Best Books for Girls

These are the books my 11-year-old daughter has told me every girl should read. The words here are hers (except where my initials appear in an editorial aside).

All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
This delightful and heart-warming tale of five Jewish girls growing up in the Lower East Side of New York City in the early 20th century is a narrative of the simple yet exciting life of five sisters: Ella, Henny, Sara, Charlotte, and Gertie. In vivid prose, Sydney Taylor brings to life the Jewish festivals, holidays, and traditions that shape the girls’ home life. With a slight mystery and a big surprise, this book will captivate readers young and old alike. There are four sequels, and all are equally good.

The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic by Jennifer Trafton
This delightfully humorous book about 10-year-old Persimmony Smudge draws you into the fantastical world of The Island at the Center of Everything. Will Persimmony be able to stop the Leaf-eaters before it’s too late? Will Worvil the Worrier be able to overcome his fear and stop the raucous Rumblebumps from awakening the giant in their midst? Jennifer Trafton brings to life this world of poison-tongued jumping tortoises, Leaf-eaters, and the spoiled monarch King Lucas the Lofty. This was my favorite book when I was 7, and I still like it!

Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace
This wonderful book about two girls becoming the best of friends is possibly my favorite. Betsy and Tacy go together “uphill and downhill, to school and from school, in and out of play.” Lovelace draws you into the small town of Deep Valley, Minnesota, where there are plenty of things for two young girls looking for fun to do. I’ve read this book, and its first three sequels, cover to cover at least a dozen times. I love the way Lovelace writes her characters and brings them to life. This is a must-read for girls of all ages.  KCI: There are ten Betsy-Tacy books, but the first four are the best. (At this point my daughter chimes in and says, “They really are.”) For girls ages 10 and under, stick with those first four books: Betsy-Tacy; Betsy, Tacy, and Tib; Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill; and Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown. The rest of the books are good, too, but for older readers, aged 11 or 12 and up.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice, I will admit, is a difficult book to read. I highly recommend it but suggest that you only try to tackle this book if you are an avid reader or if the book has been read to you already, preferably both. This engaging story is the perfect combination of romance, comedy, and wit. A wonderful book with emotions so vivid and characters so tangible that Elizabeth and her sisters come to life through the words on the page. Mr. Darcy, a rich man of high class, must put down his arrogant pride in order to get what he wishes. In turn, Elizabeth will have to overcome her unjust prejudice against him. Even as you watch both of them transform, Austen keeps up the witty dialogue and descriptions. Every girl should read this book!

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
This book and its sequels about orphaned Anne Shirley are sweet, whimsical, and delightful. When Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert send for a boy to help out on their farm, their relatives make a mistake. Instead of a strong, sturdy boy, a thin, young, red-headed girl arrives at the train station. At first they waver in indecision about whether to keep her or not. But as Anne stays on, it becomes harder and harder to imagine life at Green Gables without her. Watch Anne grow up with quite a few mishaps and much laughter and love, as she and her bosom friend Diana get into all kinds of hilarious scrapes. Anne’s quiet transformation as she slowly loosens her grudge against Gilbert Blythe is lovely. L.M. Montgomery weaves a tale of delight, full of girlish hopes and dreams. A must-read for every girl. KCI: The first five books in the series follow Anne from her arrival at Green Gables through her first two years of marriage. From book six on, the series turns its focus primarily to her children.

The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
This is a lovely novel, filled with mystery, romance, and the importance of getting along. When Maria, a girl from London, moves to her elderly cousin Sir Benjamin’s estate, Moonacre Manor, she immediately feels at home. Sir Benjamin is kind and jovial, but beneath his kindness an underlying sadness is ever-present. A tragedy that took place at the Manor many years ago haunts him. Maria is determined to find out what happened–and discovers she has the power to change it. Goudge is a masterful writer and weaves a story so vivid that it’s hard to believe you’re not in the world of Moonacre. A wonderful book!

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