Hey, girls! Every May, we celebrate what makes girls truly beautiful — not what they look like or what they wear, but who they are on the inside. So this month, I’m featuring books about beautiful girls — girls of all sorts of girls who are beautiful for their personalities, their dreams, and most of all, for being themselves!
- Tig Ripley doesn’t just march to the beat of her own drum — she plays it, too! Although she starts out knowing little about music, after a few weeks of drum lessons she is ready to build an all-girl rock band of her own, and to show a boy classmate that he’s not the only one who knows a thing or two about rock and roll. Not only that, but Tig hopes the band will help her get noticed at school, even if it doesn’t make her popular. With the whole school watching, Tig learns whether she has what it takes to lead the band she’s created. Start with Tig Ripley: Rock ‘n’ Roll Rebel and then check out Tig Ripley: Hard Rock, both by Ginger Rue.
- For more musical fun, watch for The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Perez, in which 12-year-old Malu fights her school’s administration for the right to express herself by performing in her punk band. As she deals with a mean girl who teases her for being a Latina girl who acts too “white,” she remembers her dad’s first rule of punk: “Be Yourself.” “So what if you’re a total weirdo?” she asks. “We’re all weird in some way, right? Right.”*
- In Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar, Ruthie is just starting to feel comfortable in New York after emigrating from Cuba when a car accident leaves her in a body cast and confined to her bed for a long recovery. No longer able to move, Ruthie looks within herself to find meaning and beauty, coming to appreciate her friends, neighbors, the arts, and all the little things that can help us through the worst of times.
- In 1965 Los Angeles, all 12-year-old Sophie wants to do is write her book, star in the community play, and hang out with her friend — but as the only black girl in an all-white neighborhood when riots erupt nearby and a friend is unfairly arrested, life quickly becomes more complicated than Sophie imagined. As her parents’ marriage falters and her older sister “passes” as white to get a job, Sophie begins to understand the importance of being true to yourself even when you encounter stereotypes and bigotry all around you in It All Comes Down to This by Karen English.**
- Every time Ally lands in a new school, she keeps her inability to read a secret. But when her newest teacher sees past the disruptions Ally causes to distract everyone, Ally starts to feel free to be herself — and to connect with other kids who are “outsiders” in their own ways. In Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Ally soon learns that there is more to each of us than labels.
- Sophie is the prettiest girl in her class — but her stylish clothes and huge group of friends mask the secret she hides at home as her alcoholic mother’s addiction gets worse and worse. When Sophie’s aunt steps in to help, Sophie begins to learn that real beauty is about far more than how you look. “Pretty is fine, but that’s like anything, anything can be pretty when you put it in the right light,” she says in Pretty by Justin Sayre, “but to be beautiful is to have a purpose.”**
- In A Single Stone by Meg McKinlay, Jena is proud that she is the leader of “the line” — a girl small enough to fit into the tunnels in her mountain to harvest precious, light-giving stone. But when she begins to suspect that the leaders in her community are hiding something, she must decide whether she is ready to give up everything she has worked for to expose the secret.
- If you’re looking for some real-life stories of amazing girls with inner beauty, look no further than Real Kids, Real Stories, Real Character: Choices that Matter Around the World by Garth Sundem. Through this book, you can read about 14-year-old Eunice, who risked her life to report on girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo, or Tatyana, whose determination took her from an orphanage in Russia to the Paralympic Games in America, or Winter, who became the youngest person to run to raise money for cancer after losing her father. The stories in this book can lend you inspiration as you explore and work for the causes that are most important to you!
- Have you ever gone outdoors to learn about science for a class or field trip? If you have, you can thank Anna Comstock! Since she was a child, she was fascinated by science and the natural world, even though at the time science was considered a “men’s” field of study. Anna disagreed, and she pushed schools to take kids outdoors to learn about science and nature. You can find out more about her life in Out of School and Into Nature: The Anna Comstock Story by Suzanne Slade.
- Every year when we celebrate inner beauty, you tell us all about what makes your friends truly beautiful. Growing Friendships: A Kid’s Guide to Making and Keeping Friends by Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore and Christine McLaughlin can help you keep those special friendships strong — and help you build new ones. It includes tips on how to apologize after a fight, how to know when to take a break from your friend, how to join a group already hanging out together, and more.**
What about you? What books about inner beauty, being yourself, and marching to the beat of your own drum are your favorites? Have you read any of the books on the list above? Leave your thoughts in the comments!
* “The First Rule of Punk” will be on sale in August. If you’re interested in reading it, jot it down now so you can make sure to check your local libraries and bookstores for it this summer!
**”It All Comes Down to This,” “Pretty,” and “Growing Friendships” will be published in July. Make sure to look for them then!