Sunday, January 27, 2013

Great Girls Your Daughter Should Know


     I'm not a huge fan of the Twilight Series of books - long story short I think they have little literary merit (due to equal parts poor writing, poor plot development and poor character development) and are marketed to too young of girls for my taste.  That kind of literary fluff concerning the topics central to these books are best left to beach reads for older girls and women at best.  My friend Haley does a great job at expressing her dislike of the series and I can't say I disagree. *as you read her letter please remember there is a difference between allowing a child to read what interests her and encouraging certain materials over another*.

    My daughters, should I have any, will be encouraged to read to whatever encourages them to read - as many will be quick to point out it's better to read something like Twilight than nothing at all, which is true to a degree.  However, I hope before my girls pick up a beat up copy of Twilight out of the quarter bin of Goodwill (where I presume most copies will be in 15 years) I hope they've already been introduced to many more strong, relatable female protagonists.

    The following is a far from complete list of some of my favorites - they are warriors, scholars, mothers, daughters; they can be wildly in love and impressively practical; they are a little too perfect and incredibly flawed.  Most of them have happy endings, some of them don't.  In an nutshell - these are girls who act like girls
    1. Mary Lennox from The Secret Garden
    2. Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy   from Little Women
    3. Sara Crewe from A Little Princess
    4. Laura, Mary and Ma Ingalls from the Little House on the Prairie Series
    5. Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables
    6. Beezus and Ramona from the Ramona Series
    7. Meg Murray from A Wrinkle in Time
    8. Hermione Granger, Tonks and Molly Weasley from the Harry Potter Series
    9. Coraline Jones from Coraline
    10. Cimorene from Dealing with Dragons (and the rest of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles)
    11. Elizabeth from The Paper Bag Princess
    12. Sophie from Howl's Moving Castle
    13. Nausicaä from Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
    14. Lireal/Sabriel from the Abhorsen Series
    15. Alanna from the Song of the Lioness Series
    16. Lucy and Susan from the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
    17. Eff Rothmer from the Frontier Magic Series
    18. Jane from Jane Erye
    19. Lizzy Bennet and her Sisters from Pride and Prejudice
    20. Eleanor and Marianne from Sense and Sensibility
    21. Anne from Persuasion
    22. Eowyn from the Lord of the Rings
    23. Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing
    24. Kate from The Taming of the Shrew
    25. Hester Pryne from The Scarlet Letter
    26. Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird
    27. Princess Buttercup from The Princess Bride
    28. Charlotte from Charlotte's Web
    29. Margaret Hale from North and South
    30. Antigone from Sophocles' Antigone
    If you'd like links to the books mentioned in this list hope over to the Great Girls Pinterest Board for these and other great suggestions!

    If you'd like an even longer list about women and girls real or fictional check out A Mighty GirlAnd let's not forget - stories about strong girls are not just for girls, let's encourage our boys to read these books too!

    This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links.


    274 comments:

    1. Love this list! I also have a similar list that I've been cultivating in case I ever have a daughter. Right now I just have a son - and I can remember exclaiming to my husband shortly after my son was born "but I don't know what boys like to read!" Haha - I agree though, some of the books on the list are good reading for both boys and girls. :)

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      1. I think a list for boys is in the works =)

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      2. For a boy, Ender's Game, Red Badge of Courage, Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer, Otis Spofford ... :D

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      3. I think it is way wrong to separate readings for boys and girls - these are great books for all kids! Why would be Tom Sawyer and Ender's game for boys only? Also, why not add Pippi Longstocking, Karlsson-on-the-Roof, Ronia the Robber's Daughter and really anything written by Astrid Lindgren. And for older kids the books of Erich Kästner: The Flying Classroom, Emil and the Detectives, "The double Lottie" - which is the book in the base of "The parent trap movie.

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      4. I agree partly with the comment that we shouldn't seperate the boys girls list as I was a tomboy growing up (and it reflected in my reading).
        However, at about age twelve, I started to notice that most of the heroes in my books were guys and (for a time) felt "lesser" because I was a girl.
        I still love bugs and enjoy climbing trees but I'm grateful my mom helped me find books that made me proud of my gender and cling to virtues that could make me a great woman instead of a girl pining for romance and a heroic man (though I did marry him;)
        Ella Enchanted, Goose Girl, and (before it was cool) Hunger Games helped me get through high school without feeling like I needed to wear makeup:) though I was into Harry Potter, Eragon and Ender's Game like the guys-- I read almost all the books on this list and I think it's very important for girls to know they don't have to be a boy to be courageous!
        The only improvements I would make to this list:
        Antigone is the sequel to Oedipus. Please consider the age of your daughter before introducing this book to her. Do you really want to explain to your little girl why he poked his eyes out???
        Scarlet letter has some great themes, but also adult topics. Your children are curious. Again, consider her age because she will ask questions.
        Happy reading!

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      5. And how could I ever forget Inkheart. I devoted my 9-year-old self to that book!

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      6. Just a reminder that I stated in the post that these books are not just for girls, but rather a list of heroines I think important for young girls to know particularly before they're introduced to popular "literature" (if the word can apply) like Twilight.

        Girls should also read books with male heroes and visaversa.

        Just like AmberandDarren says I think it's important for young girls to have literary role models that are strong girls and women.

        Antigone and The Scarlet Letter are all books I read in high school (10th and 11th grade I believe) and I agree that their subject matter are for older teens.

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      7. I apologize for stating this in a response but I'm having trouble finding the comment button. I want to state that one very important literary character is missing from this list: Dicey Tillerman from Cynthia Voight's books "Homecoming" and "Dicey's Song". She should definitely be at the top of this list.

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    2. Molly, this post (and especially the last sentence) reminds me of a really good TED talk I saw recently: http://www.ted.com/talks/colin_stokes_how_movies_teach_manhood.html

      I think it's so important not just for girls to have strong role models but also for boys to see examples of strong girls and have their own role models for how to be both strong themselves and supportive of strong girls. :) Nice list!

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      1. Oooh I'll add that TED talk to my list - I didn't want to ramble on, but I also think it's important for girls to read plenty of books with strong boy characters for the same reason - girls need to have plenty of examples of good men!

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      2. thank you for posting the link to the ted talk. this is a very important lesson for parents to teach. I'm a teacher and I think I'll be showing this to my class before we start discussing film.

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      1. Absolutely! Of course this list is far from complete =) but at 30 entries I had to cut for time ;) I'll make sure Pippi gets on the Pinboard at least!

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    4. Great list! I'd also highly recommend Ani, Enna, and Rin from Shannon Hale's Bayern series (start with Goose Girl). Also Miri from her Newberry Honor book Princess Academy.

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      1. Thanks Maren, I've heard of those series, but never read them myself! I'll definitely get them on the board too!

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      2. Cannot recommend those books enough. Strong girls/ women great stories, well written.

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    5. I would love Katy, Jen and Colleen from my Saginaw Series to be on this list. Four short books about friends in Saginaw, Michigan. They are eBooks available on Amazon. The stories follow these strong faith-filled girls from the summer before ninth grade to the summer before senior year.
      http://amzn.to/SuRAN0

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      1. Are you from Saginaw? I grew up there and had no idea they existed :) Thank you for drawing my attention to them!

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      2. Are you from Saginaw? I grew up there and had no idea they existed :) Thank you for drawing my attention to them!

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      3. Yes, I live in Saginaw. I wrote my books as if all my favorite places are in present day. In the 1960's a mansion was demolished. I was always frightened to walk by that house as a child. It was called the Webber House. That is the name of my first book in the series. I have a blog if you are interested.

        http://saginawseries.blogspot.com


        Thanks for asking.

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    6. I'm on a Terry Pratchett kick right now-- Eskarina Smith from Equal Rites, Tiffany Aching from her series, and Susan Sto Helit from Thief of Time. Terry Pratchett is one of those rare fantasy writers who actually writes good women characters!

      I'm very glad to see Coraline on this list!

      Thinking of Neil Gaiman, Door from Neverwhere is also quite good.

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      1. I love Gaiman, too! Door should be on that list as well as the Hunter. I'll have to get a full list of TP characters from my husband, he's a big fan - Susan is definitely one of my favorites!

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    7. great list! I'm glad to see some of my favourites on there :)

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    8. I would add Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games to this list too. :)

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    9. you should add Ella from the BOOK Ella Enchanted. I'm 21 and I still sometimes think to myself "What would Ella do?" (the movie is a disappointing interpretation of the book so don't base an opinion on that if you've seen it!)

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      1. Agree on both counts! Ella deserves to be on this list, and the movie was NOTHING like the book!

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      2. I adored Ella Enchanted, and was so, so, so upset with the movie! One of my all time fave books.

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      3. Im 25 and Ella Enchanted is still my favorite book, wonderful character, and yes the movie was a very loose interpretation of the book :(

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      5. I'm also 25 and still consider Ella to be one of my favorite characters ever! :)

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      6. Ella Enchanted is a fantastic book! The movie was AWFUL and should have just been titled something else since its links to the book were tenuous at best. Ella would be a great addition to this list. :)

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      7. Amen! I grew up on that one and will be passing it down. Love a good hero rescues herself.

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    10. I totally agree with you! I'd like to add Betsy Ray (Betsy-Tacy) and Judy (Daddy-Long-Legs). I love your list!

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    11. you should check out the Bloody Jack series by L. A. Meyer. The audiobooks are also excellent.

      -a father

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    12. Such great suggestions everyone, thank you!

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    13. Lyra from His Dark Materials Triology (Philip Pullman). Still to date the best series I've ever read :)

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      1. YES! I love Lyra- such a strong character but still somewhat innocent and emotional as well. Great book series especailly for those girls in the transition phase from kid to teenager....

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    14. This is a great list. But I would definitely include almost any of the female characters in the Harry Potter Series, as they all stand as wonderfully, and uniquely, independent women. Also, anything by Juliet Marillier. She mainly writes female protagonists, but all of her women, and all of her characters, are strong, complicated and incredibly well developed.

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    15. I would add Francie Nolan from "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith, as well as Cress from "Cress Delahanty" by Jessamyn West, 1940. It is a remarkable and beautifully written coming-of-age story that was decades ahead of its time.

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      1. definitely Emma in Emma by Jane Austen!.. Emma is definitely as mentioned above "a little too perfect and incredibly flawed".. :)

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    17. Loved this list! Gave myself a little pat on the back. LOL! My daughter is already BFFs with 14 of the 30! And she's only 11. Still has lots of time to make more literary friends.

      I would add Leslie from Bridge to Terabithia and Karana from Island of the Blue Dolphins. And something from George MacDonald for sure! The Light Princess or The Princess and Curdie.

      I'm going to share this list with my daughter. Maybe we'll make it a reading challenge before the next school year. :-)

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    18. So many great books!
      I need to bring another one to your attention. The Wide Wide World by Susan Warner. This book was written in 1850. Two wonderful charcters in this book you should meet are Ellen Montgomery and Alice Humphreys.
      Another bit of good news, you can read it for free on line or download it to your Kindle.

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      1. Thank you for the suggestion - there are so many of these suggestions that I never read as a kid and now want to so I can recommend them with a full heart!

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    19. Great list!! Add Elnora from A Girl of the Limberlost!! If you haven't read it you MUST. Falls right in line with your other "heros" :). I couldn't agree more about Twilight. "Twaddle" as Charlotte Mason would have called it ;).

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      1. Limberlost is on my to read list! Folks suggested it when I was looking for "simple living" books, but now I'll have to bump it up in the que!

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      2. The book is AMAZING! There is also a prequel to the book named "Freckles" that offers excellent examples of good, honest, hard working men. She has another book about a family of 12 named "Laddie" that I'm currently reading. SO GOOD! You will love them! Thanks for a good list!

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    20. I LOVE that you have other Austen characters besides Lizzie on here! And Margaret Hale! I loved the Dear America and American Girl books as a kid and think they have pretty storng but relatable characters as well. What about Mia from the Princess Diaries or Yvaine from Stardust? Oh and Winnie from Tuck Everlasting! I also agree about Ella from Ella Enchanted (but I have to say I love the movie, even though it's not like the book. Like many book to movie stories, I can appreciate both for what they are separately).

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    21. Rose, Donna, Martha, and Amy.... maybe Clara Oswin, but we dont know yet.

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      1. This might be my favorite comment of all time... it took me a moment, but you just made this Whovian very happy. But you're forgetting Sarah Jane and River ;) Thank you for a spot on comment! p.s. I'm American with no cable... so no spoilers ;)

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    22. Great list! I love The Witch of Blackbird Pond too. I think the female character's name is Kit, if I remember correctly. And, I completely agree about Twilight. I haven't actually read it, but I have no desire based on things I have heard :-).

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    23. I'd suggest including author's names with this list to make it even easier for readers to find them.

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    24. For the younger crew, Eloise by Kay Thompson. Also, the Mandie series by Lois Leppard is amazing for preteens. Annemarie in Number the Stars... There's so many!

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    25. Add Sally Lockheart from Phillip Pullman's Ruby in the Smoke (and others). If you can handle not quite accurate presentations of Victorian women, she's fantastic!

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    26. One of my favorites was Caddie Woodlawn, by Carol Ryrie Brink. I reread this book a few dozen times and enjoyed it each time! I am also a big fan of the Plain Princess by Phyllis Mcginley for younger readers.

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    27. I named my daughter after Meg Murray and Anne Shirley!

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    28. So many dear friends on this list. I re-read the Anne and Emily series by L. M. Montgomery and most of Tamora Pierce's series too (Alanna, Daine, Kel, Beka) every year.

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    29. My daughter is not white. Do you all have sny suggestions for her? My husband and would love for her to learn about strong women that look like her. I'm sure her friend, Carmelita would like some suggestions. Do you all have for her?

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      1. Zoe - You're right, and my apologies - my list doesn't really offer that much of a variety of skin colors - I took a lot of my list directly from my own reading lists as a young girl (which was mainly fantasy books and classic English novers) and so I guess it's not a surprise that the list reflects this (though it was NOT intentional, I wasn't considering skin color or anything physical when making the list, but my apologies anyways).

        Sadly, when I was a girl (almost 20 years ago) there wasn't the wealth of multicultural reading for young girls that there is today and with my son only being 2 I haven't had a chance to really dig into all these great new books (most of the might girl books were printed in the last 5-10 years) yet. Thank goodness times are changing and there are so many more types of "great girls" today.

        You didn't mention what ethnicity your daughter is and while I think many of the girls on this list have something to teach any girl no matter her heritage I can understand your (and your daughters') desire to have heroine's that look like you - it is very important to be able to relate on many levels to our favorite books!

        Overall, I highly encourage you to use amightygirl.com as they have a wonderfully extensive list of girl books with a much better variety than my little list does.

        This is a direct link to their book search with the "multicultural filter" on - and I believe you can search out particular ethnicities within that search. http://www.amightygirl.com/books/fiction?cat=20

        This is link a to the CCBC website about multicultural literature - http://www.education.wisc.edu/ccbc/books/multicultural.asp There is a searchable list for different genre's, age range and cultures.


        The only other suggestion I have right now is to go to the source and try to find English translations of books from the culture you're from - I know many of my friends growing up were originally from different cultures and would have relatives send them books from their countries (and usually in the original language) so that they could read stories about girls who looked like them. If you and your daughter don't read the language they're in it might be a great way to connect with a family member, friend or neighbor who does and can translate and teach your daughter more about the beauty of girls who look like her!

        If you find some favorites please let me know and I'll share them on the pinterest board!

        I hope this helps a little and thank you for visiting!

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      2. Thank you !! I'm going to check out this site tomorrow with my daughter. This will be a great way to get her excited about going to the library!!

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      3. I have "Anna Hibiscus" on my list of books I want to preview for my daughter. Check it out!

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      4. Esperanza from Esperanza Rising. We've read it over and over :)

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      5. Island of the Blue Dolphins; it may be a bit heavy sometimes, but it was fascinating, and thrilling

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    30. Esperanza from Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan is a great character and Charlotte from The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle are great strong female roles in historical fiction. For fantasy fans, Annabeth (and several other characters, actually) from the Percy Jackson series will be great for girls to read. My daughter is a big fan of Tris from the Divergent series also (dystopian future). This is a great conversation to start. Thanks!

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    31. What about Katniss? She's a wonderful role model! So strong, and she sacrfices so much for the ones she loves.

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    32. What about Anne Frank? I was obsessed with history when I was young!

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    33. I wouldn't be worried about Twilight, it's Fifty Shades of Grey that should be banned!

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      1. Trixie Belden! As well as the endearing Rosalind, Skye, Jane, and Batty Penderwick.

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    35. Great list! Bella Cullen is one of the least healthy females in YA fiction. All she needs is a eating disorder. Wait, she's a vampire who doesn't drink blood? Check that one off the list too!
      I like these girls too:
      Katniss, Anne Frank, the Penderwicks, and Gooney Bird Greene.

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    37. Fabulous. My daughter is 10 and as chance has it, already read 20 of these. We now have another 10 book suggestions for her. Thank you.

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    38. Showing my Aussie-ness here, but Josie from Looking for Alibrandi, and Ellie (and in fact pretty much any of the females in the breakaway group) from the Tomorrow When the War Began series.

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      1. I've never heard of those - I'll have to look them up!

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    39. What about Marmi, Meg, Beth, Jo and Amy? such different characters from one family!

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      1. Jo and the sisters are #2 on the list =), why I didn't include Marmi I don't know, she's a wonderful role model too!

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    40. I remember enjoying many of these when I was younger. However, I wish that these lists did in fact simply promote certain books than also always having to mention negative reviews of others.

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    41. Such a fun list! I'd add Stargirl... such a lovely example of altruism!

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      1. I love that book! Thanks for reminding me it existed!
        Liz

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    42. I read some books when I was in middle school (in the 80's) and they have stuck with me all these years. Mulan (I don't know the edition that I read), Sadako, and Journey To Topaz. They all featured strong Asian girls. I think I liked these books because I wasn't a girly-girl, I was very much a tomboy. I love all the books with dogs but they all featured boy leads. I really could not identify with the Babysitter's Club or other books that were popular when I was in grade/middle school. While the three books I mentioned did not fall in to my hunting/outdoor/dog books these appealed to me because they were girls dealing with extraordinary circumstances and not boy trouble.

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      1. I learned about Mulan pre-Disney from a Chinese friend and always thought she was fantastic (and later read one of her stories - about wearing her babies into battle - in high school). Sadako was one of my favorites too, I added her to the Pinboard a few days ago - she should have been on this list from the beginning. Journey sounds familiar, but I can't remember reading it - I'll have to check it out.

        I enjoyed some of Babysitters club - but absolutely had no interest in Sweet Valley High, which my cousin and neighbors loved.... ugh! But read thru every Nancy Drew book (my grandma was a children's librarian and I would just work down the shelves during the summers!)

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      2. I love this list. I also didn't identify well with the Babysitter's Club, but agree that the girls' concerns can be interesting for a young girl or boy to read about (they start their own business in middle school, for goodness sake!).

        But there was another series that I loved growing up that took off from the Babysitter's Club called The California Diaries. It takes off from the point when Dawn's parents divorce and she has to move to California with her mother. (As you can see, breaking some of the happy-go-luckiness of the BC that some of us couldn't get into.) It's definitely for an older crowd, that is young teens getting ready for issues that come with puberty and high school, but it's not explicit in a sexual sense.

        It's just dramatic and deals with the "big" issues that teens don't usually know how to process: losing a loved one, bullying and discrimination, eating disorders, etc. Each diary is told from a different character's POV, so you can see how each person in the group of friends both supports and struggles to understand the others with their problems. It's a good take on friendship and individuality as a teenager, not just before and after. I loved the classics that you mention here when I was 13, but sometimes I just needed a popular book that matched my own dramatic teenage thought process. It's been a long time, but I remember the characters being very admirable, strong, and honest.

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    43. Found this list and your blog via Pinterest. Thank you! Although my girls (and boys) have read some of these fantastic books, there are many we haven't, so I'm excited to introduce them (and myself) to some new heroines!

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    44. I was so glad to see some of my favorite books on this list! I have a few to suggest that are more recent, and might not be as well known.
      Gilda Joyce - from the Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator series by Jennifer Allison
      Cassandra - from The Secret Series
      Sabrina and Daphne - from The Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley
      Piper - from The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester
      There are a few characters for boys and girls in Christopher Healy's The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom. I really liked this book because it had multiple princes and princesses, and all of them where different and diverged from the typical prince and princess character.
      Theodosia - from Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R.L. LaFevers. This is also a series but it doesn't have a designated name.
      Olive - from The Books of Elsewhere series by Jacqueline West
      I guess this is more than a few, but I just got really carried away. I even cut back some.

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    45. GREAT list! "The Paper Bag Princess" has been a family favorite of my mother's, my two sisters, our six daughters, and myself for a long time, and I don't think it gets enough credit for its simple and relatable insight. All the girls and women I know from this list feel real - not falsely strong or overly simplified - and I'm excited to see them in one place together!

      I agree with Ms. Lovell about "The Girl Who Could Fly" and "The Sisters Grimm" (both series introduced to me by my now 11-year-old daughter). The others she mentioned, and some from your list as well, I am eager to meet. Family reading time will be fun with these titles to look forward to!

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    46. I literally couldn't handle how many great women characters you put up there! :) Seriously.... especially Lireal and Sabriel!!!!!!!! No one knows about them! If I could recommend some series you should read; The Naming by Alison Croggon, Abarat by Clive Barker, and A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. Girls are the main characters in all of the books (be warned if you don't like kinda weird books Abarat may be too much) But I HIGHLY recommend you read them! OH! annnd like that could get any better! Those books are all part of series!. *died*

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    47. Responsible of Brightwater in the Ozark Trilogy by Suzette Elgin.

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    48. Responsible of Brightwater in the Ozark Trilogy by Suzette Elgin.

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    49. For the younger girls, Madeline from the series by Ludwing Bemelmans. Also Paula, Petrova, and Posy Fossil from the book "Ballet Shoes" by Noel Streatfeild. The movie was done very well too!

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      1. I loved the ballet shoes movie - I hope I'm not too old to admit that. =)

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    50. BETSY from the Betsy-Tacy series!!! BEST BOOKS EVER

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      1. I'll second that! I read the Betsy-Tacy series over and over as a child and now again as an adult. I've started reading the books to my young daughters, too. Excellent books about strong girls who are supported by their families to be individuals, even back in time when that type of encouragement to young women wasn't as common.

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    51. You should add Thirrin from Cry of the Icemark. It's by Stuart Hill.

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    52. Katniss from the Hunger Games Series!
      She don't need no man. She saves men, men don't save her :) she's awesome

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    53. rose and lissa from the vampire academy, one of the best written series I've ever read but definitely better for older girls!

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    54. Kate from Taming of the Shrew is angry all the time, and doesn't have many redeeming qualities. I get that she doesn't want to be told who to marry, but she's just mean all the time. Not the best role model in my opinion.
      Mandie from the Lois Gladys Leppard series is great and there are a LOT of them, so there's always plenty more.
      For younger girls, I enjoyed the American Girl series'. They are each so different and tell about a historical time in American history. And as for multicultural girls, they have Addy who escapes from slavery, Josefina who is growing up in New Mexico, and Kaya, a Native American girl. I think they even have a new one who is an African American girl growing up in New Orleans.

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      1. Agree to disagree against Kate - who is one of the greatest roles for a woman to play in Shakespeare in my humble opinion.

        I would only say in my defense that this is not really a list of "good role models" - which is why I wanted to include rebellious Antigone, misunderstood Hester, difficult Beatrice, angry Kate, etc. Just because someone is not a model of good behavior does not mean we can't learn a little from her. =)

        Anyways wouldn't you be a little angry and tempestuous is your Dad and Sister gave you away to the highest bidder just so your sister could finally have sex? I would be furious; plus remember Shrew was written in a time when that kind of practice (if not for your sister sex drive, but for your families money and connections) was all too common and in the fact that Billy Shakes had a "virgin queen" ruling who was also fighting pressure to marry for the good of the country and Shrew suddenly becomes much more than a story about an angry girl who can't get a guy.

        Of course getting girls to think about all of that and more is exactly why I wanted her on my list.

        Thanks for your visit! I loved the American Girl books when I was kid and love that there's so much more a variety now then when I read them (there were only 4 girls back then).

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      2. p.s. Sorry for the long reply I'm an old theatre major and ex-costume designer and can talk Shakespeare all day =)

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      3. My concern is less about Kate's character, and more about how the play Taming of the Shrew ends, with Kate 'being tamed' which I know has varying controversial interpretations (and considerations of authenticity) to say the least. I'm concerned about the connotations support of that ending would have on little minds.

        Maybe you could do some follow up posts on some of the women you suggested who are less role models and more designed to make your girls to think (which I don't disagree with in the slightest) but I'm interested to know how you talk though those specific characters.

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      4. Fabulous list, btw!! Thank you for the post!

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    55. Alanna is one of my very favorite heroines! I was so happy to see her on your list. I just wanted to add that Tamora Pierce who wrote Song of the Lioness, has written many other books all with strong women as the main characters. I have read all of them in my teens and look forward to sharing her stories with my future children.

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    56. Annabeth from Percy Jackson series!

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    57. Oh, you named so many of my favorites! Thanks for this list. I have a son, not a daughter, but he needs to read about strong--realistic--women, too. :)

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      1. Absolutely - I hope to read many of these with my son as well! I think we need to show our boys what a strong woman is so that these types of women will be what they look for in friends and potential partners in the future!

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    58. such a great list and i love your pin board too :) i am so glad you pinned the golden compass... lyra is awesome! i'd like to suggest weetzie bat & witch baby from the dangerous angels series by francesca lia block, lauren from parable of the sower by octavia butler, and matilda by roald dahl. oh! and has anyone mentioned harriet the spy? i loved that one when i was younger.

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    59. Thanks for posting this. I'm an avid reader, and I've felt similarly about the Twilight series for several years. I love your list and totally agree with your sentiments. It inspired me to make a group on GoodReads centered around this idea. Thanks!

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    60. My 11 year old cousing read Twlight and loved it... as a joke i told her she HAD to read Harry Potter for her mental health wellbeing because Twlight is the first book she is ever read i have been wondering about a Good book to get her for her birthday.

      I would add the "Traveling pants" series, "Number the stars", "I know why the caged bird sings", "Mango street" and "Story of a seagull and the cat who taught her to fly" by Sepulveda (i read it in spanish and is wonderfull).

      Because i read i get asked all the time for book recomendations for kids and teens to "make" them read or on topics but it really gets hard to dig up good titles if your class asigment is reading Nabokov for example... SO¡, thank you for the list.

      Weird fact: I told a teen to read "Bridge to Terabithia" and her mom read it to. I like that book because of the friendship, imagination, gaining confidence and helping others........ her mother retold the entire book to MY MOM (to whom i had told the story earlier and loves the movie) as a story of how bad things happen when you dont listen to your parents... it was my mom who pointed out the gaining confidence and friendship part of the story.

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    61. Sabriel from Garth Nix Sabriel series-- she goes on this huge quest to defy death and save her father. It's great. Also, Sorcha from Daughter of the Forest. And Gaia, from the Birthmarked trilogy-- she is badly disfigured, but still leads a rebellion in a city where things are badly wrong.

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      1. Sabriel is #14 with Lireal =) but I haven't read the others, I'll have to add them to the library list!

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    62. oh and who can forget scout from to kill a mockingbird, and cassie from roll of thunder, hear my cry

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      1. Cassie from Roll of Thunder is awesome. I loved that book as a girl :)

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    63. there is also a book called ties that bind, ties that break, that features a girl named Ailin, who refuses to get her feet bound, even though her family is nobility in China. She has to live with her decision forever

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    64. and of course Francie Nolan in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

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    65. This is a lovely list. I've read many of them myself (some of them I make a point to reread every year or so because they've touched me a lot), but not all so I'll have to do some catching up of my own. I love that you have a sampling of old and new and tales that span across different times in a girl's life. Thanks for sharing this!

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    66. Aeriel from the Darkangel trilogy by Meredith Ann Pierce. Bittersweet ending, but wonderfully written and a very strong female character. I am 24 and I still reread this trilogy every year or so. I first read the series when I was a preteen.

      Also, I know someone was looking for non-white protagonists, and the Earthsea series by Ursula LeGuin does this well, though I believe the main character is male.

      Also, The Perks of Being a Wallflower has a good female lead though the actual main character is male. However, this is probably better suited to junior high or early high school age girls rather than children.

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    67. Pollyanna!! Also, the girls from Number the Stars are a must, and if your kids are advanced readers, Ms. O'Hara is one of my favorites. Also for advanced readers - Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Amazing women.

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      1. Scarlett O'Hara or another Ms. O'Hara I'm not familiar with? p.s. I totally regret not getting Number the Stars on this list (where was my brain!), but that was one of the first extra books I added to the Pinboard!

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    68. I'm familiar with all of these girls. Love them all. I'm a little unsure of a couple of Lizzy Bennett's sisters.

      Also, how about 11 year old Flavia de Luce, in the adorable cozy mystery series by Allen Bradley. She's a girl I'd like to know.

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      1. Haha true - the world needs fewer Lydia Bennet's doesn't it? But, I think she's still a girl worth knowing - if nothing else I think she's a good example of what happens when you don't use common sense when finding a husband/boyfriend! There are more than a few girls on this list who have traits that aren't always worth emulating, but are still worth knowing. =)

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    69. I think I would add Nancy Drew to this list as well as the character from 'Island of the Blue Dolphins'. Your list brings back a lot of great memories from books I read when I was young!

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    70. Bravo! Thank you so much for this post! I feel the exact same way about some of the current series titles out there. I'm not a fan. I have always exposed my children male or female to literature in all of it's forms and, can proudly say, I have created life long readers.

      I'm currently homeschooling my youngest son and your list and the the suggestions of others here have definitely been added to the list of must reads.

      Right now, my 7 year old son and I are reading Oliver Twist together.

      Thanks,

      Deb @http://www.relocatingourstory.blogspot.com

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    71. Nora, Daughter of the Nile. Maybe for an older girl. My almost 12 year old and I read it for a school project. She loved it.

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    72. Annie from The Magic Tree House series!

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    73. You could add in Sophie from the BFG. She helped save england from ravenous giants!

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      1. And Princesses Meryl and Adelyn from the Two Princesses of Bamarre. Both girls overcome their fears to change their kingdom and their lives :) One of my personal favorites

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    74. Love the list, but as I read all the comments I noticed no one mentioned my favorite female protagonists! You must must must read Graceling (Katsa), Fire (Fire) and Bitterblue by Kristen Cashore. GREAT books, GREAT female characters and world building. Also I have never heard Sabriel/Lirael mentioned on any other list and they were some of the best books I read last year. Thanks for this list, but I think based on the comments it certainly be added to!

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    75. I love this list, there are a few I missed growing up that I must read. I also loved the Emily of New Moon books, The boxcar children (girl and boy leads), and the Dear America diary series (I read and reread these books)and many many more! I will be making my own list for future children as I loved your idea:)

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    76. Tamora Pierce, the author of the Song of the Lioness series has written many more series all set within the same world and featuring the many characters from the first series, surrounding a lot of new strong female main characters. I would strongly recommend all of them to any one who loves adventure/fantasy books. Especially if you enjoyed the Song of the Lioness series!

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    77. Great blog, I think some of my suggestions would be:
      Matilda Wormwood- Roald Dahl (I think she was my favourite fictional character when I was growing up)

      Kestrel Hath- William Nicholson's The Wind on Fire trilogy. I would recommend those books to absolutely anyone.

      Stargirl- Jerry Spinelli

      Katy (and probably Clover) Carr- What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge

      Mercy- Caroline B. Cooney

      Lyra Belacqua and Sally Lockhart- Philip Pullman

      Scout Finch- To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

      Mildred Hubble- The Worst Witch sereis by Jill Murphy

      Polly Perks and the rest of the Monstrous Regiment- Terry Pratchett (maybe for slightly more mature readers this one)

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      1. A couple of these I've read (and added to the pinboard)... the rest are going on my to read list!

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    78. A heroine that I still love (and still love to read about at age 26)is Sammy Keyes. (main character of the Sammy Keyes mystery series by Wendelin Van Draanen). I also think Addie and Meryl from the book The Two Princesses of Bamarre (By the same author as Ella Enchanted) are great role models.

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    79. Wow! That's an awesome list. And I loved the fact that you put Antigone in that list. I loved her character and am fortunate that I got to play that character when my dad produced and directed the play and put me in the lead role! I got rave reviews and was much appreciated. Golden days and memories. Theater can almost transform you like no other.
      Good list going there. Although am sure you could add more. The list made me happy! :) Thanks.

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      1. Theatre can! I "played" Antigone in a little English class production in 10th grade - it was one of my favorite memories of high school. I'm very glad the list made you happy - that makes me happy too!

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    80. Great list! My daughter was named after that shrew, Kate!

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    81. So glad you included the Harry Potter series and Alanna the Lioness on this list! I love these books even though they aren't your run of the mill classics :)

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    82. I am not sure if it has been said but I would add Leslie Burke from Bridge to Terabithia. This was the book that really got me inot reading when I was a child.

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    83. Kit from the Witch of Blackbird Pond!

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    84. This is fantastic. I am a middle school Language Arts teacher and a mom of two girls. :) Thanks for sharing. There is one other I would add to the list, a newbie, Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games - but not until they're old enough to read it.

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    85. Here are a few more to consider:
      Mary Call from Where the Lilies Bloom by Bill and Vera Cleaver
      Aethelfaed from The Edge on the Sword by Rebecca Tingle
      Alice from On the Far Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
      Julie from Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
      Heidi by Johanna Spyri (If you only know the movie versions, you don't know Heidi!)
      Elnora from A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter

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    86. Katie from Stepping Heavenward
      Betsy from Understood Betsy
      Polly from Five Little Peppers and How they Grew

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    87. Don't forget the girls from The Sisterhood of the Travling Pants. 4 very diffrent girls to look up to that grow up as the readers do.

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    88. Don't forget the girls from The Sisterhood of the Travling Pants. 4 very diffrent girls to look up to that grow up as the readers do.

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    89. This is an amazing list! Do you have one like it for boys? As a teacher, I want to encourage both genders of students to find great examples in literature! :)

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      1. I don't have one yet, but I've been thinking of putting one together!

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    90. definitely add nancy drew! i've started re-collecting her books in the hopes that i have a daughter :) also karana from island of the blue dolphins, and DEFINITELY the american girl series...oh, how i loved them. madeline l'engle also has some kick-ass female characters!

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    91. Saffy (Saffy's Angel) from the Casson Family series! I loved this whole series growing up! Saffy is such a strong, creative young girl and definitely someone I want my future daughter(s) to know!

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    92. Has "Ella Enchanted" by Gail Carson Levine been mentioned? It's definitely one of my favorite stories of a strong girl. It's a remake of the Cinderella story, where Ella fights to break the curse of obedience set upon her at birth to save herself, her future, and her loved ones.

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      1. Only about a million times - I'm checking it out of the library tomorrow in fact because apparently I missed this amazing book when I was growing up!

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    93. This is a great list, although I wish there were more minorities represented. Our daughters need to know strong women come in all colors.

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      1. Absolutely true - sadly this list was taken almost 100% from a few shelves of my personal reading list (never assuming it reach almost 100K pins and be shared so much) and (being a bit of a fan of fantasy and classic english lit myself) in the end it is lacking in those categories. It was in no way intentional.

        I've been trying to add a better variety to the Pinboard I created to expand on this list. If I can I 'd love to do a proper "Great Girls Part 2" and put a little more thought into introducing a better variety of heroines.

        Thanks for the visit and the reminder that we have a responsibility to encourage better variety in our literary heroines!

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      2. P.S. - I'm also working through some titles I've found via A Mighty Girl and a few other sources, but aren't familiar with so I can expand the list with titles I fully recommend!

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    94. I don't know about Susan from Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe....remember why she isn't allowed to come back to Narnia?

      I'm pretty sure that was the first time I read something sexist and recognized that it was unfair and only based on what a man would think of what a woman thinks about. When she thinks about boys and makeup she's unclean, unpure. Neil Gaiman wrote a great short story about it "the problem of Susan."

      The horse and his boy had a great female character but essentially we have the idea early on that once a woman is aware she is a woman, she is unclean....eve? I didn't understand where it was coming from as a child but I was aware that it felt like she was punished for her gender.

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      1. I consider "The Problem With Susan" to just a be a short story, a piece of fiction and not a complete literary criticism of the character, but is an excellent story!

        Both Peter and Susan are told that they will not be returning to Narnia - implying that for both, not just for girls, age (perhaps puberty) stands in the way of the experience of Narnia. The same happens for Lucy AND Edmund at the end of VDT.

        I always felt that "The Last Battle" implied that her choosing the material world was what stood in her way - remember that the whole Narnia series is a Christian allegorical story in many ways - so I always felt that Susan was simply the character chosen to symbolize those who distance themselves from Truth by choosing to immerse themselves in the material world. Edmund recounts her saying that she believes that Narnia is nothing more than a game they played as children - she has stopped believing in it.

        Her ending is also not finite leaving the reader the freedom to consider whether or not her decisions as a young woman will forever separate her from her family or whether (remember the allegory part) she can reconcile her mistakes and join her family in, essentially, Heaven. (This idea is taken from the writings of Lewis himself.)

        Thanks for the chance to think about the topic though!

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    95. They're probably more suited to older girls but I love the way the women are portrayed in George RR Martin's Game of Thrones series. Arya is scrappy and a survivor. Daenerys is a conquering child queen. Even Cersei who is at times dreadful still portrays a strong woman who will do anything for her children.

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      1. I considered adding Arya - but wanted to wait until her story line is complete!

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    96. Great list! And I agree. If I ever have a daughter I hope she'll connect with strong female characters first.

      Charlotte from The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle.

      Why did you leave Ginny Weasley off the list? Just curious.

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      1. Oversite only - I love all of the women in HP! I need to add Charlotte to the list!

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    97. SO - Moms weigh in with me on this... K came home from school today - same story.... so and so is reading Twilight - I haven't allowed her to yet...

      I saw this on Pinterest just a few nights ago - great post! I just challenged her to read 10 of the books on this list and THEN she can read the Twilight series...

      only limit is she can't reread any of the Harry Potter's (again)

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      1. I love it! If you choose to allow her to read Twilight perhaps pick a night after she's finished the first book to go out for to a coffee shop or something fun like that and really talk about the book. Get her to really talk about the book - Is the writing good? How does Bella treat her parents? Her friends? and really talking about the characters of Bella and Edward, particularly compare them to some your favorite romantic couples from this list or else where. How does Bella/Edward compare to Ginny/Harry or Ron/Hermione. What about Laura/Almanzo, Meg/Calvin, etc.

        Don't launch into why you don't like the series immediately, but be prepared to offer concise, short opinions on what parts of their characters and relationships you don't like, but be prepared for her to still like the books in the end.

        If I could recommend my favorites from the list that show healthier relationships I would say Laura/Almanzo from Little House, Anne/Gilbert from Anne of GG, Anne/Frederick from Persuassion, Cimorene from Dealing with Dragons (her romantic interest shows up in Book #2, and if you follow through book #4 you get a great example of a woman who doesn't curl up in a ball for months when something happens to the love of her life, but actually keeps going!) and Little Women - (Jo's decision between Laurie and Professor Baer would be great material when compared to the twilight love triangle). Eowyn ala the LOTR movies (with her unrequited love story) would make a great foil for Bella too - guy doesn't love her back and what does she do? Curl up in a ball and try to commit suicide? No She goes to battle and kicks some butt. Jane Eyre is on the list because she knows when to walk away from an unhealthy relationship even though the person is her soul mate.

        I'd love to hear back about this experiment!

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    98. Kit from The Witch of Blackbird Pond! Such a strong character! And an amazing book. It's definitely a book for older kids, but I still read it every year.

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    99. Oh & also Princess Addie of The Two Princesses of Bamare. Same author as Ella Enchanted. I love Princess Addie because she was never the " strong, brave" sister, but steps up when she must to save the kingdom. Anyway, another good strong fantasy-lit girl.

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    100. I am printing this out and saving! Love it!!

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    101. One name I have not seen in the suggestions is Mattie Ross from "True Grit', she's a great example of self-reliance and spunk. I have also found several books in the suggestions that I need to get.

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    102. I adore this list! I'm 17, so the books I read are for a more mature reader, but I completely agree with Tris from Divergent and Francie from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn! Both amazing books. Others to read are nearly any book by John Green, he has fantastic female characters. Cinder from Cinder(cyborg version of Cinderella!), Max Angel and Nudge from the Maximum Ride series, Scarlet from Scarlet by A.C. Gauhen, Wendy from Peter Pan, Emily from The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson... There are so many others that I can't even get to!!! But my favorite by far is Jane Eyre. I have read the book at least four times and still love it

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    103. I think that not only Alanna in The Song of the Lioness sieres, but the other sieres by Tamora Pierce that are set durring that time, for example immortals, protector of the small, beka cooper, trickster. Also, the House of the Night books (P.C. and Kristen Cast), Daughters of the Moon (Lynne Ewing), and Sisters or Isis books (Lynne Ewing) are worth checking out.

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    104. Also Polly from An Old Fashioned Girl, one of Louisa May Alcott's lesser known books and my favourite!

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    105. Love that you put Alanna on the list! Tamora Pierce was/is one of my favorite authors, but I've found very few girls who have read her books. All of her characters make great additions to this list, and I agree with Aubrey lasche, the House of Night books are well worth looking at. In terms of a series with both strong male and female role models I really enjoyed the Inheritance Cycle (Christopher Paolini). Thank you for sharing such an amazing idea.

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    106. Alexa Daley from these books:

      The Dark Hills Divide: The Land of Elyon, Book 1
      Beyond the Valley of Thorns: The Land of Elyon Book 2
      The Tenth City: Land of Elyon #3

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    107. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    108. Caddie Woodlawn was a favorite of mine growing up.

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    109. Thank you for writing this list! I write about girl culture in the media and everyday live over at shatteredslipper.com (I'd love for you to check it out). You are absolutely right in that there are not enough girl leads in story books and even on TV these days! Thank you again and I'll def be checking these titles out.

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    110. Great list! I'm off to follow the Pinterest board now, lol.
      I know it's hard to keep the list to just 30 heroines, and I think you did a great job. I'd like to personally add that 'Stargirl' is a favorite heroine of mine and perhaps she could find a space on the Pinterest board...if she isn't there already :D

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    111. Oh please add Rose from 'Eight Cousins' and 'Rose in Bloom', I discovered these as an adult and absolutely loved them, I thought the romance depicted in 'Rose in Bloom' is such a nice counter balance to the way love is usually portrayed in fiction, and a fantastic read

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      1. Oh, and Phoebe, same books, just can't leave her out as a character girls should know!

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    112. This is a great list. I think you should add Maria from "The Little White Horse." That was one of my favorite books growing up.

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    113. I LOVE that you included Cimorene and Eff, and Beatrice is my favorite Shakespearean woman as well. (Kate has a bit of a flawed ending, but that's ok). Generally, this is an excellent list. Thank you!

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    114. While I love Taming of the Shrew and all things Shakespeare, I would recommend taking Kate off the list. She completely changed herself for a man... not something I'd want my daughter to think was okay. Also, I think that adding Mia from the Princess Diaries, Katniss (need I say more?), and Macy from The Truth About Forever.

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      1. Kate remains on the list because her story is a matter of interpretation - two of the biggest interps. being that she is a strong woman who outwits her oppressors or a strong woman who is broken by abusers. It is because of both of those interps. that I keep her on the list - on of one hand she could still be a good role model and on the other her "change" opens up room for good discussion on abusive relationships with a teenager. In fact, I would ask my teenage daughter why is the abuse and change that Kate goes through wrong, while the abuse and change Bella goes thru "romantic".

        Thanks for the comment!

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    115. Elspeth Gordie from Isobel Carmody's Obernewtyn Chronicles is another strong female character that I've enjoyed following over the years.

      For authors that you've already got up there, I'd add L.M. Montgomery's Emily (of New Moon), Pat (of Silver Bush) and Rilla Blythe (of Ingleside). They are all just as fantastic as Anne. Also Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic series (three female lead characters and one male) is good for a younger audience than her Tortall series.

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    116. Mary Lennox from The Secret Garden is one of my all-time favorite characters! I also live Hermoine and Mrs. Weasley. This was a great post!

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    117. Great list. I might add Lyo-Lyok, from The Once and Future King (technically she's a goose, not a girl, but she's got some great things to say), and Amy Dorrit from Little Dorrit (the book), and Fantine and Cosette from Les Miserables (also the book, definately not the play or the movie).
      We've got to read the stuff we want our kids to read, they learn best from example. Great post. I totally agree with it.

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    118. Vicki Austin from L'Engle's Austin series.

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    119. This list is wonderful and I intend to personally read everything I am not yet familiar with. I agree with all of the comments that say this list is not just good, but also important for boys, too. I intend to read these to my son alongside books with positive male leads. I understand why mothers of daughters are eager to find positive female leads in books, but leaving out boys leaves out half of the equation.

      There are so many great books mentioned in the comments. Any chance you are willing to compile another list for us :)

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      1. Don't forget what I say in my last sentence "And let's not forget - stories about strong girls are not just for girls, let's encourage our boys to read these books too".

        Instead of making a new "GG" list with all the great suggestions I'm adding them to my pinboard. As for a list of heroines for boys or good literary boy role models for boys, I've kicked the idea around!

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    120. I love this list! I would add:
      Evanlyn and Alyss from the Ranger's Apprentice series. One fights battles the other works to prevent them.
      Miss Havisham and Estella from Great Expectations.
      Catherine Moreland from Northanger Abbey.
      Eleanor the Queen by Norah Lofts. Historical fiction about Eleanor of Aquitaine
      Anything about Harriet Tubman or Abigail Adams
      Books about Irena Sendler, Corrie Ten Boom or any of the Righteous Gentiles who hid Jews during the Holocaust.

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