Best Young Adult Books with Female Heroines

With the amount of literature that’s out there today, it can be hard to decide what to read next. It’s tempting to read whatever is put in front of us, without exploring the book first, and unfortunately this usually means that we wind up reading a lot of books with male protagonists and male heroes. Not a lot of literature is designed to speak specifically to young girls, and if it is, it often carries subtle messages of masculine dominance and feminine subservience.

Luckily for us, a little digging can produce a list of amazing books that are perfect for growing girls. The female characters in the books that we’ve listed today are strong, kind, brave, and bold, and are great role models for young boys and girls alike.

The His Dark Materials Trilogy

One of the most detailed and interesting series’ written for young people is Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, which is comprised of three books — The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass. The hero of these books is Lyra Belacqua, later called Lyra Silvertongue — a brave, sly girl who uses her skill at dissembling in a fight against an organization known as the Magisterium that is trying to stamp out knowledge in favor of religious teachings.

Pullman portrays Lyra in a way that the readers can see her flaws, but we also get to see how she grows through the series. Before our eyes, Lyra changes from an impulsive, rash child to a smart, thoughtful, and brave young woman. Keep an eye out for the BBC produced series coming sometime in the next few years!

Ella Enchanted

Written by Gail Carson Levine, Ella Enchanted takes a swing at the traditional gender roles typically assigned in children’s fairy stories in a fun and delightful twist on the norm. At birth, Ella was accidentally cursed by a fairy named Lucinda who gives her the ‘gift’ of perpetual obedience. As she grows up, she hides her secret, but after her father remarries an evil stepmother, she sets out on an adventure to find Lucinda and get her to reverse her curse. Along the way, a chance encounter with the handsome heir to the throne sets her on a path where she finds out that the power to break the curse has lain inside her all along.

The Harry Potter Series

Although the definitive hero of the Harry Potter series is definitely Harry himself, his friendship with Hermione and his deference to her intelligence is definitely one of the best aspects of the books. Author J. K. Rowling continually stresses the usefulness of Hermione’s knowledge, and although she does spend a lot of time in the library, time and again she uses her brains as well as powers of logic, deduction, and astounding memory to get herself, Ron, and Harry out of sticky situations.

Even though there are eventually romantic feelings between the trio, it’s never at the forefront of their relationship, ensuring that the audience’s focus is always on her mental abilities, not her physical attributes.

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