11 Children's Books That Pass The Bechdel Test
Finding the perfect book for your little one's collection? Pretty easy. Finding one that fits a very specific guideline? Not always so easy. Children's books come in all forms and while there are plenty out there that promote diversity, feminism, and friendship, there are plenty that don't. But when you get really specific about your feminist books, including finding children's books that pass the Bechdel test, you're even more aware of how few there are.
If you've never heard of the Bechdel test, it's a pretty simple formula used for movies. Coined by comic Alison Bechdel, the test requires that two named women have to have a conversation about something other than a man. That's it. It doesn't mean the entire movie (or book in this case) has to be a conversation about things other than men. It just means that somewhere in that particular work of fiction, there has to be two named female characters who have a discussion and a man is never mentioned.
Trust me — it's not easy to find movies or works of fiction that fit the bill. In fact, even in pieces that have strong female characters, it can be hard to find. And in children's books? Even harder. In general, most children's books don't have a lot of dialogue between two named women, so you'll have to dive into the world of chapter books to find these 11 children's books that pass the Bechdel test. It doesn't necessarily mean that books that don't pass the test should be banned from your child's library, but if you want a book that reminds them that girls have more to talk about than boys, here are 11 to choose from.
1. 'Matlida' by Roald Dahl
A total girl power movie, Matilda has plenty of conversations between Matilda and the librarian, Mrs. Phelps, and her teacher, Miss Honey, that have nothing to do with boys. The book is recommended for kids around 8 years old, but it's a classic for any child.
2. 'The Chronicles Of Narnia' by C.S. Lewis
Let's just say that the ladies of the Chronicles of Narnia have more important things to talk about than boys. I mean, Susan and Lucy do become queens after all. It makes sense that, in general, books that fit the Bechdel test also include some badass girls leading the way.
3. 'Beezus & Ramona' by Beverly Cleary
In the world of children's books, Beezus and Ramona is pretty much everyone's favorite pair. It's a great book about sisters who love each other despite their differences, and packs a lot of funny moments. It also passes the Bechdel test with flying colors and is written for kids between the ages of 8 and 12.
4. 'Harriet The Spy' by Louise Fitzhugh
A feminine heroine leads the way in Harriet the Spy, but the book also has great lessons on empathy and friendship. And the relationship between Harriet and Ole Golly brings about plenty of meaningful conversations without a single mention of boys.
5. 'Anne Of Green Gables' by L.M. Montgomery
I don't care how old your children are, if you don't have a copy of Anne of Green Gables, it's time to grab one. Anne Shirley has plenty to say about the world around her, and her sweet friendships, along with the other people she meets — like the Pye sisters — give her plenty of fodder.
6. 'The Witches' by Roald Dahl
The lead of The Witches may be a boy, the book still passes the Bechdel test and is a classic for your kiddo's bookshelf. Just make sure your little one is mature enough to recognize that it's just a story, as I totally remember scaring the mess out of myself with this one.
7. 'Number The Stars' by Lois Lowry
For a totally different change of pace, pick up a copy of Number the Stars. The story of a young girl and her family smuggling in her friend to sneak her away from the German army during World War II is inspiring and will make your heart soar. It's an incredible story to share with your kid, not just because of the dialogue not involving boys, but because it's proof of the human heart and spirit.
8. 'Because Of Winn-Dixie' by Kate DiCamillo
Little Opal and her dog Winn-Dixie are the stars of Because of Winn-Dixie, but the other supporting characters throughout the novel lead to plenty of interesting and heart-warming conversations. If you've never read the book, it's a seriously adorable and great story that will resonate deeply with you in some way.
9. 'The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants' by Ann Brashares
OK, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is for older children, but the story of four girls and their unbreakable bond and friendship is worth the read. In a society that often pits women against each other, it's refreshing to read a story featuring so many strong girls and that it still passes the Bechdel test.
10. 'The Baby-Sitters Club' Series by Ann M. Martin
Another series catered to older kids, The Baby-Sitters Club series is great for any tween. Not only will you get totally nostalgic, but doesn't everyone want their kids to love books full of strong, innovative, smart, and creative girls? Yes.
11. 'Charlotte's Web' by E.B. White
And for a story with a real hero? Pick up Charlotte's Web. Between the friendship between Fern and Wilbur, Wilbur and Charlotte, and Fern's love of animals, the book is a must for any children's collection.