Yvonne Carts-Powell

(Good) SF books for girls under 12

In science fiction on August 29, 2008 at 1:12 am

I’m taking off early — a visit to friends in Toronto — so have a great weekend, and I’ll post more next week.

By deanj
Last winter, I was a guest at Arisia, a science fiction convention in Cambridge MA. One of my panels was for kids 12 and younger, called “Science Fiction is a Girl Thing Too! ”

I strongly believe that SF is not just for boys, the same way I believe that science and math are not just for boys. But I also strongly believe that SF continues to neglect girl readers and that girl characters are often badly served.

So I did my best to compile a list of books that are

  • Science Fiction (Sorry, we’re not talking about Fantasy genre, and we could argue all day about Pern),
  • appropriate for 12-and-unders (no, Heinlein’s “Friday” does not count), and
  • have active and able girls as protagonists.
  • (Also, the writing should be at least competent.)

My early readers for The Science of Heroes helped me to compile the following list. And I’d be delighted to hear about more books — as well as other forms of SF!

Science Fiction With Interesting Girls and Women

Joan Aiken “Wolves of Willough Chase” series  (alternate history)
Mildred Ames “Is there life on a plastic planet?” (also “Anna to the Infinite Power”)
Patricia Barnard “We are Tam” (Australian — rare to find a copy in the US, so far as I know)
Brian Caswell “A Cage of Butterflies”
Orson Scott Card “Ender’s Game”
CJ Cherryh “The Pride of Chanur” (or perhaps only “Legacy of Chanur”?)(too violent?)
Juanita Coulson “Star Sister”
A.C. Crispin “Starbridge”
Roald Dahl “Matilda”
Peter Dickinson “Eva”
Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald “The Price of the Stars” (Also rest of Mageworld series)
Sylvia Engdahl “Enchantress from the Stars”
C.S. Friedman “This Alien Shore” (written for grownups, over 500 pages long)
Zenna Henderson “The People” stories
H.M. Hoover “Children of Morrow”
Monica Hughes “Invitation to the Game”
Diana Wynne Jones “A Tale of Time City” (also, for teens: “Hexwood”)
Janet Kagan “Mirabile” (teens? Also “Hellspark”)
Jean E. Karl “The Turning Place: Stories of a Future Past”
Nancy Kress “Beggars in Spain” (written for adults, might be suitable for 12-year-olds.)
Madeleine L’Engle “A Wrinkle In Time”
Ursula Le Guin “Always Coming Home” (is this too adult for kids?)
Lois Lowry “Gathering Blue” (also “The Giver”)
Anne McCaffrey “The Ship Who Sang” (also, perhaps, “Dragonridgers of Pern”, “Dragonsinger”, etc.)
Vonda McIntyre “Barbary”
Andre Norton “Forerunner”
Robert O’Brien “Z is for Zachariah”
David R. Palmer “Emergence”
James Patterson “Maximum Ride”
Willo Davis Roberts “The Girl with the Silver Eyes”
Gillian Rubinstein “Space Demons” (also Skymaze, Galax-Arena, Terra-Farma)
Robert Silverberg “Lost Race of Mars”
David Weber “On Basilisk Station” (and others in the Honor Harrington series — written for adults)
Connie Willis “D.A.”

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  1. I’d call “Archer’s Goon” by Diana Wynne Jones SF also. “But We Are Not of Earth” also by Jean Karl. Peter Dickinson’s Changes trilogy. “The Delikon” and others by H. M. Hoover – “The Delikon” is my most vivid early memory of SF, and judging by the Amazon reviews had the same effect on others.

  2. JB: I agree, “Archer’s Goon” is SF. (Or maybe parable.) Diana Wynne Jones writes a lot of stories that could possibly be considered SF — I can even see arguing that the Chrestomanci books, with their multiple parallel universes, are SF. I understand the urge to throw up one’s hands and call it all “speculative fiction”.

    I haven’t read the other books you mentioned. Thanks!

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