The best books about girls

19 authors have picked their favorite books about girls and why they recommend each book.

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Book cover of The Body Image Book for Girls: Love Yourself and Grow Up Fearless

The Body Image Book for Girls: Love Yourself and Grow Up Fearless

By Charlotte Markey,

Why this book?

There’s been a lot of research on how girls fall prey to diet culture, lose their self-confidence, disappear into disordered eating/eating disorders/low self-esteem at puberty. A lot of that is triggered by living in a culture that’s so messed up around food, eating, and body image. So I’m always looking for tools to give girls to help them navigate that treacherous time, and this is one of the books I like to recommend.

From the list:

The best books about weight and body image

Book cover of Strong Is the New Pretty: A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves

Strong Is the New Pretty: A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves

By Kate T. Parker,

Why this book?

I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but the cover is indeed what got me! I immediately wished someone had captured an image of me looking amazing and strong like the girl featured. I mean, how cool to have a picture that really reflects oneself, so unlike the stiff and awkwardly posed school pics that decorated my home growing up. Her stance and expression just spoke to me and I immediately loved that this book celebrated her strength and presence.  And not just hers! Many, many girls of various ages and backgrounds are photographed doing…

From the list:

The best books that encourage girls to pursue self determination

Book cover of The Library Bus

The Library Bus

By Bahram Rahman, Gabrielle Grimard (illustrator),

Why this book?

The Library Bus offers a glimpse into the importance of mobile libraries, showing how one bus run by a mother and daughter delivers books, school supplies, and lessons to other young girls in Afghanistan. Told of the course of one day, with the bus leaving Kabul in the very early morning and ending at bedtime, the story explains the restrictions women and girls faced under Taliban rule in a clear and age-appropriate way.
From the list:

The best children’s books celebrating libraries

Book cover of Stop That Girl

Stop That Girl

By Elizabeth McKenzie,

Why this book?

Original and funny, Stop That Girl chronicles the coming-of-age of Ann Ransom, an offbeat heroine navigating her equally unconventional family life and upbringing. I loved discovering this character and equally loved the novel-in-stories structure of the book. Fast-paced and quirky, this book illuminated a manner of storytelling that I thought fit the coming-of-age genre really well.

From the list:

The best books featuring quirky, funny female protagonists

Book cover of The Girl Who Stole an Elephant

The Girl Who Stole an Elephant

By Nizrana Farook,

Why this book?

Stolen jewels. A girl Robin Hood figure. Friendship. And an escape into the jungle with an elephant. Full of adventure and heart, The Girl Who Stole an Elephant provides a window into the lush setting of ancient Sri Lanka, and carried me along with its fast pace. Nizrana Farook’s descriptions are teeming with sensory details, and I thoroughly enjoyed them.

From the list:

The best middle grade books for feeding your senses

Book cover of Salamander Dream

Salamander Dream

By Hope Larson,

Why this book?

This book was a hidden gem for me. I found this on a dusty shelf in an old bookstore and was instantly in love with its whimsical drawings. The simplicity of color use and a narrative are told only through its illustrations. Intended for young adult readers, however, this book really is for all dreamers of ages. 

From the list:

The best graphic memoirs with creativity and flair

Book cover of Planting Friendship: Peace, Salaam, Shalom

Planting Friendship: Peace, Salaam, Shalom

By Callie Metler, Shirin Rahman, Melissa Stoller, Kate Talbot (illustrator)

Why this book?

I love the sweet kindness of this book, and of course, the overarching message that with heart and compassion, we can build bridges connecting us together. This book focuses on three girls of different faiths who meet on the first day of school. They help each other through difficulties without ever thinking about their differences. What makes this book unique is that the three authors are each from the same faith tradition of the girls about which they write. How does this book demonstrate the healing power of kindness? Although there is no major trauma in this story itself, I…
From the list:

The best children’s books on the healing power of kindness

Book cover of Rad Girls Can: Stories of Bold, Brave, and Brilliant Young Women

Rad Girls Can: Stories of Bold, Brave, and Brilliant Young Women

By Kate Schatz, Miriam Klein Stahl (illustrator),

Why this book?

Athletes, Activists, Achievers. Rad Girls Can is chock-o-block with engaging biographical sketches of girls and young women who have taken the world by storm in nearly every discipline. Whether they’re succeeding in traditionally male-dominated sports, fighting for climate action, or for education for girls, or accomplishing great things as scientists and inventors, each story is compelling and awe-inspiring. I wish this existed when I was young – it literally gives concrete examples of real girls doing just about anything they put their minds to. The wide-ranging topics and diverse women enhance the engagement factor. I loved how readers are free…

From the list:

The best books for questioners, problem solvers, and you’ve-got-this-girl young readers and leaders of tomorrow

Book cover of The Member of the Wedding

The Member of the Wedding

By Carson McCullers,

Why this book?

“Haven’t you grown!“ is often a grown-up’s exclamation of delight in a teen’s growth spurt, but rarely do we see this from the teen’s view. It can be scary as well as exciting seeing your body change so rapidly, and I love McCullers description of Frankie’s worry that she will continue to grow at the current pace; then she will be a “freak” – a word that is likely to resonate with all adolescents. Frankie's private, unspoken fears taken place in the midst of a quintessentially social celebration and remind us how often teens, even when surrounded by joy and…

From the list:

The best novels that shed light on those baffling teenage years, whether you were a teen, are a teen or parent a teen

Book cover of The Last Cuentista

The Last Cuentista

By Donna Barba Higuera,

Why this book?

If I had to choose my favorite odd behavior that makes humans, human, I’d choose story-telling. Not only is it entertaining, all of civilization has grown up upon it.

The spirited protagonist of The Last Cuentista is a fourteen-year-old girl who wishes to become a storyteller like her grandmother, but looming overhead is a comet that will destroy the earth. As Petra boards the spaceship with her parents along with a small colony of other scientists, she fears that storytelling will be of little value in the hard work ahead. But awakened 350 years later, she is horrified to discover…

From the list:

The best books using science, nature, and fantasy to keep Earth in the center of the story

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