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Even though Girls Leadership is not providing book club materials for middle and high school girls (yet!), there are so many amazing books out there for those older girls that we just had to share some of our favorites with you.
Have a girl in Grades 2-5?
Read some of these titles to the girl in your life, and maybe even start your own middle school girls book club. Please share your own book suggestions with us in the comments. And keep your eyes peeled for high school recommendations, coming soon.
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Fantasy, recommended for grades 4-7. This story is a fun twist on the fairy tale: What if a well-meaning fairy bestowed a gift on an infant princess that turned out to be a curse? That’s just what happens to Ella when a fairy gives her the terrible gift of obedience. Will Ella be compelled to obey every single command for the rest of her life? Or, can she find a way to undo the spell, and perhaps find true love in the process?
Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
Mystery, recommended for grades 5-8. Thedora Tenpenny is one of the most wonderful main characters I’ve read in a long time. She’s smart, determined, and unabashedly independent. When her grandfather passes away, she needs all her talents to solve the mystery he left behind. The clues take her all over Manhattan, through some of the darkest periods in history, and lead her to the friends she never knew she needed.
Moving Target by Christina Diaz Gonzalez
Mystery/Fantasy, recommended for grades 5-8. Cassie Arroyo is in Rome when she’s the target of a dangerous organization that shoots her father, instead. As Cassie delves her own family history, and learns about powers she never knew she had, she realizes she’s the only who can save herself, her father, and the world. This fast-paced mystery ends on a cliff hanger but, don’t worry, the sequel Return Fire came out last month.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Realistic Fiction, recommended for grades 5-9. For the longest time, I avoided reading this book. It doesn’t have any magic or girl warriors, for one thing. For another thing, the rebel in me chafes when anyone says there’s a book that everyone should read. Well, I won’t say that everyone should read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, but I will say that I’m awfully glad I did. I was mesmerized from the first page, especially by the main character Francie Nolan, growing up in the slums of Brooklyn around the turn of the century. Francie hungers for knowledge of the world, but her family can scarcely afford to feed their bellies. Her family, by turns terrible and tender, gives her what they can, but really it’s Francie who saves herself with her utter determination to make something of her life.
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
Historical fiction, recommended for grades 5-9. When Kit Turner, age 16, leaves her home in Barbados to live with her aunt and uncle in the American colonies, she couldn’t find herself in a more different environment. Kit, with her flamboyant and headstrong ways, raises hostility and suspicion among the austere colonists. When she befriends a local widow who’s believed to be a witch, the villagers are all too ready to believe the worst of Kit, too. This story has an exciting plot and a healthy dose of romance. It’s one of my all-time favorites, and won the Newbery Medal in 1959.
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
Historical fiction, recommended for grades 5-10. This is the first book in a trilogy about a slave named Isabel, owned by a cruel family in New York City. The more Isabel experiences of slavery, the more determined she is to escape. When she meets another slave named Curzon, she sees the possibility not just of escaping, but of helping to bring about the end of slavery altogether. Isabel and Curzon begin that journey together in this book, and it continues throughout the next two books as the two young people are tested and challenged over and over again in their striving for freedom and their need to find Isabel’s sister.
Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
Realistic fiction, recommended for grades 6-9. This story, about a group of friends weathering the changes and challenges of 7th grade, is told from multiple perspectives – one of which is anonymous until the end of the book. Like Stead’s other wonderful work, this book is funny and heartfelt, with a healthy dose of mystery.
The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
Historical fiction, recommended for grades 6-9. This book was a real surprise for me. As much as I enjoyed Schlitz’ The Night Fairy (one of our book club picks last year), I didn’t anticipate how much I would adore this new novel. It’s been out hardly a year, and it’s already won a slew of awards, including the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction. It’s written as the journal of 14 year-old Joan Skraggs, a girl eager to learn about books, beauty, and romance, but stuck doing back-breaking farm work with her unappreciative and dull father and brothers. This seems to be Joan’s fate, until she decides to take her life into her own hands. With a voice that is naive, funny, and real, Joan’s diary brings the reader along on her journey from Pennsylvania farm country to Baltimore high society. I can not recommend this book enough.