The November/December 2016 issue of New Moon Girls is all about emotions, and this column is all about books about emotions for girls.
Emotions are a normal part of life — you experience them every day, although some of them are stronger than others. Books are one of the ways we can help make sense of our emotions — knowing that a character in a book has felt the same way that you do can make you feel a lot less alone! Below are some great books that feature girls coping with all sorts of emotions, plus one book that’s just about the facts!
- Have you ever felt like an outsider? In The Thing About Leftovers by C.C. Payne, Fizzy distracts herself from her heartbreak over her parents’ divorce by focusing on winning a cook-off. But cooking just makes her think of leftovers, and how she feels like a “leftover” kid from her parents’ first marriage now that both of them have new partners. Even though Fizzy has been taught not to “rock the boat,” she learns through the course of the story that it IS OK to make yourself heard when you have strong emotions!
- In For Emme, Baked with Love by Laura Dower, Emme faces a similar problem. Her parents are splitting up, and her best friends are fighting. She looks to find peace by working in a new, possibly enchanted, bakery and putting love rather than pain into her creations. (If you like this book, make sure to check out the others in the Dessert Diaries series, too).
- Sometimes emotions can be hard to talk about, even for adults. In Be Light Like a Bird by Monika Schroder, Wren’s mom won’t talk to her about her feelings after Wren’s father dies. When her mother insists that they move, connecting becomes even harder. But in her new home in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Wren must learn to cope with her grief and find out who she is without her father by her side.
- Have you ever felt … not quite yourself? In Karen Romano Young’s Hundred Percent, Tink is in her last year of elementary school, and she feels like she’s getting too big or too old for her old nickname. She’s also confused about why she likes a boy who says things she disagrees with or why she doesn’t feel the same way around her best friend as she used to. As she navigates that last “inbetween” year before middle school, Tink searches for a way to be “100 percent” herself.
- Runs with Courage by Joan M. Wolf follows the journey of Four Winds, a Lakota girl who is fighting to hold on to her culture after she has been sent from her reservation in the Dakota Territory to a boarding school run by whites. She faces confusion and anger as the school tries to erase her links to her Native American heritage, and must search for the courage to hold on to who she truly is.
- When you think of war, you probably think only of difficult emotions, like fear, sadness, and despair. In Krysia: A Polish Girl’s Stolen Childhood During World War II, Krystyna Mihulka faces all these feelings living in Poland and, later, in a Soviet prison camp, during the Second World War. But she also remembers moments of hope and happiness during the long years that she searched for freedom with her mother and brother in this true story.
- If you’re looking for something a little lighter, check out the second book in the Fenway and Hattie series, which is about a dog and his favorite human, Hattie. Told from the dog’s perspective, Fenway has to deal with the powerful emotion of jealousy when Hattie brings home a new pet — a bunny! In Fenway and Hattie and the Evil Bunny Gang by Victoria Coe, Fenway will do whatever it takes to secure his place in Hattie’s heart — and take on evil bunnies everywhere! (You can learn more about the first book in the series here.)
- One of the reasons your emotions feel so intense sometimes is that, as you get older, both your body AND your mind are going through huge changes. New hormones are affecting your brain and the way you feel — but even WITHOUT hormones, growing up is a big deal, and it’s normal to be sad, angry, excited, or scared — sometimes even all at once! To learn more about the big changes both girls AND boys go through, check out Sex, Puberty, and All That Stuff: A Guide to Growing Up by Jacqui Bailey. While the book has lots of information on what’s happening with your body, it also has chapters devoted to your emotions and relationships. Although it might be embarrassing, ask a parent or another trusted adult to look at the book with you so you can talk about any questions or concerns you might have.
Sometimes they’re fun, sometimes they’re tough to deal with, but there’s no question that emotions are part of what makes life — and books — interesting! Let me know if you’ve read any of the books above, or tell recommend your favorite books about facing down your emotions in the comments below.