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Katie Fitzgerald recommends favorite read-alouds to share with girls ages 5 to 12.

As a former children’s librarian and a homeschooling mom, I do a lot of reading aloud with my kids. We enjoy books from a variety of genres, but because we are a family with four girls, we are always especially happy to find stories about young girls whose behavior we can admire. Today I want to highlight three classic children’s books that make great read-alouds for girls ages 5 to 12: Dandelion Cottage, Baby Island, and Nancy and Plum.             

Dandelion CottageDandelion Cottage by Carroll Watson Rankin was first published in 1904, and it is now in the public domain. In the story, four neighbor girls receive permission to fix up a cottage owned by their local church and turn it into a playhouse. The girls, who range in age from 11 to 14, take their task very seriously, and they work hard to keep the house clean and well-furnished. Even so, there comes a time when it appears they may lose the cottage, and they must work together to find a way to prevent that fate.

The girls in this book are true role models for young girls. They are honest and responsible, kind to each other and respectful to adults, and even when they are treated badly by an unpleasant new girl in town they never stoop to her level. These children are not so pious as to seem fake, but instead they are normal girls with flaws who do their best, own up to their mistakes, fulfill their promises and obligations, and ultimately reap the benefits of their good behavior.

Baby IslandIn Baby Island by Carol Ryrie Brink, published in 1937, sisters Mary and Jean are traveling on a ship where they have been looking after a group of babies belonging to their fellow voyagers. When their ship runs into trouble, they and the babies are placed on a lifeboat which is released into the ocean before any adults can board. Days later, they wash up on the shore of a desert island. With Mary in charge and no adult supervision, the two girls care for the babies as mothers would do, providing them with food, shelter, and entertainment until help comes to rescue them.

Part of raising pro-life girls is teaching them to delight in the very young. This book is a really fun way to encourage girls to enjoy babies, and also to show them the selflessness, compassion, and gentleness required to care for them. Mary and Jean sometimes get into arguments as they determine what to do, but they put the babies’ needs above their own and take genuinely good care of their young charges despite the challenges they face. The girls also make a point of always keeping Sunday holy, even on the island, a nice detail that emphasizes the importance of relying on God during times of difficulty.

Nancy and PlumFinally, Nancy and Plum by Betty MacDonald, published in 1952, is another story about sisters. Nancy and Pamela (Plum) are orphans whose guardian uncle has unwittingly sent them to live at a children’s home run by an evil and abusive caretaker named Mrs. Monday. Mrs. Monday forces the children to wear rags, keeps them from receiving gifts from long-distance family members, and doesn’t even feed them properly. After enduring these conditions for far too long, Nancy and Plum begin looking for ways to escape, which they eventually do with the help of several adult allies.

Though Nancy and Plum feel trapped in their circumstances, they never lose hope, and they always take the opportunity to bring hope to others around them as well. They resist participating in the injustices surrounding them, sometimes to their own detriment, but they never resort to cruelty or allow their hearts to become hardened. These characters show young readers how to cope with suffering and how to be a source of light in places and times of great darkness.

These three classic read-alouds are timeless representations of girls getting along, working hard, and making the best of their circumstances. They would be a great addition to the bookshelf of any girlmom.


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Copyright 2021 Katie Fitzgerald
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