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Five Books Every Girl Should Read

Updated on February 25, 2008

I’ve always been the bookworm in my family. As a child, my nose literally lived in a book—no matter where I was or what I was doing, I found a way to read. I devoured books, and my mom couldn’t keep up with buying them quickly enough. Often, I reread my favorites, until they became good, old friends.

Out of all of the books I read, there are five that stand out above them all. I’ve given copies of them as gifts to other girls I’ve known, waiting until they reached the appropriate age for each book.

If you are looking for some great books for a girl to read, consider these five. They are appropriate for girls between the ages of nine and twelve.

My dog eared copy.
My dog eared copy.
Image courtesy of The Project Gutenberg.
Image courtesy of The Project Gutenberg.
This was a gift for my 9th birthday.
This was a gift for my 9th birthday.

A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett

This is the story of Sara Crewe, a young girl sent to a London boarding school after living the first years of her life in India. Sara is treated like a princess at the school, but she has a sweet temperament and vivid imagination.

Befriending the school dunce and “adopting” the school crybaby, Sara gains the nickname of “princess” among her classmates. But when Sara’s beloved father dies after losing his fortune, she is left at the mercy of the mean headmistress.

Sara goes from rags to riches, but will she remain a princess at heart?

This is a fabulous first chapter book for a girl to read because it teaches the idea that happiness comes from within. The book begins with Sara having everything a girl could want: dolls, toys, clothes, and even a pony. After losing everything, she has to learn to rely on her heart, mind, and imagination to guide her through life. The kindness Sara is able to show everyone she encounters is enviable. Although this book was first published in 1905, it has a timeless quality that makes it enjoyable to read even today.

The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Young Mary Lennox is a sickly girl raised by servants in India while her British parents busy themselves socializing. After a cholera epidemic leaves Mary orphaned, she is sent to live in a remote mansion with an uncle she’s never met.

Out on the wild moor, Mary no longer has servants waiting on her hand and foot to do her bidding, but must learn to take care of herself (including getting dressed on her own). Forced outdoors to relieve her boredom, Mary’s begins to grow healthy and strength. Then, Mary discovers the two secrets of this lonely mansion: her hidden, invalid cousin and a beautiful, locked garden that has been allowed to grow wild.

Will Mary be able to heal the garden, her cousin, and her grieving uncle?

This is a perfect follow up book after A Little Princess—it's a bit longer, but creates the next step on the literary staircase. Mary’s change from a sickly, spoiled, unhappy girl to a kind, healthy, hopeful one is inspiring. Her ability to heal herself, the garden, and her family will teach readers about the impact every single person has on the world around them.

My battered copy.
My battered copy.
Another version of the cover.
Another version of the cover.
A gift for my 12th birthday.
A gift for my 12th birthday.
My mom thought this would be perfect for me as a preteen.
My mom thought this would be perfect for me as a preteen.

Buy the Books on Amazon

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, by Avi

In 1832, Charlotte Doyle is a thirteen year old girl travelling from England to America to join her parents. However, the trip goes awry: her escorts don’t embark on the trip with her, the crew warns her to leave the ship, and the captain turns out to be anything but Charlotte’s friend.

Charlotte must work with the crew, and prove her strength as a leader even when her luck seems to run out.

Will Charlotte survive the journey, and win the crew over to her side?

This is a phenomenal book that will teach girl readers about the strength girls and women can have. Charlotte begins her journey as an innocent girl, but ends it as a strong woman. This book will provide the story of a resilient girl, who finds inner strength during difficult times. Plus, it is a fabulous adventure story, with the girl as the heroine.

Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell

A Indian girl, Karana, is accidentally left behind on an island after her people sail away towards a new home. She has to learn to survive on her own, spending years hoping for another ship to come along and rescue her. Karana tests her strengths while on the island, foraging for food and defending herself against the wild dogs.

Will Karana ever be rescued, or will she remain on her solitary island?

There are so many adventure books centered around boys, that it is great to have such a wonderful book with a girl as the resourceful survivor. Not only does Karana make a positive role model and example for readers, but the book is beautifully written, with everything tied into nature.

Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret, by Judy Blume

Margaret Simon is an eleven year old girl who spends a lot of time wondering when she will go through puberty, like all the other girls. She studies her breasts, willing them to fill out, and ends up in a sort of competition with a new friend over who will get her period first. Margaret struggles to understand the changes her body goes through (as slowly as it seems to happen), while learning more about her relationship with God.

Will Margaret fill out her training bra, and when will she get her period?

This is a must have book for ever pre-teen girl. Not only will it make the girl reader feel relieved that other girls have questions about their bodies too, but it creates a perfect opportunity for a parent to talk to their daughter about the natural changes she is going through. As well, the book provides insight into how a girl’s perception of God changes as she transitions from a little girl into a teenage girl. I can’t tell you how many times I found comfort in this book.

The Gift of Reading

These five books come straight out of my personal library, where they hold a special place on my bookshelves. Girls between the ages of nine and twelve need some guidance in the kinds of books they choose to read. There is a lot of crappy smut out there (almost as much as what you can find on television), so you should be aware of what your daughters are reading.

As well, choosing the right books can help shape the kind of reader a girl will become. She will learn from these books; and, hopefully, she will form the kind of amazing friendship with these books as I did.

Do you have a favorite book from your childhood? Please share in the comment box below.


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    • Stephanie Wideman profile image

      Stephanie Wideman 6 years ago from Stafford, VA

      I've read all of those books. I'd like to add my love for Jane Eyre and Witch of Blackbird pond.

      My copy of Secret Garden is missing the front cover. I got it from my grandmother when I was nine and I've treasured it ever since. I plan on giving it to my daughter (should I ever have a daughter).

    • profile image

      Maysa 8 years ago

      Hi Stacy!

      I had a childhood favourite, Anne of Green Gables! It inspired me for many things in life :). A must read for any girl! :)

    • profile image

      Samaria Tolbert 8 years ago

      I agree with A little Princess and The Secret Garden and Are You Their God? Its Me Margaret , but I would have to add Jane Erye and Little Women. These book defined me between the ages 11-16. I learned so much about being a woman from each of the books. They helped me through a very tough childhood and were like my best friends.

    • Rose West profile image

      Rose West 8 years ago from Michigan

      Island of the Blue Dolphins and The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle were two of my favorites as well! Books become a part of who you are, and you are right that impressionable girls should be supplied with good books to read. They make such a difference.

    • profile image

      mimi 8 years ago

      you should call this 5 book every white girl should read

    • profile image

      Greta Lieske 8 years ago

      Julie of the Wolves is also a fantastic young adult book that is great for girls. I also forgot about Island of the Blue Dolphins!

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile image

      Stacie Naczelnik 9 years ago from Seattle

      I love The Witch of Blackbird Pond, so glad you brought it up Miss Christina!

    • miss christina profile image

      miss christina 9 years ago

      Interesting list! Reading it brought back a lot of good ol' memories -- I had completely forgotten Island of the Blue Dolphins. Ever read The Witch of Blackbird Pond? Seems like it would fit in with these, somehow...

      Also, did you know that a lot of Judy Blume's books (including the one you mentioned) have been challenged and/or banned? Kind of silly if you ask me. It's just the kind of thing you might need to read at that age.

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile image

      Stacie Naczelnik 9 years ago from Seattle

      I loved the Anne of Green Gables books and have read them many times. They almost made it onto this list!

    • desert blondie profile image

      desert blondie 9 years ago from Palm trees, swimming pools, lots of sand, lots of sunscreen

      My list would be so different! Charlotte's Web, Harriet the Spy, Anne of Green Gables, Mrs. Mike. I loved all these, and later so did my daughter's! The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle sounds like the kind of book I would have loved, but never ran across it! Nice hub!