I am an addict of the written word, and hope I render that same addiction in my children.
My son loves to read, but only about ‘real stuff.” Even as a small child he preferred non-fiction to fiction.
However, my daughter has always loved stories, and has an enormous imagination. She is self-aware, empathetic, and working on finding her confidence as she navigates the first grade.
She is my child who will often comment on very adult situations with insight far beyond what I would expect her 7 year old brain to comprehend. I love how she surprises me when she does this. It makes me want to hug her old soul and say a big, “Thank you.”
As a child, adolescent, and adult who loves reading I found myself turning to characters I had come across in pages of the past and pulling from their strength. Sometimes a character spoke to the exact situation I was in, but most of the time I turned to a character I admired just to know they were there…like an old friend.
- A character who stood up for the underdog.
- Who took risks without support.
- Who made bad decisions and learned from them.
- Who loved their family even in the dark places.
- Who was amazing at their job despite their limitations or limitations from others.
I yielded these characters in my back pocket like a well-worn paperback, to get me through all of my “stuff.” I still do this.
I read and re-read passages from those stories I loved and characters I admired hoping to gleen a fraction of their strength. Those characters became real to me. They are woven in the fabric of who I am.
I even named my daughter Tandy after the short story (“Tandy”) in the book Winesburg, Ohio by, Sherwood Anderson.
So it’s an easy transition for me to want the same for my children…especially my daughter. It seems girls have a limited example of noble behavior in the media.
You- Tubers have become our examples for our children, and my daughter draws her life connections from girls who make a living putting on makeup and making slime. I have no ill-will on these girls. They are ambitious in their own right. They deserve some admiration.
However,to really dig deep, which sometimes we need to do as human beings. Especially as girls/women. We need some sisterhood to connect with in the unwavering, stood the test of time, will always be there (or at your nearest library or bookstore), no nonsense true grit female characters who have lived lives that make us thankful for the lives we have, or who help us overcome the same tragedies of our own lives.
Fun fact about this list of books. I read most of them during college. I was studying to become a middle school Language Arts teacher and most of these were required reading. So, if you don’t trust me you can trust the graduate curriculum at Ashland University. In fact, I have read all of these books as an adult. They still ring true.
Books you Want Your Daughter to Read
Ember is a city of the future which has been created to keep people “protected” from the outside world. The city is only illuminated by artificial light and food supply is dwindling due to a corrupt government. Lina, the willful, smart, daring, and opportunistic little girl wants a better life and although she is up against every unknown in her enclosed world she ventures out with her friend Doon and little sister to save her [the] world. This book became a movie in 2008.
Okay, who isn’t aware of the arrow-wielding female badass Katniss Everdeen who takes the Hunger Games Trilogy by storm? Katniss laughs in the face of danger, hesitates at nothing to save her family, and remains loyal in friendship even when faced with the threat of death. This book became a movie in 2012, followed by Catching Fire in 2013, and Mockingjay in 2014.
Born of every mother’s worst nightmare for her daughter Speak allows Melinda to navigate the unthinkable through the unforgiving halls of high school and the adolescent relationship with a mother. Melinda would make a mother proud on every count, and will teach your daughter how to look fear in the eye and call it what it is! Speak was made into a movie, starring Kristen Stewart, in 2005.
Gilly, a precocious, gum-snapping, sassy, bright, and crafty eleven year old foster child who has been through the system since she was a baby, has finally met a family with stranger habits than herself. This story weaves the troubled mind of the lost Gilly into this strange new family where she finds love and understanding even against her best efforts to push it away. The Great Gilly Hopkins was made into a movie in 2016.
Salamanca Tree Hiddle, affectionately known as ‘Sal’ sets out on a road trip of a lifetime with her one of a kind, grandparents. They are traveling from Ohio to Idaho and to pass the time Sal weaves a tale of Phoebe Winterbottom, who is getting secret messages delivered to her …and who’s mother is missing. It is in the telling of this story Sal takes her own journey and uncovers the truth about her life and missing mother. This heartwarming story will make your daughter want to give you a big hug.
This book is one of my top 10 favorite books of all time. I even used it during my student teaching as a literary study for my students. They were all locked into Billie Jo’s story. Her story reaches back to the Depression in the heart of the dust bowl – Oklahoma, and all the problems that come with that life. On top of that Billie Jo battles badly burned hands, losing her mother, and a father who can’t handle any of it. Billie Jo’s remarkable story of perseverance, courage, love, and hope makes this a story for anyone who believes in a better life.
As a side-note, this book is written like a poem (small sentences, very few words to a page, & short chapters) so it is a good book for struggling readers or young readers not quite ready for a full chapter book.
This book is, logically, not named, Stargirl. Jerry Spinelli captures the heart, color, fierceness, fragility, and fearless heart of the new girl at Mica High. They call her Stargirl but the very thing that makes her a star comes and goes in a fleeting moment in the tragic time scale only a high school student can experience. Stargirl is faced with the dilemma to conform to be accepted or embrace her true identity and face potential rejection. I hope my daughter always has some Stargirl power happening in her life.
Liesel is a foster child living in Nazi Germany. On the outside she has been dealt a bad hand: war stricken, motherless, death of a brother, placed in foster care…but she has found solace in a gentle foster father, secret access to the Mayor’s library, and the stories and characters within those stolen books that get her through her own war. Leisel is constant, hopeful, responsible, compassionate, and wise beyond her years. It’s often books that take place in history that remind us the human spirit is unchanging. The Book Thief was made into a motion picture in 2014.
Esperanza is a daughter of a wealthy landowner in Mexico. Her story starts out in the least humble of ways. However, tragedy meets her family when she loses her father and the family is forced to flee to the United States during the Great Depression. Esperanza finds herself in a world this has been turned upside down as a migrant worker on a farm in California. Esperanza slowly gets used to her new life and rises above the oppression and depression to a place where hope can be found for this little girl and her family.
As summer break, for many of us, will be here before we know it I hope you are able to add some of these books to your summer reading list! Most local libraries have ongoing reading challenges through the summer as well.
I also encourage you to pick up one of these books and read it with your child. So often I am most impressed with the young characters I meet in between the pages of a book.
If you are also looking for a good adult read this summer…or anytime here is a list of some of my favorite books from my book club.