Hey, look! I grew out my hair and have perfect posture! Photo credit.
Now, Smarty Readers, tell me the truth: How many of those names warmed your heart just upon reading them, and how many of you found yourself smiling when you read that list just like I found myself unconsciously smiling as I compiled it? These are the girls whose stories so many of us grew up reading, and these are the girls so many of us wanted to be. They are wonderful, rich, and interesting (and white - I'm no dummy here, and I fully understand how problematic that is) characters, and, sadly, they are representative of an unfortunate minority of female characters in children's books. A 2011 study of nearly 6,000 20th Century children's books found that "[m]ales are central characters in 57 percent of children's books published per year, while only 31 percent have female central characters" and that "no more than 33 percent of children's books published in any given year contain central characters that are adult women or female animals, but adult men and male animals appear in up to 100 percent of books." Happily, non-animal characters nearly achieved equality in gender representation in the 1990's. And, thankfully, a new children's and young adult publisher is seeking to continue the trend of parity through the 2000's.
And here I present my friend Saira Rao's new venture, In This Together Media. In This Together Media publishes great books with strong, central female characters. She and her partner, Carey Albertine, have started a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise money to create and distribute their next 10 books featuring smart, brave, and resourceful girls.
If you were a girl, have a girl, know a girl, read good books, want your children to read good books, and/or have piles of extra cash lying around, I urge you to donate to In This Together and fund "great books about real girls." With our help (Yes, I did give at the office.), the names Carly, Marty, and Lily can join the list at the beginning of this post.
After you head over to Kickstarter and donate, please come back and reminisce in the comments about your favorite literary heroine from your childhood! It'd be great if we Smarties could compile a list of favorite kid lit for our Smarty Babies. Let's get on it, friends!