In our Daddy Issues series, a father of a young daughter seeks guidance, hoping to raise a strong woman. He looks to you, dear readers, for insight.
Last summer I read aloud the Little House on the Prairie series to my daughter, who called all the books, simply, "Laura and Mary."
"Hey let's go read some more Laura and Mary!"
It was a life-altering experience for the entire family. Over the course of the summer, we re-created some of the crafts from the books — like churning butter, making aprons and bonnets and fashioning the scariest looking dolls you'll ever see out of corn cobs (pictured above; more on that here).
There was something about the quiet drama of the stories and the adventurous spirit of Laura that really tugged at my daughter, and me, too. We were sad when the series ended for us. (I never read the books growing up and often found myself breaking into smiles or sudden tears right along with my daughter; please, don't ever mention Jack to her.) We tried to get into a few other books, but nothing really spoke to her as strongly and so now we re-read passages from Little House in the Big Woods or On the Banks of Plum Creek every now and then.
The kid is beginning to read small picture books on her own and I caught her beginning to tear up one day, after I told her to go flip through a story while I started work on dinner.
"Does this mean you won't read to me anymore?" she asked, "Now that I can do it myself?"
Oh kid. If you only knew reading to you is probably much more fun for me than it is for you. I said I'd read her stories and books for as long as she wanted. But a question began to nag me.
I grew up on a steady diet of Robert Louis Stevenson, Jack London and John Steinbeck. I plan to read her The Red Pony and The Pearl when she's a little older. Although maybe I'll let her discover "To Build a Fire" on her own; that story still freaks me out.
But I feel at a loss for coming up with children's and middle reader books aimed at young girls. She loved Laura so much that I want to find another book featuring that same adventurous spirit. I just know she'd be into it.
So let's have at it: What are your must-read books for young girls? Our home library thanks you in advance.
Mike Adamick writes at Cry It Out! He put his foot down when she wanted to go hunting bears just like Pa.
Photograph courtesy of Mike Adamick.