Mentoring Month: Day of the Girl
Next month on October 11 is the International Day of the Girl, a day marked by UN resolution for “promoting and protecting the full and effective enjoyment of [girls’] human rights.” With equal rights and feminism very much in the news lately, it seems like a good time to share our experiences with mentoring girls and being mentored.
As a nerdy little bookworm myself, most of my mentoring came from books. So while I was thinking about what I wanted to talk about for this post, of course my thoughts turned to the books that helped me learn what it meant to be a girl. Okay, maybe at the time I wasn’t cogitating on empowered female characters, but I was definitely cheering on the awesome girls I was reading about.
My earliest conscious awareness of “girl as protagonist” was that girl-power classic, ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT’S ME MARGARET by Judy Blume. This book only gets better the more times crazy people try to ban it. 🙂 Margaret had issues — so many issues! — and they were my issues. Go, Margaret!
When it came time to buy books for my niece, I was very aware that I wanted to be sure to find strong female characters for her. Two of my post-Margaret favorites — and still favorites today — are DRAGONSONG by Anne McCaffrey and A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeleine L’Engle. Both were stories about girls who didn’t quite fit in, who wanted more out of life than what was easy, and weren’t hesitating to go after it. Plus, awesome adventures with a SFF, naturally.
I’m relieved to report that my pre-teen niece is continuing on with awesome reads about powerful girls. In fact, she gave me some new titles:
MATCHED by Ally Condie: Niece’s review — “She goes rogue. So that’s good.”
GRACELING by Kristin Cashore: “Her special skill is killing and survival.”
SLATED by Teri Terry: “It’s complicated. But she changes for the better.”
Aren’t those mini reviews sort of girlhood written short? Well, hopefully not the killing, but definitely survival — literally, for some girls, even in today’s world. We can hope that “changes for the better” is the ultimate outcome. Meanwhile I’m planning on watching (for the third time) that other new feminist classic MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. Because every once and awhile I need Furiosa as my spirit animal.
Do you have a favorite book that influenced what you knew about being a girl or woman? Please share in comments.