My guest today is blogging mom Maria L Hughes. She’s here to talk about an issue I feel is vital in fiction:
Sometimes, when looking for books as a parent, I often have to really search for some of the good series that manage to present female characters for my daughters in a light that should be the way women manage to hold themselves. Not necessarily strong and powerful girls, but girls that are able to stand on their own, and don’t just fall into the arms of a man in order to be happy or saved. They have their own character, just like my daughters. Here are just a few of those wonderful characters and the books or series they are in.
Violet Baudelaire in A Series of Unfortunate Events:
Violet Baudelaire is the eldest of a group of orphan children all with special talents. Although my kids aren’t inventors like Violet is in A series of Unfortunate Events, one of them loves art and creating some beautiful drawings and she connects really well with this character since they both have something they love to do. Time and time again too, Violet Baudelaire manages to prove she can be quite crafty and intelligent, to the point of beating out her younger brother in thought frequently and especially the main villain Count Olaf. It’s a bonus that the books themselves will improve your child’s vocabulary too, don’t feel too bad if you have to run for your own dictionary if they get stumped on a word.
Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series:
This series is most likely one of the more famous pieces out there, but that doesn’t make it any less brilliant for its cast of female characters. Many of the female characters from Harry Potter could be mentioned here but Hermione tends to be the longest running one that has carried her strength into other mediums like the movie versions. Hermione is not only intelligent and capable, but she saves the day a number of times with her sheer book smarts, proving that not only does her race (non-magical) not matter but neither does her gender.
Millicent Min in Millicent Min, Girl Genius:
Speaking of brilliant girls, Millicent Min is probably even more intelligent than Hermione and of a similar age. She has to deal with the fact that she has no real social life but tries so hard to fit in and hide that she is actually incredibly intelligent and doesn’t need the tutor she has to put up with who can’t even get past his own classes. It’s a rollicking, hilarious ride as seen through the eyes of an 11-year-old genius as she tries to play down her IQ to win over her first real friend.
Lucy Rose in the Lucy Rose series:
Lucy Rose is more of your hilarious and interesting kind of female character who always has some issue going on with her life. She’s a very straight forward character and is one of my favorites to read just because she reminds me so much of one of my daughters when she was a few years younger. One of the most amusing things (out of many) is that she is absolutely obsessed with palindromes, which is a word my kids love to say now and even try to do them.
Lyra Silvertongue in the His Dark Materials series:
Considered one of the greatest female protagonists of young adult literature, with Katniss Everdeen coming very close, Lyra Silvertongue (or Lyra Belacqua of Oxford) is an intelligent girl who doesn’t do so well with her academics because she absolutely hates the education system. This was a character I personally was able to connect with so well, because she’s brave, sometimes impulsive but capable and bright. I often had issues with not wanting to do a lot of my work in school, even though I understood it just fine. This character is by far one of the most brilliant and connecting characters I’ve come across, making it well worth it.
Of course there are female characters I haven’t mentioned here. Katniss Everdeen is always a big one these days, due to the recent success of Hunger Games. And there are plenty of others to be found, you can even mention a few in the comments, I’m sure there are more that you would consider great female characters in children’s literature. Let me know!
Thank you, Maria, for sharing with us today!
I think strong females are often sadly lacking in fiction. I raised two boys, no girls, so I don’t have much experience with this issue from a children’s book standpoint. But I do have a lot of experience as a reader of adult fiction. Nothing irritates me more than a romance novel where the female lead goes weak-kneed at the very sight of the male lead character, allowing herself to be led and controlled simply because he has great muscles. Or the suspense/thriller novel where the female lead relies on the male lead to make absolutely every decision for her, because she is helpless without him. I love what Maria said at the beginning of this post: Not necessarily strong and powerful girls, but girls that are able to stand on their own, and don’t just fall into the arms of a man in order to be happy or saved. I feel exactly this way about the fiction I read, and would want the same in books for my children.
How do you feel about the way girls and women are portrayed in fiction? Do you have a favorite strong female lead character?
Thanks for reading.
Tags: A Series of Unfortunate Events, Blogging Moms, children's books, Children's Fiction, Fictional Role Models, Girl Genius, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, His Dark Materials, Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen, Lemony Snicket, Lucy Rose Series, Lyra Silvertongue, Maria Hughes, Millicent Min, Role Models, Strong Female Characters, Strong Females in Children's Fiction, Violet Baudelaire, Women In Fiction