Life-changing books for girls

Women, what are the books that changed your life as a girl? A Metafilter writer is working on a book for girls that will include “a chapter on books that every girl should read — books that changed your life, so to speak, and that you’d want your daughter to read before she’s grown up.” She’s aiming at middle-school readers and needs more science fiction and fantasy.

I can name lots of kids’ books I enjoyed, but I don’t think any were life changing. Well, except for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which introduced me to the possibility that there are many doors to magic lands. The Secret Garden had that element too.

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  1. Well the immediate obvious Sci Fi I noticed missing was the PERN (or dragonrider) books. Anne McCaffrey deliberately wrote those books to provide a strong, female protagonist for girls to read.

  2. First I read every single Fairy Tale from every country the world over.
    Then, Walter Farley’s ‘The Black Stallion’ series which I devoured.
    Followed by the ‘The Outsiders’
    Followed by a number of ‘druggie books’ about bad hippies. Can’t recall their titles because after 2 or 3 I got bored; they were so over the top. It was the 1960’s

    Sprinkled in just for fun throughout my pre-teen years were the Nancy Drew books and then the boys’ verison with the Hardy boys. I noticed it took two boys what one girl could do. : )

    At 13/14, I read Steinbeck’s ‘East of Eden’. Probably not what you’d be looking for, but I was very impressed with the very good vs. bad human subtext throughout the book. The political persuasion was a bit, just a bit, beyond my awareness.

    I finished with ‘War and Peace’ and finally settled back as I was finally in over my head. I was then 14/15 years old.

    Middle schoolers are now just a little older than I was given the change in cutoff dates.

    By the way, I had always identified with the character, not the gender.

  3. P. Abel says:

    Nancy Drew Series

    The Happy Hollister Series

    A Wrinkle in Time (Madeline L’Engle) (still one of my all time favorite books & for young mathematicians, a very cool book)

  4. Tracy W says:

    Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land”

    And then “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”

    I read heaps of other books as a child that I loved, but those were the ones that were life-changing.

    Yes, I was a weird 12 year old (and I’m female).

  5. Watership Down by Richard Adams was the book all my friends read in junior high school, and it’s still one of my favorites. I’ll second The Chronicles of Narnia. Outside the realm of fantasy or sci-fi, I loved (and still love) the Anne of Green Gables books. They had a profound impact on the kind of person I wanted to be.

  6. Twill00 says:

    Andre Norton’s Dane Thorssen series (Postmarked the Stars, etc) or any of her books with talking animals and Zero Stones.

    Anything by Tamora Pierce. Her later stuff is better writing but her Lioness series is great for girls.