Books, Books, Books

Great Books for Girls
Great Books for Everybody Else

Great Books for Girls

I spent the summer of 2009 teaching Character Education at a summer school for inner-city girls. Many of the girls came from loving families who wanted their daughters to have a good education that would enable a better life. The girls' moms often asked me what books their daughters should be reading. What books will help her love reading? What books will form her to become a good and caring woman?

I racked my brains for suggestions and finally decided that a centralized list was needed—a canon of girls' great books, if you will. I consulted my mother, my sisters, my friends and even some of my former teachers. Finally, I distributed the list to my students' moms, confident that they would find in it ample material to educate their daughters' minds and inspire their daughters' hearts on the path to virtue. But even after the summer ended, friends kept asking me for book suggestions and I realized that the need for a list of Girls' Great Books went far beyond my immediate circle. Teachers, parents, grandparents and friends all over the world would like some guidance on what books they should recommend to the girls in their lives. So I decided to publish my list in the hope that other people might find it useful.

There are plenty of books on this list that boys would like too, but it's specifically for girls because many of the books feature female protagonists and I'm more familiar with what girls like in a book than what boys like. I can guarantee that every book on this list is loved by at least one girl—me. :)

Picture Books
The Velveteen Rabbit
The Giving Tree
Are You My Mother? (My mom’s favorite)
Guess How Much I Love You?
Curious George
Make Way for Ducklings
Where the Wild Things Are
Madeline series (My dad has this memorized from reading it to us so many times)
Strega Nona
Blueberries for Sal
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne
Dinotopia (really more of a novel, but the illustrations are so beautiful I’m including it here)
A Family of Poems, edited by Caroline Kennedy (A family favorite)
The Princess and the Kiss by Jennie Bishop (beautiful, tasteful introduction to purity)

Little Women, Little Men and Jo’s Boys by Louisa May Alcott
Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott (really, anything by Alcott is good!)
The Black Cauldron series by Lloyd Alexander
Anne of Green Gables series by L. M. Montgomery
Emily of New Moon series by L.M. Montgomery (I recommend all of her works)
Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Five for Victory and Friendly Gables series by Hilda von Stockum
Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace
The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe series by C.S. Lewis
The American Girl historical books (not the ones about modern girls)
A Lantern in her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich (My favorite book in high school)
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (Anything she writes is wonderful)
Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner
A Wrinkle in Time series by Madeleine L’Engle (EXCEPT for Many Waters, which is sketchy)
Meet the Austins by Madeleine L’Engle
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Aesop’s Fables
The Red Fairy Book, Green Fairy Book and the other colors of fairy books (old and very hard to find, but worth it)
A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter
What Katy Did series by Susan Coolidge
Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg
Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
The Borrowers by Mary Norton
Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert O’Brien
The Family under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson
Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie
Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Hitty, Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls 
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien 
The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
Blue Willow by Doris Gates
Nancy Drew series by Carol Ryrie Brink
Doctor Doolittle series
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series by Arthur Conan Doyle
Five Little Peppers and How They Grew (really cute book!)
Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates
All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
Come Rack! Come Rope! by Robert Benson* 
Outlaws of Ravenhurst by Sister M. Imelda Wallace*

Also, I would avoid the book Dracula and anything written by Judy Blume or Meg Cabot.

Here is a second list of books for children. It is intended for both boys and girls, and it's awesome. Highly recommended.

My favorite books of all time! Have you read any of these?

The library from Beauty and the Beast. A girl can dream...


A Lantern in Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

The Once and Future King by T. H. White

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset

Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Peter Pan by James M. Barrie

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness de Orczy

Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Beau Geste, Beau Sabreur and Beau Ideal by Percival Wren

Men At Arms, Officers and Gentlemen and Unconditional Surrender by Evelyn Waugh (also known as the Sword of Honour trilogy)

Love in the Ruins by Walker Percy

The Second Coming by Walker Percy


Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand (my all-time favorite)

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

The Tempest and As You Like It and Much Ado about Nothing by William Shakespeare


Poems and Prose by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Dante's Divine Comedy

100 Love Sonnets by Pablo Neruda

Homer's Iliad and Odyssey


Man and Woman: A Divine Invention and The Privilege of Being a Woman by Alice von Hildebrand

Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom

The Idea of a University by John Henry Cardinal Newman

On Writing Well by William Zinsser

Building Character in Schools by K. Ryan and K. Bohlin

Occasions by Kate Spade

Letters to Gabriel by Karen Santorum

Letters to My Husband by Saint Gianna Molla

A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken

Spiritual Reading

Story of A Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux (the very best one!)

Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge

Wild at Heart by John Eldredge

Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton

Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila

Rome Sweet Home by Scott Hahn (so good!)

Three to Get Married by Fulton Sheen

Three Philosophies of Life by Peter Kreeft


America's Queen: A Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis by Sarah Bradford 

J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter

John Adams by David McCullough

Grant and Lee by Edward Bonekemper


Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics

Plato's Republic and Symposium

I and Thou by Martin Buber

The Analects of Confucius (so good!)