Five Awesome Girls In Children's Literature - International Day of The Girl Child
“You had the power all along my dear.”
- Glinda the Good Witch, The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
On the 11th of October, the world will observe International Day of the Girl Child; a day to consider the millions of girls across the globe who are denied what many take for granted - basic human rights, education and innocence.
Although these harsh realities can be a difficult subject to broach with young children, there are still many ways that we can encourage the empowerment of girls - starting in the primary classroom.
Taking a closer look at strong female protagonists in children’s literature is a great place to start the conversation.
To help illustrate how girls can be the heroes, trailblazers and leaders of our time, just take a look at our five favourite girls in children’s literature; they’ll soon fill your class with awe, inspiration and just a touch of much-needed rebellion!
1. Matilda - Matilda, by Roald Dahl
“So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.”
Matilda may have been a bookworm, but she was also proof that books can make you charismatic and powerful - even extraordinary. In fact, she’s the perfect idol for the quiet child who still longs to make a difference.
2. Astrid - Roller Girl, by Victoria Jamieson
“I could keep running from my battles and live in fear or I could embrace the fear.”
Astrid has always done everything with her best friend Nicole, but at twelve years old, their interests take them on different paths - a summer dance camp for Nicole, and roller derby camp for Astrid.
Astrid encounters many struggles of ‘growing up’ over this summer - keeping up with older girls at camp, hanging on to old friendships and forging new ones. As the end of summer nears, Astrid learns that she’s strong enough to face her challenges and embrace new chapters in her life, without fear.
3. Rosie - Rosie Revere, Engineer, by Andrea Beaty
“Life might have its failures, but this was not it. The only true failure can come if you quit.”
Rosie is a brilliant inventor of gizmos and gadgets, dreaming of one day becoming an engineer.
When her Great Aunt Rose comes to visit (Rosie the Riveter, no less), she explains that her unfinished goal is to fly - so Rosie sets out to build a brilliant flying machine.
Unfortunately, a flight test results in a crash - and Rosie is discouraged. However, she soon learns that trying is the most important part of learning; and sometimes you must try and try again in order to succeed.
4. All of the protagonists in Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women, by Elena Favilli
“Alek wants every girl on the planet to know, “You are beautiful. It’s okay to be quirky, it’s fine to be shy. You don’t have to go with the crowd.””
From Elizabeth I to Serena Williams and Alek Wek, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is a children's book packed with 100 bedtime stories about the lives of 100 real-life women.
How can you not feel inspired by their true stories of challenge, success, fame and bravery?
5. Anne - Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery
“Oh, it's delightful to have ambitions. I'm so glad I have such a lot. And there never seems to be any end to them-- that's the best of it. Just as soon as you attain to one ambition you see another one glittering higher up still. It does make life so interesting.”
A classic that still holds up today, Anne Shirley is a feisty child who shows her elderly adoptive parents that gender does not define your worth.