Heroines of Inner Beauty

As kind of a follow-up to last week’s post, I’ve compiled a Top 5 list of books that focus on inner beauty. They’re all fiction, because I believe stories are one of the most powerful teaching tools in existence. Some of the heroines of these books have been my best friends and role models since childhood. If you’ve already met some of them yourself, you know what I’m talking about.

So without further ado: a reading list for your daughters, nieces, sisters, or anyone else you might want to inspire to grow in inner beauty.

1. Anne Shirley, from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

If I were a literary character, I’d want to be Anne. The smart, spunky, redheaded heroine often gets herself into “scrapes” because of her quick temper, but her imagination and indomitable spirit usually dig her back out again. 

2. Polly Milton, from An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott

While the author’s tone can verge on moralistic at times, the childlike Polly is impossible not to like. She grows from a little girl who enjoys being one to a responsible, kind young woman who sets the example for others.

3. Sara Crewe, from A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A classic riches-to-rags-to-riches story, A Little Princess follows Sara from a position of great wealth to one of destitution. While she starts out as a kind, imaginative girl, poverty puts her to the test–and reveals that being a princess is something that comes from the inside.

4. Stargirl, from Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

This whimsical modern classic follows Leo Borlock’s discovery of and fascination with Stargirl, a formerly homeschooled high schooler who simply doesn’t conform to the crowd. Whether she’s carrying her pet rat around in a sunflower bag or cheerleading for the opposite team, Stargirl is always true to herself, never bending to others’ expectations.

5. Anne Elliot, from Persuasion by Jane Austen

Jane Austen’s last work (and one I just read last year), Persuasion isn’t your typical love story. Anne Elliot has lost love and never expects to find it again, filling her life instead with cheerful, humble service to friends and family. When love does reappear for her, it is sweeter than she could have imagined.

Have you read any of these books? Are there any that you’d add to this list? 


3 thoughts on “Heroines of Inner Beauty

  1. Oh, I love this list! How about Mary from “The Secret Garden” who grows from a cross, unlikeable child to a healthy happy young girl? Katy, from “What Katy Did” also undergoes a similar transformation from selfish to compassionate due to an accident that leaves her an invalid.

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  2. I agree with Rabia! “The Secret Garden” was a childhood favorite of mine!My eldest niece is named after Lucy from “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” and I CANNOT WAIT to read that to her! I occasionally remind her she’s named after a queen 😉 Such a great character… kind and strong… small but mighty. Lucy’s 6 now, and tearing through her first chapter book series (with a little girl heroine, no less)… so I think we shall travel to Narnia soon 😀

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  3. Stargirl sounds interesting.I loved Tamora Pierce’s books growing up. For fantasy, The Song of the Lioness quartet followed a young girl who wanted to be a knight so badly, she disguised herself as her twin brother to go into training. The series follows her growing up too.

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