5 Empowering Pictures Books For Girls

5 empowering picture books every girl should read! @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Em’s birthday is three days away, and as with all holidays in this house, I made sure to buy her at least one fabulous book that resonates with her age, her sensibilities, and her awesomeness.  I saw Bloom by Doreen Cronin and David Small in a book store months ago, and knew then and there that this was the book for my girl.  It arrived yesterday, and when I read it cover to cover, I discovered something magical, something worth sharing.  Which got me to thinking…I have more than one magical book worth sharing, and there are so many girls who need books like these in their hands.  These are five empowering pictures books to buy your daughter, niece, loved one, even yourself.  These books teach girls more than plot, character, setting.  There are deep, significant messages within them, and those messages are powerful and important for girls of all ages to hear.

5 picture books for girls @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Bloom is the story of a powerful magical fairy who protects her kingdom, but she isn’t frilly or girly or what the king and queen conceive as “magical,” so she leaves the kingdom to live on her own, which is fine by her.  After the kingdom is left to its own devices, the king and queen realize they need Bloom, but she will not return.  Only a young girl named Genevieve, considered to be so ordinary, can persuade Bloom to share her powers, and save the kingdom.

5 picture books for girls @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? is the true story of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman doctor in the United States, who defeated the odds and all the naysayers to do what no one thought could be done.  In the face of adversity, she never backed down.  It’s a remarkable story for any young woman, especially one who is interested in nonfiction.

5 picture books for girls @ Rub Some Dirt On It 5 picture books for girls @ Rub Some Dirt On It 5 picture books for girls @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Every little girl will want to be Elizabeth Blackwell when they grow up!

5 picture books for girls @ Rub Some Dirt On It

We gave Little H The Gardener for her third birthday–not because it was necessarily appropriate for her reading level, but because it’s a story that both my girls should grow up reading.  The main character, Lydia Grace, grows up in the years after the Great Depression and has to leave her farm to live with her uncle in the city. She has to be brave, braver than any young reader could probably imagine.

5 picture books for girls @ Rub Some Dirt On It5 picture books for girls @ Rub Some Dirt On It

The epistolary format makes the difficult subject matter easier for younger readers.  I love this book because of Lydia Grace’s strength in the face of so much hardship, and her continued love of beauty, no matter how dark her surroundings.  It’s a subtle, but critical, reminder to everyone that every cloud has its silver lining.  Lydia Grace’s character is one worth sharing.

5 picture books for girls @ Rub Some Dirt On It

5 picture books for girls @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Oh, Extra Yarn.  This is one of my favorite books that we own.  If you like books illustrated by Jon Klassen (I Want My Hat Back, for example), this book is possibly my favorite yet. Annabelle discovers a magic box of yarn that never runs out, no matter how much she knits.  She lives in a dark and dismal little town, but even in the face of total incredulity and disdain, with a little persistence, a bit of kindness, and some extra yarn, Annabelle makes some big changes.

5 picture books for girls @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Even when the evil Archduke arrives to buy her magical yarn, Annabelle cannot be swayed.  She is a simple, yet badass, character worth emulating and sharing with all the little readers in your life.

5 picture books for girls @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Annabelle is probably one of my favorite characters yet for young readers.  You don’t think she’s going to be as awesome as she is, but just wait for it.  Extra Yarn is a book I cannot recommend enough for readers of all ages.

5 picture books for girls @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Last but not least is The Whisper by Pamela Zagarenski.  Did you notice that I didn’t even comment on the awards these books have won for illustrations or merit, but am focusing solely on my opinion?  Well, there is more than just awesome language in these books.  The illustrations are just remarkable.  We gave this book to the big kids for Christmas this past year, because I just can’t imagine an early reader’s library without it.

5 picture books for girls @ Rub Some Dirt On It

After all the words fall out of the book her beloved teachers loans her on the walk home, the little girl has to imagine all the stories behind the amazing illustrations.  Every page has a line or two to begin the story, then the readers have to finish it, resulting in a different tale every time you read! The clever teacher is a very minor character, but I can only hope my kids have teachers as intuitive as this.

5 picture books for girls @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Without any kind of compensation or affiliate link, I give you my five favorite books for young girls because, along with The Princess In Black, these are stories that every young girl should hear.  I own all these books and truly love them.  These photos are just simple cell phone shots of well-loved pages, not propaganda or what’s hot right now.  For every book like these worth recommending, there are a dozen passive princesses asleep in their towers or awaiting true love’s kiss.  Heroines in picture books are even more important than heroes, if for nothing more than their singularity.  The girls in your life deserve better.  Show them the world is theirs for the taking, the appreciating, and the commanding.  They deserve to see themselves empowered in every story told.

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Sunshine On My Shoulders Makes Me Happy

Spring appears to have finally arrived in our corner of Vermont, just in time for a lovely, low-key vacation wrap up.  Sunshine has two possible effects on me: complete and utter laziness or a compulsion to get out and explore.  This weekend we had a little bit of both.

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I finally found the motivation to get out for a run (see the good effects the warm weather has on me?), and when I came back, all I wanted to do was bask in the sun’s rays.  The kids thought that was the perfect way to spend some quiet time, so first we pulled out a blanket and a basket of books for some independent reading time, and then moved on to “cooler” activities.
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A bowl full of water that they get to refill with the hose, some paint brushes and a dry deck as their canvas.  Instant art with no clean up!  Plus I was still able to supervise in the sunshine.  Ah, glorious spring!

The next morning we had a bit more motivation.  I had run the day before past Dewey’s Pond and by the scene of one of my kids’ muddiest adventure and thought it was a good excuse for the kids and I to get out and explore.  I loved listening to their words and observations, and it was clear that they have learned so much in school about the world around them.  Jax was comparing the ripples the rocks thrown in the pond to “sonic waves” and they both were looking for signs of springs and animals.  It was a slow walk, stopping to look and consider and explore, but it wasn’t about cardio that day.  We were all about being out in the world in the sun.

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One thing I couldn’t help but notice about my little Em was her constant climbing! She climbed every rock and tree, even in her new dress! I think it has a lot to do with her forest classroom where she spends one day per week.  She is definitely not timid about being outside and testing her limits!  I was really proud to see my almost six-year-old blooming.

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Don’t let this guy fool you, either, though.  He had plenty to say and share–he loved looking for birds, and even insisted on calling Papa to figure out what species of bird was all around us.  Of course, Papa knew–red-winged black birds!  They followed us along on our walk.

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That afternoon was spent grilling dinner at Lake Pinneo, spending our first day of the year at the beach.  Even though we knew the water was going to be freezing with snow runoff, I brought bathing suits, just in case.  Good thing I did because the kids couldn’t resist the call of the water, and we made it home just in time for baths and bed to recuperate from a busy week!

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What a weekend!  What a week!  What a summer we will have!

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Easter Blessings

These little bunnies and I have had a very busy week.  School vacation is a blessed mix of laziness and adventures, sleeping in and staying up late.  What with all the long drives, visitors, evenings with friends and daytime excursions, the blog and its obligations kind of slipped my mind.  But I wouldn’t want to forget to commemorate this Easter and all the fun we had, so here we are again!

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The day before Easter, we drove down to Massachusetts to spend the night with family.  Then we woke up Auntie Amanda and Uncle Chris bright and early to play, open Easter baskets, and have some fun before heading over to Grammy’s for dinner.

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My aunts and uncles, my kids’ aunts and uncles, lots of food, handmade name tags, and plastic eggs made for one very festive afternoon!  I love watching my kids connect with extended family, especially mine since we’re so far away.  I grew up with them in my own house, and having my kids love and appreciate them means everything to me.  It’s an extra blessing in my book.

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And in the spirit of Williams family Easters past, there was an epic egg hunt, for all the bunnies, even the big ones!

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After the egg hunt, there was room for one last cupcake and some more cousin fun before we hit the road to get our pup from the kennel.  We all (especially Little H!) made the most of it.

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One, two, three, four, five times blessed…more than that.  We had so many wonderful reasons to smile that day, and I’m glad I took a minute to reminisce and appreciate it all!

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The Princess In Black

The kids’ school had a literacy spirit week this week, and on the last day they were supposed to dress up as their favorite book character.  As expected, Jax dressed up as Harry Potter, just like he did last Halloween, but Em totally surprised me! I thought for sure she’d love a chance to dress up as Fancy Nancy, but instead, she chose another favorite female character–and one I love!–The Princess in Black!

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The Princess In Black is girly, frilly, and covered in pink from head-to-toe when she is Princess Magnolia, but when the monster alarm rings, she becomes The Princess In Black!  Em owns all three of the books in the series, and let me just say that when she chose to be a badass princess who doesn’t need protecting rather than some lame Disney princess, I couldn’t have been happier!


Plus, the costume is way cooler.

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So proud of you, Em, for doing something different and for wanting to be like somebody that doesn’t need rescuing.  The world is yours, little girl!  Nobody’s going to stop in your way!


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Love my brave and strong (and silly!) Princess In Black!

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A Southern Comfort Photo Shoot

When one of your best friends since pretty much forever, who lives in some sort of suburban paradise in South Carolina, calls you to say that for the amount she would pay for a photo shoot down there, she might as well buy you a plane ticket, you just say, “Tell me when,” and you go.  Because friendships are important and her babies will only be this little for so long, and you’ve only met one of her three!  Time for some southern comfort and a photo shoot among the peach blossoms!

I got to meet her three wonderful children, who are so sweet and endearing, I really miss them!  Tom and Dawn, you are good parents, my friends!

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We knocked out a few family and sibling photos right off the bat while the baby was being cooperative, and while we were just warming up, I had a little model who was going full tilt.  In fact, I was changing my lens, looked up, and there she was, posing on her own, practically begging me to hurry up.  My pleasure!
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Not only was I able to hang out with my friend and her family, her parents live there as well, whom I have known for the past twenty-five years.  The whole experience was about as warm, loving, and nostalgic a shoot as I have ever done!

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And we had a bit of fun as well!

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Especially when Dawn and Tom decided to keep it real: candy for the big kids, beer for the grown-ups, and…what is the baby doing?  Ah, well, third kid.  That’s real life.

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After eleven years of marriage, it was great to see that these two are still as happy and make each other laugh as much as ever!

In the end, the shoot was magical, and worth ever minute of the journey.

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Thank you for hosting me, dear friends, and for trusting me with your memories!  It was a glorious weekend all around.

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I hope to see you all soon!

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An ABC Egg Hunt

I would say one of the hardest things about being a parent to more than one kid is the need to remember that your third kid needs just as much of your time, energy, attention, and patience as your first one (or second, or third…).  Because there are so many people around to entertain her–her days spent with me, afternoons with brother and sister or friends, bedtime with Em–she isn’t the best at playing independently, but she’ll get there.  Her constant need for attention sometimes has the undesired effect of me just throwing up my hands and saying, “Can’t you just go play!?” instead of encouraging me to dream up some fun activity for the two of us.  I have been working on renewing my teaching credential–a process which has kept the blog low on my totem pole of priorities–so I have been even busier than usual, fielding emails and requesting transcripts during time that I used to spend perusing Pinterest for fun literacy activities like I did for Jax or Em (cue the Mommy guilt).  I could have just as easily spent this morning encouraging Little H to keep herself occupied, but with the recognition that both she and my blog were being grossly neglected, I pulled out an old favorite to meet the ever-increasing needs of my very bright three-year-old.

Alphabet Egg Hunt Matching Game @ Rub Some Dirt On It

I have come up with many upcycling uses for last week’s plastic Easter eggs that help my kids with various needs–spelling, counting, rhyming.  Little H already knows her letters, upper case and lower case, but I thought this would be a good exercise in letter sounds.  First I wrote all the upper case and lower case letters on egg halves, like so, and spread them all over our front deck.  Hooray for a warm spring day!

Alphabet Letter Matching Game @ Rub Some Dirt On ItIMG_6452

Then she and I hung out, matching letters, matching colors, talking and smiling.  Since she does already know her letters, we focused on the sounds they make.  She would find a letter, I’d point out what color it is so she could find the match, then we should brought it to me she’d tell me what sound the letter makes.

Alphabet Egg Hunt @ Rub Some Dirt On It Alphabet Egg Hunt @ Rub Some Dirt On It

For a three-year-old, she’s one smart cookie, my H.

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Last kids deserve all the love and enrichment and attention as the first ones.  I’m lucky enough to be home with her, and I need to make every day matter, in big ways or small.


 It’s good for both of us.

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Winter Cell Phone Photo Dump

As the winter fades, so do these bright memories of quiet, indoor life together as a family.  That’s my favorite part of winter–the togetherness.  Soon, their excitement to spring out the screen door to explore the woods in the sunshine will outlast any tantalizing treat I could conjure indoors, and why would I try?  They’re growing, exuberant, vibrant, and can’t wait to have room to stretch and run and flourish outdoors.  Spring is here, and the quiet peace that comes with winter is fading fast.

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I hardly ever remember it while it’s happening, but there is a reason the Earth has a quiet season…to survive, to contemplate, and appreciate.  That’s what the winter is for me.  To huddle close, savor, and remember that every season is dear.  The quiet moments are just as important as the loud ones.  Grateful for our quiet season, but looking forward to see it go!

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