Feminism for a 10 yr old.. book recommendations? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 18 Old 11-01-2011, 10:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've been looking at books for my 10 yr old daughter that have a feminist theme but I don't want to rely on Amazon reviews alone.  Are there any books that you (and your child) feel are essentials?  We are pretty broke so I looking for the biggest bang for my buck :)


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#2 of 18 Old 11-02-2011, 08:32 AM
 
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I know you asked for personal recommendations and I will come back with a few. In the meantime, here are a couple of lists for you: 

 

The Amelia Bloomer Project. 

 

The infamous Bitch Magazine list that caused an internet ruckus last winter. Read the comments and google if you want to lose the better part of a day. That list is YA, so most of it might be too mature for a 10 y.o. 

 

The kerfuffle over the Bitch list raises a good question. What is "a feminist book"? Is it enough to explore feminist issues? Must it resolve them only in a "feminist approved" way? Expressly condemns certain behaviours and activities? Avoids all potential triggers? LOL, most people probably just want books with strong female characters, but those are all interesting questions.  

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#3 of 18 Old 11-02-2011, 08:38 AM
 
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I love Tatterhood and Maid of the North. I used these as bedtime stories for the littles but they are so well written that a 10 year old would still get something from them.


You might get her New Moon magazine.
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#4 of 18 Old 11-02-2011, 10:39 PM
 
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New Moon Magazine is awesome!


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#5 of 18 Old 11-03-2011, 11:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I checked out the New Moon website the other day and we are asking my mil to get her a subscription for Christmas (we aim for books and mag rather than clunky plastic for gifts).  I like the website and think that my kid will enjoy the reading :)

 

I'll look into the other suggestions too- I'm a fan of Bitch but I haven't explored the website enough from a 10 yr old perspective, though I did hear that there was a book list- my mommy brain hadn't started functioning enough for me to find it though. 

 

My kid's been reading novels a lot lately but with her friends going on diets, boys hanging around and her starting to become more aware of sexism (as well as classism and racism) I am worried that my influence isn't enough.  I also talked to another mama about starting a reading club where we will read weekly essays about famous/powerful women and discuss the various obstacles and achievements.  I know that this forum is supposed to be books/media but feel free to post or pm if you have any other ideas :)


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#6 of 18 Old 11-04-2011, 07:03 AM
 
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Here are a few suggestions. Following on my earlier post, most of them simply have strong females as the lead characters and don't necessarily resolve all issues with a "feminist approved" solution. I included a few titles that I've seen questioned, so I'm sure there's some room for disagreement here. For example, in Anne of Green Gables, Anne gives up her dreams of a college education to stay home and care for her adoptive mother. I can't recall what commentator or publication viewed this as complying with expected social norms and therefore too anti-feminist to let Anne make their list, but that was their reasoning. I disagree vehemently because Anne is a great example of a person who overcame her circumstances and created a life on her own terms by force of personality and "gumption". Similarly, in The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate and Shabanu, the girls are bound by the time period and culture of their family circumstances. I think they are still worth reading and possibly more powerful and thought-provoking as a result. 

 

Anne of Green Gables - L.M. Montgomery 

 

Emily of New Moon and sequels - L.M. Montgomery 

 

The Blue Castle - L.M. Montgomery (here's a Montgomery heroine who outright defies her family and social conventions. Probably one of my favourite Montgomery books.)

 

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase - Joan Aiken 

 

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate - Jacqueline Kelly 

 

Stargirl - Jerry Spinelli - from a boy's view, but Stargirl is a wonderful, unconventional character 

 

Ella Enchanted - Gail Carson Levine 

 

Un Lun Dun - China Mieville

 

The Witch of Blackbird Pond - Elizabeth George Speare 

 

Perilous Gard - Elizabeth Marie Pope 

 

Shabanu, Daughter of the Wind by Suzanne Fisher Staples 

 
The Breadwinner - Deborah Ellis (also titled Parvanna in some countries) 
 
Whale Rider - Witi Ihimaera (many prefer the movie to the novel and a film may be more appealing for a 10 y.o.) 
 
Journey to the River Sea - by Eva Ibbotson and other Ibbotson novels for stories about plucky girls 
 
Runemark - Joanne Harris 
 
Goose Girl - Shannon Hale 
 
The Golden Compass - Philip Pullman 
 
The Midwife's Apprentice - Karen Cushman (and Matilda Bone
 
The View from Saturday - E.L. Konisburg - mostly from a boy's perspective, but a good novel about peer pressure and fitting in
 
The reading level of some of those books may be a little older than age 10 - say 12 or 13 y.o - but I don't think they are unmanageable. I've avoided some books like Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson that were written for teens and deal with sex and abuse, but if you are looking for a powerful book about peer pressure, this is a good choice.   
 
 
Some ideas for a book club -
- fairy tales and legends with strong females (Tam Lin, Mulan, Hansel and Gretel, The Snow Queen etc.) 
- biographies - Rachel Carson, Marie Curie, Eleanor of Aquitaine (A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver by Konsiberg is good)...all obvious historic figures, but there are so many. Maybe invite some local women to speak about their histories. 
- historic events (eg. the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire - I haven't yet read Margaret Peterson Hadix's Uprising, but it looks good) 
 
 
BTW, I don't think any of these books are "essential". I enjoyed them and so did my dc (at least some of them) but tastes vary a lot. I'll bet every one of them has some negative reviews on Amazon or GoodReads. 
 
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#7 of 18 Old 11-04-2011, 08:34 AM
 
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Similarly to what the PP had to say about the L.M. Montgomery, I would say the same thing about Louisa May Alcott books. Yes the heroines are constrained by their circumstances and time but Louisa May Alcott put forth some rather shockingly feminist ideology for the time. It may influence a great conversation about some of the history of feminism.

 

In her book "Eight Cousins" she tells a story about a young girl whose uncle is raising her and he refuses to have her wear a corset as was acceptable at the time, he encourages outside play and encourages her in the all male cousins pursuits. He vocally objects to the idea that all girls should be meek and weak creatures. This is all socking to her aunts in the story.


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#8 of 18 Old 11-04-2011, 09:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much!!  I'm going to print out a list of all of the books mentioned and take my daughter to the library to see what she likes :) 


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#9 of 18 Old 11-05-2011, 11:22 PM
 
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Great, hopefully something will suit. 

 

BTW, I can't believe I left Pippi Longstocking off that list! 

 

 

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#10 of 18 Old 11-06-2011, 03:03 PM
 
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This is a great question! Thanks to the folks who recommended New Moon Girls - our mission is to give girls a community where they can express themselves and find support for being themselves, both in the magazine and in our safe social network.  Our members are devoted readers and there are lots of great books reviews, recommendations, author interviews & chats, etc. at newmoon.com that everyone can check out. Some things like chats are for members only, but most of the book-related content is open to all. In January we're announcing our 2nd annual Girls' Choice Book Awards, too!

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#11 of 18 Old 12-04-2011, 09:22 AM
 
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how is the social networking site on new moon girls? safe for ten year olds? i know apart from the mag. dd would really enjoy that. 


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#12 of 18 Old 12-05-2011, 05:05 PM
 
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meemee, I'll chime in on that question. I do think the social networking on New Moon is safe. The terms are on the site, but it's pretty heavily moderated (in a good way). We have several girl acquaintances who are pretty heavily involved in New Moon and I think it's pretty great.


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#13 of 18 Old 12-06-2011, 11:54 AM
 
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Yes - every post on NMG's social network is moderated by carefully trained adult volunteers.  Only one part of the network isn't moderated - that's the live one to one chat - parents must give special additional permission for that part of the site & can choose to review transcripts of their daughters' chats. We take girls' safety seriously. And we live the philosophy that we're a supportive community and safety net for girls. We follow up whenever a girl posts anything of concern and offer her & her parent more resources. With NMG girls learn how to be online safely and how to be good online citizens - no cyberbullying allowed.

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#14 of 18 Old 06-15-2012, 07:37 AM
 
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I'm reviving this thread to mention A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly, a book I just finished and thoroughly enjoyed. It probably doesn't really fit on this list because it's more suitable for teens  rather than 10 y.o.'s, due to a few scenes about sex and possibly one with a fairly graphic childbirth (with a midwife). It is a wonderful book with a strong feminist flavour. The protagonist is a 16 y.o. girl who lives in the backwoods of the Adirondacks in 1906. She desperately hopes to graduate high school and attend college in New York City but she is tied her family who needs her help on the farm. Tied into the narrative is the true crime story of the murder of Grace Brown (the inspiration for An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser), however the crime story is somewhat incidental to this novel, so don't pick it up looking for a lot of detail about the murder. 

 

The novel reflects the harsh life of homesteading and the endless hard labour of farming. This is no rosy Little House on the Prairie kind of narrative. It also depicts the beauty of the Adirondacks, a strong community and a lot of wonderful characters. The novel overreaches a little by trying to deal with a lot of different issues: feminism, rural poverty, racism, education, modernization,  dysfunctional families and assorted other social ills. For the most part, I think Donnelly manages it all quite well.

 

Highly, highly recommended. 

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#15 of 18 Old 06-16-2012, 06:10 PM
 
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wow i want to read that myself.

 

esp. since i have a friend there who totally had the childhood like the protagonist and still lives in the Adirondacks.

 

oooh yikes. thanks on the thumbs up on the moderation question. i thought i had replied thank you, but find i hadnt!!!!


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#16 of 18 Old 06-20-2012, 12:34 AM
 
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For example, in Anne of Green Gables, Anne gives up her dreams of a college education to stay home and care for her adoptive mother. I can't recall what commentator or publication viewed this as complying with expected social norms and therefore too anti-feminist to let Anne make their list, but that was their reasoning. I disagree vehemently because Anne is a great example of a person who overcame her circumstances and created a life on her own terms by force of personality and "gumption".

I reread a few of the Anne books recently and was surprised by just how awesome Anne was. As a kid I mostly read them for the romance and humour, and sort of missed the educational stuff; but Anne was a freakin' genius. Learned (mostly by herself, and via correspondence) Latin and Greek, and did "masculine" subjects like maths at college; taught school at an absurdly young age (16? 17 at the outside); got scholarships galore at college and headed up her class; "flatted" with three other girls and a maiden aunt, while at college; and did her own sewing, was great with children, was a thrifty and tidy housekeeper and a good cook. She wasn't some buttoned-down bluestocking, or a giddy bimbo; she was well-rounded. I was quite impressed. (And bah to anyone who thinks Anne's decision to defer college - and learn by correspondence in the meantime - while teaching school and helping maintain the family farm, is "anti-feminist". Good grief. Feminists aren't allowed to be selfless?)

 

In terms of strong female characters, A Wrinkle In Time is good (both Meg and her mother are pretty neat, not to mention Mrs Who, What and Which).


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#17 of 18 Old 06-20-2012, 06:21 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Smokering View Post

I reread a few of the Anne books recently and was surprised by just how awesome Anne was. As a kid I mostly read them for the romance and humour, and sort of missed the educational stuff; but Anne was a freakin' genius. Learned (mostly by herself, and via correspondence) Latin and Greek, and did "masculine" subjects like maths at college; taught school at an absurdly young age (16? 17 at the outside); got scholarships galore at college and headed up her class; "flatted" with three other girls and a maiden aunt, while at college; and did her own sewing, was great with children, was a thrifty and tidy housekeeper and a good cook. She wasn't some buttoned-down bluestocking, or a giddy bimbo; she was well-rounded. I was quite impressed. (And bah to anyone who thinks Anne's decision to defer college - and learn by correspondence in the meantime - while teaching school and helping maintain the family farm, is "anti-feminist". Good grief. Feminists aren't allowed to be selfless?)

 

In terms of strong female characters, A Wrinkle In Time is good (both Meg and her mother are pretty neat, not to mention Mrs Who, What and Which).

 

 

Anne is awesome, definitely. So is Emily (who is the literary character I think of when anyone mentions New Moon - not the magazine (sorry, I'm sure it's wonderful, I just wasn't aware of it when my DD was that age) and definitely NOT Bella!). And Valancy (The Blue Castle). Montgomery created wonderful female protagonists. 

 

It's funny you mention Meg Murry and AWIT because I've seen the same criticism leveled at her character. I understand that in the later books, L'Engle portrays her as a housewife and mother rather than a brilliant scientist. I don't know if it's true because I've never read them. 

 

I noticed that I left the Mortal Engines series (aka The Hungry Cities Chronicles) by Philip Reeve off the list in my earlier post, possibly because Hester Shaw is not the main character, or possibly because they are Y.A. rather than tween reads. Hester is a warrior character and she continues to participate in the action even after she has a husband and family in the later books. Her daughter also has a prominent role in the action in the later books too. 

 

So - anyone care to comment on books like Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan where the lead female character disguises herself as a boy to be a part of the story and the action? Feminist or anti-feminist? 

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#18 of 18 Old 06-23-2012, 08:58 PM
 
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It's funny you mention Meg Murry and AWIT because I've seen the same criticism leveled at her character. I understand that in the later books, L'Engle portrays her as a housewife and mother rather than a brilliant scientist. I don't know if it's true because I've never read them.

I have read the sequels - which get progressively more bizarre, and apart from the warm fuzzy of finding out Meg and Calvin end up together, I don't really like them. Are you talking about the portrayal of Meg or her mother in the later books? Meg still has plenty to do; I have a vague feeling Meg's mother takes more of a background role, but doesn't her father as well? They're not really the main characters... anyway, can't remember. The first book is awesome, though. :)

 

The third Emily book always left a nasty taste in my mouth; but yeah, she and Valancy were neat.


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