Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Books About Sisters That I Can't Wait For My Three Daughters to Read

This week's Top Ten Tuesday theme is Top Ten Books I Want My Future Children to Read. Since I already have kids, I'm tweaking the topic slightly to focus on books I hope my existing children will read in the future. Specifically, in light of the fact that I recently gave birth to my third daughter, this is a list of books about sisters that I can't wait for all three of my girls (Little Miss Muffet, almost 4, Little Bo Peep, age 2 and Little Jumping Joan age 4 weeks) to read.

Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace


Though this series is primarily about the friendship between Betsy and Tacy (and Tib), there is also a strong sister relationship between Betsy and her older sister, Julia, which is particularly important in the later books of the series. I especially like the way the two girls encourage each other not to be "spoony" with boys, and the way Betsy tries to emulate her sister after Julia goes away to college. There is also a younger sister in the Ray family, Margaret, who is mostly in the background until Betsy and Joe, when she begins to have her own relationship to Betsy that is quite different from the friendship between Betsy and Julia. Though there are some arguments and difficulties in these sibling relationships over the course of the series, these three girls are mostly excellent role models for how to be friends with one's sisters.

Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome

The Swallows and Amazons books feature two pair of sisters: Susan and Titty Walker (who also have two brothers, John and Roger) and Nancy and Peggy Blackett. Each of these four girls has a completely unique personality which makes its own important contribution to their sailing adventures, and in her own way, each one models how to be a good, supportive, and caring sister. Susan does this by acting as the mother of the group, Titty by sharing her vivid imagination with her siblings (especially Roger), Nancy by inspiring the group with her positive attitude and strong sense of loyalty, and Peggy by facing her fears in order to follow Nancy's lead, even to take over for her in time of illness. Though none of these girls is depicted as perfect, and they all make their share of mistakes, they are great role models for siblings working things out for themselves without the need of an adult referee.

Winterbound by Margery Williams Bianco

In Winterbound, teen sisters Kay and Garry have moved from the city into a farmhouse in Connecticut with their mother and younger siblings, while their father goes on an archaeological expedition. Unfortunately, their mother must also leave home to care for an ailing relative, and the girls are left to fend for themselves and younger siblings during treacherous winter weather. The two girls have very different personalities, and different personal interests and concerns, but they must find a way to work together in order to survive until their parents return.

The Worry Week by Anne Lindbergh

Like Winterbound, The Worry Week is another survival story, but set during the summer months, and starring three sisters. Allegra is the middle sister between dewy-eyed Alice and wild child Edith, and more than anything she loves her family's yearly vacation spot of North Haven, an island off the coast of Maine. When their parents are called away from vacation early to attend a funeral, Allegra and her sisters are meant to go stay with an aunt, but instead Allegra decides to tell a few well-constructed lies in order that she and Alice and Edith can stay alone on the island for a week. What she doesn't count on, though, is that there would be no food in the cottage, and that she will have to struggle all week to keep her sisters well-fed, happy, and free from injury until their parents return. I especially like that this book is about three sisters, and that the middle child is the one who takes center stage.

Beany Malone by Lenore Mattingly Weber


Beany Malone's circumstances are somewhat less dire than the ones presented in Winterbound or The Worry Week, but she, too, is left alone to run the household in the absence of her father, who has been sent to Arizona to recover from an illness. While her father is away, Beany's challenges include sympathizing with Mary Fred, her beautiful sister, who wants nothing more than to be accepted by the members of her preferred sorority and keeping hope alive for her other sister, Elizabeth, who waits day in and day out for word of her soldier husband whose fate in the war is still unknown. Beany's misguided attempts to keep all negative influences away from her sisters (and brother, Johnny) really humanize her and make her one of the more believable characters mentioned in this post. I hope by the time my girls are old enough to enjoy her I will able to gain access to more titles from the series! 

Those Miller Girls! by Alberta Wilson Constant


The sisters in Those Miller Girls! are Maddy and Lou Emma Miller. They live in 1909 Kansas with their widower father, Professor Cyrus Miller. The family has an unorthodox way of relating to each other, which involves speaking Latin, making literary allusions, and bantering with word play. The two girls have relatable and realistic concerns, especially involving their father's potential romance with local milliner, Kate Turner and their desire to be known as something more than "poor motherless girls," and these help young readers connect to the time period and to take in a lot of historical detail. This is another book with sequels that I hope I might be able to find by the time my kids are old enough to read them! 

Nancy and Plum by Betty MacDonald

Nancy and Plum are orphans, and their clueless uncle, who is meant to look after them, instead places them with the cruel and dishonest Mrs. Monday, who steals the girls' gifts and letters and punishes them severely for even the very smallest infractions. Together, Nancy and Plum decide they must escape. Just as Nancy and Peggy Blackett lend their imaginations to imaginary adventures in the Swallows and Amazons books, Nancy and Plum use their own ingenuity to get out of their own very real dangerous circumstances. Though there are plenty of caring and helpful adults who help them on their way, the true strength of the book lies in the relationship between the two sisters and the way they look after each other.

Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

Ballet Shoes also introduces a set of orphans. Pauline, Petrova, and Posy are not biological siblings, but they have been brought together by Great Uncle Matthew better known as GUM, who collects artifacts (and babies!), drops them off at home, and goes back out into the world to explore. When he leaves the family for an indefinite amount of time, the three girls, under the care of Nana and Sylvia, GUM's adopted daughter, live frugally, and eventually take up dancing, acting, and singing to help pay living expenses. Each year on their birthdays, the girls, who have given themselves the surname of Fossil, make a vow to put their names in history books "because it's our very own and nobody can say it's because of our grandfathers." Though there are plenty of disagreements and rivalries as the girls age, their  loyalty to each other, and to their goal of making an impact on the world, make them wonderful role models for a family full of little girls.

The All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor

Any all-girl family absolutely must read The All-of-a-Kind Family! In addition to being a great celebration of all-female sibling groups (there are five sisters: Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte, and Gertie), this book also provides insight into what it was like to grow up poor in turn-of-the-twentieth-century New York City and it models attitudes of gratefulness and hope that are important for kids to learn no matter when they live. This book is also a great way for kids to learn about Judaism, as the girls celebrate different Jewish holidays throughout the story. There are several sequels to this book which I own but have not yet read, and which I will gladly make available to my girls.

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall 

There are four Penderwick sisters: level-headed twelve-year-old Rosalind; imaginative eleven-year-old Jane, feisty ten-year-old Skye, and eccentric four-year-old Batty . They and their father, a widowed botany professor, have come on vacation to a cottage in the Berkshire mountains on the grounds of an estate known as Arundel. Here they meet a lonely boy named Jeffrey, who, despite his mother’s misgivings about the girls, becomes their friend.   The appeal of this book is the way the sisters relate to one another in the absence of their deceased mother. The girls' system for ensuring that the Oldest Available Penderwick protects the family's honor and looks after the younger sisters (mainly Batty) is one of my favorite things about this story, along with the meetings the girls hold whenever they need to discuss something: MOPS (Meeting of Penderwick Sisters) and MOOPS (Meeting of Older Penderwick Sisters). This book provides a positive portrayal of sisterhood and realistically shows how girls with such different personalities might get into - and then resolve - conflicts.


  1. These sound so good! But I never read these! I am writing all of the books on your list down! Thanks for sharing!
    Here's my TTT

  2. I love this list. I haven't heard of many of these but I'm definitely going to look into a few and pick up some titles for my friends daughter for the holidays! Lovely post.

  3. Ballet Shoes was on my list this week too!
    My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2017/11/14/top-ten-tuesday-133/