Books have always been a part of my life. I don't really remember a time when I didn't read. Reading is and always has been a window to different worlds and knowledge. Reading a good book, and I mean a really well written book, not some piece of camouflaged fanfiction about vampires or over-sexed millionaires written at a sub-par grade school level, to me is far more enthralling than the best epic IMAX movie. From Little Golden Books to Charlotte’s Web, those horrid Christopher Pike books my friends and I read and traded in Junior High School, to The Canterbury Tales, I have always loved losing myself in a good book. A good series of books is even better. So, of course I hope to nurture the same love of reading and literature in The Firecracker.
I want to encourage Firecracker to read quality books that will make her grow as a person as well as entertain an expand her mind. I want her to know that girls can be something other than a Disney princess or mindless girl who moons after vampires. So, I have compiled a list of books and series of books that I think every girl should read. Each of these has had a personal impact on me. Please feel free to comment and add your own favorites to the list in the comments.
10. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith – I didn’t read this book until I was an adult, and some friends of mine suggested it for an online book club we had several years ago. I didn’t think that I would like it, but I honestly did. The Nolan family lived on so little, yet as a family they had so much and worked so hard. Every hardship, every tragedy made them stronger. Francie isn’t exactly the type of person I want Firecracker to grow up to be, but I wouldn’t mind her walking around in Francie’s shoes a bit via the story.
See also Cheaper By the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth
9. The Little House Book by Laura Ingalls Wilder – I have to admit that as a child I didn’t like reading the books, because I was in effect ruined by the Michael Landon television series. I remember watching reruns after I would get home from morning Kindergarten. My sister, in that mean way she always liked bursting my innocent bubbles with cruel reality, told me that Mary never married, that there was never an Albert, and other things like that, so I never cared to read the books. That changed, as I grew older.
As a young adult I was far more interested in reading the (mostly) real account of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life. As I grew more interested in the real day to day struggles and lives of those who tamed the frontier and saw the advent of a more modern age, the actual books became better than the melodramatic television show.
See also My Antonia by Willa Cather
8. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – These may technically be considered “boys books,” but I believe that they’re perfect for girls to read as well. After all, who’s to say that girls can’t have adventures like Tom and Huck? Both books have a wonderful innocence despite showing the harsh realities of antebellum life in and around the Mississippi River. Also, Mark Twain just had a way with dialog and writing dialect that you can hear the conversations in your mind.
See Also A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court.
7. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – As is often the case, Jane Eyre is the story of an orphan. Her life has what I would only call severe peaks and valleys where things are very, very bad then they are pretty darn good and so on. She empowers herself with education, a very rare thing for a woman at that time. I personally couldn’t put down this book until I knew once and for all what became of dear Jane.
See Also Middlemarch by George Eliot
6. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – I’m amazed by the sheer number of people who haven’t watched the movie through and through. Seventy–three years later, and it is still one of the greatest cinema masterpieces of all time. That said, the book is even better. In the book, we really get to know Scarlett O’Hara and what really motivates her. Why did she fight tooth and nail to survive? Oh wait, could it be the two children she had before Bonnie who were cut out of the movie? Her relationship with Wade Hampton (her son with Charles) is especially important to her character, I believe, especially in understanding why she killed a Yankee. This is another book that I had to read in one night and have reread several times since then. The movie is a masterpiece but the book is art with words.
See also the North and South Triolgy by John Jakes.
5. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – I have to thank my Freshmen (and Junior and Senior) English teacher, Belinda Westfall, for introducing me to Pip. Again, this could be considered a “boy’s book,” but it’s just not. It’s just a good book to read and can introduce someone to other works by Dickens besides A Christmas Carol. There are so many things to gleam from this tome. Pip learning not to be ashamed of Joe Gargery is just one. Also there is so much to learn about social class and ambition. Also, I honestly just loved when Miss Haviham’s dress caught on fire.
See also David Copperfield by Charles Dickens.
4. The Little Women Series by Louisa May Alcott – First of all, what we all know as Little Women is actually two books, Little Women and Good Wives. Ah, the lives of the March girls are certainly interesting. Everyone of course loves Jo the best, and we’re supposed to. I liked Beth as well, and hated that she died. I always wished Amy had died. Amy was just a spoiled brat to me, but anyway… Each of the four sisters is her own person, and they’re best that way. I wish my relationship with my sister could have been more like that of the March sisters.
See also Little Men and Jo's Boys.
3. Any book by Jane Austen
– Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park, and Persuasion. They are all worth reading, because Jane Austen was Tine Fey two hundred years before Tina Fey was Tina Fey. The wit at times just seeps through the pages. I am a huge fan of intelligent humor, and it’s refreshing to know that it wasn’t invented in the 1990’s. Who needs a Disney princess when you have the wit of Elizabeth Bennet, the romanticism of Marianne Woodhouse, and the goodness of Anne Elliot? Who needs Edward Cullen when you have Fitzwilliam Darcy?
2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – Scout. The poor girl never had a chance to be anything but a tomboy being raised by her widowed father and older brother. Yet, we love her tomboyishness, her fighting in school, and her innocent look at the very adult, real events happening in the book. I hope to be a parent like Atticus Finch, standing up for what is right, being a role model for my daughter through my actions and not just my words. I just love the way Harper Lee puts things together from talking about the different denominations of churches to having Jem explain that the Egyptians invented toilet paper. Also though, there’s the discovery of the world and loss of innocence that Jem and Scout go through that is amazing to have revealed before our eyes, all the while knowing that Atticus would be there when they “waked up.”
1. The Anne of Green Gables Series by Lucy Maud Montgomery – This has to be my favorite series of books. I probably have read each book countless times. You can’t stop with the first book, and even if you finish the series with Rilla of Ingleside, you’ll want more. I know that I did. I started reading and eventually writing fanfiction based on the AoGG series. I met some very wonderful friends that way, believe it or not. Everyone wants to be Anne, always getting into scrapes but still succeeding in life. The growth from the little orphan in book one to the mother of children going off to the First World War is a spectacular journey. The best books are IMHO Anne of Green Gables, Anne of the Island, Anne’s House of Dreams, and Rilla of Ingleside. As an adult, Anne’s House of Dreams is especially real to me. PS, DON'T watch any of the Kevin Sullivan Movies after the second one! See also all other works by Lucy Maud Montgomery.
What do you think? Do you have any to add?
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