A Mighty Girl Blog

  • Back to School Part II: Mighty Girls in Middle School, High School, and Beyond

    StandUp_350x350[1]By Katherine Handcock, A Mighty Girl Communications Specialist

    Parents of younger Mighty Girls looking for books about school can find recommendations in our second post in the series: Back to School Part I: Mighty Girls’ Adventures at School.

    By the time your child is a tween or teen, you might think that they’ve got this whole “school” thing down — but in reality, the transitions to middle school, high school, and post-secondary education are all just as significant as that first step through the kindergarten doors. And beyond finding their bearings in a new school, they also have to adjust to increasing independence and start thinking about the career direction they have to take. Put it all together and it’s no wonder that tweens and teens report being stressed out by school!

    Fortunately, there are some great books out there to help tweens, teens, and their parents get used to all of these changes. Whether she’s looking for advice on changing classes for the first time, figuring out how to navigate increasingly complicated social waters, handling living independently at college, or wondering what kind of career might suit her, there’s a book here to help.

    And for parents who are looking at this rapidly-changing creature in front of them — seemingly a little girl one moment and a grown woman the next — there are books to help understand how your relationship dynamic is changing and what she’s going through behind those school and bedroom doors.

    For more back-to-school resources, including books, clothing, backpacks, and gear, visit our Girl Empowerment Back to School Guide.
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  • Back to School Part I: Books About Mighty Girls' Adventures at School

    adventureanniekindergartencover[1]By Katherine Handcock, A Mighty Girl Communications Specialist

    Parents of older Mighty Girls looking for books about school can find recommendations in our second post in this series: Back to School Part II: Mighty Girls in Middle School, High School, and Beyond.

    While it sometimes feels like “back to school” starts right after school ends for the summer, the truth is that preparing for school does take a lot of time — both for parents and for kids who are off on this new adventure. And it’s easy for parents to forget that there was a time when school was totally unfamiliar, and maybe a little scary!

    Whether your Mighty Girl is about to start a preschool program or if she's preparing to move to elementary school or a new school, here are some great books to help her feel prepared. By answering some of her questions about what it will be like — and reassuring her that there are wonderful things to learn and do there — you can help your Mighty Girl get excited about her school career. And for parents of older Mighty Girls, watch for a follow-up blog with books about school for middle schoolers, high schoolers, and beyond!

    For more back-to-school resources, including books, clothing, backpacks, and gear, visit our Girl Empowerment Back to School Guide.

    The First Few Days

    147-1[1]It’s normal for your Mighty Girl to be a little nervous about the start of school. In First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg and illustrated by Judith Dufour Love (age 4 - 8), Sarah is hiding under her bed — and announces that she is not going to school. “I don’t know anybody, and it will be hard,” she wails. Fortunately, Mr. Hartwell kindly coaxes her out of bed and off to school — where the surprise ending will have your child giggling! This fun reminder that your Mighty Girl isn’t the only one feeling nervous about starting school is sure to help chase some of the butterflies away.

    An older sibling can also help reassure a nervous soon-to-be student! Fans of Charlie and Lola will want to check out I Am Too Absolutely Small For School by Lauren Child (age 3 - 7). When Lola gets nervous and decides she's not really big enough for school after all, big brother Charlie patiently helps encourage her to find her confidence — with a little help from her imaginary friend Soren Lorenson. This sweet and funny story is also a great way to show big brothers and sisters how they can help support an anxious sibling.

    51qexuaixgl_1_[1]Kids who are nervous generally are more likely to worry about school. Wemberly from Kevin Henke's Wemberly Worried (age 4 - 8) is one of those kids who worries about everything from spilling her juice to whether a snake could sneak in through the radiator, and school brings its own host of worries — including whether she'll find a friend. Fortunately, a sympathetic teacher introduces Wemberly to another nervous new student; soon the pair are not only comforting one another, but discovering that there's too much fun to be had at school — and with new friends — to spend all your time worrying.

    Many kids find it hard to be away from parents for the first day at school, especially if Mom or Dad was their full-time caregiver. In Eliza's Kindergarten Surprise by Alice B. McGinty, illustrated by Nancy Speir (age 3 - 6), the kiss that Eliza's mother slips into her pocket isn't much comfort when Eliza finds herself missing home during a long first day. But then Eliza starts noticing things that remind her of her mother — everything from blue buttons to a clump of yarn — and at craft time, this resourceful Mighty Girl puts the pieces together to make something that will help her through the day. When Mom comes to pick her up, Eliza is delighted to have a special surprise to show her and to discover a surprise from her mother in return.

    51a2fudvqgl_1_[1]Another book that captures the nerves that both children and parents may feel on the first day of school is Natasha Wing's The Night Before Kindergarten, illustrated by Julie Durrell (age 3 - 5). In this clever story based on the poem "The Night Before Christmas", kids are full of excitement, anticipation... and a few worries. But on the morning that school comes, the kids are ready to face a day full of adventure, and it's the parents who shed a few tears — mostly of joy as they watch their big girls and boys head in through the classroom doors!

    Even the bravest of kids might feel some anxiety about their first day. In Edda: A Little Valkyrie's First Day of School, by Adam Auerbach (age 4 - 8), Edda has everything she's ever wanted in her exciting home of Asgard except a friend her own age. Her father tells her that there's a place on Earth called "school" where she could seek out her peers...if she dares. School is very different from Asgard, and even Edda finds herself uncertain about where she fits in this new world. Fortunately, thanks to a little Valkyrie courage and determination, it's not long before Edda feels right at home.

    51dckd8xcbl_1_[1]Sometimes, the nerves don't set in until after a Mighty Girl hits a snag. In Richard Torrey's Ally-Saurus and the First Day of School (age 3 - 6), dinosaur-loving Ally is hoping to meet some like-minded friends at school, but instead, she finds she's alone in her interest. Worse yet, a trio of princess-loving girls turn up their nose at her ferocious ways! But as the nerves of the first day slowly fade, the imaginations — and individuality — of all the other kids start to make an appearance. Soon, the classroom is full of astronauts, princesses, a lion, and even a briefcase-toting little boy! This story tackles all sorts of issues that face a child on her first day, from the routine of the day to keeping an open mind and finding common ground with friends-to-be of all sorts.

    With school comes rules, but it can be hard to follow the rules when you’re a superhero. In Adventure Annie Goes To Kindergarten by Toni Buzzeo and illustrated by Amy Wummer (age 4 - 8), Annie is sure she’ll have some great adventure at kindergarten — she even comes prepared with her Adventure Annie cape! But Mr. Todd’s Gold Star Rules are hard to follow when you’re seeking a grand adventure. Annie wants to be that day’s Gold Star Deputy, but it looks like the chances of that are slim — until two helpers get lost, and Annie gets to have her adventure and follow the Gold Star Rules.

    51q8wkugesl_1_[1]Of course, kindergarten isn't the only school transition many children will face! Many kids will start out with preschool, and may be curious about what their day will look like when they start this new adventure. In Maisy Goes To Preschool by Lucy Cousins (age 2 - 5), Maisy and her friends lead readers through a typical preschool day, from hanging your coat on its hook until it's time to go home. In between, there will be crafts, playtime with friends, and lots of fun! This colorful and reassuring book is sure to help kids get ready for their first preschool day.

    The transition from a bright, playful kindergarten class to the more serious first grade can also cause some nerves — especially if you don't have your friend by your side! In The Night Before First Grade by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Deborah Zemke (age 4 - 8), Penny is excited for the first day of grade one — until she discovers that her best friend has been assigned to the other class. Although she's thrown temporarily, soon Penny is exploring everything her new classroom has to offer and making some new connections with other classmates. Imagine the fun stories she and her best friend can share when the school day is done!

    51ar2n0jm7l[1]Expectations get tougher when you move into first grade, too, which can cause conflicts between students and teachers. In The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes To School by Laurie Halse Anderson, illustrated by Ard Hoyt (age 6 - 8), Zoe's wild hair, which can act on its own to pet the cat and play on the computer, was acceptable for kindergarten. But when her new first grade teacher, Ms. Trisk, declares, "School has rules....No wild hair in my class!" Zoe's hair gets subdued — along with her spirits. However, when Zoe's sentient hair breaks free just in time to help with a lesson, Ms. Trisk has to admit that there's a place for Zoe's hair in her class after all. In addition to providing a funny look at the transition between kindergarten and grade one, this book provides a funny reminder that teachers learn from their students too.

    And it's particularly important to remember kids who move into a school — and have to find their place in a group that's already established. In Lois Lowry's Gooney Bird Greene (age 7 - 10), Watertower Elementary School isn't sure what to make of newly-arrived second grader Gooney Bird! Her wild outfits — never the same twice — make her stand out wherever she goes. But once she starts telling her "absolutely true" stories, her peers are fascinated. Most importantly, though, Gooney Bird's new perspective allows all of her classmates to see new potential in themselves.

    School Is An Adventure!

    61ksogoui1l_1_[1]Once your Mighty Girl has settled into school, that doesn't mean that things become any less of an adventure! There's still plenty of excitement to be had — and challenges to face — once the first days have passed. These books talk about some of the amazing discoveries your Mighty Girl might make about herself, all while she's learning her ABCs.

    The first challenge, of course, is getting to school on time! Sometimes there are just too many distractions on the way. In On My Way To School by Sarah Maizes and illustrated by Michael Paraskevas (age 3 - 6), a creative little girl finds it hard to hustle along her way when she could be an elephant at the waterhole, a climber reaching the summit of Mount Everest, or a celebrity posing for photos! This cheerful and funny book is sure to be a hit with any child who wants just one more minute for her games.

    51riplo0_2bul_1_[1]Remembering all the rules of school — and following them — is another challenge for many Mighty Girls! Beverly Cleary's irrepressible Ramona Quimby runs into trouble in Ramona the Pest (age 7 - 11 or younger as a read-aloud). Ramona’s excited to learn all the important things school has to teach her, but how can she resist the many temptations in front of her — like writing the letter Q instead of turning it into a cat, or resisting the urge to pull on a classmate’s “boing-boing” curls. Cleary depicts Ramona’s struggles with school rules with compassion and optimism, and in the end, even exuberant Ramona finds her place. This book is great as a read-aloud for younger girls — and you can tell your Mighty Girl that someday soon, she can read it to you!

    Lilly from Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes (age 4 - 8) also runs into trouble with school rules. She loves school, and her teacher Mr. Slinger — until he confiscates her wonderful, musical purse because she’s interrupting the lessons. Furious, Lilly channels her outrage into an elaborate drawing of “Big Fat Mean Mr. Stealing Teacher” that she slips into Mr. Slinger’s bookbag. But when she gets her purse back at the end of the day — with a kind note from Mr. Slinger tucked inside — Lilly has to figure out a way to make up for her impulsive act of revenge. If your Mighty Girl is worried about learning all the rules — and what to do if she breaks one — this book is a great way to remind her that mistakes can be forgiven if you’re willing to make amends.

    41osco35xcl_1_[1]Sometimes the challenge isn't the rules, but the difficulty of making yourself heard — especially when shyness or speech problems stand in your way. In Lana Button and Tania Howells' book Willow's Whispers (age 4 - 8), Willow's voice is so quiet that nobody can hear her, even at home where there are just a few people. In a busy, loud classroom, Willow gets drowned out completely. Her father reassures her that there's a big voice inside her, and that she'll find a way to let it out...so at craft time, Willow makes herself a magic megaphone that gives her the volume she needs. But when she breaks the megaphone, will Willow still have her voice? While this book will be familiar to anyone who struggles with shyness or self-confidence, kids with speech disorders will particularly appreciate seeing a character who wrestles with finding her voice.


    Sometimes the challenge isn't about school: it's about figuring out who you are as you make your way into the wider world. Young fans of Peppa Pig will love checking out Peppa Pig and the Busy Day at School (age 2 - 5). Peppa's school day is full of fun, but she's most excited for Special Talent Time, when each member of the class will get to show off something amazing they can do. But Peppa's excitement turns to worry when, one after another, other students pick her talents to demonstrate! Fortunately, with a little help from her sympathetic teacher, Peppa realizes that everyone has special gifts — and that even seemingly simple things like hopping in puddles can make for a special day at school.

    Similarly, in Velma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterfly, by Alan Madison and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes (age 4 - 8) Velma doesn’t think anyone will ever notice her — her two older sisters were just perfect, and Velma can’t possibly compete with that. So if she can’t compete by being the best, she’ll compete by being the worst — at math, spelling, sports, everything. But when her class goes to the butterfly conservatory for a science lesson, and a monarch decides that Velma’s finger is the perfect place to perch, Velma discovers her own way to stand out. A great way to reassure kids that everyone has talents — and to foster an interest in science and bugs — this book will get your Mighty Girl thinking about what new interests she’ll discover once she starts school.

    stand-tall-molly-lou-melon_1_[1]Sometimes, a Mighty Girl's sense of self has to stand up against the judgement of others. Ida in Erica S. Perl and Julia Denos' Dotty (age 4 - 8) shows up for her first day of school with her imaginary friend Dotty walking beside her on a leash, and is delighted to discover that lots of other kids have brought their own imaginary friends! But as the year goes on, fewer and fewer special friends come to school, and soon, Katya is making fun of Ida for bringing Dotty along. Ida's fit of temper results in having to stay after school where her teacher introduces her and Dotty to her own imaginary friend, still by her side at school after all these years. It's a charming story that reminds kids that it's okay to grow at your own pace — and that teachers were kids too.

    Little Molly Lou of Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell, illustrated by David Catrow (age 4 - 8) has always been proud of who she is...even if she is tiny, buck-toothed, and clumsy. Even her singing voice is like nothing anyone's heard before! When Molly Lou moves to a new school and has to face a bully's jeers, she remembers her grandmother's advice and turns every "disadvantage" to good use. Soon, everyone at school has learned that you should never underestimate Molly Lou Melon! Kids will love feisty, funny, and completely confident Molly Lou and will enjoy figuring out their own ways that they can "sing out clear and strong."

    51zt6lpgyzl_1_[1]Knowing how to handle a bully may be one of the biggest difficulties your Mighty Girl can face, whether she's a target or a bystander. The Recess Queen by Alexis O'Neill and illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith (age 4 - 8) is a great way to talk to kids about bullying tactics — and how a courageous kid can short-circuit them. Mary Jean is the Recess Queen at her school, bossing everyone around under threat of temper tantrums and worse. Then a new girl comes to school... a girl who doesn't know that Mary Jean is Recess Queen. After innocently doing all the things that are forbidden under Mary Jean's rule, Katie Sue halts the coming meltdown in its tracks with an invitation to play. This funny book is a helpful way to talk about schoolyard bullying with your Mighty Girl.

    To learn about more of our favorite books for young children on bullying prevention, check out our post "The End of Bullying Begins With Me": Bullying Prevention Books for Young Mighty Girls.

    Celebrating Differences

    51ljcvkwyhl_1_[1]One of the great things about school is that it introduces kids to the many different people around them! Whether they’re learning about other races and cultures, or finding their own, personal way to live their lives, the Mighty Girls in these books demonstrate how school can broaden their own — or others’ — view of the world.

    School-aged kids start thinking more and more about their appearances — and whether or not they "fit" with their peers. Of course, in every class, there's someone who will wear and look how they like! Stephanie from Robert Munsch and Michael Martchenko’s Stephanie’s Ponytail (age 4 - 8) is determined to be herself — in her case, by wearing her hair in a way that nobody else does. Every time she arrives at school with a more outrageous hairstyle — which is always proclaimed, “ugly, ugly, very ugly!” by her classmates — she returns the next day to find nothing but copycats, forcing her to find a new way to stand out. Her frustration grows as more and more people copy her unique style — until she thinks of the perfect way to show all the copycats the value of individuality and independent thought. The end of this book will have your Mighty Girl laughing, and it’s a great way to start conversations about peer pressure and personal style.

    51fr_2b7ndpyl_1_[1]Other things can make kids feel like what they have to wear draws eyes their way. Ginny in The Pirate of Kindergarten by George Ella Lyon, illustrated by Lynne Avril (age 4 and up) can’t figure out why she sees two of everything until vision screening day at school, when the nurse diagnoses her with double vision. An eye patch solves the vision problem, making reading, running, and scissor-snipping much easier, but Ginny wonders at first how her classmates will react. Soon, though, she comes up with a creative new identity: the Pirate of Kindergarten! Ginny’s clever way of taking a difference and turning it into something fun is a great way to encourage kids who are worried about how peers will react to their own differences — and to teach all kids about kindness, compassion, and tolerance of other kids at school.

    Even something as simple as a name can be a point of pride — or contention. Kevin Henke's Chrysanthemum loves her unique — and very fancy — name. But when she gets to school, her classmates make her question if it's "normal" to be named after a flower. And even that small difference is enough to get Chrysanthemum singled out on the playground, making her normally secure self-esteem wilt like a plucked blossom. Fortunately, it's not long before the class is introduced to their music teacher, Mrs. Delphinium Twinkle, and Chrysanthemum realizes that her long and unusual name is still something she can be proud of.

    9780374351144[1]Yoon in My Name Is Yoon by Helen Recorvits and illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska (age 4 - 7) also struggles with her name. Yoon is a recent immigrant from Korea, and just wishes she could go back. Her name means Shining Wisdom, and written in Korean characters, it’s beautiful — but in English, YOON is just all sticks and circles. So at school, she tries other names — names that express her hopes and fears, like BIRD, CAT, and CUPCAKE. But Yoon realizes that, whether it’s written in English or Korean, Yoon is still Yoon — and that she can belong here just as she did in her previous home. For another book with a similar theme about appreciating your heritage in a new country or culture, check out The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi (age 4 - 8).

    Similarly, in My Name is Maria Isabel by Alma Flor Ada (age 7 - 10 or younger as a read-aloud), Maria loves her name — Maria Isabel Salazar Lopez, from both her grandmothers, her grandfather, and her father. But when she arrives in her new class after moving from Puerto Rico, her teacher declares that there are too many Marias, so she’ll be called Mary. How can Maria explain to her teacher that her special name is a reminder of where she came from? Fortunately, when the class is assigned a paper titled “My Greatest Wish,” Maria finally finds the words to tell everyone how special her name is — and why she will always be Maria Isabel. Spanish-speaking Mighty Girl fans can read the Spanish-language version of the book, Me Llamo Maria Isabel.

    onegreenapple1[1]If a student still struggles with language when they start attending school in their new country, they may dream of fading into the background, like in One Green Apple, by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Ted Lewin (age 4 - 8). Farah is a Muslim girl, recently immigrated to America, whose dupatta and minimal English make her feel like she’ll never belong. But when her class takes a field trip to an apple orchard, Farah discovers that many things are familiar in her new country. And when Farah selects a green apple to go in the cider press, instead of red apples like all the other children choose, she teaches her classmates that there is great value in intermingling different things.

    There are other differences that kids might notice between themselves and peers of another culture. In The Sandwich Swap by Queen Rania of Jordan and Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Tricia Tusa (age 3 - 7), Salma and Lily are best friends — until they get into a fight over whose lunch is better, Salma's hummus or Lily's peanut butter and jelly. Soon, their argument has polarized the school and resulted in a very messy lunch! Fortunately Lily and Salma realize that their friendship can overcome such minor differences and, before long, they're helping organize a multicultural lunch swap that celebrates everyone.

    51rzpjyoq8l_1_[1]Clothing can also draw attention, especially if a Mighty Girl skips wearing cool fashions on her first day so that she can show off a special present from her beloved grandmother, like in Suki's Kimono, by Chieri Uegaki, illustrated by Stephane Jorisch (age 4 - 8). Suki's obachan brought a beautiful blue cotton kimono when she visited over the summer, and Suki's determined to wear it to her first day of first grade, despite her sisters' protests and her schoolmates' laughter on the playground. But when the kids in class get to talk about favorite moments from the summer, the kimono is the perfect thing to wear as Suki energetically demonstrates a traditional dance! This book celebrates multiculturalism and pride in heritage, as well as all girls who dance to the beat of their own drummer.

    When other kids tell you that your interests aren't valid, it can be hard to know what to do. Grace from Mary Hoffman and Caroline Binch's Amazing Grace (age 4 - 8) loves acting out stories from books, so when the school decides to perform Peter Pan, she's determined to be Peter. Her classmates protest: Peter is a boy, and he's not black! But with the support of her Ma and Nana — who take her to see a famous black ballerina and tell her she can be anything she wants if she puts her mind to it — Grace returns to school determined to fight for the role. It turns out, a black, female Peter Pan can be pretty great!

    51ffnfts-il_1_[1]Meeting classmates from so many different backgrounds provides many opportunities to teach kids the importance of compassion. Jacqueline Woodson tackles the issue of children's reactions to poverty in her book Each Kindness, illustrated by E.B. Lewis (age 5 - 9). Chloe and her friends refuse to play with Maya, the new girl, when they see her hand-me-down clothes and old toys, and every time Maya tries to join in, they reject her. Soon, Maya's playing alone and, eventually, she stops coming to school altogether. A lesson from Chloe's teacher about the effects of small acts of kindness — or kindness that isn't given — strikes home, and suddenly Chloe realizes how much good the simple act of playing with another child would have done. This stunning book is an excellent lesson in empathy, as well as a reminder to Mighty Girls that there are some actions you don't get the chance to take back.

    Sometimes, it's the "different" kids themselves who have a powerful lesson to teach. In Patricia Polacco's The Junkyard Wonders (age 6 - 10), Tricia, who has dyslexia, is horrified to discover that the classroom she's assigned at her new school is called "the Junkyard" — the kids, including a student with Tourette's Syndrome, a mute girl, and a boy with a visual impairment, are the misfits of the school. But their teacher, Mrs. Peterson, teaches them to adopt the name with pride, taking them to an actual junkyard and showing them the potential that lies within it — and them. And when one of their classmates dies, the Junkyard Wonders pay special tribute to him with something that others would write off as trash. This heartfelt book will teach readers to seek the unique talents in every person.

    Valuing Education

    book_review2-10[1]One of the most important things we can communicate to our Mighty Girls, though, is how special it is to be going to school. Whether you’re celebrating the value of a great teacher, a dedicated librarian, or simply education itself, these books will help you encourage your daughter to treasure her opportunity to learn. For more books about girls who will do anything to learn, check out our blog Honoring Malala: Mighty Girl Books on Children's Fight for Education.

    In My Teacher by James Ransome (age 5 - 8) a little girl thinks about the amazing things she learns from her teacher as the class listens to jazz music, writes their own stories, contributes to their community, and celebrates their differences. This little girl knows that her teacher could easily get a job at any school she wants — maybe at a bigger one, in a better neighborhood, or with more funding. But her teacher reveals that she was a student at this very school as a child, and now that she has achieved her own dream, she intends to make sure the other children here can do the same. It’s a wonderful testament to the fact that a good teacher is the best gift a child can receive.

    chew[1]A great teacher is even more important when a child is struggling. In Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco (age 5 - 8), Trisha is excited to go to school and learn to read — until all the letters in her books are just a jumbled mess, no matter how hard she tries. Her classmates don’t understand why she’s having so much trouble, and call her “dummy”, which just makes things worse. Fortunately, Mr. Falker, a new teacher at the school, is able to recognize both what’s keeping Trisha from being able to read — and her remarkable artistic talent. Based on Polacco’s real experiences as a child with dyslexia, this book will teach kids that determination — plus support from a great teacher — can help anyone learn.

    Polacco also wrote two other books about teachers who had a significant impact on her life. In The Art of Miss Chew (age 5 - 8), Trisha has discovered a passion for art, so she's thrilled when she gets into Miss Chew's exclusive art class at the high school. Miss Chew teaches Trisha to see art in a whole new way. But a substitute teacher chides Trisha for wasting her time on art when her schoolwork is so poor and refuses to give her the extra time on tests she needs. Fortunately, Miss Chew is ready to help her student fight for what she needs to thrive — both the extra time and the art she loves.

    Storyteller_web[1]In Mr. Wayne's Masterpiece, Trisha is dismayed when she ends up in drama class — she hates speaking in front of people! Mr. Wayne gives her a backstage job painting scenery, and she cheerfully works away while the actors rehearse — all the while, unintentionally memorizing the lines. But a few days before opening night, the girl playing the lead suddenly moves away. Can Mr. Wayne help Trisha overcome her stage fright so that the show can still go on? These three books capture the many different ways that dedicated, caring teachers can make a dramatic difference in the life of a child.

    Librarians also play a special part in children’s lives at school. In The Story-Teller’s Candle/La velita de los cuentos by Lucia Gonazalez and illustrated by Lulu Delacre (age 5 - 8), Hildamar is experiencing a chilly 1929 New York winter after moving from Puerto Rico. She wonders how she can celebrate her beloved Three Kings Day in this strange, cold new home. But when librarian Pura Belpre, the first Puerto Rican librarian hired by the New York Public Library system, comes to Hildamar’s classroom, Belpre tells her that not only is the library open to children and non-English speakers, but also that it can be a place for everyone to learn about the heritage of their friends and neighbors. Soon, the whole class is helping with the Three Kings Day celebration at the library.

    51wjj67flnl_1_[1]For some children, the very existence of a library is a revelation. In Ethel Footman Smothers and John Holyfield's book The Hard-Times Jar (age 5 - 8), Emma loves books, but her migrant family doesn't have the money to buy any for her. She comes up with a plan, though: if she saves all the money she makes picking apples and puts it in Mama's hard times jar, surely there will be enough extra to buy at least one book. But when Mama tells Emma that, this year, she has to go to school instead of working, Emma thinks her plans are ruined. Fortunately, the school library is a revelation to Emma...and even when she breaks a rule, she learns that there are people out there who understand and appreciate her hunger for the written word.

    Once kids realize the value of education, they will do almost anything to get it — but fortunately, most children today don’t have to teach themselves! In The Secret School by Avi (age 8 - 12 or younger as a read-aloud), Ida wants to be a teacher — which means finishing 8th grade and going on to high school. So when her one-room schoolhouse in her remote Colorado town is closed, Ida figures there’s only one solution: keep the school open, even if it means keeping it secret. And since a school needs a teacher, Ida has to step in. But when the county administrator finds out, he gives her an ultimatum: he’ll keep their secret — but only if every student passes a final exam. If your Mighty Girl enjoyed playing school before she went to school, she love reading about a girl learning just how hard it is to be a teacher.

    Your child’s first day of school is the beginning of an amazing, life-long journey of learning. Hopefully, with a few good books — and supportive friends and family — she’ll feel ready to take that first big step!

    Additional Recommended Resources

    Help keep A Mighty Girl growing in the years ahead!

    If you discover any books or other resources via this post that you would like to purchase, please use the "Buy at Amazon" link on every A Mighty Girl product page. By doing so, at no added cost to you, you help to support the site and allow us to continue providing you with wonderful girl-empowering resources. Thanks for your support!

    Originally published August 3, 2013. Updated July 28, 2014.

  • Understanding The Way I Feel: Mighty Girl Books About Managing Emotions

    By Katherine Handcock, A Mighty Girl Communications Specialist

    9781609581831_p0_v1_s260x420_1_[1]With the release of Disney Pixar’s film Inside Out, many Mighty Girls and their parents are thinking more about feelings: what feelings they have, how they interact, and how to manage them in positive ways. Whether you have a preschooler struggling to name how she feels, a tween wrestling with newly complex emotions, or a teenager who needs to find ways to incorporate her emotional life into adult decision-making, parents can do a lot to help kids navigate their emotional world. But sometimes, it’s hard to know where to begin.

    Fortunately, there are some great books out there to help parents and kids learn about their feelings — and how to express them appropriately. In this blog, we’re sharing some of our favorite books that help kids name, tame, and manage their emotions. These books for toddlers to teens are funny, poignant, and heartfelt, but most importantly, reassuring that no matter what you’re feeling, you can come out the other side.

    In addition to the recommendations below, you can find several books related to the recently released Disney/Pixar film that address handling emotions in our Inside Out Collection.

    Continue reading

  • True North: 10 Amazing Canadian Women

    8621604[1]By Katherine Handcock, A Mighty Girl Communications Specialist

    Happy Canada Day! Canada has come a long way since the Dominion of Canada was formed 148 years ago. It’s gone from the four original provinces to ten provinces and three territories that truly fulfill the national motto, “From sea to shining sea.” A diverse nation of peoples from all over the world, Canada is looking towards a bright future.

    And unsurprisingly, throughout Canada’s history, brave women have been there to leave their mark. From the earliest colonial settlements to today, women have helped shape the history and culture of Canada. To celebrate Canada Day, A Mighty Girl is paying tribute to ten of these amazing women. From activists to scientists, authors to engineers, and athletes to doctors, these women have shown that Canadian pride is universal.

    So let’s take a trip through Canada’s past and present to recognize these ten women who have helped make this country a place so many people are proud to call home. Continue reading

  • "Remember the Ladies” -- A Mighty Girl Celebrates the Fourth of July

    By Lili Sandler, A Mighty Girl Senior Research Intern

    Happy Independence Day! The Fourth of July is celebrated across the United States in commemoration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. While no women were present to add their signatures to the declaration, their role in creating and preserving the freedom that all Americans cherish is equally important to our nation’s history. In this post, we strive to, as Abigail Adams famously directed her husband, John Adams, one of the authors of the Declaration of Independence, “remember the ladies” and their immense contributions to the nation's founding.

    As we look forward to a day of parades, barbecues, baseball, and fireworks, we also look forward to a day to celebrate our great nation; a day to remember the battles won and lost, the sacrifices made, and the remarkable women who helped to transform those original thirteen colonies of 1776 into the United States of today.

    To learn more or order any of the books or resources highlighted in the post, simply click the link or image below to visit that item's A Mighty Girl page. By using the 'Buy at Amazon' and other links on every A Mighty Girl product page, at no added cost to you, you help make it possible for us to maintain this website as a resource for everyone committed to girl empowerment.


    independent-dames[1]For a fantastic book that introduces many fascinating women of the Colonial period, budding historians will love Laurie Halse Anderson’s Independent Dames: What You Never Knew About the Women and Girls of the American Revolution (age 6 - 10). Women of the Revolutionary War played many roles, from tending to wounded soldiers, to sewing for the troops, to disguising themselves as men in order to fight alongside their brothers and husbands. With engaging and detailed illustrations by Matt Faulkner, this book will intrigue children and adults alike!

    Award-winning journalist Cokie Roberts has also recently released a new book for children about women's contribution to the American Revolution, Founding Mothers: Remembering The Ladies (age 7 - 12). Filled with beautiful illustrations by Caldecott Honor-winning artist Diane Goode, it features profiles on a diverse range of women who played significant roles during the period, including figures such as Abigail Adams, Martha Washington, Phillis Wheatley, Mercy Otis Warren, Deborah Franklin, Sarah Livingston Jay, and others. Continue reading

  • Not Your Typical Princess: Thirty Favorite Independent Princess Stories

    By Katherine Handcock, A Mighty Girl Communications Specialist

    617N93PBT1L[1]A princess is always pretty, sweet, passive, and needs a prince to rescue her, right? Wrong!

    At A Mighty Girl, we receive many questions from people searching for empowering depictions of princesses — princesses that are much more than the limited stereotype usually applied! After all, they can be smart, strong, courageous, daring, and kind; and most importantly, they can be individuals, just like the children who love hearing their stories.

    A Mighty Girl has put together this collection of some of our favorite independent princess stories but this is just a small sampling of the many great ones available — in our popular special feature The Ultimate Guide to the Independent Princess, you'll find more than 100 books starring smart, confident, and courageous princesses for all ages!  Continue reading

  • Mighty Girls On The Go, Part 1: Travel Games

    By Katherine Handcock, A Mighty Girl Communications Specialist

    rorys-story-cubesFor many families, summer means time to travel! But whether you’re driving or flying, visiting family or exploring a new area of the country or the world, one of the biggest challenges of a long trip can be finding ways to entertain kids on the journey, especially if you're trying to limit screen time. To make it easier, we've pulled together recommendations for travel activities that can keep kids of all ages content and busy on your trip — so many, in fact, that we can’t fit them all in one blog post!

    In this post, we focus on travel games that are compact and perfect for tossing into backpacks and carry-on bags to be pulled out whenever you need them. We’ve included options for one person to use alone, as well as multi-player games, and even some fun learning and creative games that can give your kids' fun ways to build on what they learned in school over the year.

    The games featured in this post are just a small sample of the games found on A Mighty Girl -- to browse our entire selection, visit our Travel Games section. Continue reading

  • Singing about Fatherly Love: Mighty Girl Songs for Father's Day

    By Katherine Handcock, A Mighty Girl Communications Specialist

    The love between fathers and daughters can be the inspiration for some incredible music. As part of our celebration of the wonderful Dads out there raising Mighty Girls, we wanted to share our top five father-daughter songs. Whether the song is in the father’s voice, wondering at this amazing girl in his life, or in the daughter’s voice, reflecting on the strength her father gives her, these songs are sure to be a hit this Father’s Day!

    We will describe each song here, but for more details, including information for parents  about content in the lyrics or video, and to preview songs via embedded YouTube videos, please click on the links to view the full entries. Most of these songs, like the majority of the titles featured in A Mighty Girl’s music section, are available through Amazon.com’s MP3 download service, via the links on each song's page. By using the links on A Mighty Girl, you also help to support the site at no added cost to you, and can have your Father’s Day playlist set up in no time!

    For Mighty Girl books that celebrate the father-daughter relationship, please also check out our first Father’s Day blog, A Father’s Love: A Mighty Girl Celebrates Father’s Day. Continue reading

  • "That Time Of The Month": Teaching Your Mighty Girl About Her Menstrual Cycle

    By Katherine Handcock, A Mighty Girl Communications Specialist

    PERIOdcover[1]Do you remember having your period for the first time? Were you relieved, scared, confused? Did you know what was happening, or were you told after the fact? Did you think you could bleed to death or make people sick, or believe that you couldn’t swim or go to gym class? Did you hear someone make joking references to women being “on the rag” and think, “I’ll die of embarrassment if anyone knows?” Did you feel like you were prepared?

    In a world that is increasingly public about all sorts of previously private topics, menstruation is still a taboo subject. What information girls do hear around them is often negative or incorrect, and even school health classes that discuss the subject often focus on the “nuts and bolts” without ever touching on the real, practical experience of a monthly cycle. As a result menarche — a girl’s first period — is still likely to be disconcerting for her.

    But parents, mentors, and friends of Mighty Girls can turn this milestone of womanhood into a much more positive experience. By providing lots of accurate information, real-life experience, and practical advice, girls can learn to view their menstrual cycle in a totally different way: as an important element of their female nature and as a key sign of coming adulthood. In this blog, we’ll help you turn a girl’s first period into an empowering experience. Continue reading

  • The Great Outdoors: Mighty Girl Books Celebrating Outdoor Discovery

    By Katherine Handcock, A Mighty Girl Communications Specialist

    61esnjse65l_1_[1]For many kids, summer means more time to enjoy the great outdoors! Nicer weather and no school provide more opportunities for hiking, beach trips, and lots of playtime. And best of all, it’s good for them: research shows how much benefit kids get from unstructured play outside.

    To celebrate the arrival of summer, we’ve collected some of our favorite Mighty Girl books about all the wonders that summertime play has to offer. These Mighty Girls have plenty of imagination, along with bundles of energy, and the end result is lots of outdoor summer fun. We've also included a selection of books for parents about just how important it is to let your kids get out in the sun, sand, and dirt of outdoor games and ideas on how to build more outdoor time into your family's busy schedule. .

    For more books for children and teens that celebrate the wonders and joys of nature, visit our Nature & Environment section.
    Continue reading

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