10 Children's Novels Every Catholic Feminist Should Read
Part of our bookish series! 📚
“A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.” - CS Lewis
Why, in a newsletter that’s very much for adults, would I include a required reading list of children’s books? Because children’s books, in my opinion, can be just as rich and meaningful as books for adults. That’s why I write them, after all! Moreover, if you’ve found yourself in a reading rut lately, I’ve found that almost nothing can catapult someone back into a reading habit the way reading a really terrific middle grade novel can.
Also, a lot of you are moms, and I know that I personally am always looking for life-giving books for my kiddos. Books that you can read together? Even better!
Ironically, I started with a CS Lewis quote that I love, but this list goes beyond The Chronicles of Narnia. Yes, I know—the Chronicles of Narnia are the pinnacle of children’s literature. They’re allegorical and spiritual and just plain fun. They make for a great Saturday read with a cup of tea and people of all ages love the story of Lucy and Aslan and that beaver.
The Chronicles of Narnia aren’t the only great books for kids. They’re great, don’t get me wrong. But they’re not all that’s great. You’ll notice this list is also missing some other notable classics—The Little Princess, Charlotte’s Web, Little Women—all of which I love! But I wanted to share a list of books published a bit more recently that you may not have handed your kids (or read yourself!) yet.
I’m going to be upfront with you: are there messages being shoved into modern middle grade books that don’t necessarily align with a Christian worldview? Yeah. There are. But that does NOT mean that your kids can only read books written before 1980, or that your public library is some kind of hellscape filled with witchcraft and sin. It honestly ticks me off when I see people insisting that no good children’s literature is being written in our modern day* and age because it just isn’t true. It just requires a bit more elbow grease to find. And if you insist your kids can only read CS Lewis, you’re going to be helping them miss out on a rich, varied reading experience.
I understand the total, complete, pulsing-through-your-veins love you have for your kids. I understand the fierce desire you have to protect them from the things of this world: the itchy conversations about violence and racism and misogyny and modern social issues. But I also know that when I was a kid, one of the safest places I had to explore these things was a good book. Books provide us places to dive into meaningful conversations with our kids, and they give kids places to learn and explore without actually giving them harsh first-hand experiences.
Novels can help teach us who we are and whose we are, if we let them. Even when we’re eleven. Especially when we’re eleven.
As a reminder, I’m not going to use affiliate links on these bookish posts because I think the best way to support the literary world is to purchase from your own local, independent bookstore. ThriftBooks or the library are other great options! If you prefer audiobooks, Libro.fm connects with your local indie and has great prices.
These books are all in the middle grade category, meaning they’re technically for kids ages 8-13. I personally read middle grade books at age 6 and still read them today. Some of the topics and subjects might be things your kids aren’t ready for, or some may be above their reading level. This is where that above-mentioned parental elbow grease might come in. This was the hardest list I’ve made yet—SO many amazing middle grade books didn’t make the cut. I may just have to make a follow up later in the year if there’s interest!
With that being said, here are 10 Children’s Novels Every Catholic Feminist Should Read, According to Exactly One Catholic Feminist (ie., me) Who Does Not Know You Or Your Family.
*When I say modern, you might note that many of these books are from the 90s. That’s because that was the height of my middle grade reading enjoyment. I consider them timeless, and I also do consider the 90s modern. #old