I am often asked to recommend “must read” books for girls of certain ages. Common questions include: “Can you provide a list of books all Middle School students should read?” and “What are the books all students should read before the finish high school?”
Such questions always bother me because reading tastes are so individual and varied that different students will connect with different books. Research tells us that students will read and enjoy reading when they are connected to the books that match their needs and interests (Susan La Marca, 2006).
That being said, the following five books are among my own favourite and I think they are highly inspirational reads for Middle School girls:
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
This story is about being true to yourself. When Stargirl arrives at Mica High she stands out because she is different from everyone else. Rather than be shunned however, her beautiful smile and heart charm her classmates and she is loved by all.
And then they turn on her. Urged to become ‘normal’ to maintain her popularity, the danger is that Stargirl will give up everything that makes her unique.
This is a story about kindness, true friendship, and acceptance.
August Pullman, born with a facial deformity that makes him very difficult to look at, is about to face school for the first time and enter 5th grade. Being the new kid is hard – being the new kid when your appearance is so different to everyone else takes courage.
This book has been loved the world over and the Choose Kind Movement was inspired by one of its most memorable quotes:
“WHEN GIVEN THE CHOICE BETWEEN BEING
RIGHT OR BEING KIND, CHOOSE KIND.”
― R.J. Palacio, Wonder
The war that saved my life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
This is a story of determination and rising up in the face of adversity.
Set in London during World War 2, this is the story of Ada who was born with a clubfoot and is shunned by her neglectful and sometimes abusive mother and kept locked in her one-room apartment. When the children of London start to be evacuated to the country because of the peril of bombing raids, Ada wastes no time and escapes onto the trains. When she arrives in a country village, Ada is fostered by Susan Smith and so begins her road to recovery and finding her own identity. However, lurking in the background is the threat of the mother who she escaped.
Good night stories for rebel girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo
This is a book of pure inspiration for all girls. Containing 100 stories about extraordinary women from the past and the present and their remarkable achievements.
This video provides some background information from the authors, Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo, about why they put together this book. Anyone who is concerned about gender equality and the obstacles facing our daughters should watch this video:
Find your tribe
This book is a guide for teenage girls. It provides all sorts of advice about surviving high school and the adolescent years. In particular, Rebecca’s advice about choosing to hang out with good friends and about being a good friend is so important for girls who often find themselves in toxic relationships that cause a lot of angst.