Finding wholesome books for girls and early tweens can be challenging. So much of what is being published today is drivel at best to downright concerning or even abhorrent. If you have a sensitive girl, it’s even more challenging. In an effort to help, I’ve compiled a list of books for girls of various ages that would fall into the category of wholesome.
What is a Wholesome Book?
Wholesome can be defined so many different ways by families so let me lay out what my criteria was in creating this list. Wholesome to me included books that featured:
- Positive relationships
- Fun reading
- Generally lighthearted with a positive message
- No serious violence (some mysteries below might imply light violence or crime)
- No profanity
Wholesome in this list does not automatically mean:
- Perfect children who never do anything wrong
- Award-winning literature
I also want to point out that some of these books were published decades ago and therefore reflect the times in which they were written. I did not review them for what would be considered politically incorrect attitudes or language today. If you or your child are very sensitive to these issues, then you will need to review them first.
These lists are presented in no particular order. They cover a wide variety of interests and ages. There are many that would be a great addition to your study of history. (My love of history bias definitely shows up in this list!)
Sallie’s Favorite Books
Some of my favorite books are in other sections below. But first off are four books from my childhood that I loved that didn’t fit neatly into any of the other sections. Understood Betsy should be read aloud to every little girl. I just read it again myself this month and it’s so wonderful. The same with The Hundred Dresses. Caddie Woodlawn is a classic. I haven’t read The Janitor’s Girl in forever, but it is one book I loved as a child.
Mouse Scouts is a newer and adorable series. These stories are both fun and educational. They include cute illustrations throughout.
Owl Diaries is a newer, colorful series. Caroline has enjoyed these.
Eva’s Treetop Festival: A Branches Book (Owl Diaries #1)Eva Sees a Ghost: A Branches Book (Owl Diaries #2)A Woodland Wedding: A Branches Book (Owl Diaries #3)Eva and the New Owl: A Branches Book (Owl Diaries #4)Warm Hearts Day: A Branches Book (Owl Diaries #5)Baxter is Missing: A Branches Book (Owl Diaries #6)The Wildwood Bakery: A Branches Book (Owl Diaries #7)Owl Diaries, Books 1-5: A Branches Box Set
Cobble Street Cousins
I’ve mentioned the Cobble Street Cousins before because Caroline absolutely adores these books. We’ve read this series aloud many, many times. They are sweet stories about three cousins who live with their Aunt Lucy for a year.
Nancy Clancy Series
If your daughter loved Fancy Nancy books like mine did (see her sixth birthday party!), she might enjoy the next step up – Nancy Clancy. These are cute mystery stories perfect for girls. Caroline enjoyed these books.
Nancy Clancy, Super SleuthFancy Nancy: Nancy Clancy, Soccer ManiaFancy Nancy: Nancy Clancy, Star of Stage and ScreenFancy Nancy: Nancy Clancy Seeks a FortuneFancy Nancy: Nancy Clancy, Secret of the Silver KeyFancy Nancy: Nancy Clancy Sees the FutureFancy Nancy: Nancy Clancy: My Secret DiaryFancy Nancy: Nancy Clancy, Secret AdmirerFancy Nancy: Nancy Clancy, Late-Breaking News!
Trixie Belden Mysteries
I loved, loved, loved Trixie Belden when I was a girl. David read the entire series aloud to Caroline and when they were done she asked to go through the entire series again! (Yes, they are!) Some of the books you can get new on Amazon, but if you want to read the entire series you will have to track down some of them used on Amazon, ebay, the library, etc.
The Secret of the MansionThe Gatehouse MysteryTrixie Belden and The Mysterious VisitorThe Red Trailer MysteryTrixie Belden and The Mysterious CodeTrixie Belden and The Mystery Off Glen RoadThe Mystery in ArizonaThe Mystery of the EmeraldsThe Mystery on Cobbett’s IslandThe Black Jacket MysteryThe Happy Valley Mystery
The Shoes Series
I have not read the Shoes series, but I know they come highly recommended.
Betsy Tacy Books
This is another older series that follows Betsy, Tacy, and later Tib. It’s a classic set of books that will introduce girls not only to friendships, but also the history of the time. These were a favorite I need to read again!
The Betsy-Tacy Treasury: The First Four Betsy-Tacy BooksHeaven to Betsy/Betsy in Spite of HerselfBetsy Was a Junior/Betsy and JoeBetsy and the Great World/Betsy’s WeddingThe Betsy-Tacy Companion: A Biography of Maud Hart Lovelace
All-of-a-Kind Family was one of my very favorite books as a girl. I read these so many times. Every girl should read this fun series and learn about both the family as well as the historical and cultural setting.
American Girl Stories
Even if you don’t purchase an American Girl doll, the stories are very well done. The historical sets offer a great way to introduce your daughter to different time periods and how people lived. David and Caroline read many (most?) of the series aloud and loved the Caroline series the most.
The Boxcar Children
Did you love The Boxcar Children growing up? I did! So many fun mysteries! I’ve included just a few of them below, but there are many more.
The Boxcar Children Bookshelf (The Boxcar Children Mysteries, Books 1-12)The Boxcar ChildrenThe Yellow House MysterySurprise IslandThe Lighthouse MysteryMystery RanchThe Woodshed MysteryThe Boxcar Children Books 1-4The Boxcar Children Mysteries Books 5-8
I haven’t read this series, but it comes very highly recommended by many. I’ve only included a sampling here. There are many more also on Amazon.
In Grandma’s AtticStill More Stories from Grandma’s AtticTreasures from Grandma’s AtticMore Stories from Grandma’s AtticSixteen and Away from HomeGrandma’s Attic TreasuryStories from the Growing YearsLetters from Grandma’s Attic
Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka
We read these to Caroline and we all enjoyed them. They are sweet stories set in Sweden about triplets. (There is also a series of triplet boys – Snip, Snap and Snur.)
Flicka, Ricka, Dicka Bake a CakeFlicka, Ricka, Dicka and the StrawberriesFlicka, Ricka, Dicka and the Three KittensFlicka, Ricka, Dicka and the New Dotted DressesFlicka, Ricka, Dicka and the Little DogFlicka, Ricka, Dicka and Their New SkatesFlicka, Ricka, Dicka: Set of 7 Hardcover Books
Brambly Hedge is a well-loved series with sweet stories and illustrations.
Lois Lenski Books
I read many Lois Lenski books as a girl. Strawberry Girl and Shoo-Fly Girl were two of my favorites. Each book introduces the reader to different places throughout the United States. A great way to learn history!
Strawberry Girl 60th Anniversary EditionShoo-Fly GirlPrairie SchoolHouseboat GirlJudy’s JourneyFlood FridayTexas TomboyBoom Town BoyCoal Camp GirlLois Lenski’s Christmas StoriesDeer Valley GirlCandlelight StoriesPuritan AdventureWe Live in the City, Roundabout AmericaWe live in the NorthWe Live in the Country
Little House: The Martha Years
There are three series that come before the “Little House” series. The Martha Years are about Laura’s great-grandmother in Scotland. History and geography while reading!
Little House: The Charlotte Years
The Charlotte Years are about Laura’s grandmother in Boston.
Little House: The Caroline Years
The Caroline Years are about Laura’s mother (and, eventually, her father). I enjoyed reading all three of the prequel series.
Miscellaneous Classic Books and Series
Here are some more long-loved classic books and series. I have not read all of them, but they are generally all very well regarded.
Five Little Peppers – The Complete CollectionA Girl Of The LimberlostThe Complete Adventures of the BorrowersThe Complete Anne of Green Gables CollectionThe Penderwicks Boxed SetDaddy Long LegsCherry Ames Boxed Set (Books 1-4)Cherry Ames Boxed Set (Books 5-8)The Ruth Fielding Series: 18 Girls’ Adventure StoriesThe Campfire Girls Collection: 26 Stories
The Happy Hollisters Series
The Happy Hollisters was a highly popular mystery series. I haven’t read these, but they sound like they would fit into the category of wholesome. I’ve included some of them here. There are many more on Amazon.
The Happy HollistersThe Happy Hollisters at Snowflake CampThe Happy Hollisters and the Secret FortThe Happy Hollisters and the Old Clipper ShipThe Happy Hollisters on a River TripThe Happy Hollisters at Pony Hill FarmThe Happy Hollisters and the Mystery of the Little MermaidThe Happy Hollisters and the Ice Carnival MysteryThe Happy Hollisters and the Scarecrow MysteryThe Happy Hollisters at Mystery MountainThe Happy Hollisters and the Trading Post MysteryThe Happy Hollisters and the Haunted House Mystery
This is part of the 100 Things link-up with the iHomeschool Network.