Posts

Books About Girls

The benefits of reading to children are well known – from their earliest years, it helps improve their language skills, enriches their vocabulary, teaches critical thinking and logic skills, and encourages creativity and a thirst for knowledge. Reading is, therefore, a great parenting activity to bring you closer to your child as they reap its benefits.

Also important, to adults as well as to children, is the way reading and literature can impact our ideas, goals, and moral code. Recently there’s been lively discussion about the importance of representation in media – with good reason.  As sociologist Stewart Hall wrote back in 1973: “the mass media are more and more responsible for providing the basis on which a group constructs an ‘image’ of their lives, meanings, practises and values”[1]. Though he refers here to constructing images of others, it’s safe to say we also construct an image of ourselves through media consumption – and through literature. The image created can be either positive or negative, so with a vulnerable group such as young children, we need to participate and expose them to the best possible role models to help them construct an image of their own identity through positive character representation.

Accordingly, with principles of equality and feminism now in the forefront of public discourse, we need to think how we can raise young girls to grow up confident and with healthy images of themselves. And literature can offer them many examples of characters they might want to emulate – not simply the ‘strong female character’ trope, but diverse girl characters – emotional girls, stubborn girls, shy girls, talented girls, smart girls, imaginative girls.

Books do not have to have female lead characters in order for them to have a positive impact on girls – you can choose from many which feature girls among the protagonists. It’s worth noting that these books are not only good reading material for girls, but for boys as well – they can learn a great deal from these remarkable heroines and enjoy their adventures along with their female friends. Moreover, these stories impart a healthy and varied image of girls, which can teach boys important lessons in valuing and respecting strong and different women in their lives as they grow up.

Here are some of the books that feature those exact types of characters. Consider reading these with your daughter and afterwards engaging in discussion, pointing out positive aspects of the characters, especially their diversity, character growth, and the fact that not only strong-willed girls are mighty girls.

 

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (ages 8+)

This classic series by Louisa May Alcott seems like a good start to bring your child into the world of literature. For a century and a half, girls have grown up with the four March sisters, and there is a good reason for that. This is not only a coming-of-age story for girls, but a story about four very different girls and their tight-knit sisterhood. The most obvious role model is Josephine ‘Jo’, a strong-willed, wild girl and aspiring writer, who is stubborn and kind at the same time, always putting family and friends first.

Yet the other three sisters should be considered equally valuable models. The eldest, Meg, illustrates the value of maturity and personal growth, as we see her personality transform from a vain lover of luxuries to a down-to-earth, dedicated family girl. Beth, second to youngest, shows how shy, fearful girls can also have a lasting impact on others and change lives; Beth is hardworking, helpful and humble, a great example of the power of quiet, introverted, peaceful people. Finally, the youngest sister, Amy, considered the most self-centred, selfish and spoiled,  also proves to be a great example of growth, as further along in the story she becomes compassionate and principled. It’s also worth pointing out that this character was based on Louisa May Alcott’s own little sister, who was one of the few women who made it into the art world of Impressionism at the time.

 

The Famous Five by Enid Blyton (ages 6+)

When it comes to tomboy characters, Georgina – George – of the Fantastic Five has always been the pivotal example. With short hair, fierce temper, wild nature, and dressed as a boy, George stands out from the girly-girl type of character usually present in children’s stories. Even in this particular series, we have her friend Anne, part of the five, who is the spot-on picture of the motherly, caring, domestic girl. George, therefore, can be a great example of the fact that not all girls have to have these qualities to be loved. But the greatest importance of her character might be to parents of non-gender-normative girls, those who do not fit into stereotypes, or are particularly masculine from an early age. If you want to support your child’s journey in search of gender identity and show them that they should act as they feel comfortable, without filling a certain mold, this just might be the best book to read and discuss with them.

 

A  Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (ages 7+)

Another beloved classic is famous for its young protagonist, Sara Crewe, who has influenced generations of girls over the years. In this well-known story about a girl who seemingly lost everything in a day, we can see the strength of resilience, kindness, and imagination. Sara’s best quality is her willingness to help others, her ability to benefit from other’s happiness and her wild, wonderful imagination that helps her confront events much bigger than herself. If you decide to read this book to your child, be sure to point out Sara’s empathy and strength to deal with other people’s problems, while she also fights her own. Two movies have been made from the book – the famous 30’s version with Shirley Temple, and Alfonso Cuarón’s colorful imaginative version, so we recommend watching them with children after reading the book.

 

Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata (ages 11+)

Kira-Kira deals with the very serious and fraught subject of cancer and illness of a sibling, but if you think your child might be able to deal with this topic and difficult emotions, it’s a great piece of literature from which kids can greatly benefit. This coming-of-age novel has Katie, a Japanese-American girl, as its protagonist, and it follows the narrative of the illness and death of Lynn, her sister and best friend.

Katie is not a typical strong heroine in terms of fighting evil forces, but constantly throughout the book she fights with tragic problems of everyday life, from racism and bullying, to illness and death. Children reading the book should pay extra attention to the changes in character of both Lynn and Katie –  their boldness while they deal with something much bigger than themselves, and their amazing connection and influence on each other. While the book does not deal with happy, light topics, what is key in the story is how Katie manages to see the beauty in things and finds strength even in the darkest times – which is a good lesson to teach a child. Finally, as the characters are of Japanese descent, the story of Katie and Lynn can offer some diversity, as the lack of children’s books with characters of different races and ethnicities is very evident and problematic.

 

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket (ages 10+)

This very atypical series of books for children might not be for everyone – the series follows, as the name suggests, the unfortunate lives of the Baudelaire orphans, three very special children who find themselves in the middle of terrible tragedies. Even with a storyline like this, Lemony Snicket manages to make books as light-hearted as possible, with quirky humor and strong emphasis on the children themselves and their strengths. The oldest of the orphans is Violet, a brave and smart girl who has a knack for inventions and logic. While she is charming, polite, and kind, she’s not your typical strong-willed heroine, but someone who manages to pull herself and her siblings, Klaus and Sunny, out of various situations using her imaginative brain and her masterful inventions. Violet is a perfect example of the force of intelligence, and she might motivate your young girls to develop a love for inventions, explorations, science, engineering and mechanics.

 

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (ages 14+)

This trilogy falls under the category of young adult fiction, so it is not exactly reading material for very young girls, but it’s a great book for your teens. Set in Victorian England, this fantasy fiction, set in an all-girls school and magical realms, features best friends, each one a great example of a well-written, well-rounded character with both good and bad sides. The heroine and narrator, Gemma, is an obvious role model, being strong, brave, and full of hope and kindness.

However, her friends are even more interesting in that regard. Felicity, who starts off as Gemma’s enemy, grows into her faithful friend and proves to be a woman-warrior, going against all the norms of her society. Stubborn and strong-willed, she’s not always right or kind, yet she can be a thrilling character for your fierce, rebellious girl. Poor, shy, and hard-working Ann starts as a closed-off character with an unfortunate fate ahead of her, only to grow out of her shell throughout the book and follow her dream. On top of it all, the trilogy also features a great spectrum of strong and amazing female teacher and tutor characters, and a great representation of multi-ethnic romance. Readers should reflect on how these girls work on their  personal growth, try to be the best versions of themselves, turning more and more towards their growing friendship.

 

 

These are only some of the titles that can prove to be useful when trying to find quality reading material for your children. Reading and discussing literature is always valuable for children, so these book will hopefully make it even more fun and influential.

References:

  1. Hall S. 1973. Encoding and decoding in the television discourse. Univ. Birmingham, Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. Stenciled Occ. Pap., No 7. Media Ser.

If you have any question in regards to the books and reading, you’ve come to the right place!

Schedule a FREE CONSULTATION with one of our Coaches:

KEEP READING:

Why is Reading in Childhood Important?

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. – Groucho Marx

Children use their phones, browse the internet, and watch television from an early age. Although there are some benefits to that, there are also risks, like investing too much time in social media, video games, etc. This usually leads to their completely neglecting to read books, which are essential to their growth and development. In this article, we’ll cover numerous reasons why reading books is so important, but also provide parents with advice on how to encourage reading from an early age.

Four Reasons Why Your Children Should Be Reading

  1. Development of Language and the Understanding of Complex Concepts

The most obvious reason why reading books is important is that it allows children to expand and enrich their vocabulary and develop literacy skills. By reading a book, children encounter phrases and words that are not frequently used in casual communication, which they’ll then be able to use themselves in conversation.

Stories and situations in books are usually described vividly and in a lot of detail that helps with the understanding of complex and abstract concepts. It’s easier for a child to understand the concept of compassion when the feelings of a literary character are thoroughly described and some context is provided, rather than by simply reading the definition in a dictionary. This way, a child is re-living the character’s experience that’s making those concepts relatable, so they’re able to better comprehend them. Furthermore, younger children often read out loud, which helps them to learn the correct pronunciation of words.

  1. Memory Boosting

Most books comprise many different characters. In order to properly follow a storyline, children need to remember the characters (their names and characteristics) and learn to differentiate between them. Following and remembering a plot line is also important for understanding the story. By doing all of this, they’re sharpening their memory skills. Children will often want to recount interesting events from a book to their friends or parents, so they’ll try to recall the story correctly and tell it in coherent way. However, they may have difficulty remembering some important details from the story, so parents need to guide them by asking questions, and help them see the importance of this skill. This is another great way of developing a child’s memory from an early age.

Good reading and memory skills enhance children’s confidence as they start school. Children who began reading at an early age will approach their new commitments at school with more ease and self-confidence and can be more enthusiastic when it comes to reading for book reports, etc.

  1. Development of Imagination and Creativity

Every book is a world of its own. By reading a book, children encounter all sorts of new ideas, both realistic and unrealistic, magical and mythological, that help develop their imagination. They learn to differentiate between what’s real and what’s make-believe. They can envision new worlds and play with ideas, but also learn that they can think about something without having to actually look at it. They learn that with imagination they can reach much greater distances than by simply observing the physical world with their own eyes. Stimulating imagination further helps in developing creativity. Children often show this through their drawings, but it can also lead to the development of valuable skills later in life.

  1. Coping with Feelings

Stories provide a great way for children to step into a literary character’s shoes and see things from a different perspective. This is important because it helps them understand a perspective that’s not their own and where the centre of the attention is not on them. At the same time, this practice teaches them to understand and share the feelings of other persons (i.e. empathy).

Furthermore, going on a journey in someone else’s shoes is very beneficial when it comes to the regulation of their own emotions. If children are having problems, such as, for example, being unpopular at school, having anxiety when with a group of peers, etc., reading about similar experiences of someone else helps them have a better understanding of their own feelings, and feel a sense of relief that someone shares their problems. Or, if they have anticipatory anxiety about their first day at school, they can find a book that describes someone else’s pleasant experiences when going to school and see that their fear is not justified.

To find out more about the benefits of reading, check out this guide from our friends at Mom Loves Best!

How to Encourage Your Children to Read

Read to your children at an early age. It’s an excellent way to bond and create memories your children will cherish for life. It’s a practice you should start when they’re very young, because it helps them develop a love for stories and books before they even learn to read. Make sure to encourage them to ask you to explain the meaning of a word if you stumble upon some they don’t yet understand. Hearing you read to them will enable them to hear the correct pronunciation of words and improve their verbal fluency. Continue reading to them even when they learn to read on their own.

Surround them with books. A stimulative environment has a great effect on children. Make sure to have a book collection appropriate to children their age in your home that they can easily pick up if they feel like reading. Also, get a library card you can use together, or get them one that they can use on their own. Ask your children about which books they’d like to read and help them look them up. It’s sometimes hard for children to find a book they’d like to read without someone’s help. Make a habit out of going to book fairs, where you can take the entire family and have lots of fun and at the same time fill your house with more books.

Be a role model. Chances are children will pick up a book as well if they see their parents reading often and enjoying it. Try talking to them about stories and books you’ve read about to raise their interest and tickle their imagination.

“My Children Get Bored with Reading. What Should I Do?”

We understand that sometimes it’s hard to get children interested in reading, especially if they’re fed up with classical literature from school. Luckily, there are some alternatives that might get them to love books and make the transition to classical literature a bit easier.

Audio books. If you can’t find the time to read to your kids very often, you should try playing them pre-recorded audio of you reading, or even try playing them audio books you can find online (check out the bottom of this article, where you can find some websites with free audio books for children). Audio books are a great way of engaging children in reading by taking some of the “pressure” off them if they are struggling. Some students need to have the audio content to follow along with the written content.

Comics/Graphic books. Comics are a great medium, especially for children who are just learning to read. You wouldn’t want to overwhelm them straight away with too many words and complex sentences. Instead, you should first get them interested in colorful books with lots of pictures or drawings. At the end of the article, we’ve provided a website where you can find some book recommendations for younger children. For slightly older kids, you have a wide variety of superhero comics, which they’ll most likely love. If you’re not familiar with comics, and aren’t sure which ones to get, you can go to a comic-book store and ask about some comics that are appropriate for your children’s age.

If your children are struggling with language or reading, here at Nobel Coaching you can find many tutors who can help them. Also, be sure not to neglect negative feelings children tend to have about school, and, if necessary, think about reaching out to our coaches who can help your children discover their strengths and motivations, and build more positive feelings towards school, and ultimately reach their potential as students.

 

 

Resources:

Comics for younger children: http://mentalfloss.com/article/62202/10-great-kids-comics-early-readers

Free audiobooks: https://www.storynory.com/

 

If you have any question in regards to the books and reading, you’ve come to the right place!

Schedule a FREE CONSULTATION with one of our Coaches:

KEEP READING:

A FAMILY BOOK CLUB: 5 BOOKS TO READ WITH YOUR TEEN

by Anja Andjelkovic

Reading to children at an early age has copious benefits, such as: develop the brain, prepare for school, improve language skills and social interactions, and more. In fact, the scope of these benefits is so vast, that some parents start reading to their children as early as when they are still in the belly, or even just the size of a poppy seed.

What if you didn’t read to your child when he/she was little or, you did but they have lost interest in reading now? As with almost anything in life, it is never too late to start again! Although, teens may view reading as “uncool” or irrelevant, never underestimate the power of a good story.

So, how can you encourage your teen to read more? You could try suggesting some of the novels listed below and then discuss them together. A great option would be to read the novels out loud so the entire family can become a little book club. It might seem counterintuitive to read out loud to older children (especially teens) but it is a fun activity that comes with several benefits. Reading aloud can help your child improve their pronunciation as they will actually hear the words they would typically read silently. It is also a great common activity that becomes a bonding experience between parents and children. Naturally, there might be some resistance at first, but try it a few times. After the initial awkwardness has passed, you might just discover what a rewarding experience it can be. If you decide you’d rather read on your own and then discuss the books together, that’s great too, as long as the reading leads to an open discussion.

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

To Kill A Mockingbird

 

Classics are classics for a reason and this is one of them. To Kill a Mockingbird is a necessary read for everyone, as it deals with issues that are as current now as they were in 1960 when the novel was first published. The story is told from the perspective of a six-year-old girl, Scout, who lives with her father, a lawyer, and her older brother. Scout’s father, Atticus, is appointed to defend a black man accused of having raped a white woman. As you can expect, the novel goes on to discuss controversial topics of race, rape, inequality and prejudice.

After reading the book with your teen, it would be interesting to discuss a current event that is affecting the world, such as racial inequality, gender roles, or class divide. Discussing important topics such as these is a great way to get your teen interested in news, current events, and politics. This is an opportunity to learn more about your child on an intellectual level and engage in meaningful discussion. Tying these topics into the story by reviewing how the characters dealt with them can allow you to deliver a few life lessons (without the eye roll). Make sure that all parties have a chance to talk and listen.  This is an excellent opportunity for your teen to explore how he/she feels.

Note: The novel contains some violence and one of the main characters is being tried for rape. It also contains inappropriate language and deals with sensitive topics.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky

Perks of Being Wallflower

Choosing the right book may be one of the biggest challenges you face when encouraging your teen to read. The key is to find something relatable, whether it be in the age of the characters or the story within. The Perks of Being a Wallflower involves teenage characters with typically average teenage problems; making it a great book to start your family book club.

The story follows a shy, struggling, fifteen-year-old boy named Charlie. As he is coping with the suicide of his best friend alongside his own mental health issues, he finds himself among a new group of friends.  While Charlie’s situation is very specific and sometimes pretty dark, the things he experiences are things most teenagers will endure at some point. Being able to talk about these experiences while sharing your own may encourage your child to open up. With a book that encompasses love, friendship, heartbreak, and self-esteem issues, you’re bound to be able to throw in a life lesson or two somewhere.

It is important to note that it is best to be understanding and patient with your child if they do not want to open up or are struggling to discuss something. Reading together is supposed to be a fun, expressive, bonding activity for everyone involved. There is a lot that can be learned from this book, but it is best to keep an open mind and really dive into the message and its characters to get the most out of it.

Note: The novel contains violence and it deals with sensitive topics such as suicide and child abuse. It also involves sexual content, the characters drink, smoke and do drugs, and there is a use of inappropriate language.

Coraline, Neil Gaiman

Coraline

Neil Gaiman’s Coraline is a somewhat dark, twisted story relative to that of Alice in Wonderland. Although Coraline is also considered a children’s book, adults love it because they can revisit their own childhood memories and gain different perspectives on them. Since this book is extraordinarily unique, there is a large opportunity for length discussions.

The main character of this story is a girl who is not quite a teen yet named Coraline. Her family moves to a home that has left her feeling neglected, yet adventurous. As she beings to explore she finds herself in a parallel universe where everything seems very much the same, but her parents have buttons for eyes. Her parents are the perfect, caring and permissive parents she wants them to be, but it is slowly revealed that “The Other Mother” is not as nice as she seems.

This story attracts readers of all ages because it touches on things we’ve all experienced as children. We’ve all been dissatisfied with our parents and their rules, or even felt like we didn’t matter that much; especially in our teen years. This would have led to us creating our own “dream world” of some sort. This is something that can be discussed with your teen: what their dream world would be like, how would the characters in it act, why he/she is choosing that as their dream world. You can also share your dream world with your teen and try to remember what you wished for when you were younger; you will surely find some similarities to Coraline and to your child as well. While talking about these worlds, focus on the relationship between parents and their children and discuss it with your child. You might learn what bugs your teen about the relationship with you and try to explore it and you will surely have an interesting discussion from which everyone can learn something.

Note: The book contains some violence.

The Diary of A Young Girl, Anne Frank

Diary of Anne Frank

Written by a young Jewish girl in the throes of World War II; this book clearly demonstrates the horrors of war and the consequences of conflict. It is also important because it shows the war through an eye of a child who writes about things any child would write about: the relationship with her parents and sister, friends and a boy named Peter.

Reading Anne Frank’s diary calls for a lesson about the war and the Jewish persecution, The discussion of this book can actually start with you and your teen reading up on this horrible period of human history. While learning about the war, you will surely find plenty of topics to talk about.: “What brings a man to hurt another human being?”, “Why have people agreed to this?”, “Where was all this hatred coming from?” are a few topical questions that are bound to lead to lengthy debates. You will read in Anne’s diary that despite everything, she still believed that people are really good at heart. This can easily lead to a lesson on judgment and respect for others.

The topics that this book brings up are all serious topics that should be discussed when your child is ready. This story is essential to the history of the world and gives a great deal of insight into the life of a Jewish child during that time.  his book is here to remind us of what happened and, that teaching the future generations about the horrors of it may prevent history from repeating itself.

Note: As it deals with the topics of war, the book contains violence, sexual content, smoking, and drinking.

1984, George Orwell

1984

Orwell’s 1984 is a pivotal book, and essential to read during a time like this when surveillance and technology are at their most evasive. There is a lot to learn from this book that also evokes a lot of emotion. When reading at the right age, this book is bound to spark a lengthy debate.

1984 is set in a dystopian world of surveillance led by “Big Brother”: where there is constant war, manipulation, and dictation by the political system. In this world, independent thinking is a crime, and so is pretty much anything that doesn’t abide by the rules of the dictatorship. This book is popular amongst teens due to their strong feelings on surveillance, government, and human rights.

The main points of discussion about this novel concentrate around critical thinking and what can happen when there is a severe lack of it. This is a good way to encourage your child to voice his/her opinion and not to be afraid to disagree with everyone else. Another way to deepen the discussion is to talk about free will and the importance of it in a modern society. Also, compare Orwell’s dystopia to our society and see what your teen thinks about where we stand. Adults will enjoy this book because it is one of those good ones that changes together with you and the more experiences you gain in life.

Note: The book contains sexual content, violence, and scenes of smoking and drinking alcohol.

Happy reading! Enjoy!

 

If you have any question in regards to the books and reading, you’ve come to the right place!

Schedule a FREE CONSULTATION with one of our Coaches:

KEEP READING: