Friday, November 25, 2022

RA RA Read: Strong Minds, Strong Hearts, Strong Girls

I read a book that purported to be about a strong female character, written because the author implied there weren't many of such books, and I was so annoyed that I've made my own list of middle grade books that feature strong girl characters. There are a LOT of "strong girl" lists out there - I don't necessarily think mine is any better and it's certainly not more complete. But what I would like to see is more books that show girls' experiences as valid and that you don't have to change the world to be "strong."

All titles are, to the best of my knowledge, in print. *Starred titles include diverse characters as well.

Realistic Fiction
  • Tara Altebrando
    • The Battle of Darcy Lane
    • My life in dioramas
    • Altebrando writes realistic novels about girls finding their voice, struggling with friendships and growing up, and learning that life isn't always perfect but you change and grow as you go along. I frequently recommend them to girls who like realistic fiction and/or are having friendship struggles.
  • Angela Cervantes
    • *Allie, first at last
    • *Gaby, last and found
    • Like Lopez, Cervantes deals with strong Latina girls dealing with some tough family issues.
  • Michele Hurwitz
  • Diana Lopez
    • *Ask my mood ring how I feel
    • *Confetti Girl
    • Lopez' strong Latina characters deal with the fun, drama, and heartbreak of life with zest and courage.
  • Leslie Margolis
    • Annabelle Unleashed
    • Maggie Brooklyn
    • Margolis writes funny, spot-on books about tween and middle school girls. Annabelle's stories detail her growth into a strong, independent girl with friendship struggles and boy drama along the way. Maggie Brooklyn is perfect for any girl who's looking for a modern-day Nancy Drew with some realistic relationships along the way.
  • Wendy Mass
    • Willow Falls series
    • Mass validates the feelings and experiences of tween girls as she writes about everyday experiences and struggles with a hint of magic.
  • Lauren Myracle
    • Winnie years
    • *Flower Power
    • Myracle writes a wide variety of books, from beginning chapters to intense teen titles, but these two middle grade series feature tween girls and their friendships and choices.
  • Lisa Yee
    • *Millicent Min, Girl Genius
    • So Totally Emily Ebers
    • This collection of novels includes two about boys in the same school. They're told from the point of view of different characters - Millicent, who is a genius, and Emily Ebers, who is struggling with her parents' divorce. Although my personal favorite of this quartet is Warp Speed, these are great too!
  • *Out of my mind by Sharon Draper
    • For the first time ever, Melody finally has a voice - but will anyone listen to her? One of the very few middle grade titles to feature a protagonist with a physical disability.
  • *Roll with it by Jamie Sumner
    • One of my favorite new titles, featuring a girl with CP and an indomitable spirit, who is snarky, vulnerable, and finding her place in the world.
  • *The blossoming universe of Violet Diamond by Brenda Wood
    • Violet is biracial and has grown up with her white mother and family her whole life. When she turns eleven, she decides she wants to know about her father's side of the family and her other heritage and ends up learning not only about her family but about herself.
  • *Brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
    • This is actually a memoir in verse, but I chose to shelve it in the juvenile fiction as that is where it will most easily be found. It's a very popular title at my library. It tells Woodson's story of growing up African-American in rich poetry that is accessible and relatable.
Fantasy and Science Fiction
  • Pegasus by Kate O'Hearn
    • O'Hearn's exciting mythology-based fantasy series has a girl, Emily, as the main character.
  • *Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan
    • This trilogy by popular fantasy author Riordan features a bi-racial sibling duo. Sadie, the younger sister, is the most bold and daring and often breaks the rules. She's also adept at magic.
  • Cronus Chronicles by Anne Ursu
    • A mythology-based series where the major protagonist is a girl, Charlotte Mielswetzski.
  • Books of Elsewhere by Jacqueline West
    • This mildly creepy series features a shy but curious girl, Olive, who takes on a dangerous villain with the help of some clever cats.
  • Merrie Haskell
    • The princess curse
    • *Handbook for dragon slayers
    • Haskell turns the fairy tale adventure genre on its head with a princess who'd rather be anything else - and has a physical disability - in Handbook and features a girl who's not a princess at all, but could definitely use the reward money, in The Princess Curse.


Ms. Yingling said...

Yes. This is a great list. And it seems to me that the vast bulk of middle grade literature is about not fitting in! I'm not sure the author in question really made a great study of the genre before declaring the lack. Sigh. I will have to read this, but it doesn't sound like something my students will request.

Arundhati said...

Hi. Thank you so much for detailed list. I really love you blog. One suggestion. Will you please write a blog post same as this for boys. I am looking for books for my son - 8 years old in grade 3. I want to find fiction as well as non fiction books about strong male character which kids his age can look up to.

Jennifer said...

I recommend checking out Ms. Yingling Reads and Guys Read - both have a lot of reviews directed towards boys that you might find useful.