52 Books Every Girl Should Read Before High School

by Mary Fetzer
Jan 2, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. ET
Image: Teresa Short/Getty Images

Do you have fond memories of reading as a little girl? Maybe you'd be curled up under a blanket, fighting to keep your eyes open so you could just get to the end of the chapter — no, the sentence. We definitely remember sneaking in pages after bedtime or even during class.

Think back to your own childhood and how important your favorite books — and their strong female characters — were to you. Which ones had the biggest impact? Did you laugh and cry with Little Women? Come of age with Sheila the Great? Enter a world of mystery with Nancy Drew

The books your daughter reads will stay with her forever. She'll make friends with literary characters, learn empathy for others and discover places she's never been. 

The 52 books featured in our list of classic and modern-day reads will introduce your Little Woman to an abundance of humor, love, drama and herstory. And, if you missed any of these growing up, now's your chance to dive into some of the best middle-grade kid-lit ever.

 A version of this article was originally published in November 2015.

1 /53: 'The True Meaning of Smekday'

1/53 :'The True Meaning of Smekday'

Eleven-year-old Gratuity "Tip" Tucci and her alien friend J.Lo go on a comedic fantasy trip at the end of the world. 

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex (ages 10 – 13), $7 at Amazon

2 /53: 'The Egypt Game'

2/53 :'The Egypt Game'

Melanie Ross and April Hall both love ancient Egypt and begin to play a game called The Egypt Game. It's a great time until they realize it might not be a game at all. 

The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (ages 8 – 10), $9 at Simon & Schuster

3 /53: 'Pippi Longstocking'

3/53 :'Pippi Longstocking'

Tommy and Annika strike up an instant friendship with their new neighbor Pippi Longstocking. The wild girl has a pet monkey, no parents and many adventures to share.

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren (ages 8 – 12), $4 at Barnes & Noble

4 /53: 'Caddie Woodlawn'

4/53 :'Caddie Woodlawn'

Caddie Woodlawn is a young prankster who doesn't act very ladylike. She spends her days on the Wisconsin frontier rafting on the lake, visiting Indian camps and getting into all sorts of scrapes with her brothers. 

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink (ages 8 – 10), $7 at Walmart

5 /53: 'Charlotte's Web'

5/53 :'Charlotte's Web'

Charlotte's Web is a tale of talking animals, a kind spider and a little girl's unconditional love, making this a necessary read for every child. 

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White (ages 8 – 10), $5 at Walmart

6 /53: 'The Penderwicks'

6/53 :'The Penderwicks'

The Penderwicks are sisters who are privileged to stay at the beautiful Arundel Estate for the summer. But they find they're not so well-received, and trouble soon abounds.  

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall (ages 8 and up), $7 at Barnes & Noble

7 /53: 'Little Women'

7/53 :'Little Women'

Marmee's Little Women are the March sisters: beautiful Meg, wild Jo, gentle Beth and artistic Amy. Louisa May Alcott's semi-autobiographical story follows the New England family during the Civil War. 

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (ages 10 – 17), $4 at Biblio

8 /53: 'The Secret Garden'

8/53 :'The Secret Garden'

Mary Lennox is a rude little girl who spends more time with her servants than with her parents. When she loses them to all to cholera, she is sent to live with her uncle. There, she discovers The Secret Garden and all of the secrets it holds. 

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (ages 6 – 10), $12 at Amazon

9 /53: 'The Wednesday Witch'

9/53 :'The Wednesday Witch'

The Wednesday Witch is the wonderful story of a girl named Mary Jane, a witch named Hilda, a cat named Cinders and a special perfume called Mischief.

The Wednesday Witch by Ruth Chew (ages 8 – 12), $9 at Thriftbooks