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Beyond Twilight and Gossip Girls: Great Books For Girls. By: Rachel Seigel Selection Manager S&B Books. A Nursery Rhyme Poem for Children.

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Beyond Twilight and Gossip Girls: Great Books For Girls

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Beyond twilight and gossip girls great books for girls

Beyond Twilight and Gossip Girls: Great Books For Girls


Rachel Seigel

Selection Manager S&B Books

A nursery rhyme poem for children

A Nursery Rhyme Poem for Children

  • What are little boys made of?Snips and snails, and puppy dogs tailsThat's what little boys are made of !"What are little girls made of?"Sugar and spice and all things niceThat's what little girls are made of!"

True or false

True or False:

Girls will read anything!



  • While it is true that girls who enjoy reading are more willing to read about boys than boys are about girls, girls do not automatically enjoy books aimed at boys.

True or false1

True or False

Girls Aren’t Reluctant Readers



  • Statistics show that adolescent boys make up the highest percentage of reluctant readers, thus causing non-reading girls to be widely overlooked

What makes a girl a reluctant reader

What Makes a girl a Reluctant Reader?

  • Reading is boring

  • Their perception is that Girls who read are clever, but boring and geeks.

  • Too many gender stereotypes in the materials supplied for her

Typical stereotypes in books for girls

Typical Stereotypes in books for girls

1. Girls are represented as acted on, and not active

2. Girls are represented as sweet, naive, conforming, and dependent, while boys are typically described as strong, adventurous, independent, and capable

3. Boys tend to have roles as fighters, adventurers and rescuers, while girls in their passive role tend to be caretakers, mothers, princesses in need of rescuing, and characters that support the male figure

4. girl characters achieve their goals because others help them, whereas boys do so because they demonstrate ingenuity and/or perseverance

Beyond twilight and gossip girls great books for girls

5. Girls don’t play sports

6. Girls aren’t into math or science

7. Girls are seldom technologically involved or savvy. (E-mail, texting, etc.. not withstanding

True or false2

True or False

All books for girls are “chick lit”



  • “Chick Lit” as it’s called is a specific genre of book with its own set of conventions, just as horror, fantasy or adventure do.

Conventions of chick lit

Conventions of Chick Lit

  • Chick Lit features hip, stylish career women, usually in their 20’s and 30’s,

  • Typically work in fields of fashion, publishing or advertising

  • Live in an urban environment such as London or New York.

  • They are generally obsessed with their appearances, and have a passion for shopping. Recent examples include Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholics, Devil Wears Prada, and of course, Sex in the City.

Beyond twilight and gossip girls great books for girls

  • Teen chick lit, changes the work setting to high school, (often a private school), and instead of hunky men, it’s hunky boys. The girls, like the characters in Gossip Girl are generally privileged, and like their older counterparts, are fashion and shopping obsessed.

Beyond twilight and gossip girls great books for girls

Girls Reading Profile: (From WH Smith Report on Children’s Reading Choices Project, studying reading habits of kids 10-14)

  • Girls look for characterization and relationships in stories

  • They look for parallels to their own lives

  • Studies show that girls understand narratives and expository text better than boys do.

  • Prevalent themes for girls are romance/relationship stories, real life experiences, diary formats.

  • Girls mature faster and will be more sophisticated in their reading choices

  • Girls between ages 10-12 particularly like reading series books

  • There is more of a trend for girls to re-read than boys

What to look for in books for girls

What To Look for in books for Girls

1. Strong female protagonists who are proactive like the Paperbag Princess, these girls don’t sit around and wait to be rescued. They solve their own problems

2. Girls who triumph over sexism and discrimination-they don’t let anyone tell them that they can’t do something or because they are a girl.

3. Girls who speak their minds- they think, and have opinions

4. Characters who have depth are representative of real girls in today’s society

5. Girls who defy stereotypes

Great books for girls

Great Books for Girls

Category 1- 10-12 yrs old

Wings a fairy tale

Wings: A Fairy Tale

What makes this great

What Makes this Great?

1. Incorporates elements from a Midsummer Night’s Dream.

2. Deals with self-image. Tamisin learns how to accept and be proud of her appearance- not hide from it.

3. Good messages for girls who feel like they don’t belong anywhere about finding their place in the world

4. Fills a gap for girls who have outgrown the “Rainbow Fairy” type material, but are too young for all of the edgy teen fairy fantasy.

5. Non-Passive Heroine. She doesn’t play victim, and wait around for someone to rescue her.

11 birthdays by wendy mass

11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass

What makes this great1

What Makes this Great

1. Amanda is a real girl, with real problems

2. Explores the changing dynamic in a boy/girl friendship as kids get older

3. Amanda is proactive in trying to find a solution, and never takes a sidekick role.

4. Tackles issues of popularity and peer pressure

5. It is a journey of self-discovery

When you reach me by rebecca stead

When You Reach Meby Rebecca Stead

What makes this great2

What Makes this Great

1. Miranda is extremely independent- she’s a latchkey kid with quite a bit of freedom & lives with a single mother

2. Miranda likes to read, and there are tie-ins with A Wrinkle in Time, her favourite book. She is fascinated by how time travel works

3. Miranda is three dimensional- smart but not brilliant, occasionally selfish, close to her mom and eminently relatable.

4. It’s a story of friendship- how old friendships change, and new ones form. Like 11 Birthdays, it also explores the dynamic of boy/girl friendship.

5. Contains a complex puzzle storyline

Where the mountain meets the moon by grace lin

Where the Mountain Meets the Moonby Grace Lin

What makes this great3

What Makes this Great?

1. Minli is proactive. This is her journey, and she takes matters into her own hands, rather than complain.

2. Minli is smart, spunky, courageous and exhibits ingenuity and imagination

3. The story is a fairy tale epic, reminiscent of the Wizard of Oz, and interweaves various Chinese Folk Tales

4. There is a deeper meaning to the story, and it contains lessons about hope, happiness, and the bonds of family.

5. It is a visually beautiful book.

The evolution of calpurnia tate by jacqueline kelly

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tateby Jacqueline Kelly

What makes this great4

What Makes This Great

1.Calpurnia is a Science-minded girl

  • 2. Callie is a-typical of a girl of her era, and defies stereotypes. She’s no good at feminine activities of the time, but is her own person.

  • Despite the historical setting, it’s relevant to today’s girls. Callie is just trying to figure out with her place in the world, and what she wants versus what the world expects her to be

  • Really unique grandfather/granddaughter relationship- he treats her as an equal, and with intelligence and respect.

  • Contains really beautiful and descriptive language.

Love ya bunches by lauren myracle

Love Ya BunchesBy Lauren Myracle

What makes this great5

What Makes This Great?

1. The girls are from different cultural, racial, religious and family backgrounds, reflecting today’s society.

2. Each girl has her own voice in the story, told through a different medium

3. Deals with situations relevant to girls- cliques, mean girls, the desire to fit in. Chick-lit with substance

4. Contains good lessons about tolerance and passing judgment on others

5. Breaks stereotypes- a computer wiz girl, and an aspiring film director character

Great books for girls1

Great Books for Girls

Category 2- Middle School Grades 6-8

3 willows the sisterhood grows by ann brashares

3 Willows- The Sisterhood Growsby Ann Brashares

What makes this great6

What Makes this Great

1. Realistic, and three dimensional girls with different personalities.

2. Deals with relevant issues to niddle-school girls- popularity,cliques, self-image, parents splitting up, perfect older siblings, etc…

3. The Sisterhood is legendary- they aspire to be them, but are not them, and are not the same.

4. More realistic than Sisterhood- the girls have to work at staying friends, and learn valuable lessons about the nature of true friendship

5. All 3 girls are smart, strong girls, who don’t always make the right choices, but learn from them in the end.

Lucky by rachel vail

Luckyby Rachel Vail

What makes this great7

What Makes this Great

  • Realistic portrayal of shifting middle-school friendships.

  • Phoebe and her sisters have been raised to be strong, smart girls- their mother calls them Valkeries

  • Strong family/sibling bonds

  • In contrast to all of the stories about elite girls, Phoebe is forced to think about her attitudes toward money, and how it affects her popularity and friendship.

  • Phoebe shifts from being a follower to being proactive, solving her problems herself

Recipe for disaster by maureen fergus

Recipe for Disasterby Maureen Fergus

What makes this great8

What Makes this Great?

1. Authentic portrayal of young teen relationships with peers and boys

2. Good messages about body image

3. Main character demonstrates perseverance, creativity, and ingenuity. Good messages about working hard to achieve goals.

4. Humorous- it’s fluffy and it’s chick lit, but a departure from the “lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” books. Francie has more depth to her.

5. Main character is smart, and creative, and works hard at her baking, treating it as a business.

Just ella palace of mirrors by margaret peterson haddix

Just Ella/Palace of Mirrorsby Margaret Peterson Haddix

What makes them great

What Makes them Great?

1. Both books fall under “smart princess” stories

2. Both girls decide to take charge their own destiny, instead of accepting the one given to them.

3. Feature girls in non-traditional roles.

4. The girls make their own choices about getting married- it is on their own terms and own time.

5. Contain messages about courage, perseverance, compassion, and leadership.

Book of a thousand days by shannon hale

Book of a Thousand Daysby Shannon Hale

What makes this great9

What Makes this Great?

  • 1. Role reversal- the maid is the heroine- strong, smart, capable, while the gentry she serves is helpless, selfish and weak.

    2. Rich in detail and language- beautifully written

    3. Incorporates subtext about classes while avoiding stereotypes and raises questions about the uneven nature of friendship.

    4. Based on a tale from Brother’s Grimm called Maid Maleen with a medieval Mongolian setting.

    5. Heroine never gives up, and retains her belief in herself and the goodness of others no matter what misfortune befalls them. A powerful message.

Eon dragoneye reborn by alison goodman

Eon: Dragoneye Rebornby Alison Goodman

What makes this great10

What Makes this Great?

1. Eonais fierce heroine, but also has realistic fears and shortcomings- she’s a kick-butt heroine with flaws.

2. Book is inspired by history of ancient China and Japan, and the Chinese Zodiac. Good extension lessons

3. Themes of embracing your true self, and empowering women in a male centric world

4. Explores non-traditional gender roles

5. Female hero’s quest novel

The disreputable history of frankie landau banks by elizabeth lockheart

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks by Elizabeth Lockheart

What makes this great11

What Makes this Great?

1. Frankie is a kick butt kind of heroine-she’s smart, sassy, shrewd, and is unwilling to follow the rules set out by boys

2. She turns the tables on the boys, and outsmarts them at every turn

3. Challenges girls images of themselves and their relationship to boys

4. Witty and smart writing, clever wordplay

5. Good messages about daring to be yourself, to stand up for yourself, and to step outside of your comfort zone. Good role model for girls

Great books for girls2

Great Books for Girls

Category 3- Teen

Graceling fire by kristin cashore

Graceling & Fireby Kristin Cashore

What makes them great1

What Makes them great?

1. Katsaand Fire are strong heroines, who learn to stand up for themselves and find the freedom to choose their own paths

2. Multi-layered, realistic and complex heroines who face and overcome obstacles

3. Challenges accepted roles for women- do not end up at the altar and marry the prince. Make their own choices and set their own terms, but still find love and happiness

4. Raises questions about gender politics and reactions to beauty

5. Both are highly complex fantasies with enough romance and intrigue to keep girls interested

Impossible by nancy werlin

Impossible by Nancy Werlin

What makes this great12

What Makes this Great?

1. Lucy is a realistic and likeable heroine- She is smart and strong, but fallible.

2. It’s a story about positive relationships- between a daughter and parents, and a rock solid guy.

3. It’s inspired by the ballad Scarborough Fair, which allows for comparisons studying the ballad

4. Strong messages about the power of love, loyalty and devotion to help achieve the impossible

5. Engaging and well-written

Hush hush shiver by becca fitzpatrick maggie stiefvater

Hush, Hush/Shiverby BeccaFitzpatrick/ Maggie Stiefvater

What makes them great2

What Makes them Great?

1. Heroines are easy to relate to- smart, independent, opinionated, no-nonsense,

2. Both heroines are proactive, and not damsel in distress. (Grace more so than Nora)

3. Both books examine different mythologies- Fallen Angels in Hush, Hush and Were lore in Shiver

4. Shiver in particular has beautiful, descriptive writing

5. Both books contain all of the elements that make paranormal romance so appealing, and have that star-crossed lovers sensibility

If i stay by gayle forman

If I Stayby Gayle Forman

What makes this great13

What Makes this Great?

1. Before the accident, Mia is on the threshold of adulthood, faced with difficult choices about her future. Teens- particularly those looking at post-secondary education choices will relate

2. Deals with heavy emotional choices. If the people you love most are gone, and you have the choice, do you choose life?

3. Uses the theme of music as a way of connecting and relating to others

4. The parents are quirky, but not dysfunctional. Mia is the conservative one with a love of classical while her parents have a rebellious, punk-rock background, and the family is close.

5. it’s incredibly moving and beautiful, and perfect for girls who want a weeper. But not cheesy. A powerful book in a small package

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