Thursday, August 18, 2016

60 Books To Empower Teen Girls

How's that for a catchy Pinterest title?  Now if only I had the skills to develop an actual Pin-worthy graphic...

I was recently asked to contribute a page to a "coming of age" scrapbook for a friend's daughter, in honor of her thirteenth birthday.  While I've known her mom for years, I don't know the girl all that well; certainly not well enough to write a personal letter.  I soon realized that I DO know books, especially books for teen girls.  I started by jotting down titles that came quickly to my mind, then scoured some Goodreads shelves that seemed like good bets.

My criteria were:

  •  It had to be a book I personally loved. 4 or 5 star reads only.  
  • It had to feature a young woman as the protagonist (not a child) (though I fudged for some hard livin' eleven year olds) 
  • She had to have an interesting and positive. character arc (although not necessarily be a flawless role model).
  • I only got one title per author (although I chose a lot of first-in-series titles).  

When I realized I had to cut my list in half in order to fit it on a single page, I discarded classics, figuring others would introduce them to her, and eliminated quite a few that are maybe a bit too racy for her age and background.  I tried to keep in books that reflect our diverse world.  When it really got down to the wire, I kept books with shorter titles because that way I could fit more of them on.

My list was not in any sort of order, so after some hemming and hawing, I decided to group them by genre.  Rather to my surprise, there were only three: contemporary, historical fiction, and fantasy.  The list did include some graphic novels, some memoir (which I lumped in with historical fiction), and one short story collection.  This is a direct result of my first criteria--being a book I loved.  What can I say?  I love what I love.

The original list is below, as helter-skelter as it came to me.  I've highlighted the ones I kept for the short list, but any combination of these books would have been top-notch.

  1. Tess of the Durbervilles by Thomas Hardy.
  2. Emma by Jane Austen.
  3. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  4. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
  5. The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. Le Guin
  6. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
  7. In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
  8. Sula by Toni Morrison
  9. The Snapper by Roddy Doyle
  10. Witness by Karen Hesse
  11. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
  12. Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff
  13. The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman
  14. Nightjohn by Gary Paulsen
  15. The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
  16. Smile by Raina Telgemeier
  17. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
  18. Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
  19. The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
  20. I am Princess X by Cherie Priest
  21. The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
  22. Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E. K. Johnston
  23. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  24. Out of My Mind by Sharon K. Draper
  25. Rain, Reign by Ann M. Martin
  26. Roller Girl by Victoria Jamiesen
  27. Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
  28. Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
  29. A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen
  30. Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys
  31. Sabriel by Garth Nix
  32. The Truth Commission by Susan Juby
  33. Not If I See you First by Eric Lindstrom
  34. Bargain Bride by Evelyn Sibley Lampman
  35. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  36. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Macker
  37. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
  38. Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol
  39. When My Name was Keoko by Linda Sue Park
  40. Awkward by Svetlana Chmekova
  41. The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
  42. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
  43. Ask the Passengers by A. S. King
  44. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
  45. Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
  46. A Madness so Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
  47. Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy
  48. Wild Things by Clay Carmichael
  49. Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
  50. Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
  51. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
  52. Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  53. A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
  54. Chime by Frannie Billingsley
  55. Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero
  56. Goose Chase by Patrice Kindl
  57. Cloaked in Red by Vivian Vande Velde
  58. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
  59. Jackaroo by Cynthia Voigt
  60. Before I Fall by Lauren Olivier



  1. Awesome list. I’ve read a lot of these and a bunch more are on my TBR list. I’m glad to see The Handmaid’s Tale on there. It’s my favorite book ever.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  2. What a fantastic idea for a personalized gift. I love it!!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  3. Yes, this is a really neat idea. I would love it if someone had done it for me at that age. I've always been a book list junkie!


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