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Three novels young girls will love
Inspiring books for young girls
Here are my best three books for young girls to read. These novels are aimed at children between the ages of six and eleven. Of course there is no reason why they can’t be enjoyed by people of both genders and other ages. However, they are particularly appropriate for young girls.
Lotta Says No by Astrid Lindgren
Lotta is the youngest sister of three siblings growing up in Sweden. Together with her older brother and sister she manages to get into a series of amusing situations.
Centred around her family life, each chapter tells a separate story. Most are gently humorous. The beauty of a separate story per chapter means that each chapter can be read and enjoyed by itself. The stories are also interesting enough to amuse parents and caregivers who are asked to read the stories aloud.
The stories use incidents in every day life, such as going to the dentist, a train trip or visiting grandparents. Unlike many books Lindgren does not write about magic or fantasy. She deals with everyday events. Lotta gets herself into situations that many young children will closely identify with. These experiences include family picnics, holidays, visiting neighbours and a trip to the dentist. The situations that arise during these everyday events are amusing and fun. They also take a wry look at family life and raising children.
Lotta is not a “good”obedient girl. She constantly pushes boundaries and desperately wants to assert her own independence. One chapter concerns her penchant for saying naughty swear words. Another story covers building a pancake tree at her grandparents house. Yet another story involves her going to stand out in the rain, because she imagines that like plants, the water will help her to grow taller.
Astrid Lindgren also wrote the well known Pippy Longstocking series. Like Pippy, Lotta is a feisty young heroine. Although mischievous and cheeky, there are many qualities that could be encouraged in young girls. She is independent, determined and knows her own mind.
Lindgren wrote a series of books about Lotta and her siblings. The books were written in the late fifties and sixties. Apparently the latest edition of the novel was edited to change the children’s names. In Lindgren’s original book Lotta’s brother and sister were called Jonas and Maria, rather than Joe and Mary-Lou.
Lotta is a delight to read. An added advantage is that the books are relatively short, meaning that they will suit children who struggle with longer novels.
Lotta Says No
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Mary Lennox is a young, spoiled girl. She was bought up in India amongst great wealth. However, after being orphaned in a cholera epidemic she returns to England to be bought up by her wealthy, but reclusive uncle.
At the beginning of the novel Mary is an unhappy and lonely child. She is also self-centred and selfish. She has always had servants at her beck and call, and relies on others to look after herself. She cannot even dress without help. Gradually, Mary learns to be more independent. She also learns consideration of others
Mary does not have access to toys or school. She amuses herself by wandering through her Uncle’s extensive garden. One day Mary finds an old key buried in the grounds. Eventually, with this key, she is able to access a “secret garden” which has been walled off and out of access for many years. The garden, which was once well cared for, has become overgrown and covered in weeds.
At the heart of the story the garden is a metaphor for Mary and her growth as a person. At first the garden is choked full of weeds and struggling to bloom. However, Mary decides to renew it. It is her secret refuge from the outside world. Mary learns that her uncle blames the garden for the death of his wife. She died while in the garden. However, in Hodgson Burnett’s story the garden has not only had a destructive influence on the family. Living things also have the power to heal and regenerate.
Mary befriends Dickon, the younger brother of one of her Uncle’s housemaids. Dickon has a natural affinity for animals and plants. She lets him in on the secret of the garden and together they tend to it and watch it grow.
Mary also makes friends with Colin, her invalid cousin who also lives in the house. Colin, who has been ill since birth, is convinced that he is going to die. Mary believes otherwise, and encourages him to develop his own strengths. As she encourages him to go outside and appreciate the life around him, Colin begins to heal.
The Secret Garden was first published in book form in 1911. It has a wonderful appreciation for living things and the regenerative power of nature.
Novels for young girls
This exquisitely illustrated edition has been my daughters' favourite version of The Secret Garden.
The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton
The Enchanted Wood is the first in the classic trilogy by well known children’s author Enid Blyton.
First published in 1939, the book has remained hugely popular ever since. It concerns the adventures of three young English children who befriend a range of creatures living in an enormous magical tree. In Blyton’s original book the children are named Jo, Bessie and Fanny. They become close friends with Silky, a beautiful fairy and an eccentric character called Moonface.
At the top of the Faraway Tree lies a magical land. The lands regularly change, leaving the way open for a series of magical adventures in various settings. Some of the lands are scary and uncomfortable. For example, they combat a magical snowman in the land of snow and ice. Some of the lands, like the Land of Birthdays, are delightful.
The children can climb the tree to visit the magic lands at the top. However, they must be careful to return to the tree before the land moves on and away from the top of the tree.
There are many beautiful details in this story that children will love. Moonface owns a wonderful slide called the slippery slip. To go down the tree, the children sit on a cushion and slide down the slippery slip which has been carved into the insides of the tree trunk. There are magical treats that leave taste sensations in the children’s mouths. For example hot cold lollies radically change temperature as they are eaten.
Young readers will also get a thrill from encountering other well known characters in the book. At one stage the children encounter Santa Claus, who takes a strong fancy to Silky the fairy. The children also have an adventure with Goldilocks, and her friends, the three bears.
Many children who read the first novel will become hooked on this series. The titles in The Magic Faraway Tree trilogy are: The Enchanted Wood, The Magic Faraway Tree and The Folk of the Faraway Tree.