Books for Young Girls
Thank you all so much for the suggestions of good books for girls. I knew you guys would be a good resource. For some reason, I was struggling to find books that felt right. But now I have a ton to read through and suggest to our girls. I think I will give a list of these and to the moms and daughters, since we won’t get to all of them. Maybe group them by genre, something like that. That would help me, because I could spend all day in a bookstore, or on amazon, looking at what each book is about. Ten year old girls are still teetering in that little girl stage in my mind, so I don’t want to throw on something too heavy too early. Here’s the list (in no particular order)-
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes (our group will be starting with this one)
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Are You There God, Its Me Margaret by Judy Blume
Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
A Year Down Yonder
Everything on A Waffle
City of Ember
Anne of Green Gables
Anne of Avonlea
The Moorchild by Eloise McGraw
The Lightening Thief series
New Moon Magazine (love this Heather, thanks!)
Where the Red Fern Grows
A Wrinkle in Time
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
The Sign of the Beaver
Island of the Blue Dolphins
Bridge to Terabithia
An American Childhood by Annie Dillard
Mr. Poppers Penguins
Tale of Desperaux
James and the Giant Peach
The Cricket in Times Square
My Side of the Mountain
Harriet the Spy
Wendelin Van Draanen’s Sammy Keyes mysteries
Nancy Springer’s Enola Holmes mysteries
Blue Balliet’s Chasing Vermeer/Wright 3/The Calder Game
Tamora Pierce‘s books
Absolutely Normal Chaos
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Hana’s Suitcase by Karen Levine
books by Deborah Ellis , Carol Matas or Kit Pearson
Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins
Homecoming by Cynthia Voight
Dicey’s Song by Cynthia Voight
The Goose Girl series by Shannon Hale
Exiles by Hilary McKay
Girls in Love, Girls in Tears, Secrets, and Lola Rose by Jacqueline Wilson books (a British author, could
not see her mentioned on amazon)
Ida B by Katherine Hannigan
The Care and Keeping of You American Girl series (I, personally second this series, Emma has loved all
Because of Winn Dixie
The Doll People
Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen
Me and the Blondes
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
Loser by Jerry Spinelli
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaimann
Betsy, Tacy and Tib books by Maude Hart Lovelace
The Mother Daughter Book Club
Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of A Tree by Lauren Tarshis
A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban
Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Framed by Frank Cottrell B
Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
Just as Long as We’re Together by Judy Blume
Number The Stars by Lois Lowry
Blubber by Judy Blume
The Wanderer by Sharon Creech
Searching for Redbird by Sharon Creech
Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
The Daring Book for Girls
The Emily of New Moon trilogy by LM Montgomery
Nobody’s Princess by Esther Friesner
I received some emails asking for more information about our mother/daughter group, so I thought I’d include it in this post in case others have questions too. I am very fortunate to be very close to the moms whose daughters are in Emma’s 4th grade class. Most of the girls have been in class together since Kindergarten, and, in my opinion, have been exceptional as far as kindness and consideration towards each other. The social problems among them have been few and are usually handled easily, these are very easy-going girls. A few of us invited the moms in our class to create this discussion group with us. It would be a place to begin to talk about some of the many changes that will begin to take place (or has already begun to take place) in their lives…puberty… boys…social conflicts…body image…etc. One of our moms is also a teacher, one who is well respected within our community for her sensitivity and knowledge of social emotional lives of young children, and she graciously agreed to be our group’s facilitator. A group like this needs a facilitator. I cannot stress the importance of her role enough; she prepares what we will discuss and do at the meeting beforehand, keeps the flow of activity going, ever so gently pushes us all to try new things, and helps us establish our group “norms” or rules, which are:
1. Come in with an open mind.
2. What is discussed in the group stays in the group.
3. Challenge yourself (and I’m not wording that one right, but the idea is to try new things.)
We also ask that no siblings attend, that food or snacks happen at the beginning and then is put away (before we made this rule, food was a huge distraction for the girls during the meeting). We give the girls 15 minutes at the beginning and end of each meeting to run around, play, and catch up. The actual meeting itself is 1 hour, so an hour and a half total. That is the limit of the girl’s willingness to focus and keep in the discussion, at times we’ve even ended early for lack of focus. It should be casual and fun, but an active discussion, and we try to be sensitive to what is working.
My role is to simply schedule the meetings, which happen monthly and rotate at each family’s home.
We have been meeting now for a year. Some of the girls simply don’t like it and don’t want to come (a few have dropped out). Some of them love it and wish we had more meetings (that would be Emma’s perspective). We try to be sensitive to what works and doesn’t work, evaluate when we can with a moms-only meeting. We spent the first 6 meetings or so doing a variety of activities that helped us see our likenesses, or to learn new things about each other (“I didn’t know you did bird calls!?”), after that we slowly worked our way into topics such as “What does mean feel like?” and “What does a confident girl look like?”, which is really just touching the surface of what our group will eventually cover. These meetings are not to finger point at anyone (I don’t know why anyone would come if that were the case.) Book discussions work really well for these girls right now. We’ve had a guest author come and talk with the girls about her book, and girls who never spoke up were suddenly full of questions. A few of the girls told us that they feel most comfortable discussing while doing something (suggested maybe an art project, cooking, etc), less eye contact made them feel more at ease, so we’re going to try some new things. That’s why we’ve decided to stick with books for a more casual summer meetings, with a little emotional, social aspect in there for us to discuss.
But, to be clear, this is not a book group, but more of a friendship group. Our hope and our goal is to spend quality time with our girls on a Sunday afternoon, once a month, to gain insight into everyone’s feelings on the topics we discuss. I’m always surprised by Emma’s comments in these meetings, pleasantly so. I was an incredibly shy kid (so was Peter), my hope is for her to find her voice, to believe that she matters, regardless of what icky social things that may come up in the future (which they will, I believe that’s how we learn and grow at that age). I love spending this time with her and the other moms and daughters. I highly recommend it to any group of women and daughters who feel they could gain anything from a group like this. It does not have to be highly structured, or really be anything more than a meeting to be together. I am not an expert, I only speak from my small example. I stumble constantly as a parent, and it makes me feel good to know Emma has this support system of strong, confident moms in her life.
GretaJune 30, 2009 at 9:40 pm
I love this list. So many of these books were a part of my girlhood. I was an avid reader and still am. 2 more to add to your list:
A Girl of the Limberlost and The Yearling.
Also, I recently wrote a little bit about myself as a young girl and the books I read, how they affected me. You might enjoy it.
As always, loving your blog. Thanks.
EmilyJuly 1, 2009 at 12:23 am
I think this is a great idea! As far as the books are concerned, Anne of Green Gables won’t disappoint, and I also think that all of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books are worthwhile, though there are about seven total. And if you are going to read Sharon Creech don’t forget Chasing Redbird. 🙂
And ooh, hey! A new header photo. Very pretty.
Holly in Virginia, USAJuly 1, 2009 at 3:47 am
how wonderful! I would have loved this group for my daughters! Today, they’re 28 & 26! Did you include a TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN? It is a great read, although it may be too lengthy to finish in a month.
Perhaps your local universities have creative writing professors that could make a visit to the club to encourage your daughters to keep a journal. I didn’t do that consistently as a young adult, and certainly wish I had! My five kids have kept journals off & on over the years….they’ll enjoy them later in life.
PamJuly 1, 2009 at 4:26 am
Thank you for the list and to your readers who made suggestions. I’ll be keeping this list in our library bag.
BetzJuly 1, 2009 at 4:33 am
This is great…um, could you do one now for boys? 🙂
KirstenJuly 1, 2009 at 5:26 am
The Emily of New Moon series is by LM Montgomery, not Madeleine L’Engle, though I do highly reccommend anything by Madeleine L’Engle for girls to read. Particularly A Wrinkle in Time and its companions. Some of her other books might be for slightly older girls.
Also, I hadn’t heard of it, but it looks like Nobody’s Princess is by Esther Friesner, not Madeleine L’Engle.
Thanks for the list!
lizJuly 1, 2009 at 5:31 am
i love this!
the books are still far off for my 5-year-old girl, but the ideas for your group — they are priceless!
thanks for the inspiration. i hope to be involved in(or start) something like this for my daughter — what a wonderful way to connect and support ourselves and our daughters!
thank you blair 🙂
graceJuly 1, 2009 at 5:32 am
I am printing this list out now for future reference.
We have a homeschool book club with boys and girls with ages ranging from 6 to 10 and it has been fun and the kids love it. I really like your idea of the GIRLS group and all that entails.
graceJuly 1, 2009 at 5:33 am
Tree Grows in Brooklyn is on my nightstand to start tonight… glad to hear it should be a good read.
SarahJuly 1, 2009 at 6:22 am
Excellent list, Blair. We have quite a few of the books included but there are a number that I’ve never heard of or read. A trip to the library is in order, I think.
Also, I wanted to mention a series that Lola has been enjoying recently. The whole family has been enjoying them actually. It’s the Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley. The central premise of the books is that fairytales are actually historical records, not stories. The two main characters are sisters, eleven year old Sabrina and seven year old Daphne, who are descendants of the Brothers Grimm. At the start of the first book they are orphaned, their parents having mysteriously disappeared a year earlier, and unaware of their lineage. They soon learn of it though and also of their family’s history of being fairytale detectives.
Lola is fairly obsessed with Harry Potter and I’ve enjoyed finding another book series that deals with the fantastical but features girls as the central characters. Not that I don’t love Harry Potter, I do. It’s just nice to find a story in the same magical genre where girls figure more prominently.
juliaJuly 1, 2009 at 6:45 am
this is a great book list. i think i’ll file it away in my “someday” folder (someday very far away 🙂 ).
also- i LOVE the idea of this mother/daughter group. i think something like this would really have helped me when i was growing up (and my mom, actually). it is so important for girls at that age to have an outlet to talk about what’s going on in their lives in a space where they can feel comfortable, safe, and it’s okay to ask questions. really, emma is so lucky to have such a caring mom who is so sensitive to her needs.
SarahJuly 1, 2009 at 7:29 am
A lot of good classics in there. 🙂 Lightening thief and the Goose girl series are very good.
I would be careful about Tamora Peirce’s books, there can be some bad content in some of them.
This list of titles makes me want to go to the book store and buy a bunch of books!
bloomingheatherJuly 1, 2009 at 7:41 am
Thank you for this incredible post full of great information. My oldest daughter is 6 and you’ve given me so many ideas. Beautiful new header, also!
House Lifting TexasJuly 1, 2009 at 7:41 am
Great list of books! I Look forward to reading them!
bjJuly 1, 2009 at 8:03 am
I love the list, too Blair, and the advise about how you’ve set up your book group. If it’s not prying too much, how did you handle the issue of who to invite to join (did you include all the girls in the class?) & how many girls have you included? and, how old were the girls when you started?
My daughter’s school does book groups starting in 4th grade, with parent facilitators (though the groups are co-ed, as is the school).
Regarding book content — I think it’s tough to know which topics will be the most emotionally taxing or raise the most issues, and that’s the brilliance of reading the books together and then talking about them. I, for example, find the Island of the Blue Dolphins emotionally terrifying, and did as a child. I was also seriously disturbed by Wrinkle in Time (the first book). Dicey’s Song was harrowing. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, though, felt like melodrama, and didn’t hit me the way the other books did.
I’d love to hear about the short list when you get to it.
(PS: I’m in Seattle, and though I don’t know you, I’m beginning to suspect that Seattle is a small enough town that if one has children of around the same age, groups start overlapping at some point, from the widening circles of people who know people. I know of a mother daughter book group w/ a current group of 4th grade girls, though I don’t *think* it’s yours :-).
bjJuly 1, 2009 at 8:08 am
“This is great…um, could you do one now for boys? :)”
Unfortunately, much harder to do 🙂 (even if Blair’s boy was 10).
This is a web site by Jon Scieszka (a bit to flashy), but the goal is to pick books for boys. I’ve run into a problem with this for my 5 year old (who is asking for more complicated books on tape recently). We’ve read the Judy Blume Fudge books, and he loves them. He’s listened to Henry Huggins. But, he doesn’t want to listen to books with girls as main characters (i.e. Ramona books are no good). I think part of the problem is a failure of my imagination (i.e I don’t like some of the books that he might like), but we’ll keep trying.
bjJuly 1, 2009 at 8:09 am
Oops, forgot the website:
blair/wisecraftJuly 1, 2009 at 8:13 am
Thanks BJ. Our group is not specifically a book group, as I said, so you're right, its probably not our group, although who knows? This is really only the second book discussion we've had in a year. We invited all the girls in our 4th grade class at school. Some did not choose to come at all, and some dropped out. That was totally ok in our minds, as we wanted to keep going with a core group of families dedicated to the idea, plus smaller is better and more manageable in many ways. But we included everyone at the onset.
Interestingly, our 4th grade classes read Island of the Blue Dolphins toward the end of the school year as part of the curicullium, so they were able to have their discussions with their teachers.
AnneJuly 1, 2009 at 8:38 am
You might want to check out my friend Lizzie’s new book, _Shelf Discovery_. It’s a Nancy Peal-style collection of short essays on classic YA books for girls. Really wonderful–everything from Laura Ingalls Wilder through Judy Blume and V C Andrews. she reminds us why we loved those books and helps me think about which I want to pass on to my girls.
Anne (your neighbor’s sis)
AnneJuly 1, 2009 at 8:39 am
That’s Nancy Pearl.
blair/wisecraftJuly 1, 2009 at 9:05 am
Hi Anne! Good to hear from you here. I will definitely check out that book, I need good reference style books to navigate my way through the boatload of books out there for girls, so thank you!
marthaJuly 1, 2009 at 10:13 am
this is such a great list.
even though L is a boy, (and younger) he’s read many of these already.
I remember reading many of these too:)
KellyJuly 1, 2009 at 11:35 am
My girls are too young for this (3 & 1) but I love that you do it and I am inspired for my own future of raising girls. What a wonderful thing to take time for.
jennJuly 1, 2009 at 3:03 pm
I recently found these books on my parent’s bookshelves- I really liked them as a kid, and they have powerful female figures in them while being adventure/fantasy books.
CristyJuly 1, 2009 at 4:22 pm
I really loved these books when I was that age (not so long ago…). I don’t really think any of them were particularly emotionally scarring though.. To be honest, I always wanted to be the girl from the Island of the Blue Dolphins and I love classic novels like Little Women and Anne of Green Gables. They’re perfect books to lead into more mature books like Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre (my all time favorite). I like the mixture of “girly” books with more serious topics (see Number the Stars). The really emotional books come in a few more years, like Lovely Bones…
Thank you for the trip down memory lane!
BetsyJuly 1, 2009 at 4:55 pm
This is a great, great list, but can I just add “The Penderwicks” by Jeanne Birdsall? One of my All-time Favorite Books Ever, of any genre. And I wish it had been written when I was 10.
emilyJuly 1, 2009 at 7:30 pm
have you read the book – the mother-daughter project? a friend just loaned it to me, and she has a mother/daughter group with her 11 year old daughter that’s based around what she learned from reading that book. i’m looking forward to reading it now, too. (and what a book list you’ve complied! thank you!)
GinnyJuly 1, 2009 at 7:55 pm
Hi, looks like you’ve got a great list going! I’d like to add A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass, Rules by Cynthia Lord, and Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko. The first two have female main characters, but all are good. And Nancy Pearl has a book called Book Crush: For Kids and Teens – Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment and Interest.
I’ve been listening to the Enola Holmes books and have enjoyed them, but I want to warn you that they have some graphic scenes – in the second one 14 year old Enola is nearly garroted at the beginning. My kids (heading to 3rd and 5th grade) are used to books with fighting (like Harry Potter), but I’m going to make them wait to read these.
I’d love to hear what you do choose to read, and how the discussions go!
WanettJuly 1, 2009 at 9:06 pm
Thanks for this list! My 8 year-old is resisting the move to older kid books. I’m hoping some among this list will become new favorites.
mollyJuly 1, 2009 at 9:56 pm
thank you so much blair for compiling this list! my daughter is 8 going on 9 and we are always looking for interesting and appropriate books. she too devoured and loved all of the american girl handbooks. i think she’s checked out the care and keeping book a dozen times. in fact we just found the babysitter’s handbook at the library sale today. she also found a boxed set of anne of green gables, which she said was for me – though i’m hoping she reads them one day as well.
i’m printing out the list right now.
mollyJuly 1, 2009 at 10:02 pm
it’s a bummer that he doesn’t want to listen to the ramona books! we’ve listened to all of them on cd (love hearing stockard channing) and i swear my son relates so well to ramona. they remind me so much of each other, despite the boy/girl difference.
my son also loves the boxcar children series – benny, one of the main characters is six and a great little boy character.
Jude FrankauJuly 2, 2009 at 6:26 am
Re: Jacquelin Wilson,
As a Britisher I was surprised Amazon.com wasn’t showing Jacquelin Wilson, then realised it was because it’s Jacqueline Wilson. Searching that brings up a lot of her books: http://www.amazon.com/Jacqueline-Wilson/e/B001H6SKOY/ref=ep_sprkl_at_B001H6SKOY?pf_rd_p=482609291&pf_rd_s=auto-sparkle&pf_rd_t=301&pf_rd_i=jacqueline%20wilson&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=17TR9YHAM94ZG0XVPTW0
I’ve never read any of her books, but from working with pre-teen girls they were all very into her books. Her Tracey Beaker series has been made into one of the BBC’s most successful children’s television series of recent years. She was also the British Children’s Laureate between 2005-2007.
I’ll stop waving the British flag now. The list looks like a really good resource.
LauralouJuly 2, 2009 at 12:26 pm
Definitely check out The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. This is the first in a series of 5 she is planning. I’ve read the first two and they are delightful!
erinJuly 2, 2009 at 2:41 pm
i love the idea of this group, blair. i’m in a peer group with women around my age – some older, some younger – and it is a huge help to me at age 38. i can only imagine how wonderful it would be for girls who have a chance to participate at a younger age.
and thanks for the list. we’re printing it out and putting it in the library bag.
erinJuly 2, 2009 at 2:41 pm
rad banner you have there, too!
tiaJuly 2, 2009 at 3:31 pm
Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright is one that is really great especially for this time of year. I would highly recommend that one!
For a boy’s list, Swallows and Amazons by Ransome.
Thanks for this list. When my girls are older I will have a real wealth of titles! Love it!
ChristinaJuly 6, 2009 at 11:10 am
I hope it’s not too late for recommendations… But I absolutely love love love the book “I Capture the Castle” by Dodie Smith (I believe she was the one who also wrote “101 Dalmations”).
It’s a diary kept by an English girl who lives in a crumbling old castle in what I think is post-WWII England. The book is a thoughtful observation of the life around her. It’s not a Harry Potter magic book… I’ll just let the amazon listing tell you: http://www.amazon.com/I-Capture-Castle-Dodie-Smith/dp/0312201656.
I always reach for this book when I feel bad.
mrspilkingtonJuly 6, 2009 at 6:05 pm
thanks for posting the list! a few more from me 🙂 …the First Daughter books by Mitali Perkins, Confessions of a Closet Catholic by Sarah Darer Littman, and Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes.
Jenni in KSJuly 15, 2009 at 6:31 am
You have some of my favorite books on this list! May I suggest a few more?
The Edge on the Sword by Rebecca Tingle
Where the Lilies Bloom by Bill and Vera Cleaver
These are both such wonderful books with very strong female characters close to the age your list is geared toward.
PatJuly 15, 2009 at 6:35 am
My youngest will start college in the fall and we are downsizing our home about the time she leaves so we have been going through the attic and clearing things out. We have so many books, but the one book in particular that did NOT get donated was The Hundred Dresses. I hadn’t seen it in years until this week,I had forgotten it. My girls wanted to keep it for their children to read. Now there’s a recommendation.
Nicole N.July 17, 2009 at 3:08 pm
I have read and loved most of these books, seeing the titles of some forgotten stories is like a trip down memory lane! I wanted to add another to the list also, “The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle” is very much a coming of age story and would be great at this age.
It is so lovely that these girls have this resource available to them, I hope it makes their transitions into the teenage years a little more peaceful!