Caroline Starr Rose spent her childhood in the deserts of Saudi Arabia and New Mexico, camping at the Red Sea in one and eating red chile in the other. As a girl she danced ballet, raced through books, composed poetry on an ancient typewriter, and put on magic shows in a homemade cape. She’s taught both social studies and English in New Mexico, Florida, Virginia, and Louisiana. Caroline’s the author of May B. (2012), Over in the Wetlands, (2015), and Blue Birds (2015). Visit her at her blog and website.
Good for you! In my absolutely accurate and unbiased opinion, middle-grade books are where it’s at. These are the first stories kids truly pick for themselves when branching out as independent readers, the ones they glom onto when leaving behind the picture book stage. Middle-grade books are the ones that show us what the world’s like and where we fit in it.
Here are a handful of girl-centric books that I loved as a kid -- or ones I wish had been around when I was young.
Some of these girls you’ll find in these books are unfiltered, energetic, over the top. What makes them come alive on the page is their warts-and-all realness: they do and say the things we’ve thought of but never dared.
Some of them are contemplative, quiet, more reserved. Their brave moments feel all the more important because of the courage they’re able to muster in a girl-against-the-world sort of way.
All of them feel like personal friends.
The Ramona Quimby series by Beverly Cleary
The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Pippi Longstocking series by Astrid Lindgren
The Anne of Green Gables series by LM Montgomery
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
Child of the Mountains by Marilyn Sue Shank
With a Name Like Love by Tess Hilmo
Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman
Our Only May Amelia by Jennifer L. Holm
The Ballad of Lucy Whipple by Karen Cushman
Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood
Sparrow Road by Sheila O’Connor
One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Healing Spell by Kimberly Griffiths Little
Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff
Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur