Books for a Young Jo March

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There are a couple of girls in my current writing group that remind me of Jo March. They are passionate and idealistic and devoted to the power of language. They are thirteen-years-old, and I can already picture them them as graduate students – staying up all night to discuss books and ideas. “What books should I know?” one of them asked me the other day. She didn’t ask the question randomly. Her voice conveyed a desperation to know where to go and how to begin. I thought about my experience in graduate school and about the books we referenced most often.  Not the ones that were bestsellers or best reviewed or most topical, but the books about the journey – the ones we “clung” to. These are the coming-of-age novels we knew, not just with our minds, but with our hearts.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

His Dark Materials series by Philip Pulman

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson

There is another book I would recommend, but I’d suggest they wait a couple of years before reading it: 

Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block (Weetzie is, to put it mildly, quirky. But like Jo March, she embraces her unconventionality.)

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4 thoughts on “Books for a Young Jo March

  1. I wonder who those children were? We are very interested in Tom’s Midnight Garden. You’re right, we are a lot like Jo March! Thank you sooo much for the list!

  2. I just finished rereading Little Women last night, so Jo is very much on my mind. I love this list and there are several that I haven’t read, but will plan to soon. My niece is 11 and reads so fast, I’m always on the lookout for some good books for her. I’ll pass a few of these along. Thanks!

    • Thanks for your comment, Caitlin. I just visited your blog and really enjoyed it. I have already been intrigued by reviews of The Abortionist’s Daugher, and your comments inspired me to read it soon. I also love your round-up of book news around the web. The DC blogger’s comments about the Newbery Awards were interesting. Thanks again.

      • Thanks for stopping by my blog! I appreciate your feed back. I really enjoy yours as well. I’ve been reading it for a while, but am just starting to push myself to comment on more of the blogs that I read.

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