I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for ways to connect with my daughter while helping her to navigate the complexities of growing up. One way I do this is by reading books together that explore the coming of age experience.
I look for books with powerful themes and lessons that can spark meaningful conversations between my daughter and me. We like books that explore everything from relationships, family, and identity, to everything else that comes with getting older.
Spark meaningful conversations
Reading coming of age books with your daughter can give you the space and opportunity to have meaningful conversations about growing up.
Learning about the experiences of other girls (real, or fictionalized) encourages empathy, compassion, and understanding.
Whether you read together before bed or make it a special mother-daughter book club activity, keep an eye out for these books, and others, to inspire and connect you and your daughter in meaningful ways.
Here are 9 books that you and your daughter can read together and discuss.
Coming of Age Books
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou is one of the books that impacted my entire soul. Angelou's memoir tells the story of her childhood in the segregated South and the struggles she faced as she became the genius and icon we all know and respect. (Content warning: Read with your older teens as it has some very mature topics, including r*pe.)
The House on Mango Street
"The House on Mango Street" by Sandra Cisneros is a truly poetic coming of age story that follows the life of a young Latina girl growing up in a poor neighborhood in Chicago.
brown girl dreaming
The first time I read "brown girl dreaming" by Jacqueline Woodson, my heart just swelled! This beautiful memoir-in-verse tells the story of the author's childhood in the 1960s and 1970s, growing up as a Black girl in the South.
"Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott, and all of the following books in the series by the author, was one of my favorites when I was growing up. This book would make a great read-aloud with moms and their girls ages 8+. This novel tells the story of four sisters growing up during the Civil War era, as well as exploring themes of family and love.
"Esperanza Rising" by Pam Muñoz Ryan is set during the Great Depression, and follows the story of a young Mexican girl who must adapt to life as a migrant worker in California. When I read this book with 5th graders, I was struck by how much the students grew in compassion as they followed Esperanza's journey.
Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret.
One of my most favorite books of all times, "Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret." by Judy Blume is a classic novel explores the challenges and joys of growing up, including puberty, crushes, friendships, and more. The topics are mature, but appropriate for kids in 4th grade on up.
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
"Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry" by Mildred D. Taylor is a novel that is set in the 1930s, and tells the story of a young Black girl and her family as they face racism and prejudice in the deep South. A serious book, but engaging and thought-provoking nonetheless. Would be appropriate for kids ages 8+.
The Diary of Anne Frank
I will never forget my first time reading "The Diary of Anne Frank" by Anne Frank. The personal diary of a young Jewish girl during the Holocaust, watching Anne come of age, fall in love, and be a normal girl while facing unthinkable tragedy will touch the hearts of anyone who reads it. Definitely read this one with your child age 8+.
Girl in Translation
"Girl in Translation" by Jean Kwok is a coming-of-age novel that follows the story of Kimberly Chang, a young girl who immigrates from Hong Kong to Brooklyn with her mother. This book is heartbreaking but optimistic look at the struggles and triumphs of the immigrant experience. Would read with a tween age 12+.
For more coming of age books, check out the Mama Knows It All bookstore.