This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is Childhood Classics. Great topic, and kind of lining perfectly with a list I’ve been mulling over for a few weeks now: Who are my literary heroines? Since they seem to come one during childhood, it lines up well enough, no? So below are the literary women who have shaped me. And sorry, not a one of them is Lizzie Bennet.
I never owned a copy of Matilda, but I can tell you I checked the book out constantly from my elementary school library. I also watched the movie as often as I could. Matilda was a child who read (!!) and who gained superpowers from doing so! (At least, that’s how my childhood brain interpreted it.) She was also very different from most other kids, and she was totally fine with this. She still made friends, they didn’t tease her for it. And any problem she faced, she worked on a way to solve it. But let’s be real: my kid brain wanted superpowers.
Rachel and Cassie
I am currently finishing up the first year of a two and a half year long re-read of the Animorphs books, which you can listen to at Minds at Yeerk. I knew how important this series was to me as a kid, but what I never fully took away from it was how much the characters and how they handled war, trauma, and aliens influenced me as a person. Rachel is probably my favorite character of anything, and while she may not be the best role model, I have definitely spent my life asking WWRD?
Alternatively, I learned from Cassie as well. She is perhaps my least favorite of the Animorphs, but she was the moral compass of the group. I am definitely much kinder to animals of all kinds because of her. She balanced out the warrior side of Rachel that I absorbed at least a little bit?
I cannot tell you about the first time I saw Little Women in detail — who knows whose house it was or how old I was. I was definitely younger than fourth grade, as I read the book after seeing the movie, but before fourth grade. Jo March may be a bit of a cliche heroine, especially as Little Women is coming back in vogue, but I cannot pretend she didn’t mean the world to me. Jo is a writer, she would do anything for those she loves, she has no interest in marriage, she is stubborn and brilliant. I recently re-watched the 1990s movie again, and while I do love all the March girls, I cannot help but feel that my desire to write started with seeing Jo at a desk with a quill in her hand.
I said I wouldn’t have a traditional Austen heroine, but I cannot deny the importance of Catherine to me. Listen, I can call my bestie to tell you all about my ghost encounters. I don’t intend to sound like Catherine as she’s exploring Northanger Abbey and Bath society, but I also love her for her incredibly over active imagination. I will never take the comparison to her as an insult, so don’t you dare try.
Meg. Meg and I share a name. We share the fact that we were girls wearing glasses. We were girls that didn’t quite fit in (don’t ask me about fifth grade.) Meg is brilliant and doesn’t know it. I knew I was brilliant as a kid (okay, I thought I was) and we both loved maths. Meg also loved Science, which I could do without. Basically, if Meg could somehow go on these amazing adventures, how could I not dream of them? And her flaws are her greatest gifts! Maybe this is why I have few regrets in life, even if I end up wide awake remembering something I said twenty years ago.
The Babysitters Club
I don’t see people talking about if these books shaped their lives enough. I loved this series as a child, and I am actually really excited to hear they’re making audio books of them. I don’t know which character I am, or which one I loved the most (Kristy? Stacey? Dawn?) but I can say that I learned responsibility and (some) organization from the girls. And the importance of friendship. And how to stay in middle school for years and years and survive. But really, I baby sat and nannied from middle school through college. While that may have happened no matter what (I have way too many younger siblings; I would have become a babysitter eventually.) I was eager to try it because these girls were my idols. Plus for the most part, I didn’t care for my actual babysitters growing up.
I think Hermione is becoming the new Lizzie Bennet and Jo March. She’s the actual hero of the Harry Potter series, and I won’t even talk about that play that makes her look like she needs Ron to be awesome. Hermione loves to learn. Yes she is bossy and a know-it-all, but who cares? She saves the day more than anyone else.
Again, I don’t know when I read my first Nancy Drew book. I would bet that my grandmother or grandfather read it to me, but I don’t actually remember. I do know that for my entire life I have wanted nothing more than to solve a mystery with some of my best friends. I bet it is still on my bucket list, if I am being honest.
Harriet the Spy
Harriet combined several things I loved more than anything: she was a contemporary girl solving mysteries and writing stories. I swear there are probably multiple Harriet-esque notebooks at my mom’s house, or perhaps recycled over the years. I mean, I lived down the street from a witch! (or so I believed) OF COURSE I made notes about her somewhere. I wasn’t quite as daring as Harriet when it came to getting the story, but I definitely learned how to be aware of my surroundings and how anything can be used for a starting point of a story.
That’s my list! Who are some of your literary heroines?