We’ve been inspired by the upcoming Tara Moss event, Speaking Out, to compile a list of books about girls speaking out—from memoirs written by girls who have spoken out against inequality, bias, injustice and more, to fiction featuring girls who have overcome adversity and found their voice.
Speaking Out: A 21st-Century Handbook for Women and Girls is a guide for girls and women about why you should speak out, how to do it, and what to expect when you do. Not only does it talk about the many ways, both overt and subtle, that women’s voices are silenced, it provides technical and motivational information about how to speak out. Chapters cover topics such as public speaking, how to prepare for and deal with criticism, and surviving social media, all with the aim of providing women and girls with the confidence and ability to use their voice.
Moss says that talking isn’t the only way to speak out, and this is something that’s echoed in The Gutsy Girl, a new release by Caroline Paul. This book is a compilation of stories, activities and tips to inspire girls to pursue a life of adventure, and contains a chapter titled “It’s not what you say, it’s what you do”. In it, Paul tells of her adventures on a Russian-American white water expedition in Siberia, interspersed with facts about “girl heroes” who make statements with their amazing achievements rather than with words.
Malala Yousafzai is the world-famous Pakistani girl whose actions in standing up for her right to education almost cost her her life, but also led her to being the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Her story is available to younger readers in several formats, including a picture book and a middle reader edition of Malala’s memoir, so girls of all ages can hear her story.
Yassmin Adbel-Magied is another young woman who has been recognised for her work advocating the empowerment of women, being chosen as the 2015 Queensland Young Australian of the Year. Yassmin’s Story tells how, at 16, she founded Youth Without Borders, an organisation focused on giving young people a voice and helping them work for positive change in their communities. At 21, as the only woman working on a remote oil and gas rig, she had to use her frank and fearless voice to establish her place among the men who called her hajib a tea cosy.
In children’s fiction, there are many stories for all ages, with heroines who speak out for themselves or others. The young girl in Yasmeen Ismail’s I’m a Girl doesn’t just speak out, she SHOUTS out, at anyone who mistakes her for a boy. “I’m a girl!” she shouts at anyone who calls her a boy because she’s so fast, or brave, or smart.
Robert Munsch’s classic The Paper Bag Princess is a favourite with Wild Things customers, who love to share with their daughters or grandchildren the story of Princess Elizabeth, who outwits the dragon and saves the prince. When the prince’s only reaction to being rescued is to scold Elizabeth because she isn’t dressed like a real princess, she speaks out and tells him they won’t be getting married after all!
In The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, nine-year-old Ada goes on a war-time adventure that gives her the confidence to speak out, first to protect her younger brother and finally for herself, against a cruel and uncaring mother.
Meg McKinlay’s CBCA shortlisted novel A Single Stone is the tale of a young woman’s discovery of the corrupted morals of her village,s elders. Jena is a prestigious miner of a precious stone that keeps her village alive in the winter. She has to challenge her entire village’s way of life with the discoveries she makes. This beautifully written book fascinates the reader with its strong female protagonist and gently introduced but powerful premise.
Frankie Landau-Banks is a girl who silences her smart and geeky voice when she blossoms over the summer and attracts the attention of a gorgeous senior at school. She takes on a different persona to keep her new boyfriend’s attention and fit in with her new “friends”. But her true self emerges when she realises she’s been excluded from her boyfriend’s all-male secret society, and she speaks out by using her wit and creativity to defeat the boys at their own game.The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E Lockhart is a must-read for your 12 to 16-year-old.
Imagine if you couldn’t speak out, if you suffered a condition where you couldn’t always speak when you wanted to, or talk in a public place, and could converse infrequently with only a few trusted people. In Kylie Fornasier’s The Things I Didn’t Say, Piper has Selective Mutism but learns, through love, friendship and doubt, the power of words, both spoken and unspoken.
Don’t miss the Speaking Out event with Tara Moss, on Saturday, June 4, 11am at Avid Reader!