Top Ten Tuesday Freebie: Strong Female Protagonists

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

It has been a LONG time since I’ve written a Top Ten Tuesday post! I love that today happens to be a freebie because I’m working on a new bulletin board for my classroom. Four out of five of my classes are seniors and since they’re gone for the school year and I’m going to be on maternity leave at the beginning of next school year, I want to use some of my extra time putting together bulletin boards for next year. I really doubt bulletin boards are going to be a high priority when I’m ready to pop. 🙂

Anyway, in April I posted the survey results about whether my girls see themselves in what they’re reading. One of the questions I asked them is what they’d love to see in the books they’re reading and a majority of them wish to see strong female characters (their definitions of this vary). Back in February I created a bulletin board featuring book recommendations based on what my students are reading and interested in reading. I’ve decided to merge these two ideas; one section of the bulletin board will feature some strong female characters that my girls are searching for. I’m also thinking about adding a section that features girls in YA who play various sports. Of course, those two ideas can easily be one in the same.

1. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (Goodreads): Elisa isn’t your average royal YA fantasy character. She’s a little bit insecure, she’s very religious, and she’s fat (she describes herself this way). What I love about her, however, is that throughout the first book and the series itself she becomes increasingly self-reliant and a strong leader.

2. Ask the Passengers by A.S. King (Goodreads): A.S. King is one of my favorite authors for reasons like this book and Astrid’s story. Astrid is a character who sees beyond labels, especially those that label sexuality, and simply wants to find herself and where she fits in the world. Plenty of readers will be able to connect with her.

3. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (Goodreads): Frankie is still one of my favorite characters and for good reason, too. She’s smart, independent, and full of spunk. I also like that this book features a strong female protagonist and is light-hearted at the same time.

4. The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (Goodreads): One of the things I like about this book is that while there’s a romance, it’s not the center of the story. The main focus of the story is how Hayley is dealing with her father’s PTSD and in turn her own PTSD from dealing with her father. She’s self-reliant almost to a fault. Her journey through this story is touching.

5. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (Goodreads): I can’t imagine growing up with a prostitute as a mother, especially living in a brothel. Like many of the characters on this list, Josie is independent, smart, and strong-willed. This is an excellent piece of historical fiction and example of how strong a YA character can be.

6. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black (Goodreads): Tana’s wakes up as the only one living after vampires attack a party she attended so she takes a huge risk by entering Coldtown to save a few of the other survivors. Tana is tough, resourceful, and resilient. This is a vampire book and Tana is no Bella Swan.

7. We Are the Goldens by Dana Rheinhardt (Goodreads): This just released today and thankfully I had the ARC to read already. This is a great story about the power of sibling relationships. Nell is extremely close to her older sister Layla, but because of a secret Layla’s keeping, Nell is being pushed away and is forced to figure out who she is without her sister.

8. Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John (Goodreads): I really like Piper. I like that she’s deaf and managing a band. I like that she’s looking out for her little sister and trying to connect with her family. This is a fun, engaging, heartwarming book.

9. Sold by Patricia McCormick (Goodreads): Surviving being sold into prostitution. Enough said.

10. Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu (Goodreads): Have you seen the show Hoarders? Reading Lucy’s story is like watching an episode of Hoarders. Her mom has suddenly died in their home and Lucy feels it’s up to her to keep her mom’s secret and clean up their home before anyone arrives to get her mother’s body. Talk about strong and independent.

In Honor of National Poetry Month: Verse Novels Worth Reading

We’re nearing the end of National Poetry Month, so I found it fitting to write a post featuring my favorite verse novels.  If you haven’t read many verse novels, or any at all, you might want to view this post as a verse novels starter kit.  I’ll admit verse novels aren’t for everyone, but when they’re done well it might surprise you when you find yourself attached to a character or moved by the imagery created through so few words.

My first novel in verse was Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff (Goodreads), which I read for my college Young Adult Lit class.  It’s been a few years since I’ve read that book, but I still love it and remember it vividly.  From there I started reading Ellen Hopkins’ books which began with Crank (Goodreads).  I moved on to Sonya Sones (her books on Goodreads) next.  Once I started reading verse novels I was on a mission to find more, not only because I adore them, but because they soon became very popular in my classroom.  For struggling readers, being able to conquer one of Ellen Hopkins’ books is like a point of pride because they’re “such big books.”  And I don’t say that to demean their experience; I say that because her books, along with other verse novels, create more confident readers.

The list I’m providing is here because I love these novels and want to promote them.  It’s also here because I hope more readers will give verse novels a chance.  This list will also help fill in some gaps for those who already read and love novels in verse.  If you have some recommendations please share them in the comments! 🙂

I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder (Goodreads) (My Review): This was the first book I read by Lisa Schroeder.  I read it in one sitting and was completely awed by her writing.  I still need to read Far From You, but I’ve read all of her other books.  I’ll continue to read every book she writes because she’s so incredibly talented.

Sold by Patricia McCormick (Goodreads): I read Sold before I started teaching, so I don’t have a review for it.  Patricia McCormick is one of my favorite authors because she spends so much time researching the topic for her novels.  Consequently, she creates powerful novels that stick with you for some time after finishing one of her books, much like Sold did.  It’s written in vignettes and packs a quite the emotional punch.

Love & Leftovers by Sarah Tregay (Goodreads) (My Review): What a debut!  I hope Sarah Tregay writes more novels in verse because I adored Love & Leftovers, and if the fact that I haven’t seen it in my classroom for months means anything, my students love this debut as well.  Sarah Tregay took a familiar topic (exploring love and friendship) and created it into a verse novel that’s both humorous and touching.  Love & Leftovers has been featured all over my blog via my review, a student review, and more so I really hope you read this one.

Exposed by Kimberly Marcus (Goodreads) (My Review): This novel is hard to discuss without spoilers.  I can say, however, that when I read Exposed I often thought of different books written by Ellen Hopkins.  I’ve handed Kimberly Marcus’s debut to my Hopkins fans and received positive feedback.  I’ve also used Exposed as a stepping stone to Ellen Hopkins which has gone over well also.  Regardless, it’s a fantastic and powerful novel about friendship, family, and loyalty.

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai (Goodreads): Thanhha Lai has received some well-deserved recognition including the National Book Award and as a Newberry Honor Book.  Inside Out & Back Again is a story of overcoming adversity, discovering a new world, and the importance of family.  It’s a book that both middle grade and young adult readers will appreciate because despite the age and circumstance of the main character, many of us have felt different and misunderstood.  It’s a beautiful novel and certainly one worth reading.

** More Verse Novels Worth Reading **

The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan (Goodreads)

Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall (Goodreads)

May B. by Caroline Starr Rose (Goodreads)

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