Recently, I published a reading list for boys – that emphasizes strong male characters and storylines that encourage a sense of humor, courage, heroism and so on. I wanted to add onto that today with a book list for girls. In the last couple of years, it has been a blast to read with our two girls, especially because our oldest is getting into elementary school and is enjoying a whole new world of stories. In this time, we have collected a list of our family’s favorite books for girls. There is a wide age range of books on the list, from picture books to middle-grade readers to novels for advanced readers. Hopefully, it can be a tool to help you get started on the exciting adventure of reading with your girls. And of course, these books aren’t just for girls. Many will be enjoyed by boys too.
Picture Books (Ages 4-8)
Faster! Faster! by Leslie Patricelli – A daughter and father story. Sweet and fun!
Madeleine (series) by Ludwig Bemelmans – A classic story about a brave little girl who lives at a school for girls, in France.
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey – A toddler girl and a bear cub wander off and find themselves with the wrong mother.
The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz – Three little pigs learn martial arts to fight the bully, Big Bad Wolf, but only one sticks with her lessons all the way through, and her discipline pays off.
That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown by Cressida Cowell – Emily Brown loves her stuffed rabbit, but so does someone else and they will stop at nothing to get it. Emily Brown must face this problem, but what will she do?
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams – A classic story about a stuffed rabbit becoming real.
The Sea Chest by Toni Buzzeo – A heartwarming story about adoption.
The Jellybeans (series) by Laura Numeroff – These are light-hearted stories about friendship.
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen – A young girl and her father walk in the woods one evening in search for an owl. The father, daughter relationship is lovely.
Corduroy by Don Freeman – A charming story about a stuffed bear in a department store. He longs to find a home with a little boy or girl, but will someone ever pick him? Especially with a missing button?
Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton – Hard working Katy must rescue the whole town during a snowstorm.
Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems – A silly twist on the classic nursery story.
The Rumpoles and the Barleys by Karen Hunt – An excellent story about thankfulness.
Mr. Putter and Tabby (series) by Cynthia Rylant – Delightful stories about an elderly man and his cat Tabby. They have many amusing adventures.
Amelia Bedelia (series) by Peggy Parish – Amelia Bedelia can’t help but take everything everyone says absolutely literally, which makes for some hilarious situations.
The Wild Little Horse by Rita Gray – A young horse begins to recognize and experience the wonders of the world around him.
Josephine Wants to Dance by Jackie French – Josephine wants to dance, but she’s a kangaroo. Will she be able to take the stage and use her talents?
Annie and the Wild Animals and The Hat by Jan Brett – These stories are delightfully playful and Jan Brett’s art is fantastic.
Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban – Frances fusses over her food. She doesn’t want to eat anything except for bread and Jam at every meal. She won’t eat what the rest of her family eats. This story is all to familiar in our home. The parents have to get creative. Quite an enjoyable story.
Petunia by Roger Duvoisin – This book is comical and has a great lesson about knowledge.
Pippi Longstocking (picture books) by Astrid Lindgren – Pippi Longstocking is quite a bizarre little girl, but she is also amiable and fun. There are many lessons and laughs in each book.
My First Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder – These are a great introduction for little ones into the Little House series. Describes many interesting things about the era and has colorful pictures.
Read Alouds or Middle-Grade Readers (Ages 8-12)
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder – All of the Little House books by Laura Ingalls are engaging and exciting. The author’s description and detail of an incredible time in history gives the sensation of being there alongside Laura watching Pa build the log cabin house, and helping Ma with the chores around their prairie home. We fell in love with the Ingalls family and their adventures.
Matilda by Roald Dahl – Matilda is our favorite Dahl story. The characters are hard to beat in this humorous and serious (at times) story about family, adoption, and courage.
The Green Ember by S.D. Smith – This is a repeat from the boy’s book list, but I had to put it on here too because this story has such admirable male and female characters.
Imagination Station (series) by Marianne Hering, Paul McCusker – These are light-hearted and easy reads for kids. We like them because they give snapshots of history and are adventurous and exciting.
Emily’s Runaway Imagination by Beverly Cleary – You probably have heard of Ramona and Beezus, but one of Beverly Cleary’s lesser known books is a favorite in our house. Emily is a young girl living on a farm in Pitchfork, Oregon. She has a lively imagination that gets her into all types of funny circumstances. Her greatest desire is for her little town to get a library so she can read Black Beauty and other books her cousin from Portland tells her about.
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis – Another repeat from the boy’s list, but, again, these books have wonderful boy and girl lead characters. These stories are favorites in our house. Many lessons and adventures to be had in these books.
The Boxcar Children (series) by Gertrude Chandler Warner – We have only read the first two books in this series, but the first is a favorite of our girls. Four orphan children survive on their own, living out of an abandoned boxcar. After they fix it up, the place becomes like home to them.
The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne – Classic stories of the lovable characters from the Hundred Acre Woods. Amusing and witty.
Little Pilgrim’s Progress by Helen Taylor – This has become another favorite in our house that is often referenced. Based off of the classic, this version of Pilgrim’s Progress is written for younger readers, but still, retains all the wonder of the original.
Old Mother West Wind by Thornton Burgess – These are entertaining short stories about some forest critters and the lessons they learn.
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald – Mrs. Piggle- Wiggle is a peculiar woman, but children love her, and she has many valuable lessons to teach them.
Heidi by Johanna H. Spyri – The story of a charming, orphan girl who is brought to live with her recluse grandfather in the Swiss Alps a little before the turn of the century.
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White – A story about friendship, selflessness, and helping others.
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine – A twist on the story of Cinderella.
Amy Carmichael: Rescuer of Precious Gems by Janet and Geoff Benge – Amy Carmichael was an amazing woman. She saved the lives of many Indian children from Hindu temples. She was a missionary all her life, devoted to sharing the love of Christ with the people of India. This is a great introduction story to her life. All of the books in this series are wonderful.
The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall – A highly enjoyable story about four sisters and a particularly interesting summer vacation. Filled with many meaningful lessons about growing up as well as adventure and delightful characters.
Advanced Reading (Ages 12-13 +)
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery – Anne is one of the most fun, spirited, and witty characters in literature and her story is one that can be told again and again without it getting old. Heartwarming, adventurous, clever, captivating, there are not enough good things to be said about this one.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – Little Women, like Anne of Green Gables, is also, marvelously memorable. It’s hard to not want to be a sister in the March family. When you get to know these marvelous characters you will fall in love.
Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Clever, wonderful, romantic stories that go down as some of the best literature of all time. The women in these stories are simply excellent (both the heroines and the villains.)
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame – Toad is one of my favorite characters in literature. He is quite comical and over the top, but veritably likable. A very charming, light-hearted story. We were able to be a part of adapting this book for audio. You can listen here.
The Princess and the Goblin and The Baronet’s Song by George MacDonald – George MacDonald was a wonderful writer. These two stories are very different from each other. One, is a fantasy about goblins and kingdoms and friendship. The other is about truth and love. So many trinkets of wisdom are found in these adventures.
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom – This is a must read. The story of Corrie Ten Boom and her family has changed the lives of many. The love and forgiveness of Christ that Corrie and her family showed throughout this incredible tale impacts and influences. Set during World War II, the Ten Boom family is betrayed and arrested by the Nazis for hiding Jews, but throughout their time being held by the Nazis in concentration camps, they continue to trust God and show his love to everyone.
The Secret Garden and A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett – The story of a selfish, English girl who suddenly becomes an orphan. The book highlights her transformation and the transformation of other characters as well.
And another little girl who finds herself orphaned, but despite her difficulties overcomes with her kindness, elegance, and hope.
Ashtown Burials by N.D. Wilson – Repeated from the boy’s list, this story has a female heroine as well as a male hero. This series is quite an adventure and deals with some important subjects, such as death. It can be dark at times, but the overall story is full of light and hope.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – Another classic. The story of an intelligent, courageous, orphan girl who faces many dark challenges, but her strength and character overcome.