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Ideas for books for my DDs with strong female characters?

(55 Posts)
BigFatLegsInWoolyTIghts Tue 25-Sep-12 07:23:53

DDs are 8 and 4. I got a great one for DD who is 4 "The Night Pirates" in which a little boy is woken up by a shipful of female child pirates....they take him away with them to take treasure from some bad adult pirates and then return him and sneak away.

It's lovely to see my DD get all excited...she's very physical, very into super hero behaviour and really believes in her own I want to help her to celebrate that.

DD 8 is very vocal on equality and she's also an extremely fluent reader. She prefers books for older children but I don't want her to read anything too scary or too mature.

I'd love some suggestons if anyone has any?

Gigondas Tue 25-Sep-12 07:27:11

Zog by julia Donaldson- female princess rejects dressing up to be a doctor and doesn't need rescuing - helps the dragon instead.

BigFatLegsInWoolyTIghts Tue 25-Sep-12 07:31:00

Thanks! Am making a list for Amazon for Christmas!

crazygracieuk Tue 25-Sep-12 07:32:37

Pippi Longstocking.

BigFatLegsInWoolyTIghts Tue 25-Sep-12 07:33:20

Oh they did a piece on Pippi on Radio 4 not long long ago!

pinxminx Tue 25-Sep-12 07:34:28

Yes, Pippi! I read it with my 5 year old dd and she loved it.

HeyMicky Tue 25-Sep-12 07:35:37

The Wilma Tendelrfoot series by Emma Kennedy

BigFatLegsInWoolyTIghts Tue 25-Sep-12 07:35:58

Doesn't she live alone with no parents? my DD aged 4 is always fantasising about that! confused Sounds perfect!

HeyMicky Tue 25-Sep-12 07:36:04


BigFatLegsInWoolyTIghts Tue 25-Sep-12 07:36:23

Wilma Tenderfoot... adding to list thank you!

CharminglyOdd Tue 25-Sep-12 07:49:21

When DD1 is older the Alanna the Lioness series (and other books) by Tamora Pierce. IIRC Alanna starts off fairly tame (character is 11) but there are some mild references to her having sex/periods in the later books as she grows up (and there are comments on the struggle for her to be accepted as an equal once she starts dating her friends/they realise she is female - they try to 'protect' her etc.). She has written two series with a female training to be a knight and a couple more with an ensemble of children who all have magic powers and go adventuring but the girls are on an equal par to the boys and very strong.

I think the ensemble series is age-appropriate for your DD1 but it's a long time since I've read them so I would check that first. I loved reading, devoured books and read them from the age of about 10-13.

Terry Pratchett has written a children's book featuring a strong female witch called Tiffany Aching - IIRC it's called 'A Hat Full of Sky'. I love it and it feeds into some of his main Discworld series as Tiffany becomes a main character.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 25-Sep-12 07:56:25

Adds Night Pirates to DS's reading list.

xkcdfangirl Tue 25-Sep-12 07:58:07

"The ordinary princess" by MM Kaye has brown hair and freckles instead of blonde curls and perfect skin, her parents think they should recruit a dragon so that a prince will have to rescue her and then have no choice but to marry her, she runs away and becomes a kitchen maid to support herself so she doesn't neeed to marry anybody if she doesn't want to - but then of course she does end up falling in love and getting married (albeit to a nice chap who seems to have sensible ideas about equality) and as this seems to involve giving up her career aspirations it isn't perfect on a feminist level but it's a lovely story.

The Longs of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce is lovely. Its a fantasy novel in a medieval setting, where Alana disguises herself as her brother to learn to be a knight. I absolutely loved these books while I was growing up.

Is she confident enough at reading to tackle the Philip Pulman "His Dark Materials" series? That's got lots of strong women (some good, some not so good)

"The Secret Garden" is good because there is no suggestion anywhere in it that there might be different categories of things that children like playing with just because they are male or female.

SomebodySaveMe Tue 25-Sep-12 08:03:07

Sophie. The series by Dick King Smith.

MadCap Tue 25-Sep-12 08:03:12

What about Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prarie books or the Anne of Green Gables books? LIW became a suffragette in her later years and the books have the benefit of being autobiographical in nature so you can turn it into a kind of history lesson.

ValiaH Tue 25-Sep-12 08:26:43

The Famous Five books are good; George is quite strong and determined to be equal to or better than the boys; and even Anne (who can be quite the 'traditional' female role') stands up for herself and has moments of being strong and 'saving the day' at times. I'd also second 'His Dark Materials'.

xkcdfangirl Tue 25-Sep-12 08:30:31

having made it back upstairs to check out the book case - when the oldest is a little older, say 9 or 10 - the Earthsea series by Ursula Le Guin - the first book, "a wizard of earthsea" is extremely male (I'm not sure there is even a woman in it at all) but the rest of the books have loads of wonderful strong female characters - especially the last two, "Tehanu" and "The Other Wind" which she wrote when she was older and wiser.

Also for the 9/10yo, the William Nicholson series "The Wind Singer" and its sequels which have a splendid strong female protagonist.

jicky Tue 25-Sep-12 08:38:15

Ruby Redfort by Lauren Childs
Harriet the Spy

The princess knight

Snorbs Tue 25-Sep-12 08:40:50

Your DDs may be a little young for these, but give your eldest a year or two and then try Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching novels - The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith, and I Shall Wear Midnight. Philip Pullman's great too but, again, I'd give it a couple of years as the language can be quite hard going for a younger reader.

Saying that, I think all these are great as does my DS but my DD is not interested in the slightest confused If I asked my DD she'd almost certainly recommend Jacqueline Wilson's entire back catalogue hmm. The Clarice Bean novels by Lauren Child are good fun as well and could be spot-on for your 8yo. My DD really enjoyed them when she was that age.

You might also try Iggy and Me by Jenny Valentine. Not necessarily an unusually strong female character but definitely a good, female-led storyline that revolves around a feisty 5yo girl. Your younger DD might really like it.

vesela Tue 25-Sep-12 08:57:28

I couldn't relate to George in the FF when I was little because I was completely bemused by the idea that she thought that being a boy was better. I remember thinking - but it surely doesn't make any difference. Not because I'd been told it didn't, but even with fairly traditional parents I'd honestly never seen or read anything to the contrary. Happy days...

There are time travel books which very often feature girls (Penelope Lively, Alison Uttley etc.) Swallows and Amazons, the Alice books, Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf? (for younger DD).

I bought Great Books for Girls second-hand on Abe Books and it has lots of suggestions for books with strong female characters. It's a US book, but a lot of US children's literature seems too little known in the UK.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 25-Sep-12 09:01:19

Have you tried the listings on

Also, older DD might be interested in Jump magazine, online mag for pre-teens edited by MmeLindor.

GnocchiGnocchiWhosThere Tue 25-Sep-12 09:03:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GnocchiGnocchiWhosThere Tue 25-Sep-12 09:04:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Hullygully Tue 25-Sep-12 09:08:49


Hullygully Tue 25-Sep-12 09:09:06

^^ ah, you've had that one

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