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Sunday, January 7, 2007

Cool Strong Girl Role Models in Children's Literature

I have three girls. Yes. Three. And no, my Husband and I were not trying for that coveted boy. Nor did we care if we had a boy or girl. We just wanted a baby. According to my OB, my Husband and I were one of the few who didn't want to know the sex of the babies. We simply wanted the element of surprise without all the techno mambo stuff going on. Each time, we were pleasantly surprised. Shout from the rooftop joyful surprised. I always wanted to have a girl. And to have three...well that's just icing on the cake. Most of the time.

So here we are with three girls--8, 6 and 3. All fiercely independent, smart, funny, imaginative, sassy, loyal and spirited. My goal is to keep them that way. I love the fact they are insanely curious (even though they have to ask "Why?" all the time). I love the fact they are not afraid to try new things (Haircut anyone? What about pen tattoos?). I love the fact they stand up for what they believe in (It's not fair! And here's why!). They are assertive (Let's go check...can you just ask?) I even love the fact they question authority (although why it has to be mine at the moment, I'm not so sure).

Right now, I know I'm the Central Force in their life. It's so easy for them to believe they are awesome, smart, strong, brave, funny, curious, creative, resourceful, etc. Just because Mommy consistently tells them so. But sooner or later, they will get reeled into Life's Dramas, and they will start having doubts and insecurity about themselves. It will perhaps be the hardest thing for me to bear.

So right now, while I have the clarity of mind and forethought, I want to create a resource of great friends (with books of course!) my girls can turn to, when Mommy Power is just not enough (oh, I can't believe I wrote that down!) It is so important to me that they have an avenue to turn to--where they can find comfort, feel empowered, maybe have an Aha! moment or two, and understand what wonderful individuals they are. I want my children to read about strong girls who can take on whatever life gives them and still find hope, heroism and strength without losing a sense of themselves. I want them to have strong girl role models so they have something to aspire to, to dream about, to think about. I loved Jen Robinson's list of 200 Cool Girls in Children's Literature. I'm going to borrow her idea and tweak it a bit for my own selfish purposes.

Hence, here's the first of my weekly List of Cool Strong Girl Role Models in Children's Literature of the books I have read so far this year:

1. Liesel Meminger from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - Liesel resorts to thievery when she feels sadness and loss. Not necessarily role model actions on surface level, but these are desperate times and I was rooting for her every step of the way. Liesel steals books and will steal your heart. One book at a time. And a little food too. Even when faced with dangerous consequences, Liesel proves she is a Stand By Your Side No Matter What type of friend to Rudy and Max. She is truly magnificent.

2. Millicent Min from Millicent Min, Girl Genius and Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time by Lisa Yee - You have to love a brilliant, geeky, socially incompetent Asian-American girl who figures out a way to get back at a bully and just wants to be like other girls her age. Millicent learns about loyalty, friendships, and being comfortable with who she is from her new friends, Emily Ebers and Stanford Wong. Brilliance never looked so fun!

3. Emily Ebers from Millicent Min, Girl Genius and Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time by Lisa Yee - How cool is this. A girlfriend who doesn't care what you look like, dress like, or think like--as long as you are honest with her and true to yourself? So cool that Emily is getting her own book!

4. Charlotte from Charlotte's Web by E.B. White - A smart girl (okay, female spider) who knows how to spell and is willing to go to bat for her friend.

5. Junie B. Jones from any of the Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Parks - A funny girl who's not afraid to correct people on the right way to say her name. She just makes me feel joyful inside with all her antics.

6. Miss Delphinium Twinkle from Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes - A picture book that made me cry. You have to love Chrysanthemum. But the way I see it, Miss Delphinium Twinkle saved the day. She made Chrysanthemum believe again in all she was. And she set those snotty mouthed girls straight by just being what the girls wanted to be. Now that's a role model.


MotherReader said...

I'm so glad that you listed Junie B. I am always fighting people on the topic of her books, and I am now tending to believe that there are just people who "get" her and those who don't.

Totally try the new book Clementine, with a new story coming out in the spring. It is spot-on perfect.

Jen Robinson said...

So glad that my cool girls list helped you a little bit in your strong role models list! I love the idea of a list of role models for your three girls. I think it's great that they are smart and independent and all of that. But I agree that it's never too soon to help make them stronger for the challenges that they face. Middle School can be tough going for girls. When they get a little bit older, I highly recommend Shug by Jenny Han, which features a strong heroine. You might also try the Beacon Street Girls books (probably pretty soon, for your oldest). Anyway, thanks for sharing a great list!

HipWriterMama said...

MotherReader, Thanks for visiting my blog and recommending
Clementine. I looked it up on Amazon.com and can't wait to read it. Junie B. Jones is a Beauty Shop Guy contributed to Haircut Debacle #1 a few years ago. Thank God she's so funny--she took the edge off. Haircut Debacle #2 almost sounds like Clementine. I have to go to the library today to see if I can get a copy.

If you haven't heard these yet, check out the Junie B. Books on CD's or Tape narrated by Lana Quintal for a really good laugh. It has to be with Lana only. She gives Junie B. just the right voice. And remember to keep your eyes on the road.

HipWriterMama said...

Thanks for the book recommendations. I'll see if I can find copies of them when I go to the library today. Come back and visit to see if these heroines make it to my weekly list! :-)

Lisa Yee said...

Honored to be on your list!!!

Little Willow said...

Hi to all of your little princesses! May they grow up big and strong.

Jen's Cool Girls list ROCKS.

Liesel has such a strong will. I love that book, and I love her spirit.

Millicent and Emily are such fun. I'm psyched for Emily's book!

Have you read The Fairy Rebel by Lynne Reid Banks to your girls?

HipWriterMama said...

Wow. Thank you for stopping by. Can't wait to read more about Emily when her book comes out. Come back and visit anytime!

Little Willow-
The title alone--The Fairy Rebel--makes me want to check this out. I'll let you know what I think of it. Thanks for visiting and come back soon!

Julia DeVillers said...

Millicent Min is one of my absolutely all time favorite characters too! So glad you listed her!

Little Willow said...

You are welcome. Read it. :)

Lynnie said...

I am right now pouring a second cup of coffee just so that I can toast to your blog. When I first started getting acquainted with the blogging world I was SHOCKED by the lack of pro-powerful-girl bloggers out there. I have two ferocious little farm girls and we have dealt with a lot of sexism in our tiny little community over here. I can't believe that it's 2008 and I still have to deal with the comments I hear. If you get a chance, check out the book "Princess Grace." It's for younger kids, but very cool.