So many of you responded to a previous post on girls books requesting more reading suggestions that we asked Gretchen Neisler if we could publish more of her recommendations on Gender Blog. Each Wednesday for the next four weeks Gender Blog will post another in a series recommending great reading for young girls.
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.
"What should I give my daughter to read?" This was the question that prompted me to create the following bibliography. Christian mothers of young girls find themselves in a difficult spot. Many "girly" books encourage frivolity by telling silly, shallow princess stories; while others seek to empower girls to "be all they can be" — which usually includes throwing off traditional gender roles. How do we counter a culture in which the "Bratz" dolls tell our girls what they need to look like, and Disney Princess tells them that true love is their dream? For parents who want to encourage Christian character and instill a Christian worldview in their daughters, the task of finding appropriate, well-written books for them to read may be daunting. But be encouraged! There is a treasure trove of excellent literature out there just waiting to be discovered!
My purpose here is to do some of the discovering for you. This list is far from exhaustive. I also think girls should read plenty of good "boy books"! But my purpose here is 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 have gathered my recommendations into three categories — stories, which are lesser known or older books that should not fade into the night unread; classics and series, books that are more visible in a modern library or bookstore; and biography, true stories of godly women that will inspire. Apart from the biographies, I have not included non-fiction recommendations, because books on spiritual growth and Christian theology seem to be better-known to most of us and more easily-recognizable. I also think that stories can teach, in some ways, better than the direct instruction of non-fiction. Stories engage the affections and demonstrate what the virtues look like in real life. Did not Christ use parables?
As a final word, I want to acknowledge that not every parent will favor the same exact books. Clearly, some books on this list will be okay for some families, and not for others. This resource is meant to be a starting position to inspire you to discover more and more. 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!
Stories, Tales and Fiction – to engage her imagination
All-of-a-Kind Family, et.al. by Sydney Taylor – this precious Jewish family of 5 girls will be a hit with girls of all ages. Set at the turn of the 20th century up to World War I, these sweet stories are packed with details about that time in history as well as Jewish traditions, customs and holidays. You will want to read the whole series and watch Ella, Hennie, Sarah, Charlotte and Gertie grow up! (ages 7 and up)
The Little Girl and the Big Bear by Paul Galdone – fantastic read aloud about a little girl who is clever and brave and outsmarts the huge bear that kidnapped her to return safely home to her family. It is one of my favorite books of all time, but sadly out of print. Look for it used or at the library. (Picture book– ages 3 and up)
Adara by Beatrice Gormley – the Biblical story of the little girl who was the slave of Naaman's wife, who told Naaman to seek out Elisha to be healed from leprosy. (ages 8 and up)
Five Children and It, Railway Children by E. Nesbit – Excellent fantasy literature by a Victorian-era writer who influenced C.S. Lewis. (ages 10 and up)
Melisande by E. Nesbit – a beautiful story of a princess whose character is as big as she is! Written at the turn of the 20th century in the spirit of the old fairy tales. Out of Print, but find it at the library. (Picture book – ages 3 and up)
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle et.al. by Betty MacDonald – funny short stories about children whose flaws are treated by a clever lady who has medicine fit for every crime. Good for further instruction on sinfulness. (Short chapter book with some pictures – ages 5 and up)
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