I want my daughters to grow up knowing that they have the right to chart their own course when it comes to pursuing their interests and dreams. So, let me begin by stating that a good book for girls does not have to be about girls. A good book for girls starts by being a good book, period. Books with rich language, evocative storytelling, that touch upon universal themes of courage or friendship or honesty or love are suitable for readers of both sexes.
A good book is a good book is a good book. Secondly, a good book for girls is one that suits the interest of the girl in question. If a girl is interested in astronomy, then by all means, fill her book shelves with books about outer space, rockets, telescopes and scientists! If she is interested in ballet and dance, then by all means, expose her to stories about ballerinas, famous dancers from around the world, dance studios and crazes from the past few decades.
After all, the experience of reading can be quite personal , so it is imperative that we honour the wishes of your child by helping them find books that touch their heart and stimulate their brain. Katniss Everdeen would certainly qualify as a strong, prominent female character.
She is by no means the only prominent female character in the list that is set to come. When Leah was three years and younger, our bedtime-story ritual consisted of the two of us cuddling together on the floor or in a cozy chair or in her bedroom and reading three picture books together.
We had a vast library at our finger tips, from our own collection and from the books that we borrowed, twenty at a time, from our public library. Some books were read once and put aside; while our favourite books were read, over and over again, and still have a place on our bookshelves to this day. For your convenience, this post contains affiliate links. Click the images or the text links to see or purchase the books on Amazon.
Because Leah had a deep, rich experience with literature at such a young age, the day I stumbled upon a book entitled, 28 Good Night Stories , I knew I had found the perfect book to help us transition to chapter books. This book is based on the relationship between a sleepy bear and a guardian angel trying to earn his wings. The two tell each other stories over the course of 28 nights.
The beauty of this collection of stories was that Leah and I could still read our three stories a night, but we did so in a new format. It was a gorgeous coffee table edition of Peter Pan. It was a real step up in terms of the complexity of the character development and the plot lines for Leah.
The first series we read through in earnest was a light and breezy series called Rainbow Magic. The Rainbow Magic series concerns two friends, Kirsty and Rachel, who help various fairies from the Fairy World whenever they have trouble because of nasty Jack Frost and his band of Goblins. It is all very cartoon-like and the stories are formalistic, but they were the perfect entry point into the world of chapter books for my little girl.
The fairies all had names and eventually there was a Leah fairy and a Sophie fairy too. Those are the only two books of the series we own. The rest were borrowed from the Library. This series revolves around two siblings, Jack and Annie, who travel through time via books found in a magic tree house that appears in the woods by their home. Through this series of introductory chapter books , Leah was introduced to all sorts of historical events and famous historical people.
The books were short enough that we could read them and still have energy left over to follow our curiosity and check out the rea l stories behind the fiction described in these books. She has succeeded very well. They are excellent books for beginning chapter book readers as well as being an excellent introduction to history from all around the world. As a result of reading this series, Leah has developed a life-long love of history and geography.
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This has manifested itself in Leah being as equally interested and comfortable reading non-fiction as she is fiction. Even with her fiction choices, she often leans toward historical fiction of one sort or another. When we were in the midst of the long Rainbow Magic series and the Magic Tree House books, we managed to take time to read two classic books for girls that I am willing to wager can be found on every list of this sort imaginable. All of the important qualities of love, friendship, courage and loyalty are on full display in this charming tale of a pig and a spider and a little girl named Fern.
Most people I know cry toward the end. What a great read aloud book! Leah felt like she could relate to Anne because of her love for words and her desire to feel the warmth of Family and Home. On a recent family vacation, we toured the very house pictured on the front of the book that accompanies. It was as charming as one might expect after reading the book as we had. After plowing through both, we opted…. With Leah starting to demonstrate an interest in history and in particular, the story of the Titanic, we turned to Canadian author, Gordon Korman, and next read his Titanic trilogy.
From there, we stumbled upon two excellent trilogies. All four children have been recruited into a special school run by a mysterious man called Dr. Each child has a unique gift but not a supernatural gift. Their gifts are athleticism, intuition, logic, and a photographic memory. The children are asked to decipher clues and solve mysteries throughout and are constantly reminded that they have the skills necessary to the success of the group when they work as a team rather than as individuals. Leah enjoyed seeing intelligence celebrated and having the children solve problems using their brains rather than relying on magic or gizmos.
The stories are fairly lengthy and there was plenty of interesting background detail on all of the main characters.
We enjoyed solving the mysteries along with the characters, as they arose in these books. Again, the children use intelligence and courage to piece together the clues to discover who is involved and what is behind the theft of this painting. The two follow-up books were equally good. All three books involved mathematics, art, poetry, and seeing the patterns that exist in numbers, geometry and nature.
These books were accessible reads for any child but, would really be enjoyed by intelligent children who could appreciate that intelligent students were being featured and celebrated throughout the series. After the first four chapters, I stopped and told Leah that if she felt the storyline was too scary or too hard to understand, that we could stop. We read all seven books in order. After The Chronicles of Narnia , Leah felt ready to tackle more substantive literature. The first book was Bridge To Terabithia. Leah had long had the habit of reading her best-favoured books again and again.
Her attention span, having grown to a suitable length, now afforded her the ability to read for as long as she liked, put an unfinished book down, and pick it back up at the next, earliest opportunity.
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When Leah started re-reading Bridge To Terabithia , it caused her to pick up Prince Caspian again and read it solo style. She did the same with Voyage of the Dawn Treader. To this day, I have still not read some of them. It is difficult to keep up with her, to be honest.
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This book was significant because it was the first real dipping of her toes in both the horror and fantasy genres. I think Coraline is an incredibly good book for intelligent children because, even at an early age, it allows for discussions about the price of our some of our dreams, and the cost of some of the Faustian bargains we strike in pursuit of what we think will make us happy.
Speaking of graphic novels , it was around this time that Leah discovered author Raina Telgemeier and her series of graphic novels, Drama, Smile and Sisters. All three of these novels have become wildly popular with Junior grade students , and Leah and Sophie too is no exception. These books may hold the record in our house for being re-read, over and over again.
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Although Leah was branching off into her own world of literary choices, we still made time to share our own stories together. If Leah, in her mind, was not ready for the world of Hogwarts and Harry Potter then, we would explore the next best thing: the series that is said to have made a major impression on a younger J. The story is set is Wales and is essentially a tale, spanning five books, of the forces of Good trying to keep the forces of Darkness at bay. The hero is 11 years old, just like another certain eleven year old boy who turned up years later at Privet Drive.
Will has an uncle who mentors him, just as Harry had his Dumbledore. One of the cooler aspects of this series was that many of the settings really existed. So, after we finished reading the books, we went to Google Earth and journeyed into the fishing villages and windswept moors mentioned so prominently throughout the books. Pretty neat.
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There is a certain cadence to the writing that makes the text simply roll off of the tongue when reading out loud. Not much need be said about this series. The tales of friendship, loyalty, courage and love have struck a chord with millions of young readers, including Leah.
Not only that, but while Harry Potter is certainly the star of the story, Hermione Granger, his faithful friend, has emerged from the series as one of the strongest female characters ever written for children. Everything about her personality resonated with Leah; her fierceness, her sense of honour and justice, her intelligence, her femininity, and her feminism, too.
Leah even dressed up as Hermione for Halloween last year! One of the worries that Leah had heading into the first Potter book was that it would be too scary and violent. She soon found that this was not the case.
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