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Girls of Character: Teaching Biblical Femininity to the Next Generation through Literature, Part II

February 18, 2009

With today's post we continue with Part II of Mrs. Neisler's series on book recommendations for godly girls. Part I can be found here

Gretchen Neisler works on staff at a Lifeway Christian Store and serves in the Children's Ministry of Clifton Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, where she and her husband Joshua are members.  The Neislers are expecting their first child.

My purpose here is to do some discovering for you. This book list is far from exhaustive. I want to suggest books that portray females of all ages who have character, godliness or learn lessons from their mistakes. I have tried to carefully consider the heroines in these books and ask: what portrait do they paint of admirable femininity?

I want to encourage you to plunge into sharing the adventure of reading with your daughter! Read with her, read to her, talk about the books, ask her questions, stimulate her thinking and motivate her to think critically. How rewarding it will be! Happy reading!

Here goes…

The Princess and the Kiss by Jennie Bishop – a well told tale of a princess who guards her prized first kiss and deems the poor man she chooses to be worthy of her love because he has the same treasure himself. There is a companion book, Life Lessons from the Princess and the Kiss, that has activities and applications a mom and daughter(s) (or dad and daughter!) could do together after reading the book. (Ages 8-12)

"The Girls of Many Lands" series, especially Neela, Saba, Camille and Minuk – this series from American Girl is designed for older readers, and features girls from around the world during exciting times in history. Though not Christian, these stories are well-written, exciting tales that feature courageous girls in different cultures (clearly a mature reader would understand, for instance, that Minuk – an Eskimo girl – believes in false gods). Girls of other cultures are portrayed in distinctly feminine roles, but still get in on the adventure of the stories. (10 and up)

Brave Irene by William Steig – Irene is steadfast and brave when she gets lost in a snowstorm trying to help her mother by delivering a dress to the duchess. She actually contemplates giving up and just laying down and staying in the snow, even though she knows she will die, but remembers her mother is counting on her and her love for her mother compels her to do what is right. She obviously enjoys success in the end, but the story is a good picture of perseverance even when things seem impossible. (Picture Book – ages 4 and up)

The Saturdays, The Four-Story Mistake, Then There Were Five, Spiderweb for Two by Elizabeth Enright – this quartet of stories about four siblings who live in New York City and then the countryside are splashed with color, humor, and genius. I just love the relationship between the siblings – realistic, but they truly love each other and are the best of friends. Enright captures exactly how it felt to be a child. These were exactly the kind of books I loved as a child. (ages 8 and up)

Gone-Away Lake and Return to Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright. This is a Newberry Award-winners by the same author. Cousins discover a little town that froze in time when the lake dried up, and befriend two wonderful people who stayed on in the town. Elderly Minnehaha and her brother Pindar are full of funny stories and wisdom for the kids, who eventually convince their parents to buy a huge house and move into the old town. (ages 8 and up)

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo – a timeless story of a prideful toy rabbit who is lost by his loving owner and finds himself passed around from owner to owner. The real journey, however, is inside, as Edward Tulane learns what love is, and wakes up to his own selfishness. The happy ending seals this book's future as a classic. Not a Christian book, but paints a clear picture of redemption. (ages 7 and up)

The True Princess by Angela Ewell Hunt – a Christian story of a princess whose relationship with the king teaches her that true beauty is inside. Good for combating silly princess stories. (Picture book – ages 4 and up)

Seeker's Great Adventure by Dian Layton – a great early-reader allegory in the spirit of Pilgrim's Progress. Children in the kingdom discover how wonderful it is to have a relationship with the King (these books are primarily beneficial for showing how great King Jesus is!). The whole series is great – simple, but quite original. Other titles include Rescued from the Dragon, The Secret of the Blue Pouch, In Search of Wanderer, The Dreamer, Armor of Light. (ages 5 and up)

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