Following on from my post on Books for Boys, another friend asked for some girls' book suggestions. Once more I should reiterate that I don't believe in segregated bookshelves, with the girls having to read the books over here, and the boys getting to read the books over there. Girls need to read boys' books. Girls need, very badly, to see the world through the eyes of men. And if a gentler, sweeter book is any good at all, then a boy ought to get some profit out of it as well. Let's hear it for "mixed reading"!
Still, there were a few books that I left out of my list of reading for boys. So for those who want some more distaff-specific reading, here's a very brief supplementary list:
For the Very Young
- Anything by Beatrix Potter
- The Milly-Molly-Mandy books by Joyce Lankester Brisley
- Grimm's Fairy Tales
- A Little Princess and Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett (and I recommend The Secret Garden if you want to have a good talk about Eastern mysticism in Victorian literature)
- Heidi by Johanna Spyri (if your little girl doesn't want to move straight to Switzerland and sleep in a loft after this book, she isn't human. An absolutely wonderful book)
- Anything by Patricia St John, but especially The Tanglewood's Secret, Treasures of the Snow, or Star of Light
- Anything by Edith Nesbit, but especially The Railway Children, The Phoenix and the Carpet, and The Enchanted Castle. Discussion points: Fabian socialism.
- Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield. I haven't read others of hers, such as Thursday's Child, but really loved Ballet Shoes and would be surprised if the others weren't also good.
- Smoky-House or The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge, which are tailor-made for little girls.
- The Princess and the Goblin, The Princess and Curdie, The Light Princess, and The Wise Woman/The Lost Princess by George MacDonald
- The Princess Adelina by Julie Sutter
- Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
- Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
- Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
- Seven Little Australians and sequels by Ethel Turner
- What Katy Did and What Katy Did at School by Susan Coolidge
- The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- The Bridge, Crown and Jewel, and The Two Collars by Jeri Massi. This fantasy/adventure trilogy for girls is published by Bob Jones University Press and gets exponentially better with every book: The Bridge is a light fantasy romp, Crown and Jewel is a more epic adventure, and The Two Collars is heartrending, profound, and magnificent--even as a twelve-year-old who hated sad endings, I could tell it was worthwhile.
- Anne of Green Gables and the rest of the series by LM Montgomery (Rilla of Ingleside, the last book, is one of the best WWI books I have ever read)
- Watch for a Tall White Sail by Margaret Bell (sweet coming-of-age story in the Alaskan wilderness)
- Margaret's Story by Marjorie Douglas
- The Dove in the Eagle's Nest by Charlotte Yonge
- The Harvest of Yesterday, Lady Sybil's Choice and anything else by ES Holt
- The poems of Christina Rossetti
- The Scarlet Pimpernel, El Dorado, and others by Baroness Orczy
- To Have and To Hold by Mary Johnston
- Above Suspicion by Helen MacInnes
- The Man in the Brown Suit, Why Didn't They Ask Evans, The Seven Dials Mystery, N or M?, The Secret of Chimneys, and many more by Agatha Christie
- Coronation of Glory and Captain, My Captain by Deborah Meroff--two fantastic fictionalised stories about two remarkable real women, Lady Jane Grey and Mary Patton. Also contain lashings of romance and tear-jerking tragedy. Really good!
- Everything by Jane Austen, of course!
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
- Wives and Daughters and North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
- The Twenty-Fourth of June by Grace S Richmond
- The Rosary, The Following of the Star, and others by Florence L Barclay
- The Rosemary Tree by Elizabeth Goudge
- Some Must Watch by Ethel Lina White
- The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Armin
- The Blue Castle by LM Montgomery
- Nine Coaches Waiting, This Rough Magic, Airs Above the Ground, and select others by Mary Stewart (and I recommend reading them very stintingly).
I am still unlearning her attitudes toward boys and men (I got really into them and read everything short of her thrillers). Boys do not like being treated with her condescending sentimentality and “your heart is your stomach.” That said, stick to Little Women, Eight Cousins, etc and ignore her sequels.And of course there are all the great books I haven't mentioned at all in either of these lists, from Winnie-the-Pooh to Anthony Trollope. Oh, well!
Eventually, Alcott said that she was “tired of writing moral pap for the young,” which tells you how much of her moralizing was actually sincere. ("Heather D" commenting on Femina)