Every year, we celebrate girls who are beautiful by being themselves with a special issue of New Moon Girls magazine. For more inner beauty inspiration, check out these books about and for girls being themselves.

Lotus Bloom and the Afro Revolution

Book cover image for Lotus Bloom and the Afro Revolution by Sherri Winston

Talented violinist Lotus Bloom has recently switched from her inner-city school to a fancy arts academy. While her best friend wants her to protest the vast difference in funding between the two schools, Lotus wants to lay low — except for sharing her music talent. But then a jealous boy launches spitballs into Lotus’s Afro. She reports it. Rather than punishing the bully, the school threatens to suspend Lotus — keeping her hair’s natural curls violates school rules. Now, she must decide whether to stay quiet or speak up against the school’s racist dress code.

Haven Jacobs Saves the Planet

Book cover image for Haven Jacobs Saves the Planet by Barbara Dee

Haven’s anxiety about climate change is starting to interfere with her sleep, her schoolwork, and her friendships. A teacher urges her to find a way she can make a difference, so she focuses on a science project where she studies samples of water from a local river. But the river is different from when her older brother studied it years ago. The frogs he loved watching are all gone, replaced by pollution. Haven is sure the new factory nearby is to blame. She’s ready to speak out against it — even if that means putting her dad’s job and some of her friendships on the line.

The Ogress and the Orphans

Book cover image for The Ogress and the Orphans by Kelly Barnhill

The town of Stone-in-the-Glen was once lovely, but it has recently fallen on hard times. The flashy new mayor lays the blame for the town’s problems on an ogress who lives on the outskirts, promising that he alone can restore Stone-in-the-Glen’s glory. When an orphan disappears, the mayor directs suspicion at the ogress. But the other orphans know the truth — that the ogress is kind, that she bestows gifts upon the town, and that she understands the real cause of the town’s trouble. Can the orphans convince the rest of the village of the truth and uncover the real villain in their midst?

Elfie Unperfect

Book cover image for Elfie Unperfect by Kristin Mahoney

Elfie has always worked hard to make sure everything she does is perfect. And she’s sure her new school will be perfect for her, too. But then she gets expelled on the first day, and she’s stuck back at her old school — where she has never really fit in. As things go from bad to worse — her babysitter gets seriously sick, her aunt and uncle stop speaking to each other, and a group project goes awry — she begins to see that perfect isn’t all its cracked up to be.

The Many Meanings of Meilan

Cover image for the Many Meanings of Meilan by Andrea Wang

When Meilan’s beloved grandmother dies, her parents and grandfather decide to move to rural Ohio to leave behind a family rift. Meilan’s new home is nothing like Boston’s Chinatown. At her new school, she doesn’t even have her own name — the principal refers to her as “Melanie,” and it sticks. But when she discovers the many meanings of the name Meilan while practicing her Mandarin, she becomes each of them when she needs to. It means “mist,” quiet and invisible, like when she’s at school. It means “basket,” like when she feels the weight of carrying her parents’ expectations. And it means “blue,” like the way she feels with her new friend, Logan. When she encounters an injustice at school, she discovers the power of bringing her many selves together.

More Books for Girls Being Themselves

If you’ve ever felt like a background character in someone else’s story, check out Thornwood and Glass Slippers from the Sisters Ever After series by Leah Cypress, which features the sisters of famous fairy tale heroines like Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella.

Superstitious Ema doesn’t fit in with her family of scientists, but none of that matters when she meets Sylvie, a friend who joins her for midnight adventures, helps her face her fears, and sees her for who she really is in The Midnighters by Hana Tooke.

Macy has her eye on Brynn, the perfect, fashion-obsessed BFF in her new town. But in her efforts to win her over, Macy must untangle herself from a lie that gets out of hand in Be Real, Macy Weaver by Lakita Wilson.

Violet’s parents tell her the “right kind” of girl doesn’t get involved in politics — but she questions all of that after tracking down her older sister and joining the American suffrage movement in The Hope Chest by Karen Schwabach.

Sometimes, being true to yourself and following your dreams means breaking some rules, as the female athletes featured in Not Playing by the Rules by Lesa Cline-Ransome discovered.

What about you? Do you have favorite books for girls being themselves that celebrate inner beauty in all its forms? Have you read any of the books above? Share with us in the comments!

Lacey Louwagie is an adult writer and editor who got her first editing job with New Moon Girls in 2002. She is currently a freelance writer and editor and stay-at-home parent of 2 little boys. She has been a teen services librarian and coordinates book-related goodies for New Moon Girls. She is the author...

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