In honor of Stand Up for Girls, some of Booksource’s strong and powerful women have chosen the female characters who inspire them.

Molly Lou Melon from Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon (Grades P-3) Chosen by Jessica LanganStand Tall Molly Lou Melon

“Molly Lou Melon has always been an inspiration to me. She is one of the most confident little girls I’ve ever come across. She is short and awkward with buck teeth and a bullfrog voice, but she doesn’t let that slow her down. Her grandmother offers wise words that Molly Lou Melon keeps in mind when she moves to a new town. Ronald Durkin makes fun of her for being short, having buck teeth, sounding like a sick duck and on and on, but it never phases Molly Lou Melon and she eventually befriends him. Her courage and confidence shine through, making Molly Lou Melon a role model for girls of all ages.”

Princess Magnolia from The Princess in Black (Grades K-2) Chosen by Emma Williams

“From the same author (Shannon Hale) who brought us the fantastic, middle-grade novel, Princess Academy—a girl power romp, disguised as a fairytale—we now have a super fun book abThe Princess in Blackout a different princess for younger grades. And The Princess in Black ain’t your average froo, froo pink princess book! Princess Magnolia appears to be your typical perfect girly princess, but do typical princesses keep a whole land full of monsters in check? Do typical princesses dominate and defeat said monsters? Do typical princesses wear BLACK? As it turns out, this princess has a secret. When Duchess Wigtower pays a visit to Princess Magnolia with the singular motive of uncovering her secret, it seems that Princess Magnolia’s ruse will finally be exposed.

In a world that’s far from black and white, we need more books for youngsters to communicate that it’s OK to like colors, styles and activities that are too often assigned to one particular gender, many times excluding the other. We need books to show that princesses can be powerful … and that boys can like princesses, too. I can’t wait to read more about this radical royal!

Blueberry Girl from Blueberry Girl (Grades 1-5) Chosen by Brandi Ivester

Blueberry Girl was written by Neil Gaiman for a friend when she was expecting a daughtBlueberry Girl - Neil Gaimaner of her own. The poetic text is somewhere between a wish and blessing for a daughter as she grows, experiencing all of life’s joys and sorrows, challenges and triumphs. The breathtaking illustrations by Charles Vess depict a diverse cast of young girls having adventures and living life to the fullest. While I have given this book as a gift to many of my friends as they become parents of their own daughters, I find strength for myself when I read it. ‘Keep her from spindles and sleeps at sixteen, let her stay waking and wise. Nightmares at three or bad husbands at thirty, these will not trouble her eyes.’

Lines like these make this a difficult book to read aloud, as my voice has a tendency to crack with emotion. I would have loved to have Blueberry Girl around when I was a child to have read with my own mother. Being inspired by the “Blueberry Girls” in this text, girls can find their own inner strength and fierceness.”

Ramona from Ramona Quimby, Age 8 (Grades 2-5) Chosen by Erin Vehige

“I was probably 8 years old when I first fell in love with Beverly Cleary’s Ramona Quimby. We wRamona Quimby - Beverly Clearyere the same age and I admired her spirit. Growing up with an older brother and a younger sister, I just wanted space to have my own voice and do my own thing without being judged. Ramona represents that untamed sense of self that still continues to inspire me. She is wild, rambunctious and unique. She isn’t your typical meek and mild girl worrying about the clothes she wears or how her hair looks. No, she’s spunky and raw and okay with every bit of it.

Ramona’s strong will and determination to be herself drew me into her stories. I think about what she represents to young girls and see why she is still an inspiration to today’s readers. In a time where so much focus is placed on women’s bodies, Ramona embraces every ounce of herself. She encourages girls to take pride in their thoughts and their voices. She shows girls what it means to break out of stereotypes and live carefree in a world where people try to define and categorize. Ramona makes being one’s own self look as natural as it should be.”

Matilda from Matilda (Grades 3-6) Chosen by Kelli WestmorelandMatilda - Roald Dahl

“Roald Dahl’s Matilda is a story of a sweet, brilliant little girl who must overcome her rough life at home to do what other kids might take for granted: go to school, learn and succeed. Her strength is admirable. With no parental support, she takes it upon herself to be her best. She doesn’t cast blame or wallow in pity; she takes action and finally finds someone to offer her support and care, her first grade teacher Miss Honey. Too often our actions are in response to our environment, whether positive or negative. Matilda teaches us that sometimes we need to act because it’s just the right thing to do, not because of an outside motivator.”

Enola Holmes from The Case of the Missing Marquess (Grades 4-7) Chosen by Michelle Abeln

“Enola Holmes is Sherlock’s much younger sister. In her first book, The Case of the MissingThe Case of the Missing Marquess - Nancy Springer Marquess, her mother has disappeared, and Enola’s older brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft, decide to send Enola to boarding school. However, Enola has other plans. She escapes to Victorian London where she quickly becomes involved in a kidnapping.

Enola is no damsel in distress; she’s a brave and intelligent young woman, fiercely determined to retain her independence in a time when women had little freedom of their own. She solves difficult ciphers, dons many disguises and uses her keen observation skills to not only solve the kidnapping, but also start her own business as a Perditorian (finder of lost things and people)! Enola is a wonderful role model for young women. With an intelligence that rivals her older brother’s, she defies the expectations of both society and her family to not only do what’s right, but to gain and keep her freedom.”

Hermione Granger from Harry Potter (Grades 4-12) Chosen by Diona GravesHarry Potter And The Sorcerers Stone - JK Rowling

“The series chronicles the adventures of a young wizard, Harry Potter, and his friends Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The main story focuses on Harry’s quest to overcome the dark wizard Lord Voldemort, whose goal is to become immortal, conquer the wizarding world, vanquish non-magical people and destroy anyone who gets in his way, especially Harry Potter.

Surrounded by boys, Hermione Granger stands out to me as a strong female character who is the brains and master strategist behind Harry and Ron’s mission to destroy Lord Voldemort. They would not get far without her, and I think she sets a great example for girls because she never down plays her abilities. Hermione knows who she is and remains true to herself throughout the entire series.”

Mia Thermopolis from The Princess Diaries (Grades 7-12) Chosen by Emily Voss

“The Princess Diaries books by Meg Cabot were my end all be all in middle school. Set in NewThe Princess Diaries - Meg Cabot York’s Greenwich Village (a magical, mythical place for a girl in rural Missouri), The Princess Diaries tells the story of Mia Thermopolis—an average ninth grader who finds out she is the crown princess of a small European country. Mia was MY kind of princess. Growing up, I was not a tomboy, but I was not a girlie girl. I was always somewhere in the middle. Mia showed me I could be a neurotic feminist who likes Star Wars and wears Doc Martens but could still be a princess. Mia is inspirational for girls in the middle. Girls do not have to subscribe to one type or the other. They can just be themselves, whatever that entails, and be special.”

From princesses to orphans to the girl next door, what all of these characters have in common is their ability to influence girls of all ages through their self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-motivation. Old and new books like these can continue to inspire girls to be strong and confident for years to come.