Friday, November 2, 2012

Safe Books for Strong Girls

So I've been reading Joan of Arc by Mark Twain and it is simply AMAZING!!! I am not kidding.  The life of this quiet, unassuming, seventeen year old, illiterate peasant girl absolutely astounds me.  Reading about her makes me want to be better in every way--she was the kind of person I'd want my daughter to want to emulate. 

Anyway, this got me to thinking, and every time I've gone to speak to groups about Cobbogoth, there have been mothers and teen girls alike who ask me for recommendations of books they can feel safe reading.  "Safe" meaning, they aren't afraid they're going to run into a bunch of garbage that contradicts everything they believe in; they aren't afraid of giving their daughters the wrong idea about what it means to be a girl or woman; they know that the heroine of the book is strong and smart and wise and independent and most importantly truly good. 

Now, I was raised on "safe" books, and I attribute a lot of my independent way of thought and my ability to respect myself and those around me enough to be true to my core convictions to the examples of the heroines in these "safe" books.  I absolutely believe the age old adage that "You are what you read." 

So, in that light, I have compiled a list of my most favorite and absolutely "safe" books for all those mothers and daughters.  Here they are:

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery  (the entire series is awesome!)
The Story Girl by L.M. Montgomery
Kilmeny of the Orchard by L.M. Montgomery
The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (in my humble opinion, Jane is  the greatest heroin ever written)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Persuasion by Jane Austen  (Actually, I'd say that Anne Elliot is tied with Elizabeth for second.)
Northanger Abby by Jane Austen
Emma by Jane Austen
Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Levitte (Love! Love! Love!)
Princess Academy by Shannon Hale (A sort of fairy tale version of the bible story of Esther)
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George
The Hunger Games Series by Susanne Collins

(Now, I have to make a note on this particular series.  I know this series is violent, but the violence isn't for the sake of being violent, it's to teach kids about the devastating effects of violence. I think it is a really important piece of literature, because it safely teaches teens about the reality of war and the role media and propaganda play.  It's a very timely piece and I think Katniss is a heroine who is able to rise above and be true to herself throughout the series, even when it is hard and the price could be her life.)

Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen
Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope
The Perilous Guard by Elizabeth Marie Pope
North and South By Elizabeth Gaskell
Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
An Old Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott
My Fair Lady by Alan Jay Lerner
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
Incidents in the Life of  Slave-Girl by Harriet A. Jacobs
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Anna by Susan Evans McCloud
Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier
Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

I've also recently come across an author of Christian Historical Fiction who I really like.  Her name is Karen Witemeyer.  She's written four books and all of them have not just fantastic heroines, but also great male characters--masculine but not macho.  These books are probably for older more young adult readers say 18 +, but they are squeaky clean, and they are TRUE love stories, not lust stories.  I really enjoy her writing style as well.

Short Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer
To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer
Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer
Tailor-Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer

I'm sure there are a many more titles I could add to this list, but what about you?  What are your favorite "safe" books.  Who are your favorite strong heroines and why?  Let's see if we can't make an even bigger list, and I'll make it a permanent list on my blog, so that whenever I come across moms and daughters looking for safe books to read, I'll have an awesome list to send them to. 

Thanks for your help!



  1. It is great to see most of the books I've grown up on make it on the list. I would add ELLA ENCHANTED and FAIREST and THE TWO PRINCESSES OF BAMARRE by Gail Carson Levine. They are all fabulous YA fantasy books that feature heroines that must find the strength in themselves to overcome their challenges.

    1. M.R. Buttars, thanks for these suggestions! I love these books too! Thanks for refreshing my memory.

  2. I love this list! I'm putting a bunch of them on hold at the library right now!

    1. Jen, what are your favorite Georgette Heyer novels that could go on this list? I haven't read any of them--started The Grand Sophie, but didn't finish--but if you have some faves, I'd love to put them on here as well.