Female Heroines. . .

I just came across this article about books with female heroines.  As I was reading it I began to think of the heroines (and heros) that Alvarez offers us in her last two books that we’ve featured (Return to Sender and Before we were Free).  In both of these books she gives our young readers strong, reflective, sincere and honest female role models–something quite valuable for both our male and female students today.

Check out the article and tell me what you think. . .


Whether you fell asleep at night clutching a copy of “Ramona Quimby” or “Gone With The Wind,” the books we read as kids shape the women we become — sometimes in complicated ways.


3 thoughts on “Female Heroines. . .

  1. I appreciated the article for how it reminded readers about how important it is for young women to be able to look up to and identify with heroines. Certainly I can fondly recall the many, many hours I spent following around characters from Madeline L’Engle, Jane Austen, and Laura Ingall. And their heroines’ impact remains with me. Netflix, for instance, recently informed me that I like movies with “a strong female lead.” On the other hand, the article overlooked a critical point – most of the heroines we still discuss from literature represent only a small portion of our culture. Our literary canon provides a very narrow range of experiences. And even while many classrooms are turning to books outside of the traditional canon, many more are still moored within its confines.

    An article titled “Female Protagonists in Multicultural Young Adult Literature: Sources and Strategies,” published in The Alan Review (Fall, 1996), pointed out that “Classrooms where the traditional classics dominate seldom give students of diverse backgrounds the opportunity to read about those like themselves….In addition…high school curriculum content rarely offers a female as writer or heroine.” Taken together, these two observations remind us that our female students of color struggle against a double barrier. We would do well to remind ourselves of this.

    I want to remind us, too, that it’s not that we can’t find novels that focus on multicultural experiences from a heroine’s point of view. The authors and books are out there. The article references, for instance, Mildred Taylor’s classic Let the Circle be Unbroken (1981) and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1976) and Scott O’Dell’s My Name is Not Angelica (1989). We just need to open our eyes and look for them — and then share them with our classrooms and colleagues.

  2. I think this blog is an excellent resource for teachers. Particularly with the nationwide roll-out of the Common Core State Standards coming soon, we teachers are going to need to go back to having a lot of tricks up our sleeves. Many teachers have been relying much too heavily on textbooks, often to the extreme detriment of our students due to the fact that most textbooks still place little emphasis on our lack as a nation to offer truly equal rights to all citizens. The textbooks do have some focus on the major players in the civil rights movement, but they fail to go deeply into the intense suffering to which people were subjected. And, they all but say that everyone is happy now because we’re all free, instead of really delving into the facts of the inequality still present in our society.

    I think with the help of you and blogs like yours, we may be able to actually get back to educating our children and growing as a nation. Your blog is a giant leap towards that goal! Thank you so much!

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