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Need book recommendation for STRONG girl character

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I needs some recommendations for STRONG female characters.


We have the character traits gentle, kind, generous, and caring covered - really am looking for some books in which the female character is strong (emotionally/mentally), firmly stands her ground, and knows her mind. Actually, a male character that is strong and good would work too.


Preferably elementary level, nothing scary, morally objectionable, or violent. Maybe nothing like that exists?

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Ella Enchanted  -- Ella finds a way to break the curse of obedience


Yes! Anything more like Ella.

She's strong, good, and beautiful. She doesn't have to give up being being pretty and sweet just to be strong.


Most books about strong girls are girls that aren't "girly"  - they've traded being lovely for being strong.

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Well, I don't know what, precisely, you mean by "morally objectionable", but I'll give it a shot. Certainly I don't think anybody here would deliberately suggest books they themselves considered to be objectionable. (Come to think of it, I'm not sure what you mean by "strong" or "sweet" either. If you think Ella Enchanted is a "sweet" girl, we're clearly not using those terms the same way. And aren't all girls girly by definition?)


When My Name Was Keoko


The Breadwinner


The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate


Becoming Naomi Leon


Kiki Strike


Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry


One Crazy Summer (does deal with some older-elementary or middle school themes)


The Jumbies


When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (takes place during the early 1930s, but mostly in France)


Letters From Rifka


Bo at Ballard Creek




Gaby, Lost and Found (does deal with some more grown-up themes)


How Mirka Got Her Sword


Seaglass Summer


The Truth About Twinkie Pie


Where the Mountain Meets the Moon


Akata Witch (we're finally getting a sequel!)


President of the Whole Fifth Grade


The Grand Plan to Fix Everything


Un Lun Dun


Zahrah the Windseeker


A Pickpocket's Tale


So You Want to Be a Wizard


Skating Shoes


El Deafo


The Birchbark House


The War That Saved My Life


Mars Evacuees


The Mighty Miss Malone






A Face Like Glass


Out of Many Waters


Rapunzel's Revenge


Rory's Promise


Dragon's Milk


A Jar of Dreams




Princess Academy


Home is With Our Family (this is a historical event that doesn't get enough attention, even here in NYC.)


Bayou Magic


Catherine, Called Birdy




Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer (this is not the best for a readaloud, but it's so cute, every family must own a copy)


The Midwife's Apprentice


The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond


The Thing About Luck


A Tangle of Knots


 Celeste's Harlem Renaissance


Zita the Spacegirl


The Hope Chest


Full Cicada Moon


Bread and Roses, Too


The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky


The Moorchild


Inside Out and Back Again


A Long Walk to Water


It Ain't So Awful, Falafel


Ms. Marvel


Red Scarf Girl


I didn't list any picture books, but I can do so if you want. I could have listed more realistic fiction, especially more contemporary realistic, but I wasn't sure how many of them would count as "strong", exactly. I can add a secondary list later if you'd like those books as well.

Edited by Tanaqui
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Two I haven't seen mentioned:


An Ordinary Princess

Tuesdays in the Castle



Not realistic (it's a mouse, not a human): but the Rescuers series has Miss Bianca as one of the main characters.


ETA: Remembered one more. Riding Freedom


I'm in a Mother Daughter Book Club monthly, and we tend to read books with strong female characters. You could probably google "mother daughter book club books" and find several.

Edited by beckyjo
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Emily of New Moon


The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

Un Lun Dun

A Little Princess



If you are open to movies, a lot of the Miyazaki films have strong girls. Kiki's Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro, and Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind are good to start.

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Yes! Anything more like Ella.

She's strong, good, and beautiful. She doesn't have to give up being being pretty and sweet just to be strong.


Most books about strong girls are girls that aren't "girly" - they've traded being lovely for being strong.

Well, I've enjoyed everything by Gail Carson Levine, so if you like Ella you should check out her other books.

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I really like Shannon Hale. Princess Academy is excellent and not what you think by the title. I believe its also a Newberry Honor book. Miri, the main character lives in a very poor mountain village. The prince has to choose someone from their village to marry-the reasons why are complicated. Miri and other girls her age are sent to Princess Academy where they learn to read (no one in the village knows) and then learn things like Philosophy, Economics, Persuasion and Debate. They use their new knowledge to turn things around for their village. Miri is focused on learning, not how to get the Prince to fall in love with her.

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His Majesty, Queen Hatsheput


My dd read that book OVER and OVER in elementary. It's probably a 4th or 5th grade reading level, dunno. And of course any of your queens will do. My dd has a thing about the queens of England. Some of the books your dd would grow into but might be ready for soon. You could watch movies or documentaries.


Also, just a totally different direction, but anything starring Katherine Hepburn will likely be that way, as that's how she portrayed her characters. Well some were kind of dingy and silly, hehe. But a lot of them were strong and having to grapple with the *consequences* of themselves. Pat and Mike, Woman of the Year, etc.

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  • 1 month later...

Dealing with Dragons series.  Fantasy, but she is very firmly strong, not sassy.

I was coming here to say that one.


A young princess who left home to go live with dragons. She dealt with bad dragons, evil wizards, ignorant knights. it is an all time favourite book here ( and the first in a 4 book series. )

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How so, Bluegoat?


Well, as far down as I managed to read, it seemed like a lot of impressions, thoughts, and supposition.  I don't think it was all untrue or anything like that - but it isn't at all what I would look for if I wanted some solid information for the basis of the stories.  Right at the beginning, there are some pretty off-base musings about the origin of the term "savages." 


It's an interesting and perhaps difficult book in the sense that it is fiction but based on what is supposed to be history.  So some elements, and in particular cultural elements, might be misremembered, misunderstood, or even just made up.  Or, they might be accurate retellings but the people may have had a poor understanding themselves.


I don't have much sympathy for the view that a book like that should portray everyone as having modern progressive values and language, or even just all the good people should have them.  It's bad writing to try and be didactic in that way, and IMO it's a kind of white-washing that isn't appropriate. 


It really seemed like a shallow discussion of how to handle those sorts of questions.

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