To me, a heroine is intelligent and courageous and not afraid to be different. She is resourceful and enterprising, quick-witted and self-assured. She has a sense of humour and is not afraid to laugh at herself. She is both entertaining and admirable.
My top 10 heroines for girls fulfil some or all of these qualities, and they are champions for both girls and boys.
1. Hermione Granger (by J.K.Rowling)
Let’s face it – without Hermione, Harry would have died in the first book. Hermione is the brains of the outfit and teams her intelligence with sheer determination and resourcefulness. (Doesn’t every girl want that bottomless handbag she conjured up in the Deathly Hallows?). The thing I love most about Hermione is that whenever she doesn’t know the answer to a problem, she goes to the library and looks it up in a book. Brilliant!
2. Josephine March (by Louisa May Alcott)
I’m sure there are many modern girls and teens who have never heard of Jo March, or Little Women, but Jo is such a wonderful literary role model that I have to place her high in this list. Jo is a girl who is ahead of her time. She is feisty and independent, and has little desire to be constrained by convention or tradition. She remains true to herself, despite the difficulties of being an untraditional woman in the 19th century.
3. Ellie Linton (by John Marsden)
Of the seven teenagers in the Tomorrow series Ellie is the true hero, a fact acknowledged by the later trilogy penned by Marsden called The Ellie Chronicles. Ellie is a tough Aussie chick: she can ride and drive with the best of them, is intelligent and quick-witted and hugely loyal.
4. Katniss Everdeen (by Suzanne Collins)
Katniss is the gutsy protagonist from the Hunger Games trilogy, which is soon to hit the big screen in a movie adaptation. Katniss gets my vote because of her courage, her values and her independent spirit.
5. Matilda Wormwood (by Roald Dahl)
This is the favourite book of one of my daughters. When I chose Matilda as a top 10 heroine, I asked my daughter’s opinion on what it is about Matilda which puts her in this category? She replied “Easy. Matilda has a sucky life but she gets through it.”
6. Josephine Alibrandi (by Marlena Marchetta)
My love for Marchetta’s writing has already been declared elsewhere in this blog. Josie is a heroine because of the obstacles she must overcome: racial bigotry, an absent father and the tragic suicide of a close friend. She represents so many young women who can relate to her journey, and who enjoy her endearing personality.
8. Trixie Belden (various authors)
What’s not to love about a down-to earth teenage girl detective? Trixie is clever but never loses the appeal of being a typical teenager. The re-release of the books with flashy new covers in the early 2000’s sparked a new generation of fans.
7. Maximum (Max) Ride (by James Patterson)
Max is the leader of the flock in the hugely popular Angel Experiment series. The result of an experiment, she is 98% human and 2% bird. Max is a heroine because she is a 14 year old leader who shows enormous amounts of responsibilty towards her flock, and she’s incredibly gutsy and determined.
9. Anne Shirley (Lucy Maud Montgomery)
Chatty, imaginative and clever, Anne of Green Gables is a classic figure in girls’ fiction and a top 10 list would not be complete without her.
10. Bindy MacKenzie (by Jaclyn Moriarty)
Bindy is a character who polarises audiences, but I adore her. She is so self-assured and so perfect, she simply cannot see why anyone would dislike her. Others may perceive this as arrogance, but Moriarty portrays Bindy as one of the most self-assured adolescent female characters in young adult fiction.