A few years ago, when Curry and Boy Wonder were expecting their first son, I posted an extensive list of books (The Essential Starter Library) that Curry could use as a baby-registry guide. But there have been rumblings among the troops: where is the essential starter library for girls?
I didn't really think the Essential Starter Library was very boy-focused at the time. There was a category entitled "Because It's a Boy!" but otherwise I think the list stands on it's own for any baby. The list is chock full of my favorites no matter if you are a boy or girl, adult or child. But I get the point. And I do love roundups. And anyway, there are four special girls (Savannah, Constance, Inez, and Adaryn, which are four of the prettiest names!) who need a library!
So here is an Essential Starter Library for Girls. Go here for the original list which has, as I mentioned, many excellent general categories (Classics, New Classics, Weird/Funny, Religious). And find more under my "Girls" tag, here.
Classics (for girls):
1) Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney: I have a hard time writing about this book beyond saying it is perfect. When I try to say more I get all teary-eyed and sappy. So, can I leave it at that? Miss Rumphius is perfect.
2) Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans: Oh boy, Madeline is a divisive one. She's a trouble maker and sort of a brat, but since she gets her appendix out, everything is ok, and she gets toys and flowers and to stay in bed and all the little girls want to be just like her. Well, that's an adult reading it. A child reads it, and remembers exactly how she felt last time she was sick, and how miserable it was, but how nice it was "to wake up in a room with flowers," and how strange it was to see a rabbit on the ceiling (fever induced delirium or an active imagination?) I have loved Madeline since I was very very little. And the whole series is so richly illustrated and marvelously told that I would put it at the top of my list for any essential library. (Also recently released, Madeline Visits the White House, by Bemelmans' s grandson.)
3) The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr: I actually discovered this as an adult, when Judith Kerr's British classic was re-released a few years ago, and just fell in love.
4) Petunia and her sequels, by Roger Duvoison: Petunia is a goose, who has a book. And, overhearing the farmer's platitude, because she has and loves her book, she thinks herself wise. I don't really think this book is only for girls, simply because the protagonist is a female duck. But I do think Duvoison's illustration style is particularly appealing for girls. Also, he is hilarious and awesome and I love him.
5) The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes: I think every girl should have this book. Not only does it awaken the imagination and stir the heart, but, if the girl really loves it, it's a safe bet she won't become a Mean Girl in Jr. High. (Short review here.)
Fairy Tales for Girls:
1) The Snow Child: This Russian fairytale I think is a vastly better fairy-tale to give to little girls than The Little Match-girl. Where The Little Match-girl teaches hopelessness in the face of suffering, The Snow Child teaches about love in spite of suffering. My favorite version is illustrated by Barbara Lavallee.
2) Angela Barrett has illustrated really amazing fairytales, including: The Snow Queen, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, and The Hidden House.
3) Likewise, Lizbeth Zwerger has marvelous versions of many classic fairytales. (That's Little Red Cap above.)
4) The Light Princess, and others by George Macdonald.
5) Too Many Moons by James Thurber. Try to get the original illustrations, though there's a new version that's pretty good too.
New Classics (for Girls):
1) Emily's Baloon by Komako Sakai: Read my full review here. (Image, above.)
2) Anything by Suzy Lee, but especially The Wave: It's funny when I look back on my LLB posts and can't find an actual review of a book I really really really really love. The Wave is one of those. I reviewed two of Lee's other books, but not of my favorite. Well, anyway: get The Wave. It's perfect. No one does wordless picture books better. (Image, at the top of the post)
3) A Girl and Her Gator by Sean Bryan and Tom Murphy: I really love all their funny collaborations. In this a girl wakes up with a gator on her head. Read my full review here.
4) Sophie's Masterpiece, by Eileen Spinelli and Jane Dryer: I found this book by chance, and immediately fell in love. Here's my full review.
5) Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke: this goes without saying! Zita is spunky, impulsive, caring, funny, and though her fears are very real, she also summons the courage to face them and do good when it needs to be done. She's a great role model for all kids, and a delight through and through. And, Zita 2 is just out!
Religious Books for Girls:
1) Mary, the Mother of Jesus by Tomie de Paola (review here)
2) Stories from the Bible illustrated by Lizbeth Zwerger
3) Joan of Arc by Josephine Poole and Angela Barrett
4) Clare and Francis by Guido Visconti and Bimba Landmann
5) Saint Bernadette by Sophie Maraval-Hutin (review here)
Because She'll be Born in Virginia: (well, two of these girls will be born in VA)
1) This is Washington, DC by Miroslav Sasek: and you might as well get This is Paris, This is London, This is San Francisco, etc, etc, while you're at it. Don't you want her to be a world traveler?
2) One More Acorn by Don Freeman and Ron Freeman: Don Freeman's son, Ron, helped complete this adorable story about a squirrel on the National Mall. Full review here.
3) American Girl: Felicity by Valerie Tripp: Felicity is the reason I know the word Spunky. And also why I have always wanted to go to Williamsburg.
4) Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry: Only the best horse book ever. Plus, you'll take her camping on Assateauge someday. If you can, buy her the vintage version, which is often available at Library sales.
Chapter Books for Later:
Everyone knows Alice in Wonderland, The Little Princess, The Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, Nancy Drew and Charlotte's Web. But don't forget about:
Betsy, Tacy and Tib by Maud Hart Lovelace (review here)
Ronia the Robber's Daughter, by Astrid Lungren, of Pippi Longstocking fame. And for that matter, don't forget Pippi.
Peter Pan and Wendy by J.M. Barrie, which is really more about Wendy than about Peter.
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit. (And promise you won't watch the movie.)