All readers understand how it feels to be sucked into another world. You’re sitting on your couch with a book — and all of a sudden, BOOM, you’re in a completely different country and time zone. As a child especially, it is so easy to suspend disbelief, and get pulled into a literary universe. The characters and towns might all be made up, but it’s hard not to feel deeply connected to them.
April 2nd was International Children’s Book Day, and for a belated celebration, we are cracking open books from our childhood that featured strong female protagonists. And we are remembering that — no matter the story’s intended age group — these characters will always be available to help us relearn some old lessons.
1Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Anne Shirley is another one of the many reasons that Canada looks like a great place to live these days. This fierce and fiery red head from Prince Edward Island is not afraid to climb a rooftop or speak her mind when she is challenged. Anne approaches life with a sense of justice and whimsy that we should all strive to match. Plus, she is never afraid of taking matters into her own hands. She does plenty of things that we wish we could do… like smacking one of her classmates with a slate as a gentle reminder that she is the wrong target to bully. (Also, check out the just released trailer for the new Netflix show inspired by Anne herself.)
2Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
Although Ramona Quimby is only 8 years old, she can teach us a thing or two about being an independent woman trying to forge her own path. She may add whiskers and a cat tail to the letter “Q,” but she isn’t afraid to go toe to toe with anyone who challenges her. With a flair for the dramatic, she marches to the beat of her own drum, not letting any obstacle get her down. Confronting boys on the bus? Check. Questioning the authority of her strict third grade teacher? Yep, that too. Learning the hard way that it is quite difficult to get raw egg out of your hair? We’ve been there too, Ramona.
3Meet Kit: An American Girl by Valerie Tripp
Kit Kittredge, who first made waves in the American Girl community by rocking a blonde bob, is the spunky heroine we all need to channel. She starts her own newspaper, helps financially support her family, and even briefly ends up in jail. Did I mention she is 9 years old? Let me repeat that — this 9-year-old hops railway cars with hobos and lands in jail because of it; meanwhile, you thought your morning was rough because Starbucks messed up your order. Although girls were expected to be prim and proper in the early 1930s, Kit embraces her inner tomboy. She roots for the Cincinnati Reds and dreams of sleeping in a tree house like Robin Hood. Not only does she defy convention, she basically throws it in the garbage and never looks back. Though our rap sheets may not be as long as Kit’s, we can use her spunk as inspiration to live a life that is filled with adventure.