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Books for Strong and Smart Girls

grace-books-thumb.jpgToday, Lindsey (also of A Design So Vast) shares a wonderful roundup of books for strong and smart girls:

My 10-year-old daughter Grace loves to read. I'm always looking for books with strong female protagonists, books that model bravery and smarts, books with characters who are worthy of admiration and emulation. It's been fun to watch Grace fall in love with some of my old favorites, and equally interesting to observe her discover new titles that I didn't know, from recommendations from friends, ideas suggested by teachers, or afternoons wandering in the library.

As Grace gets older, my ability to shape her environment and control her influences loosens. One place she still likes my input, though, is on books. There are plenty of girls in literature who are preoccupied with their looks and weight, with boys and things. I try to help guide her towards a different set of books, those whose message are about being yourself, about strength and humor, about guts and intelligence. These are also books that I wrap up and give friends, nieces, and goddaughters for their birthdays and holiday gifts. This list of some of our favorites -- which includes a range of picture and chapter books -- is by no means comprehensive but will offer wonderful fodder for your daughter's fearless exploration:

  • A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle (incidentally, my favorite book from my own childhood)

  • Harriet the Spy - Louise Fitzhugh

  • Pippi Longstocking - Astrid Lindgren

  • The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate - Jacqueline Kelly

  • Penny Dreadful - Laurel Snyder

  • The Hundred Dresses - Eleanor Estes

  • the Ramona books - Beverly Cleary

  • Miss Rumphius - Barbara Cooney

  • the Harry Potter series - J.K.Rowling

  • Firefighters in the Dark - Dashka Slater

  • the Alice Miranda series - Jacqueline Harvey

  • My Very UnFairy Tale Life - Anna Staniszewski


    Image credit: Lindsey Mead

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    Reader Comments (4)

    Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher is one of my favorites.
    February 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHazel
    I would like to add a book to that list, it is Jacqueline Winspear's 'Maisie Dobbs' series. I didn't read it until I was an adult but there is a strong female character for you.
    February 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJo Broshar
    My daughters and i have loved these books! thank you for compiling them.My daughters always hungered for more to read -- books about strong girls who were not afraid to be themselves. These books you listed inspired me to write my first book, Enjella Uprooted: A Tooth Fairy Gets a New Job, about a middle school aged Fairy who finds herself and her avocation in spite of the strict Tooth Fairy regimen. Smart girls need to be able to read age appropriate material -- that they enjoy! Keep reading and blogging!!
    March 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJane Collen
    Thanks for this post. I'm excited to check out some of these titles. The Penderwicks series comes to mind by Jeanne Birdsall. My daughter loved these at age 9 and so did I.
    March 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmy Leventhal

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