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Four Novels Your Tween Girl Will Love
Four Great Books for Girls
The bookshelves at bookstores and libraries seem glutted with the same things lately: vampire novels and paranormal romance. Because of this trend in publishing, it can be hard to find wholesome books with good role models for your tween girl.
When in doubt, it's always best to turn to the classics--tried and true novels that feature strong heroines, plots without thematic material, and positive messages. And while your tween may turn up her nose at a "classic," many of these novels have been released with more contemporary covers, so you won't even need to tell her until after she's read it.
L.M. Montgomery's "Anne of Green Gables," Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women," Madeleine L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time," and Elizabeth George Speare's "The Witch of Blackbird Pond: are four great novels for tween girls ages ten through twelve.
Anne of Green Gables
L.M. Montgomery's "Anne of Green Gables"
L.M. Montgomery's "Anne of Green Gables" was originally classified as a children's book, and it's red-haired heroine captured the hearts of readers all over the world--including that of Mark Twain! Anne, the eponymous character, is an orphan sent to live with Matthew and Marilla, an old-fashioned and proper brother and sister, on their farm in Prince Edward Island. The only problem? They actually requested a boy. However, they agree to give Anne a chance, and she goes on to change their lives forever--as well as the lives of almost everyone she meets.
Tween girls will identify with Anne because she's so human--she makes mistakes and learns from her lessons, but the lessons are never preachy or heavy-handed. She longs to find friends and fit in, and is also imaginative and filled with life--like so many tween girls are. Themes including accepting your looks, making and maintaining friendships, how pride or quick judgments can betray us, and the importance of intelligence and hard work.
"Anne of Green Gables" was my absolute childhood favorite, and I still read it at least once a year today; many women who read it in childhood love it just as strongly, and passing it down to a daughter is an excellent tradition.
Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women"
Another perfect novel for tween girls is Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women." Though its author also wrote some fairly shocking novels and short stories under a pen name, she's best known for this story of girlhood and growing up during the Civil War.
The novel's headstrong and tomboyish heroine, Jo, dreams of being a writer and won't let anything get in her way; she shares her adventures with her sisters, the prim Meg, the gentle Beth, and the stuck-up but good-hearted Amy. As they deal with their father being away at war, the girls tackle the adventures of everyday life--school, friends, parties, and even jobs.
Though "Little Women" can be a little preachy, its characters are lifelike and loveable enough to overcome that flaw, and its themes of sisterhood, love, friendship, hard work, and growing up are just as relevant today as they were when it was first published, and tween girls will likely love both the antics in the novel as well as its safe, gentle romance.
A Scene from "A Wrinkle in Time"
A Wrinkle in Time
Madeleine L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time"
Madeleine L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time" is a more modern classic, and in fact is included on some school curriculums. Your tween girl will likely have an easier time picking up the novel for these reasons, and it's a great novel for her to read!
Meg is a gawky, insecure girl who's struggling to find herself; her parents are brilliant scientists, and her little brother is a genius, and Meg just can't quite seem to find herself. She and Charles Wallace (her little brother) are visited one dark and stormy night by some very eccentric women who reveal that the children's father--who has disappeared under mysterious circumstances--was investigating a tesseract and fifth-dimensional travel. Thus begins Meg and Charles Wallace's adventure--joined by fellow misfit and classmate Calvin--across dimensions and galaxies, battling darkness and searching for Meg and Charles Wallace's father.
What makes this novel great for tween girls is Meg's flowering into confidence--though she starts as a deeply insecure and unhappy girl, by the end of her adventure she has learned a lot about herself and what it means to be confident in your own skin and appreciate your own special gifts. In addition to addressing themes of adolescence and confidence, it also delivers messages about friendship, conformity, good and evil, and open-mindedness.
Book Trailer for "The Witch of Blackbird Pond"
The Witch of Blackbird Pond
Elizabeth George Speare's "The Witch of Blackbird Pond"
Elizabeth George Speare's "The Witch of Blackbird Pond" is another more modern tween classic, one that has the added benefit of educating your tween girl about the witch trials and hysteria in America in the 1600s.
Though Kit, the main character, moves from Barbados to Connecticut in 1647, she's as modern-minded as any teen today. She leaves behind a life of luxury and has to adjust to working hard, making new friends, and handling a budding romance; in addition to those life lessons, she must also deal with the witch hysteria that's sweeping the town. When her elderly friend Hannah is accused of being a witch, Kit must decide what to do--stand strong beside her friend and risk the censure of the town, as well as also being labeled a witch, or back down and betray her friendship.
"The Witch of Blackbird Pond" brings a period of history alive for its readers, and has strong and positive messages of friendship, the reward of hard work, and dealing with change, as well as refusing to conform to what's popular when what's popular is not what's right.
Which classic girls' novel is your favorite?
Timeless Stories Hold Timeless Appeal for Tween Girls
Though tween girls face much different pressures and situations in today's society than in the past--who could have imagined cyber-bullying thirty years ago?--the basic triumphs and hardships of girlhood are the same. Finding your voice and identity, making friends, fitting in, and starting to notice that cute boy you never noticed before hit every generation just the same.
Classic girls' novels have been beloved by generations for exactly those reasons--they address universal themes of being a girl and growing up. That the novels present solid values, inspiring heroines, and wholesome plotlines make them a must on your tween daughter's bookshelf.
Please share your favorite children's novels in the comments below!