Friday, March 16, 2012

Books For My Niece (Happy Birthday, E!)

This post is dedicated to my niece for her second birthday.  At times, I come across books that I would love to share with her.  She's a bit young for most of these, but someday...  Not that my boys wouldn't like or learn from these books.  I'm sure I'll share these with them someday, too. 

And as I was collecting my list, a pattern started to emerge.  Many of the books I chose show strong girls/women.  So what do I wish for my niece?  Dream big!  You can become anything you can imagine!  Happy Birthday, E!
My Name is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream? (Author: Jennifer Fosberry; Illustrator: Mike Litwin) – A contrary little girl changes her name throughout the day, cleverly imagining herself as famous women such as Marie Curie and Annie Oakley.  Positive role models for girls build self-esteem, encouraging them to pursue their dreams.  I love how the book ends with short biographies of each of the famous ladies.
The Paper Bag Princess (Author: Robert Muncsh; Illustrator: Michael Martchenko) – This book is the perfect foil to traditional “damsel in distress” fairytales.  Elizabeth, the princess, takes charge after a dragon destroys her castle and kidnaps Prince Ronald.  She outwits the dragon and rescues Ronald, but he is critical and unappreciative, to say the least.  A hilarious must read!
Just Us Women (Author: Jeannette Caines; Illustrator: Pat Cummings) - Someday, perhaps, my niece and I will take a journey like the one described in this book.  In this beautiful story, a girl and her aunt plan a leisurely car-trip.  They are in no hurry and they stop along the way to explore the landscape and do the things they love.  When asked, "What took you so long?"  They reply, "We had a lot of gril talk to do between the two of us.  No boys and no men - just us women."
Not all Princesses Dress in Pink (Authors: Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple; Illustrator: Anne-Sophie Lanquetin) - Yet another story that diverges from the classic fairytale expectations of girls, these princesses play sports, get dirty, and use tools.  And not one wears a pink gown to the ball!  A sparkly crown, however?  That is still a must.

Ruby's Wish (Author: Shirin Yim Bridges; Illustrator: Sophie Blackall) - In traditional Chinese culture, girls were not taught to read or write.  Ruby loved to learn and chose to take lessons with her boy cousins, even if that meant staying up late to finish her chores.  Ruby's greatest wish was to go to university, yet she knew that it was likely she would be married instead.  Ruby's Wish is a true tale of courage and hope in the face of cultural expectations and tradition.

Mirette on the High Wire (Author/Illustrator: Emily Arnold McCully) - Winner of the Caldecott Medal, the gorgeous illustrations pair well with the text to tell the story of a girl with an adventurous spirit who seeks to accomplish a daring feat.  She learns from the best and benefits from a mentor who believes in her.  Mirette is able to return the favor when her teacher runs into trouble on a high wire act.  Through perseverance and empathy, Mirette accomplishes something she never dreamed was possible.
(When my niece is older, she'll still be hearing from me when it comes to book recommendations.  Here are some terrific chapter books for girls (and boys!)
Clementine (Sara Pennypacker)
The Hundred Dresses (Eleanor Estes)
Tooter Pepperday (Jerry Spinelli)
Because of Winn-Dixie (Kate DiCamillo)
Love, Ruby Lavender (Deborah Wiles)
Pippi Longstocking (Astrid Lindgren)


  1. I love the sound of 'Not all Princesses Dress in Pink'!

    1. It's quite funny! And I love anything by Jane Yolen. So there you go :)