We Recommend: Independence Edition

And it's back to We Recommend, where my girls and I use our
superpowers
to figure out the exact right book recommendation for whomever writes
in to ask. Just send us a description of the kid  you're talking about,
what he or she likes and does like, any other relevant (or irrelevant,
why not?) information, and we'll dip into our collective
unconsciousness and come up with the perfect book, which will
inevitably be overshadowed by the amazing and insightful
recommendations from the commenters. So go ahead, test us!

So my, er, troubles with Strawberry Shortcake continue to yield yet more fruit (ouch, sorry). For one thing, Diana took me aside and said, "You seem embarrassed by what you said about Strawberry Shortcake, but I don't think you should be. What you said was right." I feel I should have tape recorded her so I can play it over and over for myself as she moves through adolescence. And then there's this note from a reader:

I haven't read these books (thank goodness). I'm just curious
to know if you can recommend some books that are the antithesis of the SS
books. Books about not conforming, or thinking for yourself, etc. I have an
almost 3 year old who LOVES to be read to, and likes girly stuff – I'm running
out of options.

There's something oppressively ironic about finding a book that encourages independence: go ahead, be independent! Now, I tell you! Don't follow others, stop it right now. Only follow me when I tell you to be…independent.

But that little semantic dance is just going to suck you down the whirling vortex into paralysis (trust me on this). So, focus: what to read a 3-year-0ld girl who likes girly stuff?

I appreciate this particularly because it looks for that worthy place where girly stuff is combined with independence, instead of shoved aside. All too often we get the flip side of the coin: be a tomboy, damnit! Because that's independent! When it's just another pressure to conform to a slightly different set of expectations.

Anyway, I'm going obvious here:

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I love these books. I'm going with this one because it seems to fit the situation best, but I would definitely say the Wemberly Worries is also a huge favorite, and all the ones about Chester and Lily together….

But there's also Frances, of Bread and Jam fame, along with Iris and Walter, which I just love unreasonably. But I feel, also, that this particular topic will bring forth many, many opinions. So, what are they?

10 thoughts on “We Recommend: Independence Edition

  1. You could try Fancy Nancy. It’s about a girl who teaches her non-fancy family to have some flair. My own three year old certainly enjoys it.

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  2. Thanks for posting this! We do have two Lilly books, but my girl hasn’t really taken an interest in them yet. I’m off to request your other picks from the library, and looking forward to seeing everyone’s suggestions!

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  3. oh yes, lily is the best. olivia, miss rumphius, and the stella books (i think the latest is ‘stella, star of the sea’) would be great, but i’ve been really loving the ‘do princesses scrape their knees?’ books lately. i agree completely about the weird compartmentalization of darn near everything written for girls. why does it always have to be either/or? you can be a princess. you can wear hiking boots. you can do them both at the same time. IMAGINE. 🙂 can’t wait to read the other suggestions!

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  4. Not a useful comment, but your thoughts remind me of the old Steve Martin routine of the Non-Conformist’s Oath: “Repeat after me: I promise to be different. I promise to be unique. I promise not to repeat things other people say.”
    Here’s my (I hope) more useful comment: I second the Fancy Nancy book idea (even my son likes them, though he recently noted he wouldn’t mention it at school–when did that peer-pressure start?!), and I’ll second the Olivia & add an Eloise, though I think Eloise fetches martinis for her nanny, so your mileage may vary on the more dated parts of that book. My daughter, just turned four, has also loved Henry & Mudge & the companion books about Annie & Snowball, too. They masquerade as early reader books, but they are good stories, too. Little Critter & his sister are faves here, too.
    I hope, whatever her interests are now, you can look forward to Wrinkle in Time, Wee Free Men, Phantom Tollbooth, and many others. It’s a wonder seeing where they want to go, isn’t it? I’m constantly baffled at mine–pink skirts one day, then only what her brother’s wearing the next. I’ve got no map, but it’s generally a fun ride.
    (Sorry to natter on. Thanks!)
    Good luck!

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  5. I’m going to forgoe speaking about my old, dear friend Strawberry and recommend Purplelicious. I have no idea if I have spelled that correctly. Pinkilicious only purple. I haven’t read Pinkilicious or Goldilicious, but in Purplelicious, Pinkilicious (man I’m tired of typing ilicious) faces a turn in the “cool” tide, when all the other kids decide that pink is not cool, only black is cool. She struggles mightily with not agreeing with the masses and then is introduced to a friend who has a different opinion on pink. She basically comes to terms with the fact that she just likes something that most people don’t. And that’s okay.

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  6. My very girly, very independent preschooler loves the Priscilla books by Hobbie. They’re ok by adult standards and aces by little girl standards.

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  7. Not sure if a 3 yr old would go for these, but we just read “Amazing Grace” and the other two (Boundless Grace, and Princess Grace), and loved them. Honestly, though, not much beats Lily…

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