Celebrate Valentine’s Day with the Gift of Feminist Literature

In honor of St. Valentine, and International Book Giving Day, (frankly a holiday I can get much more easily behind), I’m posting this fantastic treasury from the Amelia Bloomer Project, recommended feminist literature for birth through 18 years and beyond. Curated by an Avengers-style Feminist task force, part of the American Library Association’s Social Responsibility Round Table, this list offers guidance and inspiration for girls of all ages:

As girls determine their own futures, they can look to this list for examples of women across a spectrum of professions including the arts, politics, and business. Leontyne Price stood on the shoulders of Marian Anderson, and in turn paved the way for future opera singers such as Kathleen Battle and Jessye Norman. Dolly Parton made her name through music yet is also a fierce advocate for social justice and a sophisticated businesswoman. Reshma Saujani provides a guide for young women who will be our future leaders, with special attention paid toward politics, technology, and business. That her roadmap includes mentoring and women working together leads us back to Plan Canada’s Manifesto that “Because I am a Girl…I Can Change the World.”

I only wish this uplifting list, and motivational videos such as the #LikeAGirl campaign, existed when I was in Middle School. If a young girl’s confidence truly plummets when she hits puberty, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could each be a little kinder to ourselves every day? Not just wait once a year for Valentine’s Day, when we’re starved for any outside praise to shore up our self-worth. Perhaps with more of these conversations about the importance of feminism, all of us girls will be encouraged to respect our own power and intelligence.

Here are some highlights from the Young Adult Fiction section of the Amelia Bloomer Project list:

Young Adult


Abawi, Atia. The Secret Sky. 2014. 290p. Philomel-Penguin. $17.99 (978-0-399-16078-3) Gr.10-up.

Although Fatima’s life choices have been limited by her status and family, she strives for more than an arranged marriage.

Alcott, Kate.  The Daring Ladies of Lowell.  2014. 287p.  Doubleday-Random House, $25.95 (978-0-385-53649-3).  Gr.10-up.

Escaping a life of farm work, Alice finds purpose in advocating for female worker’s rights at the Lowell cotton mill.

Duncan, Alexandra. Salvage. 2014. 520p. Greenwillow-HarperCollins, $17.99 (978-0-062-22014-1). Gr.9-up.

After Ava is cast out of her deep-space patriarchal society, she discovers a world where women have freedoms she never dreamed possible.

Ellis, Deborah. Moon at Nine. 2014. 223p. Pajama Press, Inc., $19.95 (978-1-927-48557-6). Gr.8-up.

Farrin and Sadira fall in love but post-revolutionary Iran’s draconian laws declare homosexuality deviant and punishable by death. The girls soon find they can trust no one but themselves.

Giles, Gail. Girls Like Us.  2014. 210p. Candlewick Press, $16.99 (978-0-763-66267-7). Gr.9-up.

After graduating from their high school’s special education program, Quincy and Biddy learn to trust each other as they navigate an often dangerous world.

Hegamin, Tonya Cherie. Willow. 2014. 374p. Candlewick Press, $16.99 (978-0-7636-5769-7). Gr.7-up.

Willow risks her life to pursue freedom from slavery and an arranged marriage.

Heppermann, Christine. Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty. 2014. 114p. Greenwillow-HarperCollins Books, $17.99 (978-0-06-228957-5). Gr.8-up.

This collection of poems twists and shatters the fairy tale image of women, girls, beauty, love, gender and body.

King, A.S. Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future. 2014. 320p. Little, Brown-Hachette, $18.00 (978-0-316-22272-3). Gr.10-up.

Glory, haunted by her mother’s suicide, is profoundly uncertain about life after graduation–until she starts having startling visions of a future where women’s rights are lost.

*Manning, Kate. My Notorious Life. 2013. 438 p. Scribner-Simon & Schuster, $26.99 (978-1-4516-9806-0). Gr.10-up.

After growing up in poverty, Axie becomes a medical practitioner and businesswoman who insists on providing 19th century women with reproductive choice.

Moran, Caitlin. How to Build a Girl. 2014. 341p. Harper-HarperCollins, $26.99 (978-0-06-233597-5). Gr.10-up.

Fourteen-year-old Johanna Morrigan reinvents herself as music critic Dolly Wilde, gleefully eviscerating bands for a nationally-known music magazine while attempting to navigate the complications love, sex, and family.

*Prince, Liz. Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir. 2014. 255p. Zest, $15.99 (978-1-936976-55-3). Gr.7-up.

With the help of new friends, feminist zines, and the punk scene, tomboy Liz Prince discovers that her problem is not who she is, but society’s restrictive gender roles.

Quintero, Isabel. Gabi, A Girl in Pieces. 2014. 284p. Cinco Puntos Press, $11.95 (978-1-935955-95-5). Gr.9-up.

During Gabi’s senior year of high school, she navigates her family’s ideas about “good girls” and “bad girls” while figuring out who she wants to be.

Sarn, Amélie. I Love, I Hate, I Miss My Sister. Trans. by Y. Maudet. 2014. 152p. Delacorte Press-Random House Children’s Books, $15.99 (978-0-385-74376-1). Gr.9-up.

Sisters Sohane and Djelila are as different as night and day, but both believe in a woman’s right to live as she chooses.

Talbot, Mary M., Kate Charlesworth, and Bryan Talbot. Sally Heathcote, Suffragette. 2014. 163p. Dark Horse Books, $19.99 (978-1-616-55547-4). Gr.9-up.

Maid-of-all-work Sally Heathcote finds a place in the suffrage movement of early 20th century Britain.

Talley, Robin. Lies We Tell Ourselves. 2014. 368p. Harlequin Teen, $17.99 (978-0-373-21133-3). Gr.8-up.

A school project forces two girls on opposite sides of segregation to work together and confront their sexuality.

Waller, Sharon Biggs.  A Mad, Wicked Folly.  2014. 431p.  Viking-Penguin, $17.99 (978-0-670-01468-2).  Gr.9-up.

Vicky dreams of being an artist but is told she is destined for marriage and motherhood.  Can she find the courage to join the suffragettes and fight for freedom?

*Wilson, G. Willow. Ms. Marvel: No Normal. Illus. by Adrian Alphona. 2014. Unpaged. Marvel, $15.99 (978-0-785-19021-9). Gr.8-up.

Teen Kamala Khan receives the powers of Ms. Marvel. With her neighborhood in danger, she figures out how to reconcile her own cultural identity with a superpowered alter ego.

Winters, Cat. The Cure for Dreaming. 2014. 352p. Amulet Books-Abrams, $17.95 (978-1-419-71216-6). Gr.7-up.

Olivia dreams of women’s suffrage and obtaining a college education, but her father goes to extreme measures to “cure” her of these ideas.


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