Many scholars argue the way women are presented in the media translates to how they are treated in real life. Given this, it’s important to surround ourselves with media representations of strong, diverse women. Here are some of my favorite books:
“A Safe Girl to Love” by Casey Plett - “A Safe Girl to Love” is a collection of short stories that follows young trans women through their lives as they navigate difficulties specifically related to their gender identity and those we all experience. Many reviews on Goodreads were positive and mentioned the characters in the stories touched them.
“The Chronicles of Narnia” series by C.S. Lewis – This series tells a story of a family who goes on adventures in a fantasy world. These books have many very strong examples of brave and strong women, as exemplified by character Susan Pevensie. As the oldest daughter, she proves she can handle life-threatening situations without any help from others. However, some criticize Susan for taking more interest in her teenage social life, and praise Lucy, the younger sister, for continuing to visit Narnia even as she ages.
“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee – The main character in this book is Scout Finch, a girl coming-of-age in a small Alabama town during the Great Depression. As Scout grows up, the reader gets to see how she forms her own opinions about those who are different from her, even if it is not the popular opinion. Seeing a young female lead challenge the opinions of others, especially older males, makes this the perfect book for young women.
“Maximum Ride” series by James Patterson – This series is about a family of mutants who are half human and half bird. Maximum Ride, one of the oldest female children, leads a group of kids when escaping from a lab where they were held captive. Not only does the series feature Max as an independent heroine, it showcases diversity through race and physical ability. These characters are not portrayed in a negative light, but as characters who are just as capable — if not more capable — than Max.
“Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott – This book is another coming-of-age tale, this time focusing on a group of sisters growing up in the mid 19th century. Each sister has her own unique talents and goals. Jo March, one of the main characters, is an aspiring writer who never gives up on her dreams, even though women novelists were not common at the time. To me, Jo is the most empowering character, however, Amy is a close second.
“Paper Girls” by Brian K. Vaughan – This is a story about girls that deliver mail, but then strange things begin to happen to them. This story shows examples of strong female characters and LGBTQ+ representation through portraying an entirely female main cast and a relationship between two women.
“Lilac Girls” by Martha Hall Kelly – “Lilac Girls” is a story based on true events involving Nazi’s and women who where effected during World War II. While I have not read this yet, this is on the top of my list.
“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen – “Pride and Prejudice” tells the story of a woman who is figuring out what goodness actually means. This shows that she is growing as an individual and bettering herself. It’s refreshing to see a woman with flaws who is actively seeking to better herself.
Whether you're wanting a journey into a futuristic world or back in time, this list has something for you! Happy reading!