BOLD GIRLS resource pack
We all know that if you can't see it, you can't be it. With the BOLD GIRLS project, Children's Books Ireland and the G-BOOK project, 'Gender Identity: Child Readers and Library Collections', aim to build confidence in girls and young women by showing them female characters in children's books with agency, power and opinions. In this resource pack, we have selected twenty books from the BOLD GIRLS Reading Guide, which includes twelve books from the G-BOOK project's online catalogue, for readers to explore further.
With the carefully crafted, age-appropriate questions and activities, we hope to stimulate plenty of thought and debate about the characters and their worlds, the writers' and illustrators' craft, the position of women and girls in society and, perhaps, what readers can do to effect positive change.
The books chosen cover a variety of genres, ages, experiences and cultures, as well as writing and illustration styles. The imaginative Hilda and the Troll could be an introduction to the world of graphic novels for younger readers, while Jane, the Fox and Me takes that format to a different place in its use of words and images to explore the power of books and classic fiction, as well as the very real weight of societal expectations placed upon girls. Rosie Revere, Engineer, Ada's Inventions and Little People, Big Dreams: Frida Kahlo in their own unique ways look at women's ingenuity and creativity, and how they have often struggled to be taken seriously and appreciated in their time – despite the valuable contributions they have made.
Star by Star and Mollie on the March are timely and engaging explorations of the suffragette movement in Ireland through the lens of fiction. They bring to the fore the role of young women in the campaign and what their protesting and agitation achieved – a reward we still reap today. And further from home, but no less important and engaging, we have My Name is Parvana and I am Malala – one fiction and one non-fiction – both detailing the struggles that girls endure under oppressive regimes and the extraordinary fortitude and bravery displayed by those bold girls who refuse to accept less than their rights, in particular to education. All of these books demonstrate how we should never take our rights for granted, and that if those rights are being denied, we must never stop fighting for them.
The environment and our place within it is a theme running through several of the books – Wild, Lydia, The Girl of Ink and Stars and The Lie Tree, among other things, address how girls are expected to look and behave in society, while also looking at their deep relationship with and curiosity about the natural world. And, of course, the emotional, familial and romantic issues that are often a perplexing part of growing up are sensitively and relatably explored in many of the titles.
But the thing that binds all these books together is their focus on all the complex, difficult, messy and wonderful things about being a girl.
We hope using this pack will encourage readers and reassure them that they are not alone, that there are all kinds of strength and that nothing should stop them from achieving their ambitions – that they can lead, be free, be wild and, of course, be BOLD!