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Great Books for Girls: More Than 600 Books to Inspire Today's Girls and Tomorrow's Women

Great Books for Girls: More Than 600 Books to Inspire Today's Girls and Tomorrow's Women

by Kathleen Odean

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The first reference of its kind, Great Books for Girls is an invaluable 
list of more than six hundred titles--picture books, novels, mysteries, 
biographies, folktales, sports books, and more--that will encourage, 
challenge, and ultimately nurture in girls the strong qualities our culture 
so often


The first reference of its kind, Great Books for Girls is an invaluable 
list of more than six hundred titles--picture books, novels, mysteries, 
biographies, folktales, sports books, and more--that will encourage, 
challenge, and ultimately nurture in girls the strong qualities our culture 
so often suppresses.  

Kathleen Odean, a librarian and former member of the 
prestigious Caldecott and Newbery Award committees, has gathered and 
annotated a list of books starring bold, confident heroines for children 
from toddlers to age fourteen.  Here are old favorites such as Eloise, 
Harriet the Spy, Mrs.  Basil E. Frankweiler, and Ramona the Pest; new 
inspirations such as Cinder Edna, Sheila Rae the Brave, Herculeah Jones, 
and Princess Smartypants; and real-life admirable women such as Eleanor of 
Aquitaine, Jane Goodall, Toni Morrison, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Helen 

In these books, girls and women are creative, capable, articulate, and 
intelligent, solving problems, facing challenges, resolving conflicts, and 
going on quests.  They are not sidekicks or tokens, waiting to be rescued; 
they are doing the rescuing.  Nor are they waiting for a male to provide a 
happy ending; they are fashioning their own stories and their own endings.  
Packed with expert guidance,Great Books for Girls is an essential volume 
that will give girls of all ages the power of hope.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“I recommend it for all those who want girls to grow up strong, free bold and kind.”
Author of Reviving Ophelia

“With superb literary taste and an eye for books depicting strong-minded girls and women, [Odean] recommends more than 600 outstanding titles.”
U.S. News & World Report

Children's Literature
In an effort to help girls and their parents find "heroines to offset the barrage of negative images society presents about females," Odean has created this updated bibliography of more than 600 titles. Meticulously, she has chosen picture books, folktales, poetry, biography, and all genres of fiction and grouped them for beginning, middle, and older readers. Each title has full bibliographic information, a suggested age level, and a clear, concise annotation. The girls in these books were chosen because they were creative, capable, articulate, and intelligent and able to solve their own problems, take risks, and go on journeys. Here are girls "not waiting to be rescued; they are doing the rescuing." The author includes advice on reading aloud and suggestions for activities to accompany some of the books. There are books and Websites for further reading for parents. There is a helpful section on books that will help girls understand sex and their own sexuality. This is an excellent resource for home and school libraries and for many parents, it no doubt will become a dog-eared tome carried to libraries and bookstores. 2002 (orig. 1997), Ballantine Books, 14.95. Ages Adult.
— Beverley Fahey
VOYA - Maura Bresnahan
This bibliographic guide delivers on its promise to provide girls with female role models who are "creative, capable, articulate, and intelligent, solving problems, facing challenges, resolving conflicts, and going on quests." The more than six hundred entries were selected and annotated by Odean, a school librarian and former member of both the Newbery and Caldecott Award committees. In her introduction Odean identifies her goals and the criteria she used for including books in the guide. She also touches on recent scholarship that points to a significant loss of self-esteem when girls hit adolescence. The book's chapters are divided into specific areas of children's publishing: picture books, folktales, beginning readers, middle readers, and longer works for older readers. With the exception of picture books and folktales, the categories are divided into fiction and nonfiction groupings, with the majority of nonfiction titles being biographies. Each entry includes the author, title, date of publication, format (hardcover, paperback, or both), publisher, and recommended audience ages. The books selected all are currently in print and are indexed by author, title, and category. At the end of the book Odean lists books that are out of print but still can be found in both school and public libraries. A parental resource section, which is helpful to teachers and librarians as well, includes tips on locating books, reading aloud, activities that tie in to the books being read, and a host of titles and ideas for anyone who wants to help girls become confident young women. Highly recommended for both school and public libraries. Index. Further Reading. Appendix.
Library Journal
Odean, a children's librarian and reviewer for School Library Journal, has compiled a guide for parents and educators looking for books "about girls who defy the stereotypes about females in our culture." Her work introduces 600 titles, ranging from picture-story books for toddlers to biographies and novels for adolescents that depict girls and women who are self-sufficient, decisive, and assertive (e.g., Louise Fitzhugh's Harriet the Spy, 1964; Jane Goodall's My Life with the Chimpanzees, 1988; Beverly Gherman's Sandra Day O'Connor, 1991). Odean's background as a children's book expert is apparent in her well-crafted, descriptive annotations. She supplies publishing data and age guidelines, comments on illustrations, notes award-winning works, and points out content strengths and weaknesses. The introduction and last chapter provide advice about locating good children's books, reading aloud, etc. Highly recommended for public and school libraries and academic libraries with education and library science programs.-Carol McAllister, Coll. of William & Mary, Williamsburg, Va.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.92(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

I have gleaned these ideas from many sources. Try some you haven't considered before, keeping in mind that no parent can expect to be doing all of them all the time. For excellent suggestions to introduce business and entrepreneurial thinking into your daughter's everyday life, see No
More Frogs to Kiss...

Let your daughter get dirty. Children need to explore the world around them and be physically active. Science, nature, sports, arts, and crafts--all these important parts of growing up entail getting dirty.

Give her time to try to do a task herself rather than "rescue her"
by giving advice or doing it for her. Encourage her to be persistent in working out her own solutions.

Encourage your daughter to state her opinions and thoughts, and listen respectfully to what she says. If she has trouble speaking out in class, practice with her at home and help her plan strategies for the classroom.

Notice how you compliment girls. Typically girls get compliments on what they wear or how they look, while boys get compliments on what they do. Try to give compliments on specific accomplishments, not general qualities. "Your speech had a powerful opening," not "You are a good speaker."

Encourage her to participate in sports. Give her the support to join a team sport. Show her you value physical fitness and strength in girls and women.

Watch television together and discuss the portrayal of women, how realistic it is, what messages it sends. Extend this to movies, videos,
magazines, and computer games.

Find ways to help your daughter develop math, science, and computer skills. Provide games that develop spatial skills such as puzzles, model kits, checkers and chess, etc. For older girls, look into after-school classes or summer camps on math, science, and computers.

See that she learns some mechanical, building, and repairing skills, and becomes familiar with tools. Give young girls blocks and simple tools. Have older girls learn to repair bicycles and encourage them to take apart old appliances, etc.

Emphasize the importance of developing talents and interests. Such pastimes give girls pleasure and a self-image that doesn't rely on appearances, popularity, or relationships. Girls need to be good at doing things as well as at dealing with people.

Examine your expectations for girls and boys. Do you give boys more leeway to be rowdy, physically active, outspoken? Do you expect girls to be more domestic, caring, polite, thoughtful? Do you expect boys to help with outdoor tasks and girls with indoor ones?

Introduce her to strong female role models. Expose her to a variety of career possibilities and women who enjoy their work. Teach her to assume she will have to make her own living someday, as most women do. Participate in Take Our Daughters to Work Day in April!

Support your daughter in pursuing her interests and in taking risks. Be ready to help, but encourage her to make her own decisions and choices. Praise her for her intelligence, abilities, and initiative as well as hard work and dedication. Most of all, believe in her.

Meet the Author

Kathleen Odean has been a children's librarian for fifteen years, first in
California and now at Moses Brown School, a Friends school in Providence,
Rhode Island.  She grew up in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, and graduated from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.  Odean then lived in
Berkeley, California for eight years, where she earned a Master's of
Library and Information Science as well as an M.A. in Folklore at
University of California.

Her peers across the country recognize Odean as an expert in children's literature.  She was recently elected to the Caldecott Award Committee by her fellow children's librarians and was also a member of the 1991 Newbery
Award Committee.  From 1991 through 1993, she served on the Notable
Children's Book Committee of the American Library Association, a national committee of nine which evaluates all of the year's children's books.  
Odean has also been a reviewer of children's books for School Library
Journal since 1985.

The author of the groundbreaking work Great Books for Girls: More Than 600
Books to Inspire Today's Girls and Tomorrow's Women
(Ballantine Books,
1997) and High Steppers, Fallen Angels, and Lollipops: Wall Street Slang
(Henry Holt Owl Paperbacks, 1989) on the folklore and slang of the stock market, Odean has also done some free-lance writing.

Odean has been talking about the importance of books in children's lives on NBC-TV's Today and with newspapers, local television and radio shows across the country.

She lives in Barrington, Rhode Island, with her husband, Ross Cheit, a professor at Brown University.

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