Dear Girl,

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
Dear Girl, Book Poster Image
Poignant letter encourages girls to be all they can be.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Some female role models pictured in the art -- e.g., pilot Amelia Earhart. Map of the United States pictured. Collage elements in art can prompt discussion of mixed media.

Positive Messages

Conceived as a series of positive messages for girls -- that they should respect and trust their feelings, accept their physical traits, put themselves forward, and express themselves. Underlying all is the message that they're loved and supported.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The adult offering the advice is caring and encouraging. The girl is adventurous and accepting of herself and her feelings. All the advice is emotionally healthy.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dear Girl, was written in part by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (I Wish You More), who passed away in 2017, leaving behind a host of beloved kids' books. This one, crafted in conjunction with her daughter Paris Rosenthal, is sure to tug at heartstrings since it's a letter to a young girl, one that could be read as a mom's letter to her daughter. Each spread opens with the line "Dear Girl," then offers words of encouragement and advice. In this age of female empowerment, it advises girls, "Keep that arm raised! You have smart things to say!" And, "If your instinct is telling you to say no, say no, you know?"

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What's the story?

DEAR GIRL, is written as a letter from a parent, and the advice in it is far-ranging. Some presses girls not to hold back and to actively put themselves forward: "Do you know that there is no such thing as asking too many questions?" Other advice encourages quiet contemplation: "Write down your thoughts once in a while, even if it's just to enjoy the way your pen feels against the paper." And some promotes body acceptance: "Look at yourself in the mirror. Say thank you to something that makes you YOU." In this body-positive spread, girls are pictured thanking their freckles, birthmark, and red hair. All the advice is emotionally healthy, encouraging girls to trust themselves and their feelings.

Is it any good?

This encouraging book for young girls is a grab bag of advice -- some practical and some whimsical. The girl in the pictures is told, "Sometimes you may feel like being pink and sparkly. Sometimes you may feel pretty much the opposite." Here she's shown dancing in a tutu, then romping in a mud puddle. As she deliberates on the edge of a diving board, she's urged, "Listen to your brave side." And another page reminds, "You won't be invited to every single party on the planet. (Which is really okay -- can you imagine how exhausting that would be?)." But a more generic page, arced with a rainbow, says, "don't ever lose your sense of wonder."

The mixed-media art, which includes some collage elements, is upbeat and cartoony, which lends Dear Girl, an air of lightness and fun. The same white-skinned, dark-haired girl is pictured throughout, and her family consists of a mom, dad, brother, and dog. A few of her friends are girls of color. Though the book works best when the advice is pointed and specific, it’s a great jumping-off point for parents and caregivers to talk with and encourage the girls they love.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the advice in Dear Girl,. Does any of it sound like what your parent or caregiver has told you? Does any of it sound different?

  • Why do you think this book offers advice to girls but not boys? Do you think it's important to sometimes focus on girls alone? Would some of the advice be the same for boys? What might be different and why?

  •  If you were a mom with a daughter, what advice would you give her? Try making a book for your future daughter.

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