The Confidence Code for Girls: Taking Risks, Messing Up, and Becoming Your Amazingly Imperfect, Totally Powerful Self

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
The Confidence Code for Girls: Taking Risks, Messing Up, and Becoming Your Amazingly Imperfect, Totally Powerful Self Book Poster Image
Empowering advice to help girls discover their strength.

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age 9+
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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Provides step-by-step guidance, exercises, tools to help girls better understand themselves and practice exercising confidence, rooted in scientific research and concepts like metacognition, neuroplasticity, ruminating, grit, and growth mindset. Provides context on how culture shapes gender roles and identity, including history of Title IX and disparities in how females and males tend to be treated, from assertive girls being criticized as "bossy" to women earning less than men in the same job. Includes list of organizations, other resources focused on leadership and confidence for girls and their families.

Positive Messages

What you think creates what you feel, which shapes what you do. Taking action and embracing smart risks help build confidence. Try saying "why not?" instead of "no way." Take small steps and use bridge challenges to get out of your comfort zone. Focusing on helping and working with others can help you overcome jitters. Explore your values, passions, and strengths to understand and appreciate your authentic self. Life may be unfair, but recognizing when it is -- and that it isn't your fault -- is empowering. Do things for purpose, not in pursuit of perfection or approval.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Shares inspiring stories of real "Girls of Action" who've stepped forward and found confidence that's changing the world. Uses girls' real stories of situations that tested their confidence to reinforce lessons and tools. Equips readers with actionable steps to build a more positive, resilient mindset.

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Confidence Code for Girls is an illuminating and empowering guide for girls by broadcast journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman (with JillEllyn Riley), who draw on their work writing The Confidence Code for adult readers. Plentiful examples of real-world dilemmas and inspiring stories of girls who achieved great things by stretching beyond their comfort zone make it very relatable and practical. Concrete tips and simple exercises invite readers to start putting the ideas into practice right away. Comic strips and spot art feature diverse girls, and the text covers a broad range of girls' experiences, including girls of color, girls who wear hijab, and LGBTQ kids. It provides some guidance on keeping social media drama in check. It also encourages readers to look up #likeagirl on social media and to check out a girl power-themed ad campaign by a shampoo company. The publisher recommends this for readers as young as 8, but the themes of feeling pressure to perform academically, dealing with social media, and contending with media messages on gender make it a better fit for slightly older kids. Note: Common Sense Media CEO Jim Steyer is listed in the book's acknowledgments section.

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Kid, 9 years old May 22, 2018

The Confidence Code

The Confidence Code For Girls is a supportive book that encourages girls to be themselves, stand up to bullying, how to navigate social media in an appropriate... Continue reading

What's the story?

THE CONFIDENCE CODE FOR GIRLS aims to help girls recognize and understand the power of confidence in action, and learn how to strengthen their own self-assurance. It outlines what confidence really looks like, focusing on the importance of living your values and acting with integrity. The authors outline the basic formula for building confidence -- taking more risks, avoiding overthinking, and being authentic -- and provide helpful exercises for readers to explore their own values and adjust that formula to suit their own passions and dreams.

Is it any good?

Broadcast journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman bring the cultural conversation about women taking leadership to a younger generation with this warm, practical handbook on building self-assurance. The Confidence Code for Girls is grounded in the world girls are growing up in today, from friendship drama amplified by social media to pressure to meet unrealistic expectations of how girls should look and act. Kay and Shipman (with JillEllyn Riley) securely attach the core ideas to current research on gender, culture, and psychology and explain them through relatable examples, inspiring stories, simple exercises, and quizzes. They offer practical steps for halting negative thought spirals, simple ways to defang bullies and toxic "friends," and tips for recognizing how culture affects the way women experience the world -- and why that's important to notice. It could be heavy stuff, but an upbeat, supportive tone and Nan Lawson's cheerful illustrations frame confidence-building as an irresistible adventure.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the girls' stories in The Confidence Code for Girls. Which ones resonated with you? How have you handled similar situations? In hindsight, what would you have done differently?

  • What inspiring representations of girls and women do you see in the media? What do see in media that you think undermines women and girls?

  • What does your confidence code look like?

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