The best girl-power middle grade books with magic

Giulietta Maria Spudich Author Of Element Girls: The Lost Goddess
By Giulietta Maria Spudich

The Books I Picked & Why

His Dark Materials

By Philip Pullman

Book cover of His Dark Materials

Why this book?

Lyra is an inspiring character. “Just” an orphan living in Oxford, she uses her cleverness to find out what her uncle and other adults are hiding (Dust). In addition, she is brave and never loses sight of what’s right. Her love for missing children and compassion for the armored bear bring her allies in her rescue mission. Also, I loved her relationship with Pan. Sweet, tender, and heart-warming, just as animal friends can be. Lyra’s story reminds me that keeping one’s eyes open to the truth, with a brave and loving heart, can lead to positive changes.

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The Girl Who Speaks Bear

By Sophie Anderson

Book cover of The Girl Who Speaks Bear

Why this book?

Yanka is a strong character with a deep love of the forest. I could relate to how she felt a bit different and out of place in her village. It was inspiring to me how she faced all sorts of perils in the forest on her quest. She is brave and unique. When she returns from the forest, she finds her place in the herself. This book reminds me we have unique gifts and characteristics we should be proud of and embrace, not hide away.

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The Whale Rider

By Witi Ihimaera

Book cover of The Whale Rider

Why this book?

I love the ocean, and love stories about strong, ground-breaking young women. This tale is beautifully set in a coastal town in New Zealand. Kahu, a young girl from a lineage of Maori leaders, can communicate with whales. Her grandfather does not expect this and rejects her because of her gender. Kahu proves without a doubt that she is a competent and natural leader. I love how Kahu prevails. She is strong in herself, and she never shies away from the truth – that she is the natural leader and a whale rider like her ancestor.

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Sky Song

By Abi Elphinstone

Book cover of Sky Song

Why this book?

Eska is a girl with a lot of inner fire. She escapes from a magical spell and instead of finding her way home and keeping a low profile, she goes after the evil Ice Queen. Eska is courageous and wants to do what’s right. She has a lovely friendship with a boy named Flint, and together they achieve what they could not do alone. I also love the snowy, icy landscape inspired by the Scottish wilderness.  

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Asha and the Spirit Bird

By Jasbinder Bilan

Book cover of Asha and the Spirit Bird

Why this book?

Asha is a wonderfully brave character who sets out on a dangerous adventure to find her father. She connects with a lamagaia bird, which she believes is the spirit of her grandmother. This bird leads her from her village at the foothills of the Himalayas through India. I loved the exotic setting and the realistic challenges Asha faces. She rises to each challenge with bravery and continues on with loyalty for her friends and family. A beautiful, inspiring book.

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