How to write a good book for girls

Step 1:  Make a good book for kids.

Step 2: Make sure there are girls in it, at least 50%, and not in like subservient roles and crap.

Step 3: Make sure those girls are people first, and girls second (or third or fourth or whatever they are defined by besides their presentation as female).

That is all.

17 Responses to “How to write a good book for girls”

  1. John Samuel Says:

    Reblogged this on Pirates of the Burley Griffin and commented:
    That’s about all that needs to be said I think.

    NB: Reblog, so as usual PLEASE click through to show your love for the original post.

  2. Cardinal Says:

    Allow me to recommend The Very Nearly Honourable League of Pirates books by Caroline Carlson. Both my seven-year-olds (one boy, one girl) love them, and the adults in the house love them too.

  3. delagar Says:

    I’d like to recommend Sandra McDonald’s middle-grade SF series. Start with Annie Wu Saves the Future.

    I reviewed it here:

  4. Cloud Says:

    Hee hee.

    I largely agree. My only quibble is a “yes and…” Namely, I think there is a place for books that explore challenges that are faced more often by girls, particularly as girls get older and have to navigate through the early manifestations of gender discrimination. I want to see both types of books- books in which there is a “generic” story and it just happens that some of the characters are girls AND books in which there is a story that tackles gender issues. This is similar to what I want in terms of racial diversity or diversity of abilities in my kids, books. I have seen research indicating that in terms of race, books in which there just happen to be kids of various races playing together correlate with kids actually playing across racial divides more often, which is a great thing. But my gut instinct is that for a kid who has already faced discrimination or the like, a book that helps work through that would be very helpful. I haven’t seen research on that, though, or on whether something similar is at play with gender.

    Of course, I think books that tackle gender issues would be good books for boys to read, too- but it seems a lot of people disagree on that. Even with my Petunia book (which I think has some general themes that just happen to be explored with two little girls in the lead roles), I’ve had a lot of comments about how I’m cutting off half of my market. People are happy to think girls can read books with boys as protagonists, but struggle to recognize that boys can (and should!) read books with girl protagonists. It is sad.

  5. Sandyl FirstgenAmerican Says:

    I think it’s harder than that.

    I’ll also add that a strong female character needs to be written like she really is female. Maybe it’s just me, but I think many writers struggle to create a strong female character that doesn’t read like a man with boobs. There are subtle things about women, their perceptiveness, their appearance, their posture when they are relaxing that makes or breaks girl characters for me. It’s just not believable when I read about a female detective popping a brewsky and putting her feet up on her desk to relax. Does it make her any less strong to be curled up on a sofa reading with a cat or blanket on her lap? Is she less strong because she can dress up in a skirt or dress? It just seems that strong women are usually written in a very masculine way and feminine women are written in a very wimpy way and I really do think you can have and be both.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Oh, I don’t know. There’s a lot more variation within genders than there is across genders in terms of personality. I often have my feet on my desk at work (mainly when the students aren’t around).

      Write female characters as people first, not stereotypes.

      • delagar Says:

        I almost always put my feet up on my desk, for instance. I hate to curl up, because it hurts my hips and knees. Admittedly, the cat would love to be in my lap; sadly, my laptop is almost always there. So she’s more often to be found (one cat) on my husband’s lap. (The other cat hates cuddling.)

        Also, wow do I hate dresses and skirt. I don’t even own any. When I dress up — very seldom — it’s in fancy black trousers and high-end jackets and sweaters.

        And yet ain’t I a woman?

    • xykademiqz Says:

      What delgar says.
      I *am* a man with boobs, if that’s what not being feminine means. No skirt or dresses, feet on table, and OMG BEEEEEEER. And I am not sure all women have perceptiveness, appearance, posture that is uniform.

      Sandy, you realize that, by implying that women who are not feminine aren’t really women (you literally say men with boobs), you are not being any more fair to them than anyone who implies that feminine women are weak.

      • First Gen American Says:

        Wow. I Didnt realize the comment was so offensive. I consider myself on the non-girly spectrum of personalities as well. I am an engineer, have mostly guy friends, drink beer, can change the oil in my car, can use all kinds of power tools, am almost 6 feet tall, yet I still feel like there is a feminine side to me that is not well represented in books.

        It took me a long time to realize that embracing the few girly aspects of myself does not betray the strong and powerful sides of me. I guess that’s why I get so annoyed when I see characters written with a complete absence of any feminine traits….or the opposite, the damsel in distress. Most of us are somewhere in the middle.

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