Lovely Ladies of Literature — Literacy Month Edition

In a fairytale world where more and more little girls seem to be more interested in playing the “princess” than perusing the public library, we’re taking some time to honor women who, for some reason, haven’t managed to break through the doll and dress up aisle. Here we present a first, and hopefully not last, edition of the Lovely Ladies of Literature.

I must confess, this is my personal list of women writers who either inspired, frustrated or empowered me during my child and young adult-hood. I know the list of possible LLoL pageant contestants, those who are deserving of being included, is practically infinite. I encourage you all to create your OWN list by commenting below with a LLoL of your own. But, back to me– why did I single out these women? It wasn’t because I wanted to dress like them, wear make up like them, talk, walk or curtsy like them; it was that I wanted to live in the worlds they created. Or, perhaps I wanted to ask them WHY? Why would you write what I just read? I closed a book wanting to call them and challenge them about their plots and characters and process, or yell at them for something I thought was unjust. I had comfort, as I grew older knowing  that, even if I disagreed with them, I learned from them. I wanted to stand united with them knowing that they faced a tough road.

I wanted to travel that road myself – to create, challenge, or make another little girl think – to help a young lady understand that it isn’t a fashion magazine or a pink and purple sparkly dress that can define her femininity and spirit–  it  is a mind, a pen and paper.

So, here are our Literacy Month Lovely Ladies of Literature:


Row 1: Judy Blume, Willa Cather, Jane Austen; Row 2: Ursula LeGuin, Mary Shelley, Louisa May Alcott; Row 3: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madeline L’Engle, Margaret Atwood; Row 4: J.K. Rowling, Shirley Jackson, the Bronte sisters (Charlotte, Emily, and Anne)

Can you play dress up for the mind? If I could, I would want my mind to look like these.

Becky is Marketing Communications Manager at Half Price Books Corporate.
You can follow her on Twitter at @bexican75.

BW Picks: 5 Obscure Children’s Books by Famous Authors

Hi Kids (and Kids-at-Heart),

BW here. I’m currently on my 15-minute break between Acts I & II of a story time for National Literacy Month, and I wanted to share a couple of cool links about children’s books written by authors who are usually remembered only for their adult-geared works (via BrainPickings). These books might not be the great masterpieces that these writers are famous for, but it’s always refreshing to discover that the author of that serious tome on your reading list was able to tap into his playful side once in awhile and appeal to a younger group of readers.  

1. Aldous Huxley

Best known for: Brave New World. Serious book about homogeneity and mass consumption.

Less known for: The Crows of Pearblossom. Children’s story about two crows trying to start a family.

 2. Leo Tolstoy

Best known for: Anna Karenina, War & Peace. Celebrated but lengthy Russian novels.

Less known for: Classic Tales and Fables for Children. Get the Tolstoy experience for 1/100th of the time investment.


3. Virginia Woolf

Best known for: To the Lighthouse, Orlando, Mrs. Dalloway. Depicts art, British society, early Feminism

Less known for: The Widow and the Parrot. A short story that teaches kids the value of kindness to animals.


4. Mary Shelley

 Best known for: Frankenstein. An AI experiment goes hideously wrong, creates a lonely, dangerously strong monster who desperately wants a friend.

Less known for: Maurice, or the Fisher’s Cot. A lonely boy searches for a family, doesn’t kill anyone in the process.

5. Langston Hughes

Best known for: Harlem Renaissance poetry & short stories with jazz and social activism themes, such as “The Weary Blues,” “A Dream Deferred,” and Not Without Laughter.

Less known for: The First Book of Jazz. A children’s introduction to the music, rhythm & culture of American Jazz and Blues.

Be sure to check out the links for 7 more children’s books written by authors famed for their adult literature. Can you think of any that aren’t on the list? What about grown-up books written by celebrated children’s authors?

 Happy reading!

 BW (and Kate)