1. Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce
“I believe in deeds, not words.” — Alanna
About a girl who pretends to be a boy in order to become the first female knight in her kingdom — and kicks ass at it along the way.
2. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
A retelling of the traditional Cinderella story in which Ella is under a spell where she is forced to obey others’ commands and sets out to change her fate.
3. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede
“‘You mean that dragons don’t care whether their king is male or female; the title is the same no matter who the ruler is.’ — Cimorene
‘That’s right. We like to keep things simple.’” — Kazul
About a princess that refuses to be a ‘proper’ woman and runs away to join a community of dragons.
4. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
“I hope you’re pleased with yourselves. We could all have been killed—or worse, expelled. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to bed.” — Hermione
Because let’s be real: these books are really about Hermione constantly saving Harry and Ron from sticky situations.
5. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
About an orphaned girl who sets off on an adventure to find out why children around her are disappearing.
6. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
A trauma novel about a girl who nearly stops speaking altogether after after an unnamed incident that makes her calls the cops on her friends’ party.
7. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
About a girl, Kit, who grows up in Barbados, moves to Connecticut after losing her grandfather, and struggles with life and accusations of witchcraft in a Puritanical society.
8. Matilda by Roald Dahl
Everyone’s favorite book lover, Matilda, is a smart girl who doesn’t fit in with her ridiculous family and befriends her kind school teacher, Miss Honey.
9. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
“Life, with its rules, its obligations, its freedoms, is like a sonnet: You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself.”
About a girl, Meg, who goes on an adventure through time and space with her friend and her little brother to rescue her father from evil forces on another planet.