At a certain age, boys seem to outgrow the fairy realm and girls still love them. Also these books have girl protagonists.
Theme: Women in Math
Best for: 7 and up
“Sophie discovered that mathematicians use numbers as poets use letters-as a language to question, explore, and solve the secrets of the universe.” Wonderful and inspiring illustrated biography of a woman mathematician from the 18th century.
Theme: Speaking Up
Best for: 9 to 12
“Different isn’t wrong,” Pixit said with such utter certainty that Mina couldn’t help but believe him…Mina said, “I just need to find a different way, a way that works for me.” To get to the point, this is a must-read, about the power of children to change the world, finding their own voice along the way. Very inspiring fantasy that’s not so fantastical in the end!
Theme: Fantasy; Courage
Best for: Girls age 11 and up
“I’ve been looking for a way to find out more about my powers, about my destiny. This is the sign I’ve been waiting for, I’m sure of it. This is where I need to go.” She pointed at her rough drawing of the shrine…” A sequel to Sisters of Glass, and every bit as dramatic and compelling. Fantasy genre.
Theme: Historical Fiction; French Revolution
Best for: 11 and up
“I know how to make needle lace and sew and hem and build a fire and tend it and clean the ashes out. I can make tea and toast and cook a chicken if I have to. I can empty chamber post and scrub floors…” This very well-written historical fiction about the French Revolution is based on a true incident…
Theme: Sexual Preferences
Best for: Girls 11 and up
“In the end, this was about me, not them,” Robin said, tapping her chest. “And the people in my life could either accept that or they could live without me.” Ivy swallowed hard. “Did anyone choose to…well…” “Live without me?” An excellent peek in the confusion that a young gay teen experiences as her preferences begin to emerge…
Theme: Courage, Fantasy
Best for: girls 11 and up
“We will rise. We will not, cannot, be controlled through fear or hatred, for we have hope. Those who greedily hoard their power will find it slips through their fingers like sand. We are free.” This is a very dramatic fantasy, with two fabulous heroines leading us to right some wrongs…
Theme: Indian Mythology, Courage
Best for: 9 to 11
People are a lot like magical pockets. They’re far bigger on the inside than they appear on the outside. And it was like that with Aru. She found a place deep within her that had been hidden until now… The first in a series on Indian mythology, similar to Percy Jackson, but much funnier and much lighter, and much more girl-friendly…
Theme: Indian culture, Dealing with Divorce
Best for: Girls 10 and up
“Lakshmi Auntie drops Sumai off with us a couple of days later, and scurries a protesting Ashwin away for a haircut…The day promises to turn from plain hot to furnace hot.” In this multicultural children’s book set in India, a young girl grapples with the divorce of her parents, and memory loss of a family friend.
Theme: Community Activism
Best for: 7 to 9
“I know, I know. I’m giving away the ending. But here’s the thing. The point of a story is not the ending. The point is, What does it mean?” It’s time to educate the young people about the power of community activism, in a gentle way. This book does that…
Theme: Japanese Culture
Best for: 5 to 10
“I just had to be able to help make mochi! I need to think of a way to convince my parents. Good think I had the perfect thinking spot…” Breaking the gender barrier- again, and this time, against the cultural grain.
Theme: Baseball and Gender-equality
Best for: 9 to 12
“If she didn’t try announcing the game, she knew she’d regret it… Everyone wanted to be the announcer. It was one of the most important jobs in baseball.” Gender equality knows no bounds, and Amy G calls on her real-life experience to prove it.
Theme: Women Heroines
Best for: 5 to 10
“In the dark time of the year, when the days are short and a cold wind blows from the north, a serpent came to live in an old cave on the mountain of Yung Ling…” From time to time, it’s great to read about a young girl who takes on the challenge of slaying the perennial serpent. This children’s book is a lovely collection of such stories.
Theme: Girls and Science
Best for: 9 to 12
” ‘That’s all it took for you to cave in? You’re some kind of lousy negotiator. That’s what we get for sending a dumb girl to do a man’s job. …’ It was so unfair I could have smacked him.” This sequel continues to explore the theme of loving science and holding to one’s own truth…
Theme: Resisting Prejudice
Best for: 10 and up
“I’d been taught that our Bamarre were lucky to be ruled by us. Otherwise they would have been conquered by others, who would have killed them all. With us, they were safe and had duties and food.” A great and timely fantasy children’s book exploring the injustice of nations dominating nations, and the ill consequences of prejudice…
Theme: Healing Relationships
Best for: 10 and up
“I felt like I was speaking a part in some out-of-date play. Who in the world calls their grandmother “Grandmother?” But “Grandma” didn’t seem to fit.” This children’s book is about relationships – between parents, children, grandparents, and friends, showing the way that misunderstandings can create distance, and communication can create love and warmth.
Best for: Girls 7 – 9
“Did Mom know she hired a witch as a babysitter?” In this second children’s book in the Backyard Witch series, we watch a young girl grow into her own qualities, which are different from her mother’s expectations.
Theme: Historical Fiction Coming of Age
Best for: 12 – 14
“I have escaped! I have achieved the first stage of my emancipation! In a little while I will go on to Baltimore–and from thence I will begin my new life.” This beautifully written historical fiction children’s book is quite hard to put down.
Theme: Historical Fiction
Best for: 9 – 12
“The title ‘Joint Reign’ is a foolishment and emphasizes what I have always contended: that men are more fortunate than women. Joint reign! It is I who inspects, examines, weighs and wrings her brain …” Coming on the heels of an historic election, it is interesting to go back in history and understand more about the obstacles women faced hundreds of years ago.
Theme: Coming of Age Fairytale
Best for: 9 to 12 girls
“The first time I tried my hand at magic, I grew roses out of my nose. This was not my intention… Magic is unpredictable, finicky, and dangerous, especially in the wrong hands.” This children’s book is best thought of as a modern-day Grimm’s fairytale. It has all the elements of Grimm stories, including the grim part…
Best for: Girls 9 – 12
“Leila breathed in the heavy scent of masala, nicked with the sharp undercurrent of gobi and war my oily parathas. She knew most of the dishes on her plate, and was determined to try everything…” The best part of this children’s book is the ending, where the resolution unfolds so skillfully, that only then did I realize the mystery … .
Theme: Light Mysteries
Best for: 8 to 10
“I did not write a long letter to Aunt Veronica. All I did was introduce myself and tell her that the only reason why I had not written before was that my father had never told me of her existence.” The earliest writing of Alexander McCall Smith, this series of mystery books for children is easy to read, silly, and good entertainment.
Theme: Raising Chickens
Best for: 9 and up
“Mom says she has no intention of ever being a farmer, even though she knows how to drive a tractor and prune grapes.. But if I’m going to live on a farm, I guess I might as well be a farmer…”This is a totally lovable book, and a very likable heroine, who is trying her best to learn all about chickens, one chicken at a time.
Best for: Girls 9 and up
“This semester you will be taking a very difficult course… You will be learning all about How to Find Your Way…You will be graded on the following: pluck, enthusiasm, spirit of adventure, brilliance, and self-reliance.” The moment I saw the motto of “The Great Rapscott School for Girls of Busy Parents” I knew I’d love this children’s book. Quoting Amelia Earhart, “Adventure is worthwhile in itself,”…
Theme: Coming of Age
Best for: 12 and up
‘Tiffany had never been able to find out much about the librarians. They were a bit like the wandering priests and teachers who went even into the smallest, loneliest villages…It was said they could tell what book you needed just by looking at you…” The mastery of this children’s book is the way everything is woven artfully into one exquisite whole, even while each part, each character, stands out clearly…
Theme: Parental Love
Best for: 8 and up
“An ache spread through Lexie, blurring her thoughts and stabbing her heart. All she really knew was how desperately she missed Mama. Grandma blamed Mama for everything. It wasn’t fair.”
What makes good parenting? Is love enough, or is something else needed? We address this head on…
Theme: Overcoming Hardships
Best for: 5th grade
“We are going to Colorado! Pa told us. He just came home from his first trip to Colorado Territory and announced that he and Ma and I were moving west to strike it rich.'” Set in 1858, this delightful historical fiction is an easy and informative read, based on a real incident in Colorado history…
Best for: girls 9 to 12
“Today Bamarre needed a hero more than ever… I was no hero. The dearest wishes of my heart were for safety and tranquility. The world was a perilous place, wrong for the likes of me.” Ogres, dragons, fairies, specters, gryphons, and sorcerers fill the pages of this adventure, dedicated to sisterly love.
Best for: 9 and up
“My name is Zita, and I am the thirteenth of thirteen princesses. My twelve sisters have become the subject of legend, even in faraway kingdoms, but I am sure that you have never heard of me.” Thus begins a wonderfully written children’s book, with an entrancing retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, one of the Grimm fairytales…
Theme: African-American History
Best for: ages 8-11
Sarah looked at Addy. “You is coming to school, ain’t you?” “Momma say I can go,” Addy answered. “That’s good,” said Sarah. “We learn to read and write…You gonna like school. You’ll see.” Written in dialect, an African-American girl’s journey from slavery to freedom unfolds in this series of historical fiction children’s books.
Theme: Growing up
Best for: Girls 8 to 10
“As she handed me back my most worn-out underwear, I realized she wasn’t going to be at camp with me at all. Not even to help me put my things away…Or tuck me in, under my thin sleeping bag.” In this children’s book, we go away with Eleanor to summer camp, which starts out dreadful, and ends up wonderful. It’s a great book for any young girl going off to sleep-away camp for the first time