Book cover image for Zenobia July by Lisa Bunker.

Girls hear a lot about being “pretty” or “beautiful” in our culture, but at New Moon Girls, we believe what REALLY makes a girl beautiful is what’s inside — her courage, smarts, determination, sense of humor, and unique personality. That’s why every year we celebrate inner beauty with our Beautiful Girls magazine issue. To keep the celebration of inner beauty going, check out these books featuring girls who shine just the way they are.


  • When 13-year-old Nikki is selected for an elite basketball team, her dreams of becoming a basketball star feel within reach — but being part of the new team isn’t as easy as she thought. In Nikki on the Line by Barbara Carroll Roberts, not only is Nikki not the strongest player on the team anymore, but her best friend starts hanging out with another team member while Nikki has to babysit her younger brother. And when her class has to do a family tree project, she’s afraid of her biggest secret coming out — she doesn’t know who her father is. Can she find what it takes to compete at a higher level on the court as the stakes around her rise?
  • One of Kate DiCamillo’s editors refers to her newest character Beverly Tapinski as “someone who takes action, who doesn’t let injustice slide, who never worries about what the right thing to do is or whether she is the right person to do it … she just does what needs to be done.” That sounds like a beautiful girl to me! In Beverly, Right Here, Kate continues the series that began with Raymie Nightingale and continued with Louisiana’s Way Home. Now, she follows Beverly as she runs away at age 14, trying to forget about her dog who died, her friend Raymie who left, and her mom who never seemed to care about anyone but herself.
  • Lisa Bunker’s Zenobia July has a lot to look forward to in her new school — finally, she’s able to live as the girl she has always known she is rather than as the boy people used to see by looking at her outsides only. When someone posts hate speech on Zenobia’s school website, she knows she has the hacking skills to find out who did it — after all, she used to spend most her her life online. But is catching the hater worth the unwanted attention Zenobia will bring to herself?
  • Because Nova is autistic and doesn’t speak, her teachers and classmates often assume she isn’t very smart — but her older sister, Bridget, always saw her for who she is. Now Bridget has disappeared, and Nova is in a new foster home. But Bridget promised her that “no matter what,” she would be there for the January 1986 launch of the space shuttle Challenger, so now Nova is eagerly awaiting the event in Nicole Panteleakos’ Planet Earth is Blue.
  • After she finds out that her mom and dad are separating and gets in a fight with her best friend, Cora feels like the garbage her professor parents study. But when she finds a diary from 1974 detailing another girl’s friendship troubles, she begins to find the courage to be true to herself and discover the meaning behind the saying that one person’s trash is another’s treasure in The Friendship Lie by Rebecca Donnelly.
  • Emilia Torres is sure that her life will make sense again after her father returns from his long deployment with the Marines — but instead he just locks himself in the garage, working on an old car. Although Emilia has trouble paying attention in school, she is mesmerized by the welder Dad uses on his car — until one day he calls her over and teachers her to use it in Each Tiny Spark by Pablo Cartaya. Just as she begins to repair her relationship with her father, a class project gone wrong divides her class against each other, with her friend Gus in the middle of it all. Now Emilia has to be brave enough to ask some big questions — and be ready for the answers.
  • In The Becket List by Adele Griffin, Becket Branch didn’t ask for the change to her life that came when her family moved from the city to Gran’s farm. But she’s willing to make the best of it, applying her “city kid smarts” to selling her own lemonade, feeding cranky hens, driving a tractor, and trying to make her next door neighbor her new best friend.  Cartoon illustrations capture Becket’s adventures as she makes her own list detailing “how to be a country kid” and mucks through life on the farm.
  • Beautiful girls don’t get any less beautiful with time, and that’s certainly true of March sisters Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. Whether you’re already a fan of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women or are meeting them for the first time, their beauty sparkles off the page in Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy by Rey Terciero and Bre Indigo, a graphic novel retelling the classic story of Little Women in today’s world.

Real Life

  • Girls and women with inner beauty have been changing the world since time began — and you can read about just a few of these inspiring leaders in the A-Z of Wonder Women by Yvonne Linn. You’ll come across names you probably already know, like author J.K. Rowling and talkshow host Oprah Winfrey, as well as some women who may be new to you, such as Lyda Conley, the first Native American woman to argue a case before the Supreme Court or Irena Sendler, who smuggled thousands of Jewish children out of Poland during World War II. Each profile includes an illustration and quote by the woman featured.
  • Finally, don’t forget to take a moment to celebrate YOUR inner beauty. Write yourself a love letter, a poem about what makes you glad to be you, or a list of your best qualities. You can even try a guided journal like Alexis Lampley’s The Legend of Me, which helps you write about your life as an epic story!

What about you? Have you read any of the books listed above? What are your favorite books about inner beauty? Let me know in the comments below!

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...

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.