This isn’t a usual post for me. I usually blog about the day to day, delicious recipes I make, places I travel to. But I recently read this article Why Star Trek: Voyager Meant the World To Me and it served as a reminder to me about all of the characters who mattered so much to me. For me, the characters that meant the most to me were all found in books. I was a little girl with a ferocious appetite for reading and my parent’s made sure that I was exposed to as many strong female characters as possible. When I was a small child it was the strong princess who saves the day in The Balloon Tree and the wild gypsy girl who stays true to who she is in The Gypsy Princess (both by Phoebe Gilman).
As I grew older my Mum and I read the entirety of the Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie series. When I began to read for myself, my parents bought me an entire collection called Girl’s To The Rescue, books of short stories about girls who were never the victim, they never waited to be saved, they did the saving.
I discovered the books of Kit Pearson, A Handful of Time, The Guests of War Trilogy and Awake and Dreaming all featured girls about my age, they were all relatable, they were all interesting, strong, flawed and unique. Those books are falling apart now because they have been read so many times.
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgeson Burnett introduced me to a quieter heroine. Sara Crewe gave me an example of how to behave in the worst of circumstances, she set a standard of class and decorum that I measured myself against. A level of empathy and kindness that I still attempt to capture in my own life. I read Ella Enchanted and became obsessed with re-imagined fairy tales. Fairy tales where the princess doesn’t wait in a tower crying, where she is in charge of her own destiny.
The Royal Diaries series gave me an enduring love for historical fiction. Each remarkable princess from around the world taught me something not only about history but gave me a thirst for travel. I wanted to see all the exotic locals that these real women had lived in for myself.
Of course I could write a whole blog post devoted just to Harry Potter, to Hermione and Ginny, to Molly Weasley and Professor McGonnogal, Tonks and Luna Lovegood, to all the honest real women who populate those stories. To all the women J.K. Rowling wrote who are fully developed characters and not window dressing.
The books of Tamora Pierce and O.R. Melling gave me a love of fantasy and fascination with mythology from across the world. The sword wielding heroines in Tamora Pierce’s novels showed me the world of high fantasy and led to hours spent pretending that I too was a renowned female knight. O.R. Melling’s books had me looking under every rock and tree for a hidden portal into the world of the Fey. My childhood and adolescence was populated by all these strong girls and women, all these stories are as much a part of my memories as the things I actually lived and did.
It is so important as a child to read and watch character’s like yourself doing important things, going on adventures, showing you what you could one day be. I learned as much from these fictional characters as I did from the flesh and blood influences in my life. So thank-you to all these authors, thank-you for giving me a childhood filled with magic and wonder. I feel lucky that no matter what is going on in my adult life all I need to do is look to my bookshelf, in the flip of a few pages I am surrounded by old friends.