These Books Are Just As Inspiring In Childhood And Adulthood

by Charlotte Ahlin

Saying that something is for "all ages" tends to have a slightly... negative connotation, if you're an adult. Surely, as a grown ass woman, you should exclusively be reading Nora Ephron and nonfiction, right? So you try to stick to "grown up" books, and you find yourself trying to read that new YA release on the subway without anyone seeing the cover. But I'm here to tell you that it's OK. There are some literary masterpieces out there that have something to say to all women, from age five to 95. Here are a few brilliant books for women of every age.

Sure, the tiniest of babies might not be on board with a few of these choices (unless they are highly literate babies). But these are all books that can be shared between friends, sisters, daughters, mothers, and female co-workers who feel a little weird about their large age gap. Age is just a number, and it shouldn't keep you away from good literature. Don't try to avoid reading books for all ages: embrace that every time you read one of these books, at any age, you get something completely new out of it.

So check out these books for every woman:

'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn' by Betty Smith

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is the ultimate coming-of-age story for bookish young women. Kids can read about Francie Nolan's scrappy childhood at the turn of the last century and see reflections of themselves, teens can empathize with Francie's growing pains as she's thrust into the adult world of work and romance, and adults can cry their eyes out over the timeless story of love, loss, and the beauty of survival.

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'Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Vol. 1: BFF' by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare, and Natacha Bustos

Graphic novels are not just for kids! Especially not graphic novels as great as Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. It's the classic genius girl and her dinosaur story, all about hyper-intelligent Lunella Lafayette trying to balance school, her pet T. rex, and saving the world, all while fending off various monsters and monster hunters. It's pure fun for smart little girls, and for women who remember what it was like to be a smart little girl.

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'Ella Enchanted' by Gail Carson Levine

Every age is the exact right age to read Ella Enchanted. If you know the Cinderella story (or even if you've somehow avoided it for years on end), this book is a brilliant subversion of the classic fairy tale. Here, we have a willful young Ella who's been cursed with obedience, a genuinely charming prince, and a lot of clever adventures in between full of fairies, giants, ogres, and feminism.

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'The Joy Luck Club' by Amy Tan

Kids might not grasp all the complexities of the mother-daughter relationships in The Joy Luck Club, but Amy Tan actually turned one of the chapters of her novel into the children's book The Moon Lady. If you're looking for funny, poignant books that bridge generational gaps to tell stories at every age, you can't do much better than this one.

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'A Wrinkle in Time' by Madeleine L'Engle

Very few authors have been able to pull off the opening line, "It was a dark and stormy night," but Madeleine L'Engle is one of them. A Wrinkle in Time is part coming-of-age story for shy math whiz Meg Murray, part intergalactic adventure, and altogether a story about the importance of love and compassion in the face of hatred. It's an all time classic for any reader capable of comprehending the basic laws of physics.

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'Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood' by Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis certainly contains some material that might be a bit much for the youngest readers... but on the whole, Persepolis is the perfect book for every age. It is the story of a childhood, but with the overtones of intense political strife in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. It's personal and political all at once, and it's impossible not to fall completely in love with Marjane as she struggling to make sense of a country at war.

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'Anne of Green Gables' by L.M. Montgomery

Anne is just delightful. She's a ray of sunshine and puffed sleeves and "kindred spirits." She's hotheaded and kind, a bit of a mess and desperate to improve herself. Anne of Green Gables is one of those books that only grows sweeter and more nuanced every time you re-read it, so if you haven't visited Green Gables since childhood, maybe it's time for a return trip.

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'Esperanza Rising' by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Esperanza grows up in comfort on her family's ranch in Mexico—until she and her mother are forced to flee to California during the Great Depression. Suddenly, Esperanza is faced with hard labor and discrimination. It's a simple story, but beautifully told, even if you think you've outgrown kids' books.

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'Matilda' by Roald Dahl

You're never too old to read Matilda. Like all Roald Dahl stories, Matilda walks the thin line between weird and disturbing. But Matilda is also the off-kilter story of a little girl so smart, she can move things with her mind. It's the perfect reminder, for all women, of just how powerful a brain can be.

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