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Read Aloud Books for Plucky Girls

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.


read alouds for spunky girls || this vintage moment 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?

{ 25 comments… add one }
  • Jessica May 1, 2015, 9:48 am

    Will be saving this list for later… already have Pippi Longstocking ready and waiting for my girls when they’re a bit older! Love it.

    • thisvintagemoment May 1, 2015, 1:02 pm

      Most of these are favourites from my childhood and I love starting to share them with my girls! Hurrah for Pippi. =)

  • priest's wife (@byzcathwife) May 3, 2015, 12:30 pm

    One beautiful book- (read aloud picture book?)- with a very plunky girl is ‘The Maggie B’. It’s my favorite- it is worth searching for!

    • thisvintagemoment May 3, 2015, 8:46 pm

      I haven’t heard of that one but I will look for it now. Thanks for joining us here!

    • thisvintagemoment May 4, 2015, 8:03 pm

      Oh, I hadn’t heard of that one, thanks for sharing! And welcome to this space, so glad to have you join us!

  • Rachel May 3, 2015, 3:07 pm

    Those themed grab-bags sound brilliant! My youngest has recently decided that the library is a great place to play chase, so my choices of children’s books have been a little haphazard of late. Thankfully, my preschooler is happy to help with the random selections – and to hear them all read later!
    Plucky-girl favourites include “The Paperbag Princess”(or any Munsch book, really), “Anne of Green Gables”, and “Dealing with Dragons”. Looking forward to what else you come up with 🙂

    • thisvintagemoment May 3, 2015, 8:48 pm

      Yes to the Paperbag Princess and Anne! I’m letting my girls get a little older before introducing them to Anne, that was one of my first solo reads and I loved that experience. I haven’t heard of Dealing with Dragons, adding it to the list. =)

  • Katie May 3, 2015, 9:04 pm

    My girls love Miss Rumphius, Milly-Molly-Mandy and also Anbabelle from Extra Yarn and Hattie of Hattie and the wild waves ☺️

    • thisvintagemoment May 4, 2015, 9:17 am

      Oh yes to Miss Rumphius! We read it every June and then go on a lupine hunt. =)
      And I haven’t heard of the others, thanks for sharing them!

  • Sonja Naulak May 8, 2015, 12:44 pm

    I was just thinking about this category yesterday! I second the recommendations for Little House books and Anne, and would recommend Ronja the Robber’s Daughter, by Astrid Lindgren. Also the Magician’s Nephew, C. S. Lewis (Polly is a very plucky girl!) Love this list!

    • thisvintagemoment May 8, 2015, 7:24 pm

      Oh, I forgot about Ronja the Robber’s Daughter, I loved that book! And Polly is such a plucky girl- great additions!

  • Becca @ The Earthlings Handbook May 8, 2015, 1:53 pm

    Here are several series you might enjoy:
    books about Ramona by Beverly Cleary
    The Saturdays and its sequels by Elizabeth Enright
    The Secret of the Mansion by Julie Campbell (first in the series of Trixie Belden mysteries–the first 6 are great fun; later ones were ghost-written and vary in quality)
    books about the Famous Five by Enid Blyton

    • thisvintagemoment May 8, 2015, 7:26 pm

      I have Ramona on the shelf waiting to be read and I haven’t read any of the books about the Famous Five. I loved the Trixie Belden books growing up as well The Saturdays. Although I didn’t know there were any sequels to the Saturdays, thanks!!

  • Liz K. May 8, 2015, 6:15 pm

    When I read this, I immediately thought of Caddie Woodlawn. Anyone else remember that book? I LOVED it when I was younger. Now, one of my daughters is named Caroline, and when we were thinking there was no nickname for her, I realized there is one… Caddie!

    • thisvintagemoment May 8, 2015, 7:28 pm

      I absolutely loved Caddie Woodlawn growing up and am torn between reading it aloud and letting my girls read it on their own. =) Caddie is a great nickname!

  • Ginny@RandomActsofMomness.com May 9, 2015, 12:59 am

    I have two plucky boys and no girls, but I was a plucky girl myself once, so I love this post! YES to Betsy-Tacy; I adored those books as a kid. Did you know they continue into the characters’ high school years and beyond? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read those over the years. They are still my comfort reads.

    As a girl, I also adored Ballet Shoes and Dancing Shoes by Noel Streatfeild. They are partly responsible for making me such an ardent Anglophile.

    I also used to love the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series, though I haven’t read them in ages.

    Another series that my mom introduced me to (she read them as a girl) are the All-of-a-Kind Family series by Sydney Taylor. They are about a Jewish family of five girls living in a tenement in NYC at the turn of the last century. They’re terrific books.

    • thisvintagemoment May 9, 2015, 9:18 am

      Yes to Betsy-Tacy, I did know they continue and I love that they can become companions to my girls that way.
      I loved Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and have it on the shelf, waiting for us to be finished our current book.
      I forgot about the All-of-a-Kind Family but they were a favourite when I was a girl.

      I’ve never read the Ballet Shoes and Dancing Shoes (why not?!) but I know we need too.

      Thanks for sharing!!

  • Jaime May 9, 2015, 9:46 am

    Matilda! Roald Dahl is one of my favorite children’s authors. I always loved how Matilda found ways to battle back against her parents and headmistress.

  • Ashlie May 10, 2015, 6:42 am

    Rosie Revere, Engineer! New classic about an awesome plucky girl. Kevin Henkes writes about mice but those girls are SPUNKY and AWESOME. I still wear a lucky outfit with seven pockets full of good luck charms because Chrysanthemum did it when the girls were being mean to her at school. Shelia Rae and Lilly, too!

    • thisvintagemoment May 10, 2015, 8:27 pm

      Oh yes, I love those books! Rosie Revere is one I want to get for my girls inspiration bookshelf. =)

      I’ll have to look up the mice books,they sound fun!

  • julia-tagandtibby May 11, 2015, 9:40 am

    great list!! I’ve gotten in a rut of picking whatever book is closest to her bedside, definitely saving for later.

    • thisvintagemoment May 11, 2015, 12:44 pm

      Fantastic! So glad you stopped by. =)

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