11 books every girl needs to read before she hits high school.

Kate Leaver

Sure, my parents raised me beautifully, they’re the greatest. But so did Roald Dahl. And Louisa May Alcott. Charles Dickens did his part, Ruth Park pitched in, and Melina Marchetta was around a lot.

Anne Frank’s diary changed my life, Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird taught me about morality. Don’t even get me started on The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants – those girls were my best buddies before I was old enough or confident enough to make my own.

Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by Bookworld. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100 per cent authentic and written in their own words.

Compulsory reading for girls before they become women. Do not progress past the age of 13 without reading these… 

1. Matilda, by Roald Dahl

Reading Matilda meant a lot to me, because she was this magnificent kid who made being smart seem awesome. She was my first literary hero because she put knowledge (and magic) before everything else… and so did I. I can’t think of a more important lesson to learn before you hit high school.

2. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

I loved the adventures of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy so much. I felt like I knew them all personally, and I liked to fantasize about which one I was most like (Jo, obviously).

3. So Much To Tell You, by John Marsden

I read So Much To Tell You in one day, and wanted to start it all over again the minute I’d finished it. It was one of the first books that broke my heart, showed me the vulnerability of a main character, and then put it back together again. It makes me emotional thinking about it now.

4. Looking for Alibrandi, by Melina Marchetta

If you’re the kind of girl who wipes her nose on her sleeve when she cries, dreams of a university education, and maybe-maybe-maybe just started noticing boys and is wondering what it might be like to fall in love… Well, I was, and I am. I’d read Alibrandi right now if it was in front of me.

5. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, by Ann Brashares

Simply the greatest story of female friendship via a pair of jeans that’s ever been created. Every single person my age has gone shopping with friends and tried on the same pair of light denim jeans in the secret hope that they might be their own version of the Travelling Pants.


6. Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbit

My sister, my mum and I loved this book so much, we went out and bought 3 copies for the household. We’d spend hours pretending to cast the film version of the book, and imagine what it’d be like to live forever as the characters… It’s a really rather beautiful way for young girls to start thinking about mortality and love.

7. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran-Foer

So, the narrator of this book is a 9 year old boy, but I still wish he was my absolute best friend in the world. It’s the only book that’s made me break my “Not Writing On Books” rule. Some sentences were so perfect, I had to underline and circle them. In pencil, obviously.

8.  To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

When I was in my final year of primary school, I read my mother’s worn copy of this book, and loved it so very dearly that I used to sleep with it under my pillow. It was the first time I really thought long and hard about morality, racism, justice, and what makes people good.

9. The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank

Anne Frank’s diary should be compulsory reading for young girls. I’ve never connected with a historical figure in such an intimate and devastating way before or since. The perspective and empathy Anne’s writing can give is seriously invaluable.

10. My Sister Sif, by Ruth Park

I gave a presentation at school in year five about why this was the best book in the school library, and volunteered to read it aloud to class. Because that’s the kind of girl I was – and how enchanting the story.

11. Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer

When I was growing up, the guy at the bookshop near my house knew me very well. Once I’d exhausted all the classics, and ‘girly’ options, we tried Artemis and I loved him. Never let anyone tell you this little genius is just a boys’ character.

Do you have any to add to the list, what are your must-read recommendations for young girls?

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