Like many parents, I try to pay attention to what my child is reading. I want to talk with him about the stories that make his imagination soar and the characters that he just can't get enough of. But I also want to see just what he is reading. Is he reading a lot about violent battles? Is he reading nonfiction sometimes and learning about the world in which he lives or the men and women who changed the world? Perhaps most importantly, does he ever read about characters who are different than him?
I could write for pages about the ridiculousness that some men spout about not needing to read about the experiences or thoughts of women. But I'm sure you know all about it. It is our job as parents to teach our sons that girls and women have valuable stories. In an effort to do that, I put books about girls in our library pile and stock our shelves at home with books where girls go on adventures and save the day.
I present to you a list curated by David and myself of the pluckiest, funniest heroines for your boy to try.
This series has been a favorite in our home for a long time. These picture books feature Lulu, a girl who goes on adventures in the snow or on the beach with her dog, Bingo. She has a group of friends who are superheroes just like she is and together they form the bug squad! These books will give you a sort of roundabout approach if you truly have a little boy who doesn't want to read about girls - start with The Amazing Adventures of Bumblebee Boy, move on to Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy, and then see if you can get him to read the rest of the books.
David: Fun and funny
Liberty is dealing with something that lots of kids experience - moving to a new town. But her move is just a bit different, because she is moving to the White House! This series starts with Inauguration Day, when Liberty gets carsick in the presidential limo. She asks her dad to change places with her, which results in him sitting right on her glittery, glue-covered card of congratulations. This is a lighthearted and fun series.
David: Because she is the President's daughter!
Ramona Quimby and Junie B Jones
I feel pretty confident in saying that Junie is a modern day Ramona. I have a special place in my heart for both of these girls and the scrapes they accidentally get themselves into. They both crack me up, even when (or perhaps because) I am on the parent side of the situation now.
David: Fun and they are both whiners sometimes...
I think we may have read these books a year or two ago and David says he doesn't remember this one. Anna is living in Africa, but she is about to visit some relatives in the US. These stories have the kind of escapades you expect from children's stories, but they also highlight some cultural differences between Africa and the United States.
Franny Stein, Mad Scientist
Franny doesn't quite fit in with her classmates. They think she is strange. But her wacky scientific experiments come in handy when the school is threatened by a strange creature.
David: She's a scientist!
Ivy and Bean
These books are about best friends who are opposites in many ways, but they are always there for each other. That's important, because they manage to get into a lot of trouble...
David: Just plain fun! It teaches us about friendship.
Katy and The Big Snow
Ok, so technically, Katy is a tractor. But she is definitely female and I love that there is a book about trucks/big machines aimed at girls. As it happens, David's little sister is just as enamored with trucks and diggers as he was as a toddler.
David: It's a type that a lot of babies and grownups like.
The Penderwicks reminds me of children's stories from an earlier era where a family goes on holiday and has adventures. This series is set in modern times, but it has a timeless feel that would be right at home in many decades. The stories follow four sisters and I love how the author captures the girls at different ages and the loyalty we feel for our siblings and families.
David: It teaches you about friendship and adventure and, at the same time, having fun.
Princess Celie, Castle Glower Series
I must confess I haven't read this one, but David is happily on the second book in the series and looking forward to the rest of them. It seems like Celie is a very plucky and capable heroine!
David: Celie is fun and amazing.
Rosie Revere, Engineer
I adore this book and think it is important because it shows a girl as an inventor and engineer which will hopefully inspire and encourage girls to pursue those fields. I also love that it teaches children that failing isn't really a failure - instead, it's an opportunity to try again. What a great lesson!
David: She has tons of determination and she's fun!
What books did we miss? Which female heroines do your kids love?