this list? Share your suggestions with us on our Facebook page or follow PJ Library on Instagram.