Hello! Welcome to “Lacey Recommends,” a monthly column updating you on some of the latest and greatest books being published for girls.
One of the things I love most about New Moon Girls is getting to see all the AWESOME ways girls express their unique personalities, whether through poetry, photography, artwork, fashion, cooking or more. It can feel great to create something new, which is why I’m really excited about this month’s magazine theme (Express Yourself!) Check out these books to express yourself.
Sewing, Knitting and Fashion
If you love to work with fabric and yarn, check out Now I Can Sew by Sian Hamilton, which includes instructions for 20 sewing projects that you can make WITHOUT a sewing machine. From pencil cases to bracelets to wall organizers, there are lots of great ideas in this book. It can also come in handy for creating party favors or homemade gifts.
Game for learning something new? Try Susan B. Anderson’s Kids’ Knitting Workshop, a fun, spiral-bound book with knitting instructions and projects for beginners. If you’re a more advanced knitter, you’ll find tons (100 to be exact) of ideas for projects in 100 Little Knitted Projects by Sarah Keen.
If clothes are more your style than craft projects, check out Fashion Rebels: Style Icons Who Changed the World Through Fashion. It includes sketches of women who expressed themselves through fashion from the time of Cleopatra to the present. Although it doesn’t have sewing instructions, it’s sure to provide lots of inspiration for how you can work with what’s in your closet to show off who you are on the inside.
Writing, Drawing and Photography
Writing is my favorite way to express myself — and I’m doing it right now! One of the most common questions we get when we do author interviews is, “Where do you get your ideas for stories?” If you want to write but feel stuck,Image & Imagination: Ideas and Inspiration for Teen Writers by Nick Healy and Kristen McCurry might help. It’s chock-full of writing prompts and photographs to get you thinking. A couple prompts include, “If you could only save one photograph of yourself, what would it be?” and “Imagine an ancient city in its last days — write about what happens.” There is space to write in the book if you want, or you can write in a separate journal or computer file.
Photo Explorations: A Girl’s Guide to Self-Discovery Through Photography, Writing and Drawing by Cathy Lander-Goldberg is a journal with prompts about photos to take, pictures to draw and journal entries to write. It asks for baby pictures, family photos, and lists of important childhood memories to get you thinking about your life — where you’ve been, and where you might go next!
If drawing is more your style, check out Girl Plus Pen: Doodle Draw, Color, and Express Your Individual Style. Turn your doodles into beautiful borders, frames, or word art. There are also “how-to” instructions for drawing a unicorn, a bike, and other goodies. There is space to draw right in the book, but you could use it as inspiration for filling a separate sketchbook, too.
Do you play an instrument, sing or dance? If so, you might enjoy Girls Rock: Amazing Tales of Women in Music by Shelley Tougas, It includes short bios and photos of women musicians, past and present. Read up on some of your faves, and discover some new tunes!
You also might like I Am Drums by Mike Grosso, which is a story about a girl who won’t let money problems or her school’s shrinking music program interfere with her dream to play the drum beats she always hears in her head out loud.
We all need food to stay alive and healthy, but food can also be a great way to express yourself! You can start by planting a garden using tips from The Ultimate Guide to Gardening: Grow Your Own Indoor, Vegetable, Fairy and Other Great Gardens by Lisa J. Amstutz. You don’t need to have a big yard to garden — this book has ideas for gardening in small containers, like pots or jars. And if you’re more interested in beauty than veggies, consider planting a flower garden or even creating a fairy garden!
Summer is the season for ball parks — but whether you like sports or not, you’re sure to find something yummy inBallpark Eats by Katrina Jorgensen, which includes recipes for summertime faves from ball parks across the U.S. You’ll find instructions for making Chicago hot dogs, peanut butter cup fudge, and all sorts of french fry variations. No tickets required — yum!
In Baker’s Magic, a novel by Diane Zahler, orphan girl Bee discovers that when she bakes, the results are more than just yummy pastries. She has baking “magic” — which might even save her kingdom!
Maybe you prefer to express yourself building digital worlds or writing code rather than with a pen and paper. If so, we’ve got you covered! The Unofficial Minecraft Lab for Kids by John Miller and Chris Fornell Scott is full of Minecraft ideas for creations on AND off the computer. In addition to ideas for structures you can build within the Minecraft game, you’ll find recipes for Minecraft cookies, paper cut-out projects to build Minecraft structures offline, and more!
If you’re ready for more advanced digital creations, No Starch Press has a great series of coding books for kids that can help you learn programming languages — the languages that let you “talk” to the computer to build programs, websites and more. Python Crash Course by Eric Matthes can teach you how to code in the Python programming language or improve your current skills. After that, you can graduate to Python Playground to find out all the truly wonderful creations you can create with code!
Now I want to hear from you. How do YOU like to express yourself? Do you have favorite “go-to” books for inspiration? Tell me about it in the comments!
Lacey Louwagie is a writer and editor who got her first editing job with New Moon Girls in 2002. She is currently a reporter for a legal news organization, which means she reads a lot of lawsuits! She has also been a teen services librarian and coordinates book-related goodies for New Moon Girls. She is the author of “Rumpled,” a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin for ages 14 and up, and the co-editor of “Hungering & Thirsting for Justice: True Stories from Young Adult Catholics.”