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30 Essential Guides For Mighty Girls
in Middle School, High School, and Beyond

Posted on August 17, 2016 by Aaron

A Mighty Girl's top picks of resources for girls entering middle school, high school, or college this year -- and their parents!

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Parents of younger Mighty Girls looking for books about school can find recommendations in our first post in the series: Back to School Time: 40 Books About 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.

Tweens and Teens at School

Tween and teen girls are faced with a bigger, more complicated, and more demanding school day than they ever experienced at elementary school. These books will help them figure out how to hand the new expectations and feel comfortable with their increasing independence.

Stand Up For Yourself and Your Friends

Older girls need more complex techniques for handling relational aggression, from bossy friends to outright bullying. Stand Up For Yourself and Your Friends helps Mighty Girls differentiate friends who step over the line from deliberate bullying, provides anti-bullying strategies for both bullying victims and bystanders, and includes “what would you do?” scenarios to help girls figure out effective techniques — as well as when it’s appropriate to seek out adult help. With a few helpful tips in hand, she'll feel more confident when it's time to handle one of these conflicts.

A Smart Girl's Guide: Worry

Everyone worries sometimes, but whether big or small, if worries start taking over your life, they're a problem! This book will help tweens take charge of their worries and learn strategies to help them manage anxiety and build confidence. Quizzes will help girls figure out what sorts of situations are most likely to spark her worries, while tried-and-true techniques for overcoming fears and calming emotions will give her strategies to use no matter what's bothering her. Plus, real-life stories about everything from big tests to conflicts with friends to major life changes like a move or divorce in the family help her learn what worked for girls just like her. This valuable addition to the American Girl Library belongs on every tween's bookshelf.

A Smart Girl’s Guide to Starting Middle School

Middle school means big changes: lockers, changing classes, and meeting a larger range of kids don’t seem like a big deal to an adult, but for your Mighty Girl, it’s a lot of change to handle all at once! On top of that, expectations in both her classes and her other activities are increasing, leaving many girls feeling overwhelmed and unsure of how to handle the additional demands. By teaching her what to expect and giving her strategies to handle these new challenges, this book will help her feel prepared. It's the perfect start to your new middle-schooler's library.

A Smart Girl’s Guide to Staying Home Alone

For many girls, middle school means the end of after-school care and the beginning of staying home alone after school. This book gives your Mighty Girl important safety tips — including some basic first-aid information — as well as ideas for how to handle feeling bored while she’s alone. And since time at home after school may mean dealing with siblings without adults to intervene, there are even some suggestions for how to handle frustration with a brother or sister.

A Smart Girl's Guide: Drama, Rumors, and Secrets

Girls also need to learn how to prevent the drama that becomes more common in middle school from affecting their lives. In this book, girls will learn how jealousy, gossip, and cyberbullying can creep into the lives of tweens and teens — and how to avoid them and stay true to themselves. They'll also learn what separates regular talk from gossip, and how to handle difficult interactions over text or online. By learning how drama starts and how it gets worse, girls can find out what they can do to stop it from taking control of them and their friends.

A Smart Girl's Guide: Friendship Troubles

As relationships get more complicated — and parents are less involved in the day-to-day activities of their daughters' friendships — girls may need advice for handling struggles with friends. A Smart Girl’s Guide to Friendship Troubles concentrates on disputes between friends, including how to stand up for yourself without being hurtful and what to do if a best friend is more interested in popularity than previous friendships. Not all friendships will stand the test of time, but this book will help Mighty Girls make sure they don't lose a good friend over accidental disagreements.

The Teen Girl's Survival Guide: Ten Tips for Making Friends, Avoiding Drama, and Coping with Social Stress

Strong, supportive friendships can make all the difference in the teen years, and this book will help girls learn how to find the friends that she can lean on! Psychologist Lucie Hemmen offers ten tips grounded in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help teen girls find good friends, work through conflicts, and weed out negative social habits. Individual chapters elaborate on key elements of friendship like using communication to nurture friendships and how to be the person you want on social media or while texting. By developing these social skills, Mighty Girls will be ready to find good friends wherever they go — and to help good friends through their own bumps in the road.

Express Yourself: A Teen Girl's Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are

Teens are still learning how to handle conflict — particularly when girls feel pressure to be "nice" rather than speak up. If your teen wrestles with how to speak her mind or assert her opinions, this book will help! Author Emily Roberts, a licensed professional counselor, provides tips for building self-esteem and confidence, expressing yourself assertively, and managing your emotions when dealing with "mean girls" and bullies. It's a great way to help the teen in your life find her voice.

Dealing with the Stuff that Makes Life Tough

As tweens become teens, they often find that with increasing expectations comes a lot more stress! Fortunately, there are some great guides to help teens find their best stress solutions. Each chapter of this book addresses one of the topics that teen girls report they find the most stressful, including body image, depression and anxiety, friends and bullies, and boys. There’s also a chapter specific to lesbian teens and the issues that they face. The author encourages self-examination and emphasizes that self-respect is the most important foundation for healthy, positive decisions.

Self-Esteem for Teens: Six Principles for Creating the Life You Want

Self-esteem affects every part of your life — from making friends to performance at school to interviewing for (and getting) that perfect job — and healthy self-esteem gives you a better chance of achieving your dreams! This guide helps teens learn how to develop a realistic but positive understanding of their capabilities and strengths (while accepting and learning to work with their weakness), as well as how to see mistakes, problems, and obstacles as opportunities and challenges to be overcome, rather than permanent stopping points. By believing her own worth and recognizing her authentic self, your teen will be ready to take on the world. You can also check out How to Like Yourself: A Teen's Guide to Quieting Your Inner Critic and Building Lasting Self-Esteem for more on this topic.

The Stress Reduction Workbook for Teens

Teens who find themselves under stress need to start developing skills to manage and reduce it on their own. This workbook offers mindfulness techniques to help teens find life balance and develop relaxation skills. By working through the 36 activities in this book, teens will learn the difference between good and bad stress; identify how stress affects them physically and emotionally; and discover the methods that work best when they need to calm down. The book even includes activities about identifying and dealing with things you can't control — like whether or not you'll get accepted into a competitive program or team — and remembering that it's not selfish to practice good self-care.

The Mindful Teen: Powerful Skills to Help You Handle Stress One Moment at a Time

With so much activity around her — and so many thoughts swirling in her head — many teen girls struggle to find a peaceful center. Dzung X. Vo, a pediatrician specializing in adolescent medicine, provides a handy guide to using mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) to handle the stressful moments in life and fine calm and happiness even at the most difficult times. By encouraging girls to focus on the moment, rather than worrying about the past or future, and providing guided exercises to settle minds and emotions, Vo helps girls learn techniques that manage their stress, even when the going gets tough.

Think Confident, Be Confident for Teens

Teens want to be confident and feel in control, but that can be hard when you're facing so many changes! This guide teaches teens how to use cognitive therapy to build self-esteem that they can tap into when the going gets tough. Individual chapters focus on dealing with self-doubt and negative self-talk, and turning positive self-esteem into positive choices. Several chapters of stories of real-life teens show how these techniques can play out in all areas, from dating to school and work to family. By building unshakeable self-esteem, your Mighty Girl will be ready for whatever challenges the world has to offer!

The Anxiety Workbook for Teens

For some teens, worries and nerves become a more significant problem, affecting every aspect of their lives. However, learning strategies to manage anxiety early will allow teens to build a toolbox to help them throughout their lives. This book addresses teens dealing with mild to severe anxiety in day-to-day situations, teaching them how to control their anxieties, develop a positive self-image, and most importantly, how to know when they need to seek help. By following these step-by-step workbooks, teens will learn to turn these techniques to their advantage so that they feel ready for whatever life has to throw at them.

The Her Campus Guide to College Life: How to Manage Relationships, Stay Safe and Healthy, Handle Stress, and Have the Best Years of Your Life

Teens who are college bound will want to check out this great, empowering guide from the experts behind Her Campus! Full of information that's useful for everyone from freshman to seniors, this book covers everything from building a comfortable relationship with your roommate to staying physically and emotionally healthy to managing your money and planning your academic and career track. Fun checklists and worksheets help Mighty Girls keep track of this book's advice and put it into action. Its accessible and reassuring tone will help Mighty Girls headed to college feel confident and in control, whatever challenge lies before them.

College Safety 101: Miss Independent’s Guide to Empowerment, Confidence, and Staying Safe

Older teens are looking at what can seem like the biggest leap of all: college. As excited as she may be, chances are good that she’s wondering how she'll manage the new demands and freedoms that come with college — as well as how she can stay safe. This book for college-bound teens will help her separate real safety risks from urban legends, and give her the knowledge she needs to feel confident. Author Kathleen Baty addresses safety on campus as well as easily-forgotten areas like Facebook, spring break, and studying abroad. She also discusses non-violent hazards like theft, roommate conflict, and even mismanaging credit.  Baty’s tone is clear, accessible, and informative, without resorting to scare tactics, making it the perfect safety book to give your college-bound Mighty Girl.

Planning for the Future

Of course, aside from school, Mighty Girls in their tweens and teens have another big challenge: “what do I want to be when I grow up?” is becoming a much less theoretical question! By the time a girl is reaching high school, she’ll need to start selecting courses based on what she hopes to study in future — which is hard when you don’t know what that will be. By giving her some great books about the potential careers that await her, you can help her figure out which of her dreams are the best fit.

In Their Shoes: Extraordinary Women Describe Their Amazing Careers

Planning a career path can seem like an impossible task: how are you supposed to decide when you don't even know what most jobs are like? This book provides "day in the life" profiles to inspire readers, while a wide selection of sidebars, lists, and helpful tips will help girls narrow in on what career is right for them. A selection of diverse women are featured, including Shonda Rhimes, creator and executive producer of Grey's Anatomy; Susan Schulz, editor in chief of CosmoGIRL!; and U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer. One your Mighty Girl has found a career that appeals, this book also provides educational paths and other tips she can use to plan her future.

Firestarters: 100 Job Profiles to Inspire Young Women

100 women, including women in a variety of diverse jobs — everything from opera singers to marine biologists, engineers to costume designers, attorneys to chefs — talk about their careers in this fascinating and inspiring book! Each woman discusses what she loves about her job and what she finds challenging; what their educational and work backgrounds are; and what advice they'd have for a Mighty Girl considering their career. The book particularly emphasizes women who blazed their own paths, from creating their own businesses to entering careers where women are rare. It's a great way to show girls just how many options really are out there.

You Got This!: Unleash Your Awesomeness, Find Your Path, and Change The World

Maya Penn may be the teen creator of multiple successful businesses and presenter of three TEDTalks, but that doesn't mean she doesn't wrestle with the same obstacles that every Mighty Girl faces — including self-doubt, struggles with focus, and worries about how people see her. However, she argues, by harnessing your creativity, passion, and drive, you too can accomplish goals that seem far beyond your reach. In this inspiring book, she provides tips and suggestions that worked for her, as well as a creative blueprint to help turn that little idea into a big success. It's rare that teens get to read these suggestions from a person their own age; this book is a great reminder that you're never too young to make a change.

Indie Girl: From Starting a Band to Launching a Fashion Company, Nine Ways to Turn Your Creative Talent into Reality

Of course, what some Mighty Girls dream of is setting their own course: taking their creative talents and turning them into independent business ventures. In Indie Girl, both teen and professional artists talk about the real process behind creative projects like filming a TV show, creating an art exhibit, or building a parade float. The book emphasizes that these projects can be the start of a career — but also that they can be driven purely by passion and a desire to see your dream made real. By the end of this book, your teen will know that women who come together in the arts can produce amazing things!

Be A Changemaker: How To Start Something That Matters

Some Mighty Girls want to create something that will change the world for the better! If your Mighty Girl has a big dream about starting a charitable organization or socially aware business, this great guide will teach her how to research her idea, how to develop a plan, how to recruit supportive adults to build her team, and more! A wide variety of profiles of other teens who've created organizations that made big change will also help inspire her. Everyone knows girls can change the world; this will help her do it.

Take 5 For Your Dreams

While job profiles and career information will help, your Mighty Girl will still have to do a lot of soul-searching as she decides what path she wants to follow in life. This book is a day-by-day guide to taking 5 minutes to reflect and contemplate on your uniqueness, strengths, and dreams for the future. The authors point out that this kind of self-examination shouldn’t wait until adulthood, or girls may find their whole life goes by on automatic pilot. By taking this little bit of time every day, your Mighty Girl can discover what she really wants out of her life.

Get Out Of Your Mind and Into Your Life For Teens

Achieving your dreams can seem even harder when you wrestle with anxiety and self-doubt. In this guide teens will learn to identify their strengths, tackle their doubts using acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and find ways to use their newfound skills to live the life they want. The emphasis on finding your own strength and learning to turn it to solving problems makes this guide empowering and confidence building. No matter what she's dreaming of, this book will assure your Mighty Girl that she can achieve it.

Your Not-So-Little Girl

The tween and teen years mean a big adjustment for parents as well, as their daughters become more independent — which means a lot of wrestling about how much freedom is enough without being too much. These books for parents will help you figure out the right balance between your old parenting responsibilities and the new parental relationship that is growing between the two of you.

Middle School Makeover: Improving the Way You and Your Child Experience the Middle School Years

It's important to remember that parents and educators can still do a lot to help their girls have a positive middle school experience. Michelle Icard lays out how tweens' developing brains affects their relationships, their understanding of their identity, and their decision-making. Then, she lays out practical and concrete ways that the adults in tweens' lives can give them the guidance they need to have a positive middle-school experience. With specific discussions about top issues like social media, social exclusion, and starting romantic relationships, this book is a must-have guide for anyone who works with middle schoolers.

The Drama Years: Real Girls Talk about Surviving Middle School — Bullies, Brands, Body Image, and More

Middle school is a whirlwind for both kids and parents! In this book, anecdotes from real middle-school girls and advice from successful tween and teen mentors provide an insider’s perspective to help parents guide their girls through this difficult transition. While parents can feel powerless, this book reminds them that, while they can’t eliminate the drama of middle school, they can do a lot to downplay it — and to build their daughter’s resiliency.

Just Between Us: A No-Stress, No-Rules Journal for Girls and Their Moms

This bestselling guided journal helps moms and daughters establish fun, thought-provoking ways of communicating with each other, especially as daughters enter the often challenging tween and teen years. Meredith and Sophie Jacobs started sharing a journal when Sophie was nine and now they have applied their experiences to creating this fun resource to help other mother and daughters connect in a new way. With its thoughtful writing prompts and intergenerational advice woven throughout, this journal helps promote discussions about friends, school, crushes, and many of the other joys and difficulties faced growing up. There is also plenty of space provided for drawing, list-writing, and free writing on whatever inspires you.

The Care and Keeping of Us: A Sharing Collection for Girls and Their Moms

This unique multiple journal set from the American Girl Library, which publishes best-selling guides for girls like The Care And Keeping Of You, makes it easier for moms and tween daughters to stay close at a time when everything seems to be in turmoil! The 3-book set includes twin books for moms and daughters full of tips, reminders, and conversation prompts covering topics from hygiene and physical development to crushes, friends, and personal style. A sharing journal that moms and daughters can pass back and forth completes the set. This accessible and fun set is sure to keep the two of you talking.

Stressed-Out Girls: Helping them Thrive in the Age of Pressure

Parents who worry about the increasing stress their children are under as they get older will want to check out this book. Roni Cohen-Sandler lays out practical strategies to help parents and teachers identify girls who are vulnerable to stress and anxiety and give them the resiliency and self-confidence they need to stand tall despite the challenges that face them. Cohen-Sandler defines five types of stressed girls — adapting, undervalued, insecure, perfectionistic, and distracted — and provides different techniques to help each type. Most importantly, she drives home the message that these girls most need to hear: no one is perfect, but everyone is deserving of love.

The Myth of the Perfect Girl: Helping Our Daughters Find Authentic Success and Happiness in School and Life

Sometimes, girls are particularly burdened by the stress of feeling that they need to succeed at everything. Author Ana Homayoun points out that, while a girl may be excelling in many areas of her life from sports to friendships to academics, many of them are stretching themselves thin and striving so hard to please that they lose sight of their own desires. She describes multiple ways that girls can box themselves into identities that please others, and provides tips to help raise girls who are confidence enough to show their authentic selves. This book will give parents the help they need to empower their daughters to create their own definition of success — and happiness.

Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood

If the job of an adolescent is to become an adult, how do you know when they're there? Lisa Damour, director of the Laurel School's Center for Research on Girls, draws on the latest research to reveal the seven key transitions — including Parting with Childhood, Contending with Adult Authority, Entering the Romantic World, and Caring for Herself — that an adolescent girl needs to make before she reaches adulthood. Equally importantly, she shows how uneven progress through these transitions explains the sometimes erratic behavior of teenage girls, and how parents' responses can help strengthen their relationship so she can complete her journey healthy and happy. This excellent new release will help parents of teens understand exactly what makes them tick.

What Do You Expect? She’s A Teenager!: A Hope and Happiness Guide for Moms with Daughters Aged 11 - 19

Parents still have a very special place in their daughters’ lives — despite the doom and gloom many parents hear! Arden Greenspan-Goldberg tackles hot-button issues that cause conflict — from sex, drugs, and eating disorders to conflicts over wanting piercings or tattoos — and helps moms understand how their own actions can help change the dynamic. While it’s impossible to eliminate conflict, this book will help moms take a step back and cultivate a less volatile and more communicative relationship with their daughters. A final chapter includes recommendations on choosing a therapist if you and your Mighty Girl decide you need some outside help.

Kindness Wins: A Simple, No-Nonsense Guide to Teaching Our Kids How to Be Kind Online

Parents have a major role to play in teaching their children to be kind, compassionate people, especially in an online culture that is often neither. Galit Breen, who has experienced online vitriol first-hand, provides an in-depth look at several social media tools — such as likes, shares, and comments — and how they can be used to support and encourage, how they can be turned into subtle putdowns, and how they can become outright abusive and hurtful. The conversational style and discussion starters are sure to be appreciated by parents, and the book even includes two Kindness Wins contracts: one to share with peers and one to share with kids. It's a great way to teach kids how to be responsible digital citizens.

American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers

For today's teen girls, coming of age online means constant exposure to hypersexualized imagery, the need to cope with instantaneous judgment from their peers, relentless pressure to maintain an idealized online self, and even a failure to develop critical in-person communications skills. In an social media environment that is changing constantly and largely foreign to parents who often have little experience with the apps favored by teens, this thoroughly researched new book provides a much needed road map to the teens' social media use. And, by better understanding what today’s teens are going through, the adults in their lives can provide them with the tools they need to better manage social media and grow to be confident young women — both on and offline.

The New Puberty: How To Navigate Early Development In Today's Girls

If your tween is an early developer, things can be even more complicated — it's tough to adjust to middle school when you're 10 but look 14. Dr. Louise Greenspan, a physician, and Dr. Julianna Deardorff, a psychologist, teach parents, teachers, and coaches why early puberty may be more common and how they can help guide younger girls through the experience of physical maturation, while still letting them be kids. Practical suggestions about how to discuss issues in an age-appropriate way will make Mighty Girls — and the adults around them — feel more confident through this big change. With appropriate guidance, even girls who are early bloomers can navigate these turbulent waters.

Letting Go: A Parent’s Guide to Understanding the College Years

The transition to college is difficult for parents as well: most parents still feel that they should have a prominent place in their college-aged child’s life, but struggle with how to do it while still allowing the natural independence and self-reliance their new adult needs. In this book, which is recommended by colleges across the country, parents will learn what emotions are normal — for both themselves and their children — as well as when to allow independence and when to intervene. Although this guide has been around for over a decade, the latest edition has been updated to cover the safety, health, and wellness concerns that apply to incoming college students, including additional considerations about fostering independence in a world of constant, instant communication.

Don’t Tell Me What To Do, Just Send Money

As the title of this book points out, parents who are still providing emotional — and financial — support may find it particularly hard to think of their children as evolving adults. Helen E. Johnson and Christine Schelhas-Miller teach parents how to lay the groundwork for the new relationship that is developing between themselves and their college student. This new edition also addresses the challenges that increasing connectivity — provided by cell phones and easy internet access — provides for natural emotional and academic development, since both parents and children may find it more difficult to establish the boundaries necessary for college students to thrive. This book is full of down-to-earth (and often humorous) anecdotes that will help you and your teen figure out how to make the change to a new, adult relationship.

There are great things on the horizon for your Mighty Girl, whether she’s a tween or a teen, starting middle school or starting college. With these books in hand, she’ll feel ready to tackle them all!

Additional Recommended Resources


This post was posted in Front Page, A Mighty Girl Top Pick, A Mighty Girl Spotlight and was tagged with books, tweens, teens, parenting, bullying, middle school, high school, college, friends, cybersafety, online safety, social media