May I preface this post with two small clarifications?  First, I really do not regret having all boys.  How could you regret the loves of your life?  I do, however, wonder from time to time what it would be like to share some really great children’s literature with them from my own childhood, you know, the kind boys just don’t truly appreciate.  This brings me to the second clarification – yes, there really are differences in girls and boys.  As much as I detest the pink aisles of toy departments in box stores, as much as I dislike labelling “boys books,” we all must admit, there are just certain subject matters to which one gender or another naturally gravitate.  This is particularly true as children grow past those early years.  So, what follows is a wonderful (and personally dear) collection of books which I would still be reading aloud if I had girls.  The list may not be surprising.  They are mostly classics, widely read, but if you do have a girl in your life, snuggle up next to her and share a treasure, a shared language of  literature.  Or, try some of these out with the little man, too.  At least as long as he will allow you.Spring2014 004


Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder – Oh, sure, A was partially toilet-trained on chapters like “Grandpa and the Panther,” and “Mr. Edwards meets Santa Claus,” but even a wild prairie tomboy does not generally hold the interests of boys in the same way that I was captivated by Laura’s trek across the grasslands of pioneering America.  Reading about sugar snow, Pet and Patty, Nellie Oleson and Laura’s early romance with Almanzo after the long, long winter held me spell-bound and made me wish I had also traveled by covered wagon.

The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich is where young girls might go after they have grown a bit older and read all the Laura Ingalls Wilder stories.  Beautifully written, they are told from the opposing perspective of the pioneer girls.  Ojibwa is from the Omakaya tribe near Lake Superior around 1847.  She is mysteriously discovered as an infant on a neighboring island, but grows up strong and full of curiosity.  Her people go through difficult times, and though the culture is a new one for most of us, through Ojibwa’s eyes, it is full of humanity and love.  This is a relatively new read for me.  They were first published  fifteen years or so ago, after I was well into adulthood.  However, I can imagine treasuring Erdrich’s books as a youngster.  Also in this series Chickadee, The Porcupine Year and The Game of Silence.

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Anne of Green Gables/ Emily of New Moon series by L.M. Montgomery.  I cannot emphasize the importance Montgomery’s writings had on me as  an 11 and 12-year old (and far beyond!).  I feel, like Anne-with-an-e, we are “kindred spirits.”  I cry every time Matthew gives Anne the “puffed sleeves” at Christmas, and I laugh when Mr. Carpenter “goes out with the tide” warning Emily to “beware of italics. ”  I have never been able to decide which series I enjoy more.  Emily is certainly darker, but more grown-up.  I will always be grateful to Lucy Maude not only for her characters, but also for introducing me to poets like Tennyson, Keats and Byron.  I would still love to make a pilgrimage one day to Prince Edward Island.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.  Putting on plays in the parlor, eating apples in the attic, timidly playing the piano in the neighbor’s house, befriending the boy next door, reading war letters from father, growing up a March…..Who has not loved this family?

All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor.  Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte, Gertie, then later, little brother Charlie.  Growing up Jewish at the turn-of-the-century in New York seemed neither strange nor unfamiliar. The books are full of sisterly love, patient parenting and Jewish holiday traditions.   I loved Ella as the Purim jester!  My favorites were always Sarah, who loved to read, and Henny who was always getting into so much trouble. All of a Kind Family Downtown, More All of a Kind Family, All of a Kind Family Uptown, and Ella of All of a Kind Family portray Mama’s and Papa’s girls (and baby brother) as they grow up before WWI.

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Betsy-Tacy-Tibseries by Maud Hart Lovelace.  Was there a happier place to live in than Deep Valley on Hill Street? Modeled after her own childhood experiences in the turn-of-the-century Minnesota, Lovelace helps us feel what it is like living in a community and growing up with best friends.

No surprises here in this list?  What were your favorites growing up?  Which childhood character seemed more flesh and blood than words on a page to you?  May you and your own “half-pint” bury your noses in a book, may you love every leaf, every page as you turn them together.



7 thoughts on “What we would be reading if I had girls

  1. Um, okay…you listed just about all my favorites, too! The only one I haven’t read is The Birchbark House. I actually checked it out from the library a few weeks ago to read with Noah, since we’re looking at Native American history, but we ended up reading Children of the Longhouse instead. It has a brother and sister as the lead characters, and it’s largely about the game of lacrosse – so, more interesting to a young man in my household. 🙂


  2. Also, have you read Libby on Wednesday, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (who also wrote The Egypt Game – also a good read involving girls)? It’s been a long time since I read it, but I remember enjoying it very much as a girl.


    1. I am surprised I have not even heard of that one. I will have to look it up. The Birchbark House was really good, and honestly, one I could see one of my guys possibly enjoying.


  3. I loved Little Women and Anne of Green Gables, but the book that really caught my fancy was How Green Was My Valley–technically, a boy book I suppose, and on the opposite end of the spectrum from Little Women.

    I, too, felt like a misfit in my surroundings. I discovered that I wasn’t the only one who dreamed of running away from a mining town and a life that was different from the one with my three brothers!


  4. April – I feel, as you do, that my boys are the loves of my life – but I thank God regularly for giving me a daughter. I hope you find a connection with daughters-in-law and granddaughters someday which provides an outlet for your womanly wisdom. I am glad you have this beautiful talent with words, so that you can share with other women who may not know which literary doors to unlock for their daughters :). My Miss D has yet to let me share Anne or Emily with her…but last night I asked if I could let her see further into Jane Eyre’s heart than a movie was allowing…and she said “Yes”!! I love our reading times together. Can I add some to your list – for early adolescent years? The Christy Miller Series, by Robin Jones Gunn is wonderful for young ladies on the cusp of their teen years. There are 12 books, all short. There are several branch-off series as well – The Sierra Jensen Series (also 12 books), The Katy Weldon Series (most recent – only 3 books in that one), Todd & Christy, The College Years and then lastly, the Glenbrook Series, which follows the characters and their friends into adulthood. This author, R.J. Gunn, is my SECOND favorite, behind L.M. Montgomery and is also the author of the Sisterchick books – which I highly recommend!


    1. Crystal, thank you for your comments and a little insight into your life with a daughter. There is so much great literature out there for children now, even more than when we were young, I think. I hope the classics do not get ignored in the midst of vampires and wizardry;). I must say I am not familiar with any of the series you listed. I will need to look into those for some avid female readers in my life.


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