GIRL BOOKS FOR BOYS

My TEDx Talk is about how important it is to encourage boys to read stories about girls—stories that put boys in the shoes of female main characters so that they can practice empathizing with folks on the other side of the gender divide.

 

As things stand in our storytelling culture, the vast majority of stories that we admire, talk about, give prizes to, throw money at, and adapt into movies are by guys about guys doing guy stuff. This means that girls get a lot of practice stepping into the shoes of male main characters—but boys have fewer chances to do the same for girls.

 

Add to that our cultural notion that “girls will read stories about boys, but boys won’t read stories about girls” (which i don’t believe), and that leaves boys in danger of not getting enough practice relating to the girls in their lives.

 

My idea is that we should sell boys on great stories—ones that just happen to have female main characters.

 

When the talk is up online, I’ll post it here.

Here’s a list, compiled by my 12-year-old son and my 15-year-old daughter, of their favorite books with female main characters.

* This is NOT anything even close to a complete list. It’s only a beginning. If you know of great kids’ stories written from a female POV, email me, or put it in the comments! We’ll add to this list as we go!

** I’m not highlighting books with “one of each” here, though there are many of those that my kids loved (Fablehaven comes right to mind!) because I’m specifically interested in collecting great stories that put us in the point-of-view of female main characters. So even if the story has some great secondary female characters (Hello, Hermione!), it won’t make the cut. The stories on this list need to put us in a girl’s shoes to walk us through the story…

 

Picture Books (2-8)

But Not the Hippopotamus — Sandra Boynton

Eloise — Kay Thompson

Olivia — Ian Falconer

Knuffle Bunny — Mo Willems

Amanda and her Alligator — Mo Willems

Grace for President — Kelly DiPucchio

Chrysanthemum — Kevin Henkes

Lily — Kevin Henkes

A Weekend with Wendell — Kevin Henkes

Blueberries for Sal — Robert Mccluskey

The Paper Bag Princess — Robert Munsch

 

* I have heard parents note that you can change the prounouns around in board books and picture books pretty easily. I never thought to do this when my kids were itty bitty, but apparently, it’s kind of a cinch to even the gender balance to 50/50 if you do a little editing as you go! 🙂

 

Also check out this fantastic list from of the Top 100 A Mighty Girl Picture Books.

 

Chapter Books (7-10)

Ella Enchanted — Gail Carson Levine

Ramona the Pest — Beverly Cleary

Clementine — Marla Freeze

 

Middle Grade (9-12)

 

Matilda — Roald Dahl

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making — Catherynne M Valence

The Girl Who Could Fly — Victoria Forester

Sisters — Raina Telgemeier

Drama — Raina Telgemeier

Harriet the Spy — Louise Fitzhugh

Counting by 7s — Holly Goldberg Sloan

Under the Egg — Laura Marx Fitzgerald

Kalahari — Jessica Khoury

Hereville [graphic novel] — Barry Deutsch

Shakespeare’s Secret — Elise Broch

The Mesmerist — Ronald L. Smith

 

 

Tween (10-14)

The Hunger Games — Suzanne Collins

When You Reach Me — Rebecca Stead

A Wrinkle in Time — Madeline L’Engle

The Two Princesses of Bamarre — Gail Carson Levine

Deenie — Judy Blume

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo — F.C. Lee

The Chaos of Standing Still — Jessica Brody

Incarceron — Catherine Fisher

Prodigy — Marie Lu

Olivia Twist —

 

Non-fiction

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

 

YA (14 and up)

Everything, Everything — Nicola Yoon

Eleanor & Park — Rainbow Rowell

The Fault in Our Stars — John Green

Graceling — Kristen Cashore

Caraval — Stephanie Garber

A Spy in the House — Y.S. Lee

Divergent — Veronica Roth

Throne of Glass — Sarah J. Maas

Cinder — Marissa Meyer

Shadow and Bone — Leigh Bardugo

Uncaged: The Singular Menace — John Sanford

The Twilight Series — Stephanie Meyer

 

 

*The kids also want me to include a couple of series (some favorites) that features one main character of each gender.

Leviathan — Scott Westerfeld

Fablehaven — Brandon Mull

Treasure Hunters — James Patterson

The Kane Chronicles — Rick Riordan

Blue Willow Recommends

Our beloved local independent bookstore, Blue Willow Bookshop, has some recommendations as well: You can order these books from them and they’ll ship ’em right to you!

Princess in Black series by Shannon Hale

Buy from Blue Willow

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

BUY from Blue Willow

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

BUY from Blue Willow

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

BUY from Blue Willow

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

BUY from Blue Willow

Aru Sha and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

BUY from Blue Willow

The Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall

BUY from Blue Willow

Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta

BUY from Blue Willow

Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

BUY from Blue Willow

Patina by Jason Reynolds

BUY from Blue Willow

Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend

 

Be sure to check out the great lists of empowering books for girls and boys at A Mighty Girl.

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