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Middle Grade Monday – Women in Fiction

Those of you hanging around the Internet this weekend, especially on Twitter, were probably inundated with the hashtag #womeninfiction. It seemed that all of the librarians, authors, and publishing people I follow came out of the woodwork to tweet and retweet about their favorite female fictional characters. Many of those were characters remembered with strong fondness from the reader’s formative years, years where they were reading what we would now classify as Middle Grade fiction.

There is a certain magic to the books we read as middle grades students. Magic in the books themselves, which are often delightfully well written and unapologetically tackle complex issues of the self, family, society, and our place in it. Also, magic in the reader. This is the time when many readers take on ownership of their own reading, form preferences, explore and have adventures through the characters on the page. It was visible in these tweets.

I feel, like Laurie Halse Anderson, that I owe a debt of gratitude to the authors I read and reread (and reread) through my most formative reading years. I was a great consumer of Louisa May Alcott’s fiction. I stopped counting the number of times I reread Little Women in graduate school, when I hit 50. In fact, I read all of her novels multiple times. And those of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Madeleine L’Engle, and Louise Fitzhugh, and so many others. The characters on those pages, especially the young women, spoke to me not only about who I was, but who I could be. I learned to believe in myself, even when others didn’t. I learned that I wasn’t alone.

Here are some of my favorites:

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