Item description for Great Books for Girls: More Than 600 Books to Inspire Today's Girls and Tomorrow's Women by Kathleen Odean...
Overview Presents an annotated bibliography of picture books, novels, biographies, and folktales that feature heroines who appeal to girls.
Publishers Description Completely revised and updated with nearly 300 new titles, "Great Books for Girls" remains an invaluable tool for anyone who wants to help shape the literary life of a young girl.
Five years ago Ballantine published "Great Books for Girls" to remarkable acclaim. More than just a list of titles, it was the first guide to help girls find books that would inspire, challenge, and ultimately nurture them. The last five years have seen enormous strides for girls and also children's publishing. With this in mind, Kathleen Odean has thoroughly updated the original edition. As before, each entry is ranked by reading level and includes a brief commentary about the book's content. Out of print or difficult to obtain books have been replaced with books published in the last five years that readers can find in most libraries and bookstores. It is important for young girls to have the right role models and Odean's book is one way parents, grandparents, teachers, and friends can be sure girls are empowered by what they read.
Citations And Professional Reviews Great Books for Girls: More Than 600 Books to Inspire Today's Girls and Tomorrow's Women by Kathleen Odean has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Wilson Children's Catalog - 01/01/2006 page 22
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More About Kathleen Odean
Kathleen Odean has been a children's librarian for seventeen years in schools and public libraries. She is chair of the 2002 Newbery Award Committee and previously served on the Caldecott Award Committee and the American Library Associations's Notable Children's Books Committee. She is also a contributing editor for "Book: The Magazine for the Reading Life." Her two other guides to children's books are "Great Books for Girls: More than 600 Books to Inspire Today's Girls "and "Tomorrow's Women and Great Books for Boys: More than 600 Books for Boys 2 to 14."
Kathleen Odean currently resides in Barrington, in the state of Rhode Island.
Reviews - What do customers think about Great Books for Girls: More Than 600 Books to Inspire Today's Girls and Tomorrow's Women?
BOOKS FOR GIRLS! So Lame Your Brothers Won't Steal Them!!! Sep 23, 2007
""My old mother used to say that every little girl should be able to cook, play the piano, sing, and shoot."" So declares dastardly Mr. Grimshaw to orphan Sylvia Green in Joan Aiken's 1960 children's novel THE WOLVES OF WILLOUGHBY CHASE. The meek Sylvia "thought of Aunt Jane's very different catalogue of accomplishments for little girls, in which crewel work, purse netting, and making paper doilies took high place, and could not agree with him."
Like Old Mrs. Grimshaw and Aunt Jane, we all have our own opinions. To give a small idea of what editor Kathleen Odean's values were when compiling GREAT BOOKS FOR GIRLS, I will discuss two books, one she excludes, and one she recommends.
ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by L.M. Montgomery is a famous novel set at the turn of the century on Canada's Prince Edward Island. Marilla Cuthbert and her brother Matthew decide to adopt a boy to help the aging Matthew with the farm work, but get Anne instead. Marilla declares that they must send her back; "What use can she be to us?" "We might be some use to her," is Matthew's reply. Anne's history - of being farmed out as child-care labor to abusive women with drunken husbands - makes Marilla relent. She agrees to keep the girl she has "no use" for and give her a "proper bringing up". Anne proves brilliant as a scholar, and while many parents keep their own children tied to the house or farm, the Cuthberts support Anne's academic ambitions -- despite neighborly criticism.
In the end, Anne earns a full university scholarship, but due to a family crisis postpones her education to work as a schoolteacher. Odeon excludes GREEN GABLES because Anne "sacrifices herself for others" which makes the book's message "a very traditional one". But the whole point of closing the book on Anne's "sacrifice" is to emphasize the importance of female education. Anne's teaching degree is proved VALUABLE, which validates Marilla's decision to allow Anne to pursue extra schooling. The ending re-iterates the underlying theme of human worth transcending utilitarian considerations, by rewarding Marilla's uncalculating kindness to a "useless" child. It's moving, dammit!!!
But apparently we are supposed to trample human beings we can't make use of. Which is why Odean DOES include an amusingly awful excuse for sci-fi called THE GIRL WHO OWNED A CITY! In a post-Apocalyptic future, everyone over twelve has mysteriously died, and the "heroine" Lisa decrees that everything from the public school to a nearby warehouse of food is hers and hers alone. This gives her dictatorial power over any child that wants to live at the school and/or eat, so no one can stop her when she makes five-year-olds earn their keep at "her" school by patrolling the walls with GUNS to shoot other children trying to take "her" stuff. Odean recommends CITY on account of Lisa's "unusually strong leadership skills," although Lisa actually doesn't have any, just absurdly meek followers too dumb to realize that a school is public property.
Well, you get the idea. It is as if Odean made her choices by speed-reading with a checklist, and ignoring moral context as well as literary quality. Many reviewers complain that Ideology is put before Quality, but that is only half the problem, as many books seem no more feminist or "pro-girl" than they are "great". CITY is not the only recommendation that undermines democratic and humanistic values just because the heroine shows some illusion of strength. Another problem is that Odean's choices and comments seem to indicate a certain borderline misogyny. For example, she praises one picture book because it shows a girl climbing the rigging of a ship - but regretfully whines that it also shows her CURLING HER HAIR while perched on top of said rigging.
Be aware that Odean's Puritanism deserts her when it comes to sex. In recommended books: A sixteen-year-old "squire" has a sexual fling with her crown prince; An adult wizard's unhealthy possessiveness towards his female student is revealed to be "love" the instant she turns sixteen; The hostile sexual aggression of a "troubled" boy proves a successful means of courting the heroine. Unlike perilous and destructive behavior such as HAIR CURLING, or WORKING BEFORE COLLEGE, such issues are not considered important enough to mention in the annotations. Nor does Odean discuss her views/guidelines regarding sexuality in the introduction.
There are naturally some very excellent books in this lineup. But you have to read each annotation to find out whether Odeon considers it a great book, an okay book, or a dud with a good message. It would have been so easy just to put a star next to the actual good ones. Another problem is that Odean has little respect for the stories beyond their didactic use. For example, she fails to inform the reader that NIGHTBIRDS ON NANTUCKET is the third in an excellent series, or that HARRIET THE SPY has two sequels.
You will not find standards such as LITTLE WOMEN, THE SECRET GARDEN, A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN, HEIDI, NATIONAL VELVET, or the LITTLE HOUSE books. I don't have a particular problem with that. There is something to be said for a non-traditional lineup with aggressive feminist standards as long as one is frank about one's priorities, which Odean is. But in practice Odean's false and shallow notion of feminism robs the approach of its worth. I spent several years browsing through selections, and rather than thinking, "I wish I'd had these books when I was a kid", I ended up grateful that my formative influences were Narnia and STAR WARS, and disgusted with the whole concept of "girl's books" in general.
I don't discourage purchasing it. You just have to know what you are getting. Odean's first priority is making sure the books impart the right messages about being "strong" and "outspoken". Quality is optional, humanism expendable, hair-curling femininity a worse drawback than cruelty, and sacrificing for others worse than exploiting them. It might be best for those who are already well read and are looking for out-of-the-way titles. But if you are only going to get only ONE book of this sort, I'd look elsewhere. ONCE UPON A HEROINE puts a conscious emphasis on quality over didactics, reproduces most of the best recommendations from Odean, and is a fun read in itself.
Worth it Sep 2, 2007
Great book to bring to the library so you come home with good books to read.
Politically correct books, not good books. Jun 10, 2007
I was looking for help selecting books for my granddaughter. However, in reading the introduction I found that the author has not included "Anne Of Green Gables", an absolutely fantastic book, because "...at the end of the book, she (Anne) consciously sacrifices her education to help her beloved relative." This makes Anne somehow a failure as a woman? Not in my eyes. The author does include "Anne Frank: The Diary Of A Young Girl" so she's not ALWAYS wrong. But it does seem that Ms. Odean doesn't seem to be interested in books that make good reading but only books that make good points (by her feminist definition). Personally, I find a good book keeps me reading; propaganda has me reaching for the TV remote. A book titled "Great Book For Girls" should live up to its name. This one doesn't.
Helpful Jan 18, 2007
I have found this book to be a great resource for myself and my daughters. It provides a brief desciption of the books reviewed so as a parent you know what your child is reading about without having to read the whole book yourself, very helpful when your child is an avid reader. While certainly not a complete list of the books available to my daughters to read, it provides a source for books on particular subjects with good role models for girls.
Conflicting - but generally positive Nov 9, 2003
A lifelong feminist, I usually have clear feelings about things to do with women and girls. But women/girl - only things are not clear cut. Obviously it would be nice if such things were not necessary, if girls self-esteem was not constantly battled against by society etc.., If Ophelia didn't need saving.
But given reality, offsetting influences are still of use. Even so, reading the entries in this book I found myself wanting to ask sometimes: but is it a *good* book?
Many book descriptions included the reasoning for their inclusion (besides positive role models etc..), but some didn't. Regarding those entries, I wanted to know: Is it well-written? Is it content- and flavor- rich, or is it another feeble attempt at PC? In my opinion, books like that are worthless. I wasn't sure I could assume that Odean shared my sentiments about that.
Perhaps the more recent edition is better for that.
In many ways though, this book is great. The explanations of the books are in-depth, all the useful info is included. There are indexes - very compact ones that take up little space. One of my favorite additional things in this book is the section on parent resources - there are many goodies in this section including a list of 4 magazines that librarians use to know what new books are out. Great for keeping up with all that is going on!
All in all a great effort within a very challenging context!