Strong Girl Characters in Teen Books
My oldest daughter is now in Middle School and that alone makes me nervous. Middle School is The Worst Years of My Life for pretty much everyone I know including myself. She’s actually loving Middle School right now but with only 3 months into it, I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I keep hearing how Middle School is all about socialization and that is a complex world for girls. I was grateful for these books to cross my path — three are from publishers and one from my child’s book club — because they shine a light through this three-year minefield. Some of these characters actually are in bands, but they all rock. Hard. In their own way. And isn’t that what we all want for our girls as they round this next corner?
p.s. What is your favorite Tween/Teen girl chapter book of lead characters that rock? Please share!
How to Rock Braces and Glasses by Meg Haston
This book is sure to become a popular TV series á la Gossip Girl. It’s a reverse bullying queen bee story: a queen bee, 7th grader Kacey Simon, who turns temporarily into a dork with new glasses and braces, rocks hard, and then returns to her popular self, wiser, and more compassionate. I find myself actually rooting for her! And there is just enough unfinished business to require a sequel! And asap please!
As for the rocking part, I really enjoyed the bit when Kacey joins the Indy band as lead singer and the romantic story line with Skinny Jeans. I am waiting with great anticipation for the sequel, though not so sure that I will actually watch the TV show. But my kids will!
[chapter book, for grades 3 and up but particularly great for Middle School Girls!]
Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O’Roark Dowell
This is one of my favorite reads of the year and every time we loan it out, it comes back with a rave review. I like that while it’s labeled as a Young Adult (YA) book, it is PG to be appropriate for ages 9-12. I think it got the YA nod mostly because Janey, the lead character, is a Freshman in High School. As a coming of age story, Janey has evolved from “Adventurous Janey” who convinces her family to move from the ‘burbs to an upscale goat farm to “Janey Who Wants To Fit In.” While this is a universal (and wonderful theme for any child), Dowell does this with a constant dose of humor. As much as Janey is squirming and uncomfortable, she can still the humor in her situation. I love that.
Along the way, Janey makes new friends including a very cool dude/boyfriend who is a rocker and convinces her to learn the bass. By the end of the book, Janey rocks it in every way possible from her transformed life to her base to her local community.
[chapter book, for grades 5th and up though it’s labeled as YA. No sex, violence or bad language.]
These next two chapter books don’t have girl characters who are in a band, but they still rock. Hard. Mostly because they are strong, interesting girl characters.
I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have To Kill You (Gallager Girls series) by Ally Carter
My oldest read this for her book club in 6th grade. Think Spy Kids (the movie) but change the setting to an all-girl academy for spies in training! Now add in a boy and see how 15-year-old Cammie Morgan can juggle the spy curriculum with a love interest and keep her secret life a secret.
[chapter book, labeled for ages 18 and up but appropriate for Middle School grades 6th and up, even 5th grade]
No Ordinary Day by Deborah Ellis
This is the kind of book for kids that I wish my children would read to learn more about other cultures, particularly those in developing worlds. Not only does this expand their mind, but they get an appreciation for how fortunate they are. This story is about Valli, a young orphan girl, who ends up on the streets in India. She has a mesmerizing, scrappy charm that draws the reader in and never let’s go. It’s also a story of leprosy, salvation, and the kindness of strangers. Additionally, royalties from the sale of this book will be donated to The Leprosy Mission. This would make a great girls’ book club book!
To view any book more closely in Amazon, please click on image of book.