Are there any Empowering Books For Teenage Girls?

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I don’t have children so I don’t often shop for children’s books. Yesterday I went to Barnes & Noble to shop for books for a family friend who is a 12 year old girl. What I found were shelves of books promoting vanity, consumerism and sex. The titles were things like Gossip Girl and Cheetah Girls. After reading the cover summaries it seems that in order to encourage reading in our teen girls we have to expose them to the promotion of celebrity worship, buying designer handbags, gossiping about your friends, and having sex to be popular. Has anyone experienced the same problem or know of empowering books for teenage girls?

-Danielle Holley-Walker

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0 Responses to Are there any Empowering Books For Teenage Girls?

  1. secondwaver says:

    Good question, Danielle. Go here:
    and check out the feminist YA novels there …

  2. librarygrrrl says:

    Check out the Amelia Bloomer Project – published by the American Library Association’s Feminist Task Force every year.

  3. librarygrrrl says:

    (Not sure if my previous comment was held for moderation or sent to the ether, but…)

    Check out the Amelia Bloomer Project of feminist books for kids. It’s published yearly by the Feminist Task Force of the American Library Association. I’m not putting in the link, but it’s easily google-able.

  4. ebuz says:

    Karen Blumenthal, Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX (2005) featured in this story of high school girls’ empowerment:

  5. Bridget Crawford says:

    The Amelia Bloomer Project has a list of books that “encourage and inspire girls to be smart, brave, and proud.” The list is broken down by general age/reading level:

  6. kelleybell says:

    My 13 year old daughter is currently enamored with Neal Schusterman:

    She particulary likes Unwind, The Shaddow Club, and Everlost.

    She also loves, Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein:

    But my absolute, hands down favorite is an obscure little book called Romany Free! It is a poetic tale of personal empowerment and pure connection to nature, that I quietly set free last December after many long years together. (I still miss her though. That book will always hold a piece of my soul.)

  7. I forwarded your post to my fifteen year old daughter, Elena, who is a voracious reader. She responded with the following suggestions: “The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak; The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, by Laurie R. King (probably for older girls in their teens and up, but it is one of my favorite books ever!); Chinese Cinderella, by Adeline Yen Mah; Sabriel, by Garth Nix; Lirael, by Garth Nix (sequel to Sabriel); The Great Good Thing, by Roderick Townley; Heir Apparent, by Vivian Vande Velde; The Two Princesses of Bamarre, by Gail Carson Levine; Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment, by James Patterson; City of the Beasts, by Isabel Allende (not specifically about a girl but has an extremely strong female character in the trilogy); The Water Mirror, by Kai Meyer; Wild Magic, by Tamora Pierce; Alanna: The First Adventure, by Tamora Pierce (as a general matter, all of Tamora Pierce’s books are amazing and have lots of strong female characters).”

    Re your experience in the store, she adds: “I did notice that in the teen series section, what you said is true. Nearly one third of the books in that section at my Barnes and Noble are like that. But many of the books that I have read and thoroughly enjoyed didn’t come from that section. Try exploring the other sections around the store or ask someone in the store for suggestions. Many of the books that I listed didnt come from the teen series section. but all of them are phenomenal, so I suggest you take a look at them.”

  8. hysperia says:

    I love the Amelia Bloomer Book Project. But note that, through no fault at all of the Project, the recommended books are very heavy on non-fiction. And while it’s fantastic to tell the stories of real life women, I think it also reveals how difficult it is to publish imaginative fiction that can imagine itself outside the “accepted” categories of what it means to be a woman.

  9. Thanks everyone for the great suggestions. The Amelia Bloomer Project was a great find.

  10. claire says:

    Hi Danielle,
    My book for girls comes out tomorrow. It’s called Girls Inc. Presents: You’re Amazing! A No-Pressure Guide to Being Your Best Self (Adams Media).

    The book is based on a Girls Inc. study called the “The Supergirll Dilemma,” which shows that girls are feeling increasing pressure to be perfect and please everyone. I interviewed girls, older teens, and women role models, and included activities inspired by Girls Inc. programs. You can check out an interview with a mother & daughter discussing the book here:

  11. rapunzella says:

    Superlate to the party, but wanted to pop in and recommend “Rules of the Road” by Joan Bauer, or any of Bauer’s books. Bauer’s characters are the role models I only found in Rory Gilmore (of “Gilmore Girls”) elsewhere besides the vapid, gossipy, beglittered girls everywhere else. But Bauer gets it right (in “Hope Was Here,” too), and with humor and a big heaping of fiesty female characters.

    Also three cheers for “Sloppy Firsts” (not as dirty as it sounds, swear!) or “Second Helpings,” about an intelligent and driven narrator.