HomeBooks by AgeAges 4-8Books About Girls | Five Family Favorites with Claudia Mills
Books About Girls Five Family Favorites with Claudia Mills

Books About Girls | Five Family Favorites with Claudia Mills

The Children’s Book Review
Published: September 13, 2013

Claudia Mills, Philosophyclaudia. mills@colorado.eduphoto by: Larry Harwood

Claudia Mills, Philosophyclaudia
Photo by: Larry Harwood

Claudia Mills is the author of many chapter and middle-grade books, including 7 x 9=Trouble!; How Oliver Olson Changed the WorldKelsey Green, Reading Queen; and, most recently, Zero Tolerance. She also teaches philosophy at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She lives in Boulder, Colorado. To learn more, visit her website: claudiamillsauthor.com

Mills shares a wonderful list of her family’s favorite books that feature girl protagonists—she encourages you to share them with both boys and girls, alike.

Jean and JohnnyI grew up reading with my one-year-younger sister, Cheryl. We spent most of our childhood doing nothing but reading, and we loved all the same books. Fortunately for me, her husband became a bookstore owner, so every Christmas I open packages under the tree to find childhood favorites that nobody on earth but my sister would know that I wanted: teen romances from a bygone era like Double Date by Rosamond du Jardin and Jean and Johnny by Beverly Cleary. I looked forward to having daughters of my own with whom I could share the beloved texts from our childhood, chief among them the Betsy-Tacy books of Maud Hart Lovelace, the “Shoes” books of Noel Streatfeild,  A Little Princess, The Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables, and other classic girls’ stories.

Then I became the mother of boys: Christopher, now about to turn 25, and Gregory, now about to turn 21.

I held my newborn son in my arms and gazed sadly at the bookshelves lining the living room, stuffed full of stories about girls so dear to my heart, stories I so wanted to share with this new little person who had come into my life, who happened to be a boy. Perhaps I should have taken his birth as an opportunity to branch out and discover the classics of boyhood. I didn’t. Instead, I spent the next fifteen years reading all those girl books to my boys, one after the other, some of them over and over and over again.

HarryPotterAndTheScorcersStoneI’m not sorry I did. Of course, as my boys became independent readers they found their way to books that they devoured on their own: Harry Potter, Holes, Captain Underpants, The Time Warp Trio. I came to love these books, too. But because of me, my boys know about Betsy Ray, Posy Fossil, Sara Crewe, Mary Lennox, Anne Shirley, Polly Pepper, Rebecca Rowena Randall, Jane Moffat, Laura Ingalls, Pollyanna Whittier, and Heidi. I’ve become convinced that it’s a good thing for boys to read about girls, even though popular wisdom says that boys are much more reluctant to read about girls than vice versa. Boys benefit from coming to know a wide selection of girls encountered in the intimate, safe space created within the pages of a book.

My older son is now about to become a father. I don’t know the gender of my grandchild yet. Part of me hopes it will be a girl: I can share all my Betsy-Tacy books with her! But now I know that if it’s a boy, I can share my Betsy-Tacy books with him, too. Who knows? He may come to love them as much as I do and share them with his own daughter—or son—someday.

Betsy-Tacy and TibBetsy, Tacy, and Tib

By Maud Hart Lovelace

The Betsy-Tacy series is based on the author’s own childhood experiences growing up in Mankato, Minnesota, at the turn of the last century. The books are suffused with the warmth of Betsy’s loving family and her enduring friendship with her best chums, Tacy and Tib. My personal favorite in the series is Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown, where we see Betsy coming into her own as a writer. But the (innocently) naughty exploits in Betsy, Tacy, and Tib (the wonderful haircutting scene!) give this one wide appeal.

Ages 8 and up | Publisher: HarperCollins; Reissue edition | April 5, 2000

the-witch-familyThe Witch Family

By Eleanor Estes

A book my boys and I read together every Halloween. Amy and her friend Clarissa “banquish” Old Witch to a glass hill for her past episodes of wickedness, but then take pity on her loneliness and send her Little Witch Girl and Weenie Witchie to create the full witch family. Everything that happens on the glass hill is made up by Amy and Clarissa, yet seems so real that the book works both as a whimsical Halloween story and as a tribute to the power of children’s imagination.

Ages 8 and up | Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers | September 1, 2000

pinky pyePinky Pye

By Eleanor Estes

Another Estes classic. When the Pye family of Estes’s Newbery-winning Ginger Pye spends the summer on Fire Island, they adopt an abandoned kitten, Pinky Pye, who “writes” her own narrative of the summer’s adventures. So here again, Estes blurs the lines between reality and imagination. I think I have Pinky Pye to blame, or thank, for the fact that when our boys decided to start begging for their first (and only) pet, we ended up with a cat.

Ages 8 and up | Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers | September 1, 2000

Little Town on the PrairieLittle Town on the Prairie

By Laura Ingalls Wilder

We loved the whole series and made a family pilgrimage to De Smet, South Dakota, the original “little town on the prairie,” once Christopher got his driver’s license and wanted a family road trip. In this volume, the deliciously awful Nellie Oleson of On the Banks of Plum Creek reappears, and Laura gets sent home from school for challenging the authority of her teacher, Miss Wilder, who is deliciously awful in her own right.

Ages 8 and up | Publisher: HarperCollins; Reissue edition | April 8, 2008

The Pink MotelThe Pink Motel

By Carol Ryrie Brink

In this lesser-known book by the author of Caddie Woodlawn, the Mellen family inherits a “most peculiar” motel painted a “most unusual” bright pink, which attracts a bizarre assortment of guests, including Sandra Brown, who cares only for getting a perfectly even tan, eccentric artist Miss Ferry with a magical snack-generating hamper, Miss DeGree with her pedigreed poodles, and two mysterious gentlemen who might very well be gangsters. . . .

Ages 8 and up | Publisher: Aladdin; Reissue edition | April 1, 1993

Zero ToleranceFind out more about Claudia Mills, visit: claudiamillsauthor.com

Add these books to your collection: 7 x 9=Trouble!How Oliver Olson Changed the WorldKelsey Green, Reading Queen; and Zero Tolerance

Zero Tolerance, Available Now!

Follow Claudia on her her blog tour!
Blog URL
Wed, Sept 4
Read Now, Sleep Later AND SLJ Teen giveaway
Thurs, Sept 5
Fri, Sept 6
The Book Monsters
Mon, Sept 9
Once Upon a Story
Tues, Sept 10
Pass the Chiclets
Wed, Sept 11
The Late Bloomer’s Book Blog
Thurs, Sept 12
Mother Daughter Book Club
Fri, Sept 13
The Children’s Book Review
Sun, Sept 15
Nerdy Book Club
Mon, Sept 16
Geo Librarian
Tues, Sept 17
A Life Bound by Books
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The Children’s Book Review, named one of the ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) Great Web Sites for Kids, is a resource devoted to children’s literacy. We publish reviews and book lists of the best books for kids of all ages. We also produce author and illustrator interviews and share literacy based articles that help parents, grandparents, teachers and librarians to grow readers. This article was written and provided by a guest author.

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