Shannon Hale (love her!) went on a rant a week or so ago that got me thinking. There was a long chain, but the culmination of it was this tweet:
So, I’m offering some good books by women, featuring girls, that I think boys should read (and might even like!). I’m splitting the list: five middle grade books and five YA ones.
1. Three Times Lucky, by Sheila Turnage: A girl named mo, some fantastic quirky characters, and a murder mystery to solve. “In addition to murder, this book has everything: drama, car racing, suspense, plucky kids, arch-enemies, robbery, unrequited love, and karate. It’s everything Southern, but the pecan pie. (And I’m sure that would have shown up, had the book been set at Thanksgiving instead of during the summer.) There’s a little something for everyone here, which makes any book appealing.”
2. The Penderwicks, by Jeanne Birdsall: Yes, it’s about four sisters and their summer at a cottage in Maine. HOWEVER, they are some pretty interesting and hilarious girls who get into some pretty interesting and hilarious situations (Batty and the bull will forever be one of my favorite book scenes.) AND there are two (almost three!) more books to read.
3. Out of My Mind, by Sharon Draper: I put this on here not only because it’s an excellent book (and because author of color PLUS disabled), but because C’s 6th grade language arts teacher read it aloud, and the class loved it. So I’m not guessing at this one. “It’s a treatise on the determination of one girl (and her family) and what that can do. It is, in many ways, a “message” book: disabled people are NOT different than the rest of us, and just because they look or act different doesn’t mean they are not worth getting to know and understand. But Draper presents this in such a way so that the book doesn’t feel like a heavy-handed message book. It’s heartfelt, and you end up both cheering for and crying with Melody as she recounts her experience.”
4. Tuesdays at the Castle, Jessica Day George: A castle that’s probably alive on some level, a spunky heroine, and a creepy prince who’s trying to take over the kingdom: how can you not thoroughly enjoy this book?
5. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle: I thought I needed a classic on here. Meg is a tentative heroine, but she’s a strong one, in the end. And the world L’Engle built is a fascinating one. Plus an adventure to rescue Mr. Murray from the evil planet? (There’s also Charles Walace and Calvin.)
6. Dangerous, by Shannon Hale: I wanted to make sure a Shannon Hale book goto on here, and I struggled to think of which one. Then I remembered (duh) her newest. Although my first reaction was less than stellar, this book has grown on me over the months: “In many ways, this was a breath of fresh air. One gets bogged down in the current trends in young adult/teen literature (read: paranormal or dystopian/post-apocalyptic) and to have something that is honestly science fiction with high tech gadgets, spaceships, and alien lifeforms. With honest-to-goodness average people doing techy, fun, science-based things.” I call it Hunger Games meets the Avengers.
7. Fire, by Kristin Cashore: It’s really the whole Graceling series. But I thought that while Graceling has more action, this one has more drama. And it gets into the head of women better. One of the reasons I think boys should be reading books about girls is so they can understand them. And this one goes a long way to getting into the psyche of a woman and how men treat her. But, if that’s not what you want, try Graceling instead. Either way, Cashore is a fantastic write.
8. Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson: Much like 13 Reasons Why, which C is required to read this year, this one should be required reading for everyone. It’s about date rape and depression and it’s harsh and difficult to read, but it’s one of those books that helps you understand that actions have consequences. A definite must-read.
9. Flygirl, by Sheri L. Smith: World War II, pilots, and a girl overcoming the obstacles of race and gender. ” I liked the challenges posed by the program, the obstacles she had to surmount in order to succeed in a man’s world. It was not only historically interesting, but had a universal appeal: what woman hasn’t faced the “you can’t do it because you’re a girl” and fought her way to success in whatever that is?”
10. I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister, by Amélie Sarn. This one seems odd to throw on the list. But the conflict between siblings is universal, and this one has stayed with me since I read it. Partially for the sibling conflict, but mostly for the religious elements. I’ve been thinking about hate and acceptance and conformity and how we act when we disagree with each other. It’s thought-provoking.
What other books should be on this list?