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great American novels by women authors for middle school girlsI would like your best...

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nszabo | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted November 12, 2011 at 7:51 AM via web

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great American novels by women authors for middle school girls

I would like your best recommendation for great novels by American women authors.  The audience is my literature enrichment class for middle school girls.

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vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 12, 2011 at 9:01 AM (Answer #2)

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Little Women by Louisa May Alcott would be an obvious choice. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton would be good. My Antonia by Willa Cather comes to mind. The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan, might work. Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God might work. Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth would work.

A good book on this topic is Elaine Showalter's A Jury of Her Peers.

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pirateteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted November 12, 2011 at 11:15 AM (Answer #3)

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My students enjoy anything written by Joan Bauer and Anne Brashares. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants was carried in the book bags of all my girl students for the longest time. 3 Willows: the Sisterhood Grows is great for my students with one character from Ghana and the issues many of my students go through (grades,siblings, parents, etc) reaches out to them and pulls them in. Also, when given the chance to pick their own outside reading books they often picked Bauer's Rules of the Road and 2001 Newberry Winner Hope Was Here. Though our high school often teaches it in the 9th grade, many of the 7th and 8th grade girls enjoy reading it.

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nszabo | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted November 13, 2011 at 12:45 AM (Answer #4)

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Little Women by Louisa May Alcott would be an obvious choice. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton would be good. My Antonia by Willa Cather comes to mind. The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan, might work. Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God might work. Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth would work.

A good book on this topic is Elaine Showalter's A Jury of Her Peers.

Thank you for your reply.  I had considered "Little Women" but in truth the story just does not speak to me.  I find that if I can't get excited about a book, then I can't teach it well.  I just finished "O Pioneers!" by Willa Cather, and it went very well.  I am intrigued by Zora Neale Hurston's "Their Eyes Were Watching God".  Do you think it would work for girls in 6th-8th grades?

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nszabo | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted November 13, 2011 at 12:46 AM (Answer #5)

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My students enjoy anything written by Joan Bauer and Anne Brashares. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants was carried in the book bags of all my girl students for the longest time. 3 Willows: the Sisterhood Grows is great for my students with one character from Ghana and the issues many of my students go through (grades,siblings, parents, etc) reaches out to them and pulls them in. Also, when given the chance to pick their own outside reading books they often picked Bauer's Rules of the Road and 2001 Newberry Winner Hope Was Here. Though our high school often teaches it in the 9th grade, many of the 7th and 8th grade girls enjoy reading it.

You've given me some good suggestions, however I am thinking of something more timeless or classic.  Any other ideas?

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ms-einstein | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted November 13, 2011 at 4:44 AM (Answer #6)

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I love questions like this. Here are my ideas:

  1. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, destined to become a classic. Not an American female author, but so compelling.
  2. Poetry study of Emily Dickinson
  3. The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlins
  4. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
  5. Roll of Thunder, Hear my Call by Mildred Taylor
  6. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  7. Summer of my German Soldier by Bette Green
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wshoe | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted November 13, 2011 at 8:15 AM (Answer #7)

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What level are your students?  Have you considered Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird?  I have had success with honors and college prep freshmen, so that may work with advanced students.  Another book my students absolutely loved is Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye. I agree with Evans, above, on Cather's My Antonia.  These are classic works that students are not as likely to read on their own, but they will appreciate the works after they have read them.  However, you won't go wrong with many of the other titles mentioned above either - students will voraciously read them.  Be sure to post what you choose and how it works for your students.  Good luck!

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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted November 13, 2011 at 12:29 PM (Answer #8)

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If they are young middle school I would recommend all of the novels by Laura Ingalls Wilder -- the most famous being Little House on the Prairie.  Girls that like history will be drawn into this glimpse into the past, and that the entire series is the story of a female dominated family is very interesting. The books are very readable, and have a nice sense of being "episodic" so a young reader can read 1 to 2 or 3 chapters of one "story" and then go on to read the next story-worthy event.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 13, 2011 at 9:18 PM (Answer #9)

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Great topic to think about! I would echo some of the choices made above by other editors, that I either know would work because of colleagues using them or my own kids loving them or personal enjoyment, but I would like to add a few as well. Here is my list of suggestions:

1) My Antonia

2) Number the Stars

3) Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry

4) Ethan Frome

5) The Book Thief

6) Little Women

7) So Far From the Bamboo Grove

8) Speak

9) The Pigman

10) The View from Saturday

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wshoe | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted November 14, 2011 at 4:11 AM (Answer #10)

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I just thought of another one! This one is contemporary, and there is a recent movie to ruin it - sorry - but I can't keep The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold on my shelves.  I have probably purchased at least twenty copies of that book over the years and they have all slowly but surely disappeared just as soon as I get a little slack about signing them out.  The girls absolutely love it.

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e-martin | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 16, 2012 at 12:33 AM (Answer #11)

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The Bell Jar has become an under-rated novel somehow. The prose and the emotional content of this novel are particularly well-suited to middle school girls in today's age and the book actually has a happy ending, or at least neutral.

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