We were in a hurry to the elevators, it had been a lovely morning out at the library but we needed to get home. It wasn’t our normal home library where we have a routine for getting books and I do it without thinking about it, the beauty of a good habit.
But this was our new library and we have very few routines established there for getting books. We mostly just go there for the fabulous play area and I get a coffee and some reading time.
I grabbed a book bag on a whim and called it good. The girls and I would explore it at home and see if it was a good thing or not. The concept is smart- ten books selected on a particular theme and bagged, making it easy for parents like myself who are in a hurry to grab a bunch of books on one theme. We’ve chosen one bag of books on superheros and another on the ocean. We’ve discovered some fun titles this way and I love the grouping idea. Sometimes it happens accidentally to me, sometimes I cultivate it on purpose.
Lately I’ve been noticing a theme in our read-alouds, they tend to feature girls and spunky, adventurous girls. Just like my girls.
My girls don’t tend to be sitting still girls unless they are watching a movie or listening to a story or asleep. If I were putting together a book bag of read alouds for peppy and plucky girls, here’s what would be included.
Olivia by Ian Falconer
This little pig gets into mischief after mischief, mess after mess. At the end of the day, her mother tells her that even though she wears her out, she loves her so much. If it’s possible to identify with a mother in a board book, I identified heavily with Olivia’s mother when my oldest was two and three. There’s a few sequels but make sure to get the original written and illustrated by Ian Falconer. The original is a board book and it makes a great baby gift!
Stella, Star of the Sea by Marie Louise Gay
Stella is a spunky redhead with a big imagination and she tells stories of how the sea life came to be to her little brother, Sam, who is not so sure he wants to explore the sea. There’s a whole list of titles about Stella and Sam and they are both of my girls’ most requested picture books. They love the engaging stories and whimsical illustrations, I love the big imagination and free play of the children.
Sprout Helps Out by Rosie Winstead
This book has delightful illustrations with whimsical details that are caught on the third or fourth time through. Sprout is a big sister and is eager to help her mother out. If you’ve ever had a little one help out with the dishes or washing the floor or entertaining her little sister, you know that sometimes this goes very well and other times, it goes very bad. The mother in this story has a great sense of humour and patience and it’s a testament to mothers everywhere who have received bouquets with roots still attached.
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
We all know Pippi with her wild red braids and mismatched stockings and incredible feats of strength. She has a heart of gold and if my girls could be like Pippi in her confident fearlessness of life, I would be happy. But I will bathe them and make sure there’s no holes in their socks, I can’t guarantee they will always be matching socks.
On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder
From meeting a badger to fighting prairie fires to learning how to swim by dunking to taking care of the mean girl by setting leeches on her, this book is full of Laura’s spunk. She makes decision on the spur of the moment which sometimes means the cows runs over the roof of their dugout but it also means that she’s alert and fills their house with wood when blizzards come up so they stay warm. She’s loveable and isn’t afraid of trying anything new.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Mary Lennox does not come to mind when one thinks of plucky heroines, one wants to both snuggle her and slap in the first couple chapters. But she’s a gutsy one- moving across the world and finding her own way after huge upheaval. She makes friends first with herself and then with unlikely characters. My favourite part of this book is the difference that outside play and a few well-directed suggestions make in her life.
Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace
Betsy is a brown-haired girl with a big imagination, Tacy is her red-headed cohort in every adventure and Tib is their golden-haired dancer friend who joins in on their escapades. These girls pretend to be birds, set up circus shows, create secret clubs and so much more. They play and experience life with abandon. This book is on repeat for girls’ quiet time and it has inspired many new playtimes for them.
I know there’s many more titles that we haven’t read yet and many that I can’t wait to introduce to them, what are your favourite books featuring plucky heroines?