What do you look for when you select books? We are both book borrowers and book buyers in this house, though we are far more willy-nilly about selections at the library than the bookstore. A library book must fit into the bag—sometimes we end up with a bag of gold and sometimes we end up with a bag of duds—but a purchased book must fit into our lives, too. Since my first experience of working in the children's room at the Laramie County Library System in 2000-2001 to reading hundreds and hundreds of books to the girls (and many to elementary school children in Cheyenne, too) I have learned a few things about what I look for in a good picture book:
1.) I want to read great stories that don't make me to want to poke my eyes out with spoons.
2.) I want my three girls to hear stories about super-interesting, quirky, smart, brave, thoughtful, and curious girls.
3.) I also want them to hear stories about super-interesting, quirky, smart, brave, thoughtful, and curious boys.
4.) Sometimes girls are the main character in our books, sometimes boys are the main characters in our books, and sometimes there are both girls and boys working as a team somehow.
5.) Sometimes it's all about the talking animals. Or creatures.
6.) Illustration matters. It isn't the only thing, but it is a Very Important Thing to me. Picture books are a package deal: good stories + good pictures = good books.
Here are a few of our favorite girls-as-main-characters picture books!
These girls have minds of their own. They are loud, they get into trouble, they set things right. They are problem solvers and makers. They are works in progress. They are clever, crafty, considerate, and sometimes cunning. They are proud, kind, and determined; dreamers and doers. They never, ever cause me to want me to poke my eyes out with spoons even after the 100th read. Some of the girls star in more than one book (not all are pictured). We love them : )
We do not shun princess stories in this house, either; I know, I know, the world is a dangerous place for those who love Disney princesses the best, but I believe even Disney princesses have their place. However, we do inject a healthy dose of unconventional princess stories into the reading repertoire, and those unconventional stories have been beloved over the years, too. If you need a break from Ariel and company, here are some truly fantastic alternatives!
You can download a plain printable booklist to take to the library here: Download Great Picture Books With Girls List