Did you know that March has been dubbed as the National Reading Month in order to encourage young children to develop the habit to reading at least 30 minutes a day? Now that’s a neat initiative to get behind.
Growing up, books saved my life. They allowed me to explore different parts of the world (fictional or non-fictional), granted me ‘opportunities’ to befriend various characters along the way, and empowered me to view life through another lens. As a teenager, I used reading as a coping mechanism to handle with stress and social anxiety. I, too, was also unfortunately a victim of bullying in my high school years. Whereas there were times where the majority of my days were spent worrying about what people were saying and doing, I found my peace and happiness in between pages of books once I was home. It was a way for me to escape the real world for a couple hours. Although that might not sound healthy, it was what I needed during those pivotal years. Because soon enough, the characters I read about gave me strength to be a stronger self.
Books help shape who we are at a young age. We should constantly encourage youth, especially young girls, to spend more time reading and empowering them through literature and discussion. If you know of or have a young girl in your life, here are a few life-changing and #girlpower books to add to her bookshelf that altered my life.
Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Not your typical princess book where a girl is whisked away by Prince Charming happily ever after! This story is about a girl standing firm by her values and beliefs, no matter who or what she encounters. Sara Crewe is an impressionable, generous, and kind young girl who kept her spirit high despite the hardships she endures.
“If I am a princess in rags and tatters, I can be a princess inside. It would be easy to be a princess if I were dressed in cloth of gold, but it is a great deal more of a triumph to be one all the time when no one knows it”.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
This 19th century classic follows the adolescence and young adulthood of the four March sisters, who are all different and influential in their own ways. It highlights the importance of not following societal norms and expectations, but rather to live life the way one desires. Jo March, perhaps the most important character of the book, was fiercely loyal and an advocate for women. It is a story filled with dozen of essential life lessons, including the value of sisterhood and a breakthrough for feminism.
“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
A childhood favorite about a young heroine who travels in time to find her beloved father while discovering the powers she has within her. From the self-doubting-confidence-lacking girl that she once was, Meg becomes a badass warrior fighting darkness with her light. It is an inspiring tale of courage, love, and self-discovery.
“To love is to be vulnerable; and it is only in vulnerability and risk—not safety and security—that we overcome darkness.”
I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World by Malala Yousafzai
Taught to stand up for what she believes in, I am Malala is a brave auto-biography by the one and only, Malala Yousafzai, the young girl who took a stand for education and survived an attack from the Taliban. This is a remarkable story that inspires young girls to believe in the power of one person’s voice.
“Let us pick up our books and our pens,” I said. “They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.”
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
This is a story about individuality and self worth. Set at the start of the Victorian Era, Jane Eyre is an orphan who was raised by an aunt who despises her. Despite her childhood and status, Jane speaks her mind freely and is a lady of her own free will. From a young age, she develops her own moral conduct and stays true to her values and beliefs, no matter what abusive situation she is in. Most importantly, Jane considers herself an equal to all around her, and her female dominance and resilience are portrayed time and time again as she discovers her independence through her intuition and instinct. Throughout the novel, Jane doesn’t settle for any less than she deserve by choosing her own path and overcoming the barriers of class and gender roles.
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
The Baby-Sitters Club Series by Ann M. Martin
Who run the world? These babysitters do. A business-slash-club formed by head honcho, Kristy Thomas, is what keeps these teenage girls busy. This series follows over a dozen girls from junior high who became best friends as they navigate and confront common problems such as jealousy, sibling rivalry, popularity, and more. Girls are bound to relate to one of them, if not all, and will be inspired to take charge and lead by example at a young age.
“I’ve discovered that in order to make big changes in the world, we have to begin at home — within ourselves.”
The Uglies Series by Scott Westerfield
A modern series that emphasizes on society’s standards of beauty and how it affects our own perception. The protagnist, Tally, is excited to turn 16 and be “transformed” through cosmetic surgery; but soon enough, she questions the meaning behind being “pretty” and decides to rebel against society’s enforced conformity.
“Your personality – the real you inside – was the price of beauty.”
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Adapted from her well-known TEDx talk, this short 50-page novel poses the questions, “what does ‘feminism’ mean today?” in the twenty-first century. Drawn from her own experiences and unique definition, not only is it an essay that explores sexism and gender inequality; it is a plea for our society to do better.
“Some people ask: ‘Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?’ Because that would be … a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women.”
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
Two words: Hermione Granger.
“Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself.”
What are some empowering #girlpower books that you have read? I would love to hear from you and add to my list!