The List: Rebecca Sparrow's go-to resources for tween and teen girls.

Here it is. My go-to list.

I feel like so many parents are feeling anxious and panicked about the world our daughters currently live in. Every day we’re faced with screaming headlines about teenage sex. Binge drinking. Eating disorders. Depression. Risky online choices. ARGH!

But let’s not panic. As someone who is regularly in high schools talking to teenage girls — the girls I get to meet are smart and funny and strong BUT that’s not to say they don’t need help navigating this new world we’re in. (I cannot tell you how glad I am that smart phones didn’t exist when I was 14). So what I’ve listed below are just some of the terrific websites, books and docos I would recommend to anyone who has a tween or teen girl in their life.

The most important thing I can say to you is that there is no ONE conversation to have with your daughter about online choices (or friendships or sex or whatever for that matter). All of these topics are BIG and it’s about having lots of conversations all the time. Start a running dialogue which includes items in the news, storylines in books or movies or TV shows and other issues that come up day to day. Keep talking. Everything is a “teachable moment”. Think back to what it was like being in high school. And practice listening to your daughter.

"Turia Pitt.  She’s fierce." Image via Getty.

This list is just a starting point. There are loads of other great books and sites out there. List your suggestions in the comments! And I’ll keep adding to this list too.

Here’s to raising strong, smart, fierce girls who refuse to play small ….

SOCIAL MEDIA pages for you and your daughter to follow

Here’s the thing with social media (whatever platform you use Instagram, Facebook etc) is that you need it to work FOR you not against you.  If the only people you’re following are friends (or friends of friends of friends!) then you’re mostly just looking from side to side.


Make sure you  feed is full of people who make you look OUTWARDS.  Fill it with people who inspire you, who call forth your best, who remind you of your values or what you stand for or who simply make you laugh.  This is about protecting your headspace —  so think about curating your feed so that what is given priority are those people and organisations who make you smile rather those who leave you feeling less than.

Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls - Who doesn’t love Amy Poehler? Right? This is a great resource for female role models and women doing cool things around the world. Official blurb: “Founded by actor and writer Amy Poehler and producer Meredith Walker, the Smart Girls organisation is dedicated to helping young people cultivate their authentic selves.”

Yes, YOU! Tag a powerful smartie in the comments below ????????⚡️Happy #Saturday! ????: @dallasclayton

A photo posted by Amy Poehler's Smart Girls (@amypoehlersmartgirls) on

A Mighty Girl -  A Mighty Girl is the world’s largest collection of books, toys, and movies for parents, teachers, and others dedicated to raising smart, confident, and courageous girls

Beauty Redefined  - A not-for-profit site dedicated to redefining the meaning and value of beauty in our lives.

The Body Image Movement - Celebrating body diversity and body positivity – a site created by Australia’s Taryn Brumfitt. (AWESOME! And Australian!)  While you’re there also show them the Dove Evolution video. Yes, I know it’s Dove. And it’s been around for a while but this video is still a great reminder to tween girls about AIR BRUSHING OF IMAGES!

Enlighten Education - Enlighten Education runs programs in schools to help girls decode the mixed messages they receive. Enlighten is all about girls developing their self-worth. AMAZING Australian organisation run by Dannielle Miller.


Geena Davis Institute On Gender In Media - “If she can see it, she can be it.”  Great feminist site about the representation of women in media.This site will arm you with facts and stats. “The Institute is the only research-based organization working within the media and entertainment industry to engage, educate, and influence the need to dramatically improve, gender balance, reduce stereotyping and create diverse female characters in entertainment targeting children 11 and under.”

Orange Sky Laundry - This is what good men look like.  Two Brisbane men (uni students and mates) created the first mobile laundry service providing homeless people with access to free washing/drying facilities. LOVE.

UN Women Australia -  “Empower a woman, empower a nation. The Australian National Committee for UN Women is one of 18 National Committees worldwide. We are committed to gender equality and the empowerment of women. Join us in supporting women and girls worldwide by ending poverty, ending violence against women and creating a better future for all.”

Children’s Books Daily  -  this site run by award-winning Brisbane teacher-librarian Megan Daley is my go-to source for kids and YA recommendations. Megan KNOWS books like nobody else. If you or your tween/teen are looking for reading recommendations, Megan has them.

Penguin Teen -  (they do a great FB page on what’s hot in YA books)

Smiling Mind -  teaching kids and adults about mindfulness and meditation. Their app is TERRIFIC.

GIVIT and GIVIT KIDS  - (a great not-for-profit site that encourages people to donate their unwanted, no longer needed items to specific people in genuine need. Givit Kids allows Australian kids to help other Aussie kids in need.)

The Women’s Legal Service Queensland  - Interesting articles and stats on domestic violence as well as how to spot it and how to get out.

RIZE UP - Providing practical assistance to Australian families affected by domestic violence.

Charity Spam -  An Australian hub for all things socially kind. Get involved in your community.


Here are just a few you may not already be following …
Lucy Perry CEO  -  I love Lucy Perry – she’s the CEO of Sunrise Cambodia and she regularly posts inspiring, smart, cool stuff. She’s brilliant.

Turia Pitt – Um. it’s TURIA PITT. She’s fierce.

Emma Watson - Actress (beloved for her portrayal of Hermione in the Harry Potter films) she is a feminist, UN Global Goodwill Ambassador and actor.

Yassmin Abdel-Magied - 2015 Queensland Young Australian of the Year, Yassmin Abdel-Magied is a mechanical engineer, social advocate, writer and petrol head. At 16 she founded Youth Without Borders. Born in Sudan, raised in Australia she is a force of nature!

Mia Freedman - Creative genius, feminist, entrepreneur, empire-builder, tea-lover and the co-founder of the Mamamia Women’s Network. BOOM.


A photo posted by Mia Freedman (@miafreedman) on

Chrissie Swan - Hilarious, brilliant TV and radio host. Mum to three small people. I love her.

Caroline Overington - Caroline is a two-time Walkley-award winning journalist and best-selling author.  You want your daughter to be following smart, strong women? Caroline Overington is one of them.

Tara Moss - Author, speaker, feminist and ambassador for the Full Stop Foundation  (an organisation dedicated to putting an end to sexual assault and domestic violence).

Malala Fund  - Inspired by teenage activist Malala Yousafzai, this page is focused on allowing girls to go to school and raising their voices for their right to an education.

Melinda Gates - Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, businesswoman, and mother. Dedicated to helping all people lead healthy, productive lives.

Michelle Obama - Because, you know, it’s MICHELLE OBAMA.

Jamila Rizvi – Writer, presenter, political junkie.  I fully suspect Jam is going to end up as our next female Prime Minister. Just watch…

Maya Angelou - Facebook page of the late, great author, poet and  feminist

Elizabeth Gilbert - The official FB page of author Elizabeth Gilbert is hilarious, fiesty and kind. She does swear a lot so keep that in mind if your daughter is younger and/or you are easily offended.

Carly Findlay - award-winning blogger, writer and appearance activist

Brene Brown - Brene is a research professor at The University of Houston studying vulnerability, courage, shame, and authenticity. www.brenebrown.com

Cate Campbell and Bronte Campbell - Olympians, World Record Holders, Australian swimming legends.

Laura Geitz - Captain of the Queensland Firebirds and the Australian Diamonds. Netball, baby!

Gretchen Rubin - The New York Times best-selling author is a happiness expert. Gretchen posts lots of links and interesting research on habits and happiness.

Other great names for teenage girls to have on their radar:  journalists Julia Baird, Annabel Crabb, Leigh Sales, Kate McClymont, Dr Fiona Wood, author Anita Heiss, the late Stella Young, Anna Meares, Poh Ling Yeow, Therese Rein, Linda Burney MP and Natasha Stott Despoja.

BOOKS – NON-FICTION for you and your daughter to read

Amazing Babes by Eliza Sarlos
 - (this book is BRILLIANT — gorgeous hardcover brimming with female role models. Makes a great present!)

How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran - My favourite book on feminism by comedy writer Caitlin Moran she covers everything from Brazilians to strip clubs to abortion to workplace sexism.

Girl Stuff by Kaz Cooke - (this is the bible on everything relating to teenage girls — great resource to have. Note: there is a new edition coming out for girls aged 8-12)

Speaking Out by Tara Moss  - (I haven’t read this yet but it comes highly recommended)

Half the Sky: turning oppression into opportunity by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Embrace by Taryn Brumfitt

The Girl With The Butterfly Tattoo by Danielle Miller

Lovability: an empowered girl’s guide to dating and relationships by Dannielle Miller and Nina Funnell (Great book!)

The Gift of Fear (and other survival signals that protect us from violence) by Gavin De Becker

For Foxes’ Sake: everything a fox needs to know about sex by Row Murray – this is a really great book by an Australian author that dishes up terrific advice about sex and your body. Highly recommend.

Ugly by Robert Hoge

Everything to live for by Turia Pitt

If you are Christian and want something reflecting those values then go for books by Sharon Witt.

My non-fiction books for teenage girls …

* Find Your Tribe (and 9 other things I wish I’d known in high school) by Rebecca Sparrow
* Find Your Feet (the 8 things I wish I’d known before I left high school) by Rebecca Sparrow
* Ask Me Anything (heartfelt answers to 65 anonymous questions from teenage girls) by Rebecca Sparrow

Rebecca Sparrow with her book "Ask Me Anything". Image via Twitter.

BOOKS – FICTION for you and your daughter

My current recommendation (which was given to me by Megan Daley at Children’s Books Daily) is:
Saving Jazz by Kate McCaffrey – this is a YA novel which is incredibly powerful about online behaviour, consent and the ramifications of sharing naked images without someone’s consent. It’s blunt and realistic – expect f-bombs but it will speak to many teens. Great to see a novel dealing with the issue of sharing naked images from the point of view of three perpetrators (two male and one female).


Girls and Sex: navigating the complicated new landscape by Peggy Orenstein (this is BRILLIANT)

Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein

Sexts, Texts And Selfies by Susan McLean (also known as the Cyber Cop)

Queen Bees and Wannabes (helping your daughter survive cliques, gossip, boyfriends and other realities of adolescence) by Rosalind Wiseman

Keep an eye out for articles online written by Mia Freedman who writes terrific stories on feminism for Mamamia.com.au.

Listen to the latest episode of 'The Well', a podcast co-hosted by Rebecca Sparrow. Post continues below.

The Butterfly Effect: raising happy, confident teen girls by Dannielle Miller

Rising Strong by Brené Brown

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Everything to Live For by Turia Pitt


Embrace by Taryn Brumfitt (pre-order on iTunes now) ** this is a must-watch for all tweens and teens

He Named Me Malala (the story of Malala Yousafzai)

REPOST @theslaybymic "When women do better, we all do better. #feminism"

A photo posted by Malala Fund (@malalafund) on



There are thousands but a new one to give a whirl is Eliza Starting at 16 by Eliza Rubin ( Eliza is the teenage daughter of Happiness researcher Gretchen Rubin).


Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

The Storms Will Come by Tyler Knott

The Journey by Mary Oliver

Invictus by William Ernest Henley


(I’m only listing a few — I have a full long list at the back of each of my books)

Headspace: National youth mental health foundation 

Youth Beyond Blue

Kids Helpline

This originally appeared on Rebecca Sparrow dot com, and was republished here with full permission.