Notes from a Teens’ Top Ten Book Group Participant: 6 Books Every Teen Girl Should Read

TeensTopTen_logo_webTeens across the nation voted for the 2014 Teens’ Top Ten list, and the winners have been announced– but did you know how the books are nominated for this list in the first place?

Books are nominated by members of Teens’ Top Ten book groups in school and public libraries around the country. To give you a glimpse of what it’s like to be part of the process, we’re featuring posts from these teens here on The Hub. Today we have book recommendations from Kitra Katz of the Teens Know Best book group in St. Paul, Minnesota. To read more reviews by Kitra and the members of this group, visit the TKB Blog.

As a girl who has soaked in hundreds of books throughout her teenage years, I have found myself sighing at scores of disappointments. My peculiar taste for characters who make me proud to be a young woman and teach me lessons I need to wrap my head around before my last year of legal childhood comes to a halt often makes finding literary role models difficult. Very, very difficult.

I don’t want to jump into the world of a girl who spends more time moping over a boy than building her own story (though sometimes a fun, girly read can be good). Instead, I want a girl who is her own hero, or even the hero of others. A girl who can whip out a sword or witty word faster than she can say, “Maybelline or Covergirl?” A girl who is strong in times of trouble.

Sadly, this girl doesn’t seem to be terribly common in the literary world. So to help all those young women like me out there, I’ve created a checklist of six books every teenage girl needs to read.

1. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (a 2012 Morris Award finalist)

In this tear-jerking piece of fiction, we meet Lina, a fifteen-year-old who faces the most difficult years of her life when her whole family is arrested and sent to various Soviet-run prison camps.

2. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Told as a “memoir-in-comic-strips,” Persepolis is the story of Marjane growing up in the capital of Iran during the Islamic Revolution. Fascinating and eye-opening.

3. The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce

To be honest, you could read any story by Tamora Pierce and I would rejoice. Her myriad books center around strong, fierce, hardcore, stereotype-defying women. Pure excellence.

4. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

This one is a shocker, I know. Fickle, stupid teenagers who are infatuated–not in love. I mean, how could Juliet be so stupid as to kill herself over a boy she’s known less than a week? Well, I think we all need a reminder that something as small as a boy you met when you were thirteen isn’t life or death.

Sometimes that’s best learned by shaking our heads at someone else.

5. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

Though I’m sure you already know about her through the (well deserved) media hype she’s received, Malala is an excellent role model who can show us we’re never too young to make a difference.

6. Princesses Behaving Badly by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

A magnificent nonfiction collection of real princesses throughout history who did crazy, odd, brave, or even dangerous things. What’s better than girls and women who change up the old fairytale archetype?

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