10 New Books Highlighting the Diversity and Strength of Girls & Women by Brittany Gendron

Far too often girls are shortchanged in literature. They deserve to see the beautiful wide world of humanity, and more definitions of ‘girl’ than just girl-chases-boy, clique-drama tropes. Here are 10 recent favorites of mine showing the beautiful wide-open world of what it is to be female!

 

Non-Fiction

Strong is the New Pretty: A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves by Kate T. Parker

“Many girls grew up dreaming of a hero to save them. I grew up dreaming of becoming one.”

 

In this beautiful book, photographer Kate T. Parker captures girls in simple, everyday moments. She pairs the photographs with quotes from the girl featured (such as Lesley, Age 18 above). Grouped by different types of strength (determined is strong, creative is strong, fearless is strong, etc.) — from moments of pure joy to loss — a stunning collection.

 

Girl Code: Gaming, Going Viral, and Getting it Done by Andrea Gonzales and Sophie Houser

“As I stood there scanning the group, I realized that I had never once imagined a coder as a girl… probably because I’d never seen a female coder before.”

 

Andrea (Andy) and Sophie met while attending a summer coding intensive with Girls Who Code. Their final project, the game Tampon Run, became a viral hit. The book takes us through their journey from Girls Who Code to their newfound new celebrity status. A great glimpse for girls to see themselves in Andy and Sophie and change stereotypes about coding!

 

In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs by Grace Bonney

“I named my company Louise Fili Ltd because I wanted to send a message, which was this: if you have a problem with my being female, than I don’t want you as a client.”

 

This book ignites passion, vision, and inspiration like no other. While arguably more for adult readers, I just imagine the power of a teenage girl seeing 100+ successful, entrepreneurial women, who have weathered the ups and downs and now share their advice.

 

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky

“This book tells the stories of some of these scientists… who in the face of ‘no,’ said, ‘try and stop me.’”

 

Ignotofsky has curated a must-have anthology of women’s contributions to science. In breathtaking illustrations and concise 1 page biographies, in time periods from early history to modern day from around the world — you’ll learn about women of all backgrounds and their achievements.

 

Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World Edited by Kelly Jensen

“My reading rebellion… still feels relevant. It’s not a silly pursuit to read beyond what’s handed to you, to seek out new voices… There is power in what we choose to consume… amplify, celebrate, and share.”

 

With each voice, photograph, comic, and story, you have the wisdom of 44 brilliant and unique feminists sharing their ‘What I wish I knew’ and ‘Coming to feminism’ moments. From body image to family, boys to jobs, parenting to writing female characters – this book of wisdom and sisterhood is phenomenal.

 

Fiction

A Tyranny of Petticoats: 15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers & Other Badass Girls Edited by Jessica Spotswood

“I am done with men owning me.”

 

In this collection of historical (at times fantasy) fiction, you will travel from 1710-1960, finding everything from civil war spy tales “The Red Raven Ball” to roots of activism “Pulse of the Panthers.” Each author has given their story such a distinct perspective, it’s a joy to read.

 

The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lillian Rivera   

“Any dream I may have… is dictated by my family’s hopes. The burden falls on me…”

 

Margot is from a Puerto Rican immigrant family, and lives in Riverdale in the Bronx which she describes as “rich adjacent” (34). That phrase symbolizes the beginning of the dilemmas Margot faces in her divisions. Spanish or English? Old or new friends? Prep school love interest or local boy? Family loyalty or independence? Stuck working at her dad’s grocery store for the summer – she has to figure out who she wants to be and what she stands for. And has an ending you definitely won’t see coming!

 

Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson

“Thanks E.J.,” I say. “But I think it’s ridiculous that you think I would only be getting dressed up for a guy.”
“Well, you look beautiful, whoever it’s for.”  
I think for a moment and then tell him, “It’s for me.”


One of my favorite exchanges of dialogue on this list! With each bus ride across Oakland from Jade’s neighborhood to her school figures out a bit more who she is and what she wants her voice and art to say in this world. She is sick of everyone trying to give her “opportunities,” but with the reward of a college scholarship ends up reluctantly participating in a Woman to Woman mentorship program. A beautiful coming of age piece, Jade’s strength and independence emanates as she navigates the different parts of her world, piecing herself together.

 

City of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson

“I found that I was more myself than at any other time. I was a new person. A thief. Solid, strong. Unbroken.”

 

Tina is a member of the Goondas, a local gang that she’s been with since her mother was murdered. Living in Sangui City, Kenya, as refugees from the Congo, originally her mother had worked as a maid for a family the rich part of the city. Now, wanting nothing more than justice – her journey takes some winding turns – she’ll question everything and everyone along the way. Her perseverance puts her in a league of her own.

 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Brave doesn’t mean you’re not scared, Starr… It means you go on even though you’re scared.”

 

After a police officer shoots and kills one of Starr’s oldest friends – how does she move forward? From her neighborhood in Garden Heights to her suburban prep school Williamson – can she be herself anywhere? What makes this novel so powerful beyond just the plot is the intricate depths of the characterization. You’re with Starr in Garden Heights as she tries to prove herself “cool.” You’re with her as she goes back and forth to Williamson, trying to figure out how she fits in. You’re with her as she is hurt by her so-called friend’s ignorance and denial of her privilege and racism, and with her as she struggles to figure out how to fight for justice.

 

Brittany Gendron is an Instructional Technology Facilitator in North Carolina. She previously taught English in North & South Carolina. She is an avid reader, and her heart is fullest when she gets to co-teach and work with teachers to make their dream tech projects come alive in their classrooms (especially when it includes books!) You can find her on Twitter @readwritethrive or on her blog Musings From The Middle: Read, Write, Teach, Love.