FYI : Children's Books FAQ : Children's Books with Central Female Characters

Children's Books with Central Female Characters

The following Children's Books with Central Female Characters FAQ is reprinted from the USENET newsgroup

Sub-FAQ of Recommended Children's Books: Last updated, July 11 1995

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To contribute to this collection, send email to Hilary Morrison, Unless otherwise requested, the first name/last initial of recommenders will be left in the list. For longer (essay-type) contributions, the full name and email address of the contributer will be included.

Format: This list is divided into sections -- Picture Books for young children, Chapter and Series Books for older (pre-teen) children, Biographies, Books for Teens/Young Adults, books for which no age recommendation was known, and Resources/Miscellaneous. The decision to recommend a particular book for pre-teens vs. teenagers is especially arbitrary, so check both sections. There will be some overlap. Please send corrections and/or suggestions as well. Many of the books are listed by "Unknown" author; it would be particularly helpful to change this when possible!

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*Picture books*:

Adler, David A.: My Dog and the Knock-knock Mystery (We picked this out at the library because of the title (my kids love knock-knock jokes). It turned out to be a fun first mystery book for kids, and the sleuths are a girl and her dog. It is now my 3 year old's favorite library book. [Rec. unknown])

Alexander, Martha: Sabrina [June Cummins L.]

Bang, Molly: The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher [Laura D.]

Barber, Antonia: The Enchanter's Daughter [Catherine H.]

Barrett, Judi: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (although the girl is not really a central character, and the tall tale is told by Grandpa, the intro and ending are in the girl's "voice", rather than the boy's. [Beth Vail J.]) [also Marjorie R. P.]

Bate, Lucy: How Georgina Drove the Car VERY CAREFULLY from Boston to New York [Vicki ?]

Bellows, Cathy: The Grizzly Sisters (Bronnie (2 1/3) loves it. It is all about two female grizzly bear cubs: "We're big! We're mean! We're the grizzly sisters!" [Andrew C.])

Bemelmens, Ludwig: The "Madeline" series [Jane Cummins L.;Laura J.M.]

Brett, Jan: Annie and the Wild Animals [June Cummins L.; Linda A.]

Brett, Jan: Trouble with Trolls (It is a story about a girl who outwits five trolls who want to steal her dog as she climbs Mt. Baldy on her way to visit a cousin on the other side. [Ellen B.]); Christmas Trolls [Linda A.]

Browne, Anthony: Piggybook (The story of a family of two ungrateful boys and their slug of a dad who expect mom to wait on them hand and foot. She takes off, leaving them to become pigs (literally...the drawings are great and have pigs all over the place in unexpected sightings like switchplates) and when she returns they all pitch in to help cook and clean while she fixes the car! [Majorie R.P.])

Browne, Eileen: Tick Tock; No Problem (Funny stories about wacky machinery. She deliberately makes all her characters female, because so many books with anthropomorphic animals are all male.) [Wendy E.B.]

Burton, Virginia Lee: Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel (Mike's steam shovel is named Mary Ann; Mike and Mary Ann can dig as much in a day as a hundred men can in a week (or so Mike thinks; he's not really sure) [Beth Vail J.]) [also Marjorie R. P.]

Byars, Betsy: The Golly Sisters Go West [Beth Vail J.; Vicki]

Champion, Joyce: Emily and Alice (Wonderful book about two girls who are best friends. Terrific Sucie Stevenson illustrations. [Wendy E. B.])

Cole, Babette: Princess Smartpants; Prince Cinders (Two authors that I keep posting about whenever people ask for book recommendations are Babette Cole and Anthony Browne. Both have a vast repetoire of great titles, with strong females. Recommended are Princess SmartyPants by Cole, which is the story of a young princess that is sure she doesn't want to get married, and how she defeats all her most ardent suitors. Do other people read/like these authors, or am I just quirky? I think they are the two of the most talented kids authors working now. [Marjorie R. P.])

Cooney, Barbara : Miss Rumphius (HIGHLY recommended for kids at least 2 years old. Miss R is about a woman who sets out to see the world, do good things for others, and make the world a bit more beautiful. The drawings are gorgeous, the tale is great, and she is the best woman I have ever seen in a children's book. [Marjorie R.P.]) [also Laura D.; Margaret B.B.; Catherine H.]

Cooney, Barbara: Hattie and the Wild Waves [Catherine H.]

Day, Alexandra: The "Carl" books (Carl is a male dog, but the baby who has adventures with him is a girl [June Cummins L.])

de Brunhoff: Babar's Little Girl (This is a later one which features Isabelle, the youngest child of Babar, who has a neat adventure on her own. [Jane Cummins L.])

DiFiori, Lawrence: Good Morning Muffin Mouse; Muffin Mouse on the Go (These two Muffin Mouse books are first-rate, beautifully illustrated, and big favorites at age 2. [Beth Vail J.])

Duke, Kate: Aunt Isabel Tells a Good One [Catherine H.]

Fair, Sylvia: The Bedspread [Laura D.]

Glassman, Peter: My Working Mom (A litle girl describes what's it's like to have a working mom. The funny part is that the mom is a witch. Definitely a positive role model [Wendy E. B.])

Goble, Paul: The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses (a Native American tale [Beth Vail J.])

Goodman, Jean Elizabeth: The Bears' New Baby (Amanda is a big sister to a new baby brother bear [Beth Vail J.])

Grimes, Nikki: Meet Danitra Brown (Wonderful poems about a girl and her best friend. Very strong characters, terrific illustrations. I'd give this one the Caldecott, personally. [Wendy E. B.])

Grossman, Bill: Donna O'Neeshuck Was Chased by Some Cows [Laura D.]

Hammond, Lucille: Glow in the Dark Trip to the Planets (Katie takes an imaginary (and challenging) trip around the solar system [Beth Vail J.])

Henkes, Kevin: Chrysanthemum (I love this book! [Catherine H.])

Henkes, Kevin: Julius the Baby of the World (which I believe is a must for anyone with or about to get a sibling); Crystanthemum (Both books show wonderful little girls (okay, they are mice, but they are girls too) that are full of humor and individuality. Emily just loves Lilly and Crysanthemum. These books are appropriate for preschools and up. They are message books, but good ones, I think. Any book by Mr. Henkes gets a high recommendation from me! :-)...Owen, although not about a girl, is a good lesson for anyone with a lovey or blanket [Tracy B.])

Henkes, Kevin: Sheila Rae, the Brave [Catherine H.]

Heyward, Du Bose: The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes (It was written in 1939, but was way ahead of its time. It's about the first female Easter Bunny, which was (in the story anyway) until then a male-dominated role. [Ken A.])

Hill, Susan: Beware, Beware (A little girl wants to leave the safety of her kitchen to explore the dark unknown outside. [Wendy E. B.])

Hoban, Russell: The Frances books [Susan B.;Margaret B.B.]

Hoffman, Mary: Amazing Grace (It's about an African-American girl who loves to pretend to be different characters, and ends up playing the part of Peter Pan in the school play. [Beth Vail J.; Vicki ?])

Houston, Gloria: My Great-Aunt Arizona [Catherine H.]

Huck, Charlotte: Princess Furball (a Russian "Cinderella" [Catherine H.])

James, Simon: The Wild Woods (A little girl and her grandfather share a happy walk in the woods. [Wendy E. B.])

Lewis, Kim: Emma's Lamb [Laura D.]

Loh, Morag: Tucking Mommy In [June Cummins L.]

Lurie, Alison: Clever Gretchen [Pam P.]

Mahy, Margaret: Jam: a true story (This is a pretty silly book about a stay-at-home Dad and a scientist Mom and family. The Dad's spring pastime is making jam from the plums on the plum tree. There is a healthy respect for reversed gender roles in this book. [Rec. unknown])

Martin, Rafe: The Rough-Face Girl (a Native American "Cinderella" [Catherine H.])

Mayer, Mercer: Liza Lou and the Yellow-Belly Swamp [Naomi K.]; East of the Sun, West of the Moon [Ruth K.]

Mayhew, ?: Katie and the Dinosaurs (there's another delightful book about Katie at an art museum, but I don't remember the title [Rec. unknown])

McCloskey, Robert: Blueberries for Sal [Susan B.; tomgally; Margaret B.B.] ; One Morning in Maine [tomgally]; Time of Wonder (Some of my favorites for reading to my two pre-school daughters...I had a pleasant jolt when I first got these books for my children a couple of years ago. Looking through them, I realized that I must have spent a lot of time looking at the pictures in them before I could read. Several illustrations in "Time of Wonder" in particular brought back strong memories after nearly thirty years. [tomgally])

McCully, Emily Arnold: Mirette on the High Wire [Catherine H.]

McKissack, Patricia: Flossie and the Fox (a little African-American girl outwits the sly fox [Pam P.])

Milstein, Linda: Amanda's Perfect Hair (Very funny book about a girl who gets tired of being admired for her incredible hair, and cuts it all off. [Wendy E. B.])

Miyazaki, Hayao: My Neighbor Totoro; Kiki's Delivery Service; Laputa-The Castle in the Sky [Robert P.(books); Karen B.(films)] (Tokuma Publishing came out with a set of picture books based on the work of the world's best animator, Hayao Miyazaki: Kiki's Delivery Service: A thirteen-year-old witch, Kiki, leaves home to spend a year on her own, as dictated by witchly tradition. She arrives in a big city (modeled on Stockholm, apparently), and starts an airborne delivery service to support herself. It's hard to describe what makes this movie so charming and wonderful, but the story book manages to capture the movie's magic. My Neighbor Totoro: Dad and his two young daughters, Satsuki and Mei, move into an old farmhouse in rural Japan, so that Mom will have fresh country air to breathe when she's released from the hospital (TB, presumably). Little do the girls know that the house is haunted by Soot Sprites, and the enormous camphor tree next door houses a giant furry Totoro! (My favorite bit is the boy down the street, Kanta, who loses his ability to speak in the presence of girls.) Great film, great book. My three-year-old gives it a thousand stars. Laputa: The Castle In The Sky: A rollicking adventure story featuring a floating treasure city, vile secret agents, a pirate clan led by a woman who reminds me of a fifty-year-old Pippi Longstocking, Pazu, a boy who wants to invent flying machines, and Sheeta, who turns out to be the rightful ruler of the flying city. This movie has everything. The book's good, too. Nausicaa Of The Valley Of The Wind: A complex story with a strong ecological theme (all Miyazaki movies have SOME ecological theme; Totoro, which was an enormous success in Japan, galvanized Japanese children into action), too complex to describe at all, really. The central character is Nausicaa, a princess of a small community in a world that has been largely destroyed by a massive war.

Munsch, Robert: Angela's Airplane [Rec. unknown]

Munsch, Robert: The Paper Bag Princess (A good book for younger children. Don't bother with the video!) [Susan B.; Diane L.; Lynne F.; Catherine H. et al.]

Nash, Ogden: The Adventures of Isabel (The Adventures of Isabel are also great, and Isabel is very self reliant! [Marjorie R.P.])

Oram, Hiawyn: Reckless Ruby (A romp of a picture book. All three kids_loved_ the story about how Ruby, determined not to be the precious doll her parents want her to be so she can grow up to marry a prince who will wrap her in cotton and take her out only for fancy balls, turns to a life of reckless abandon, finally deciding she can stop being reckless and just live her life as herself. Very funny, and a good message. [Valerie B.])

Paterson, Katherine: The King's Equal (The book starts out with an old king and a spoiled prince. When the king is dying he tells the prince that he cannot wear the crown until he marries a woman who is his equal. Needless to say,the prince believes he has no equal. Thankfully, he is proven well and truly wrong. [Michelle M.])

Pfister, Marcus: The Rainbow Fish (the title character is male, but the wise octopus is female [Diane L.])

Pinkwater, Daniel: Aunt Lulu

Piper, Watty: The Little Engine that Could (the engine that breaks down and the engine that saves the train are female, but all the mean engines that won't help are male--the unabridged version [Beth Vail J.])

Polocco, Patricia: Thundercake [Laura D.]

Pomerantz, Charlotte: The Piggy in the Puddle [Laura D.]

Ringgold, Faith: Tar Beach (a New York City African-American girl dreams of flying, beautifully illustrated -- now in a boxed set with a doll [Pam P.])

Rylant, Cynthia: Birthday Presents [Vicki ?]

San Souci, Robert and Brian Pinkney: Cut from the Same Cloth (a book of woman-centered folk tales [Pam P.])

Segal, Lore: Tell me a Trudy [Beth Vail J.]

Sherman, Josepha: Vassilissa the Wise (Russian tale; Cinderella type [Ruth K.])

Silverstein, Shel: Where the Sidewalk Ends; A Light in the Attic (selected poems) [Rec. unknown]

Simmonds, Posy: Lulu and the Flying Babies [Vicki ?]

Small, David: Ruby Mae Has Something to Say [Beth Vail J.]; Imogene's Antlers [Susan B.]

Steig, William: The Amazing Bone; Brave Irene [Diane L.]

Stein, Mini: We Help Daddy [Beth Vail J.]

Thompson, Kay: The "Eloise" books [June Cummins L.; Catherine H.]

Tompert, Ann: Little Fox Goes to the End of the World (My favorite to read to my girls (from age 3 on or so)...Little Fox explains to her Mom about her adventures in finding the end of the world-- crossing jungles, deserts, mountains, etc. Sort of like an older, female Runaway Bunny [U32495])

Unknown: Maisie Goes to Morningside [Rec. unknown]

Various: Fairy tales such as Beauty and the Beast; Snow White and Rose Red; The Snow Maiden [Rec. unknown]

Vernon, Tannis: Adriana and the Magic Clockwork Train [Vicki ?]

Whittington, Mary: The Patchwork Lady [Laura D.]

Williams, Jay: Petronella (Princess goes off to rescue prince, etc., but done with real wit [Ruth K.])

Williams, Linda: The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything [Pam P.]

Wollf, Ashely: Only the Cat Saw [June Cummins L.]

Yolen, Jane: The Girl Who Loved the Wind; The Moon Ribbon; Owl Moon (While the protagonist is a mufflered-up child and the sex is never mentioned, from the bookjacket copy, it's a girl. A beautiful story of a child and her Pa who go owling on a winter's night.[Pam P.])

Yolen, Jane: The Emperor and the Kite (A Chinese emperor is imprisoned in a tower. His youngest daughter flies her kite up to him, with a basket of food and eventually rescues him (I think he slides down the kite string. [Rec. unknown])

*Chapter and Series Books*

Alcott, Louisa May: The Little Women series [Diane M.Olivia W.]

Alexander, Lloyd: the series about Vesper Holly [Ruth K.]

Babbit, Natalie: The Eyes of the Amaryllis [Jim S.]

Baum, L.Frank: Any of the OZ books (you don't get much more brave and independent than Dorothy- the movie makes her pretty dependent on her friends for help, the books are much better [Laura J.M.]);[Catherine H.]

Berger, Barbara Helen: Gwinna [Laura D.]

Blume, Judy: Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great [Catherine H.]

Brink, Carolyn Ryrie: Caddie Woodlawn (Historical semi-fiction (based on the reminiscinces of the author's grandmother). Takes place on the American frontier. Entertaining and funny. [Naomi K.]) [Laura D.; Karen P.]

Burnett, Frances Hodgson: The Secret Garden [Laura J.M.; Naomi K.]; The Little Princess (I _really_ liked "The Little Princess [Naomi K.])

Campbell, Julie: Trixie Belden mystery series (Series continued by Kathryn Kenny) [Diane M.]

Chew, Ruth: Any of the "Witch" books (they all have something about a witch in the title. Good for late gradeschool. [Naomi K.])

Cleary, Beverly: The Ramona series (Ramona the Pest, the Brave, etc. These are pretty well known. Good, funny stories [Naomi K.])(The great old standard [Becky ?]) [also Ruth K.]

Cole, Joanna: the Magic School Bus books (Ms. Frizzle, a science teacher, takes her class on amazing field trips in the magic school bus. She's always calm, authoritative, and educational, even as the school bus is being ejected from a volcano or pursued by a white blood cell. [Rec. unknown])

Cristaldi, Kathryn: Baseball Ballerina [Catherine H.]

Estes, Eleanor: The Witch Family (has a wonderful girl heroine. [Rec. unknown])

Fisher, Dorothy Canfield: Understood Betsy (The only person who truly understands sensitive, nine-year-old Elizabeth Anne is her guardian, Aunt Florence. (Elizabeth Anne knows that she is sensitive and that Aunt Florence understands her because Aunt Florence has so often told her so.) When Great-Aunt Harriet becomes ill and Aunt Florence must go away with her, and Elizabeth is left to the care of her horrid Putney, Vermont cousins. (She knows they are horrid because Aunt Florence has told her so. [Jim S.])

Fitzhugh, Louise Fitzhugh: Harriet the Spy (I don't know that Harriet is exactly what one would call a role model, but she definitely was not a passive person. She was rather private, and the book illustrates how she dealt with being a private person. [Charlotte DeM.])

Furlong, Monica: Wise Child [Laura D.]

Haywood, Carolyn: the Betsy series [Ruth K.]

Jones, Diana Wynne: Charmed Life; The Magicians of Caprona (Age rec. varies by the book. [Wendy E.B.]) (Most books by Diana Wynne Jones have good female characters, and most of *those* have female heroines. All of her books are worth reading. [jds])

Keene, Carolyn: Nancy Drew (if you can find the _old_ versions (try garage sales). The new, up-to-date Nancy Drew is much sappier, and the boyfriend always_ drives. [Naomi K.]) [also Diane M.]

Konigsburg, E.L.: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E.Frankweiler (It is a Newberry Medal Winner, and was one of my favorite books as a girl. I highly recommend it. [Olivia W.])

Konigsburg, E.L.: Jennifer, MacBeth, Hecate, William McKinley and Me, Elizabeth (Another very good book with a strong black female character [Wendy E.B.]

L'Engle, Madeline: A Wrinkle in Time;A Wind in the Door;The Swiftly Tilting Planet (Fantasy. Really, really, really good. I loved these books. [Naomi K.]) [also Catherine H.,Andy P.]

Lenski, Lois: Strawberry Girl (Newberry award winning kid's book [Karen P.])

Lenski, Lois: Cotton In My Sack; Judy's Journey; Indian Captive (...stories about children in different regional settings, like migrant worker's children and cotton picker's children. They often featured girls who were very strong and determined [Wendy E.B.])

Lewis, C.S.: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Fantasy/Christian allegory...Some of the others are from a boy's point of view, although all have at least one boy and at least one girl as main characters. [Naomi K.])

Lindgren, Astrid: Pippi Longstocking (You'll probably get this suggestion more than once. Pippi is wild and independent, generous and brave, doesn't need help from anyone, lots of fun. [Maggie DeRo.]) [also Susan B.]

Lovelace, Maud Hart: the "Betsy-Tacy" books [Catherine H.]

Lowry, Lois: Anastasis books (they're the first "recent" children books I've gotten addicted to. [Becky L.])

Lowry, Lois: Number the Stars (Tells the story of the Danish rescue of the Jews from the perspective of a Danish gentile girl. Historic and exciting. [Naomi K.])

MacLachlan, Patricia: Sarah, Plain and Tall [Victoria N.]

McCully, Emily Arnold: Grandmas at Bat; Grandmas at the Lake [Vicki ?]

McKilip, Patricia: The Riddle-Master of Hed; Heir of Sea and Fire; Harpist in the Wind; The Forgotten Beasts of Eld [Rec. unknown]

McKinley Robin: The Blue Sword; The Hero and the Crown [Naomi K.]; Beauty [Rec. unknown]

Montgomery, L.M.: The Anne of Green Gables [Diane M.; Olivia W.], Emily of New Moon series, etc. (I would highly recommend almost anything by L.M. Montgomery. The "Anne of Green Gables" books are the best, but her other ones, such as "Emily of New Moon," and "Pat of Silver Bush" are also excellent. Very strong females, with a great sense of life! [Kelly Jane T.] Wonderworks did a *really* good movie version of "Anne of Green Gables"--check for it at your local video store [Naomi K.]).

Moon, Grace: Nadita (She has a whole series of books featuring little Indian, Mexican, etc. girls and possibly sometimes boys. I just adored these as a kid [Rec. unknown])

O'Connor, Jane: Molly the Brave and Me [Catherine H.]

O'Dell, Scott: Island of the Blue Dolphins (It's about a girl who's a member of an indian tribe which lives on an island that is populated by seals (as well as other animals). When white men come to hunt the seals, the two cultures clash, and the native tribe decides that they must leave the island. The girl misses the departing boats and lives by herself for several years on the island, until she is finally rescued. This is probably the best book I ever read as a young girl [Charlotte DeM.] (Warning: girl's younger brother is killed by wild dogs) [also Diane M.;Patti Tw.; Eric B.]

Parish, P: Amelia Bedelia (has my kids ROTFL every time [Susan B.])

Paterson, Katherine: The Great Gilly Hopkins (This is about a girl in foster care. Read to my fourth-grade class by our teacher. I still remember it. Slightly sad. [Naomi K.]) [also Catherine H.]

Phelps, Ethel Johnston: Maid of the North: Feminist Fairy Tales (If you're interested in fairy tales...A collection of 21 stories from all over the world. It's not a picture book, it's for a kid who enjoys being read to w/o pictures. My 6 y.o. is reading it to herself and said to me "When I'm grown up I'm going to read my kids the stories from this book and never stuff like Rapunzel!" What I like about the book is that the stories are all traditional ones from the different cultures--not ones that have been rewritten to make a point. I'm not so fond of books like The Paper-Bag Princess and the Tough Princess because they seem to me awfully heavy-handed. [Ruth K.])

Phelps, Ethel Johnston, Ed.: Tatterhood Stories (A collection of folk tales from around the world, all with heroines. There are men in the stories but they are not the characters who take charge and solve the problem. I've read about 6 of the stories to my 8 year old son, and he enjoys them. I feel it's a nice change of pace from Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. [Rec. unknown])

Pierce, Tamara: Lioness Rampant; Woman who Rides Like a Man [Rec. unknown]

Porter, Gene Stratton: Girl of the Limberlost (about a young girl who is upset to learn she must quit school to help earn money for her family to survive...and how she manages to turn her knowledge of the butterflies of the Limberlost into a cash business which allows her to complete school and save her family. [Gail ?])

Ransome, Arthur: Swallows and Amazons (Swallowdale, Coot Club) (some sexism, but strong, independent, knowledgeable girls [Vicki ?])

Sawyer, Ruth: Roller Skates (Another book featuring a strong- willed girl...It won a children's book prize quite a few years ago. It features Lucinda, who lives in New York (last century) and who, although belonging to one of the best families, will never be on the social register. She has a glorious year when her parents go abroad leaving her with lots of freedom to roam NY, make unsuitable friends and learn lots about life. [Anita G.]) [also Dena R.]

Seredy, Kate: The Good Master; The Singing Tree (Although you could make an argument that Jansci is the main character, I think Kate and, later, Lilly do a lot of good kid-and-teenager things. And the relationship with their parents are interesting to study. There is a lot of group action in these books. [Sara])

Sharp, Margery: The Rescuers (The central character is a wise and resourceful female mouse, she resues a little girl with the assistance of a male mouse. [Maggie DeRo.]) [also Wendy E.B.]

Sleator, William: Once, Said Darlene [Vicki ?]

Snyder, Zilpha Keatley: The Egypt Game (Nice story which touch[es] on some of the issues of being a kid, and [has] strong female protagonists. [Olivia W.])

Streatfield, Noel: Shoes series (Another series that features lots of three-dimensional girls...Ballet Shoes, Dancing Shoes, Family Shoes, New Shoes, Circus Shoes, Movie Shoes, etc.(these are are published under different titles in England, where they originated) - I absolutely adored these books from about age 7 to 12 or so (still reread themonce in a while, at 39) - start with Ballet Shoes- it's the best (and don't be put off by the titles).[Dena R])

Taylor, Sydney: All of a Kind Family series (...while they may have some old-fashioned ideas, they were about a family full of girls [Karen P.]) (Also interesting for their descriptions of the celebration of Jewish holidays, incidently [Wendy E.B.])

Travers, Pamela L.: Mary Poppins;sequels (The original character is not so unvaryingly sugary as the Disney version. [Jim S.]) (Mary Poppins blows in and saves the day [Karen P.])

Unknown: January 29, 1999 (This one is a far-out tale that starts with a girl's school science project. [Margaret B.B.])

Unknown: Kim Aldrich series (Kim's a great female role model. Although there is usually one male paired with Kim in each book, unlike Nancy Drew who called on Ned a lot, Kim is intelligent, resourceful, gets herself out of trouble, and even karate chops/throws the males once or twice. Enjoyed it as a teenager. [Rachel A.D.])

Unknown: The Children of Finn (A girl and her brother get taken through time to spend their summer in ancient Ireland. [Naomi K.])

Various: ALL of the American Girls books (they are TREMENDOUS! [Catherine H.]) (Excellent - they are about girls in different historic periods, and each book deals with an event in her life. For instance, there are books set in pioneer days, around WW II times, around the turn of the century, etc. My daughter has learned some interesting facts about history from them - but beware, they are related to the Pleasant Company and their expensive line of dolls - each book series has a corresponding doll you can purchase. [Patti Tw.]) (I second this recommendation. Be warned, too, that these books have some confronting items in them - like deaths and dangers. We've been reading them as chapter books - one or two chapters a night for the past months. I read everything to Katherine - no editing here. It gives us the opportunity to discuss upsetting and happy parts...Each book has 5-6 short chapters in them. As for the line of dolls, well, Katherine got Samantha (looks just like her!) from grandma for her birthday a couple weeks ago. She loves the doll, sleeps with her, dresses her, etc. The doll is really nice, and the hair brushes out to looking nice easily. I already sew for the kids and myself, and am now sewing for the doll, too :-) Katherine loves it when they can have matching outfits. [Tigger (Grace S.)])

White, E.B.: Charlotte's Web (She's a spider, but she is still a female! [Patti Tw.])

Wilder, Laura Ingalls: The Little House on the Prairie books [Diane M.; Olivia W; Ruth K.] (sexist and racist and includes corporal punishment, so read carefully if you want to cut these things out! -- but the writing is so beautiful, and the stories so good that it's worth it [Vicki ?]) (Everyone knows about these. _Really_ good for a sense of history. [Naomi K.])

Wilson, Gilbert L: Waheenee: An Indian Girl's Story (This book is great, although a little advanced listening for my 4-year-old. It's similar in spirit and time-setting, and has lots of pencil- drawings, like the Little House books, but is told from a Native American view. Just what I was looking for!!! [Beth Vail J.])

Wrede, Patricia C.: Searching for Dragons;Talking with Dragons;Dealing with Dragons (Off-beat heroines...Princesses who are skipping out on their Princessing lessons, and the like. Especially good for former Fairy Tale addicts like me, because they make fun of all the Fairy Tale expectations). Good for any age group, I think. [Naomi K.]) (Cimorene is a wonderful role model, without being in the least preachy. [Alayne McG.])

*Biographies of noted women*:

Clara Barton [Karen P.]
Elizabeth Blackwell [Hilary M.]
Nellie Bly [Karen P.]
Joan of Arc [Wen-Lin W.]
Helen Keller [Karen P.]
Florence Nightingale [Wen-Lin W.]
Sacajawea [Diane M.]

Unknown: Childhoods of Famous Americans series. (Collection of books. All sorts of people - mostly presidents and other politicians like Ben Franklin, but also women like Clara Barton, Martha Washington, Jane Addams, Harriet Beecher Stowe. They were fairly accurate stories of what it was like growing up a particular era, and gave a good feeling for why those people grew up to do whatever it was they were famous for. [Olivia W.])

*Older children/teens*:

Aiken, Joan: The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (and all the sequels...Slightly dark, maybe a little scary. I buy them in used book stores because they're fun to read now, too. [Naomi K.])

Alcott, Louisa May: Little Women [Catherine H.]

Austen, Jane: Pride and Prejudice [Wen-Lin W.]

Avi: The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle [Eric B.]

Barrie, Barbara: Lone Star [Eric B.]

Beatty, Patricia: Bonanza Girl; Eight Mules from Monterey; Lupita Manana; Turn Homeward, Hannalee [Eric B.]

Blos, Joan: A Gathering of Days [Eric B.]

Blume, Judy: Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great [Catherine H.];Deenie;Tiger Eye [Rec. unknown]

Brent-Dyer, E.M.: Chalet School series (written between 1925 and 1970, and reflect the values of the times, obviously, but there are a lot of well-portrayed strong minded girls in them. Many are shown going on to further ed/careers, including the sciences, doctoring, running a business etc., as well as writing, teaching and other more traditional choices. There is also at least 1 positive gay character. [Rec. unknown])

Brittain, Vera: Testament of Youth (The book that changed my self-perception as a teen-girl/very young woman...It's the autobiog. of a young woman who served as a nurse in WWI. It really opened my eyes to the fact I could be and do anything I chose, without the help of men. I think I was about 16 when I read it [Alison])

Bronte, Charlotte: Jane Eyre [Wen-Lin W.]

Bronte, Emily: Wuthering Heights [Wen-Lin W.]

Buss, Fran Leeper: Journey of the Sparrows [Eric B.]

Calvert, Patricia: Hadder MacColl [Eric B.]

Cameron, Eleanor: A Room Made of Windows; To The Green Mountains [Pam P.]

Cole, Brock: Celine [Eric B.]

Cooper, Susan: Greenwitch; The Green King [Eric B.]

Dahl,Roald: Matilda [Catherine H.]

Dalgleish, Alice,: The Courage of Sarah Noble [Pam P.]; The Silver Pencil [Eric B.]

Dickinson, Peter: Eva [Eric B.]

Field, Rachel: Calico Bush (Female bonding is a tough one. I think a lot of books aimed at teenage girls discuss it in some way. But a lot of the heroines that I like are quite introspective and introverted. Not likely to bond with anyone, at least to begin with. And I tend to find books about modern teenagers boring, maybe because there are not very many stimulating activities for people to write about modern teens participating in. [Sara L.])

Fitzhugh, Louise: Nobody's Family is Going to Change; Sport; Harriet the Spy; The Long Secret [Eric B.]

Garden, Nancy: Annie on my Mind [Eric B.]

Gates, Doris: Blue Willow [Eric B.]

George, Jean Craighead: Julie of the Wolves; My Side of the Mountain; On the Far Side of the Mountain; The Cry of the Crow; The Missing Gator of Gumbo Limbo; The Summer of the Falcon; The Talking Earth; Water Sky; Who Really Killed Cock Robin [Eric B.]

Giff, Patricia Reilly: The Gift of the Pirate Queen [Eric B.]

Guy, Rosa: The Friends (...books about friendship between young urban females [Larry G.])

Harrah, Madge: Honey Girl [Eric B.]

Heinlein, Robert: Podkayne of Mars (One of my all time favorites...It's about a young preteen who grows up on Mars and takes a trip with her stinkin' little brother to Venus. On the way she speculates about becoming a starship captain when she grows up, then sees one of the officers and decides maybe she'll be a starship captain's wife instead! Typical teenage thinking...Anyway, Heinlein captured a teenage girl's thinking beautifully, and especially her feelings toward her irritating sibling. She keeps a diary, and he writes in it in invisible ink unbeknownst to her! [Karen ?])

Henderson, Zenna: The People series--The People: No Different Flesh (This is science fiction, based on the idea of this race of humans who were forced to come to Earth in the 19th century when their world --exploded? I don't remember. The tone of these stories is so wonderful and magical, so soft and caring and knowing about human nature. These People were scattered among humanity, and have had to hide their special abilities because of the very negative reactions of humans. There are a number of characters, mostly female, a lot of teachers as I recall. I read these in adolescence, and so much wished they were true, and that I could be one of the People! [Anne H.W.])

Hendry, Frances Mary: Quest for a Maid [Eric B.]

Hentoff, Nat: The Day They Came to Arrest the Book [Eric B.]

Herlihy, Dirlie: Ludie's Song [Eric B.]

Highwater, Jamake: Anpao;I Wear the Morning Star; Legend Days ; The Ceremony of Innocence [Eric B.]

Hildick, E.W.: The Active-Enzyme, Lemon-Freshened, Junior High School Witch [Arielle ?]

Hurmence, Belinda: A Girl Called Boy [Eric B.]

Hurwitz, Johanna: The Hot and Cold Summer;The Rabbi's Girls [Eric B.]

Jones, Diana Wynne: Charmed Life; The Magicians of Caprona (Age rec. varies by the book. [Wendy E.B.]) (Most books by Diana Wynne Jones have good female characters, and most of *those* have female heroines. All of her books are worth reading. [jds])

Keehn, Sally: I am Regina [Eric B.]

Kerr, Judith: When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit [Eric B.]

Knudsen, R. R.: Zan Hagen series (Zanbanger, Zanboomer, Zanballer--They're all about a (junior?) high-school aged girl who loves sports and fights to get to play on her school's boys' sports teams. My favorite is _Zanbanger_, where she plays on the boy's basketball team. She's definitely tough and athletic, as well as fighting for her rights. She has a good friend, a somewhat nerdy boy, who helps her by giving lots of good advice. They're geared for teenagers. [Rec. unknown])

Konigsberg, E.L.: The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (A boy and a girl run away and live in an art museum. Weird and maybe a little confusing for younger kids. [Naomi K.])

L'Engle, Madeleine: various titles (feature strong female characters [Karen P.])

Lee, Harper: To Kill a Mockingbird [Catherine H.]

LeGuin, Ursula: The Red Stallion (On the same depth as an old- time fairy tale.[Rec. unknown])

LeGuin, Ursula: Tombs of Atuan (2nd book of Earthsea Trilogy. From the point of view of a great female character.[Andy P.]/ It's the only one of the series I reread. I never used to understand why it was considered the weakest and most boring of the Earthsea books until I realized it is one of the few fantasy books about a *girl's* coming of age. Or at least it used to be, there are many more now - _Sister Light, Sister Dark_ by Jane Yolen and the Lioness series come to mind. [Wendy E.B.])

Levitim, Sonia: Silver Days; Journey to America [Eric B.]

Linderman, Frank: Prety-Shield [Eric B.]

MacLachlan, Patricia: Cassie Beregar; The Facts and Fictions of Minna Pratt [Eric B.]

Mahy, Margaret: The Catalogue of the Universe; The Tricksters (...there are several main female characters, and some boys' viewpoints as well so by no means one-sided. [Tony B.])

McCaffrey, Anne: Dragon series [Rec. unknown]

McKinley, Robin: The Hero and the Crown;The Blue Sword (These are fantasy novels. Both have heroines I had no trouble at all identifying with--slightly clumsy misfit girls with big feet : ) [Naomi K.])

Miles, Betty: The Real Me [Pam P.]

Mitchell, Margaret: Gone With the Wind [Diane M.]

Newth, Mette: The Abduction [Eric B.]

O'Brien, Robert: The Silver Crown [Rec. unknown];Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of N.I.M.H. (Recommended by my officemate. I don't remember this book that well. Naomi K.]) [also Catherine H.]

O'Dell, Scott: My Name is Not Angelica; Send Down the Moon; Sarah Bishop; The Serpent Never Sleeps; Zia [Eric B.]; Julie of the Wolves [Catherine H.]

O'Dell, Scott: Island of the Blue Dolphin (A girl stranded on a desert island. It's sort of a girl Robinson Crusoe. Slightly depressing, as I remember. I don't think I'd read it to very young kids. [Naomi K.]) [also Eric B.]

Paterson, Katherine: Bridge to Terabithia; Lyddie; Of Nightingales That Weep; Park's Quest; The Great Gilly Hopkins; The Master Puppeteer [Eric B.]

Paterson, Katherine: Jacob Have I Loved [Eric B., Sara L.]

Pelta, Kathy: The Blue Empress; The Parrot Man Mystery [Eric B.]

Pierce, Tamara: Lioness Rampant quartain (This is a sword and sorcery series. The protagonist is the girl half of a set of twins. She was being sent off to a monastary to become a magician, her brother to the king to become a knight. They swap places. Very exciting. The second of the books is Woman who Rides Like a Man. I forget the other titles. [Rec. unknown])

Poples, Maureen: The Other Side of the Family [Eric B.]

Ransome, Arthur: Swallows and Amazons (...a series by a British writer that is less well-known, but is just starting to appear in paperbacks (expensive paperbacks!) over here ...wonderful girls and boys. [Becky])

Roberts, Willo Davis: Megan's Island [Eric B.]

Rodowsky, Colby: What About Me? [Eric B.]

Sachs, Marilyn: The Truth about Mary Rose [Pam P.]

Shreve, Susan: Luch Forever & Miss Rosetree, Shrinks [Eric B.]

Smith, Doris Buchanan: Laura Upside-Down [Eric B.]

Snyder, Zilpha Keatley: Janie's Private Eyes; The Famous Stanley Kidnapping Case; The Headless Cupid; The Velvet Room; The Witches of Worm [Eric B.];The Changeling [Rec. unknown]

Snyder, Zilpha Keatley: The Egypt Game ( pretending that the vacant lot behind their house is Ancient Egypt. [Naomi K.])

Sook Nyul Choi: Year of Impossible Goodbyes (It is about a young Korean girl. Very strong maternal figures without a lot of the baggage of western society.) [jf]

Speare, Elizabeth George: Calico Captive [Eric B.]

Speare, Elizabeth George: The Witch of Blackbird Pond (Historical fiction--set in colonial Massachusetts. About a young woman, born in Barbados, who goes to live with her relatives in the American colonies. There's a witch trial in it (SPOILER: everything works out okay). Inspired an interest for me in American colonial history. I'd recommend for age 9 and up. [Naomi K.]) [also Catherine H., Eric B.]

Sutcliff, Rosemary: Flame-Colored Taffeta [Eric B.]

Taylor, Mildred: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry [Catherine H.]

Taylor, Mildred: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry [Eric B.]

Uchida, Yoshiko: A Jar of Dreams; Journey Home; Journey to Topaz; The Best Bad Thing [Eric B.]

Vander Els, Betty: The Bomber's Moon [Eric B.]

Voigt, Cynthia: Homecoming; Dicey's Song (Wonderful family connections and a very strong female protagonist.); A Solitary Blue (Probably my favorite, but the central character is male. These books are elegantly quiet. [Laura W.])

Watson, Sally: Jade; Lark; Highland Rebel; etc. (Historical fiction; different eras; strong/strongwilled young girls and women as primary characters [Hilary M.])

Willard, Barbara: Mantlemass series (The Lark and the Laurel, The Sprig of Broom [Rec. unknown])

Woodson, Jacqueline: Last Summer with Maizon; Maizon at Blue Hill (...books about friendship between young urban females [Larry G.])

Woodward, Grace Steele: Pocahontas [Eric B.]

*Resources and Suggestions*:

Chinaberry catalog (1 800 776 2242) [Paula B.]

Tokuma Shoten Publishing Co. 1150 Skyline Tower 10900 NE 4th Bellvue WA 98004 (for H. Miyazaki picture books)

Internet newsgroup "rec.arts.books.childrens"

"The WEB" newsletter. Focuses on older, classic books. P.O. Box 401, Santa Cruz, CA 95061

Estes, Clarissa Pinkola: Women Who Run With the Wolves (has some really great strong female folktales/fairy tales. The analysis of these stories of course is too much for a small child (and many adults:)) But it might be a good resource book for other possible sources of strong female characters [Katherine R.])

"There's a gopher - - that has a bibliography of strong female characters in children's books. Choose Resources by Subject, Education and Children's Literature: Electronic Resources." Wendy E. Betts, Editor "The WEB: Celebrating Children's Literature" *for more information about The WEB, finger*

The local gay pride bookstore has books for children which, besides having a variety of roles for both boys and girls, also feature different types of families besides the standard "nuclear" one. There may be a women's bookstore around too, which might also be a source of either books or suggestions. When your daughter gets (quite a bit) older, there is a wonderful magazine called "New Moon" which is written by and for girls, and which emphasizes strong role models. I wish I had a daughter so I could buy it for her! [Sue W.]

When reading aloud and the gender of a character is either not stated or irrelevant, one could use feminine pronouns.

The Children's Books with Central Female Characters FAQ above is reprinted from a USENET newsgroup. If you have questions you might want to participate in the newsgroup or contact the FAQ administrator.

See also : Children's Books FAQ