The List: My go-to resources for tween and teen girls …
Here it is. My go-to list. (If you’re looking for my list of resources for teenage BOYS click here)
I feel like so many parents are feeling anxious and panicked about the world our daughters currently live in. Every day we’re faced with screaming headlines about teenage sex. Binge drinking. Eating disorders. Depression. Risky online choices. ARGH! But let’s not panic. As someone who is regularly in high schools talking to teenage girls — the girls I get to meet are smart and funny and strong BUT that’s not to say they don’t need help navigating this new world we’re in. (I cannot tell you how glad I am that smart phones didn’t exist when I was 14). So what I’ve listed below are just some of the terrific websites, books and docos I would recommend to anyone who has a tween or teen girl in their life. The most important thing I can say to you is that there is no ONE conversation to have with your daughter about online choices (or friendships or sex or whatever for that matter). All of these topics are BIG and it’s about having lots of conversations all the time. Start a running dialogue which includes items in the news, storylines in books or movies or TV shows and other issues that come up day to day. Keep talking. Everything is a “teachable moment”. Think back to what it was like being in high school. And practice listening to your daughter.
This list is just a starting point. There are loads of other great books and sites out there. List your suggestions in the comments! And I’ll keep adding to this list too.
Here’s to raising strong, smart, fierce girls who refuse to play small ….
Bec Sparrow xxx
SOCIAL MEDIA pages for you and your daughter to follow
Here’s the thing with social media (whatever platform you use Instagram, Facebook etc) is that you need it to work FOR you not against you. If the only people you’re following are friends (or friends of friends of friends!) then you’re mostly just looking from side to side. Make sure your feed is full of people who make you look OUTWARDS. Fill it with people who inspire you, who call forth your best, who remind you of your values or what you stand for or who simply make you laugh. This is about protecting your headspace — so think about curating your feed so that what is given priority are those people and organisations who make you smile rather those who leave you feeling less than.
The Atlas of Beauty: ‘Female photographer Mihaela Noroc travels and captures the natural beauty around the world showing the diversity of our planet through portraits of women.’
Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls – Who doesn’t love Amy Poehler? Right? This is a great resource for female role models and women doing cool things around the world. Official blurb: “Founded by actor and writer Amy Poehler and producer Meredith Walker, the Smart Girls organisation is dedicated to helping young people cultivate their authentic selves.”
A Mighty Girl – A Mighty Girl is the world’s largest collection of books, toys, and movies for parents, teachers, and others dedicated to raising smart, confident, and courageous girls
TeamGirls – In 2017 ReachOut, Netball Australia and Suncorp joined forces to start a movement to help tween and teen girls feel more confident in their abilities, their bodies and their ideas. The Team Girls movement is all about girls supporting girls and their website (go to the ‘content hub’) has lots of great advice for parents and girls on social media, setting goals and navigating friendships.
Beauty Redefined — A not-for-profit site dedicated to redefining the meaning and value of beauty in our lives.
The Body Image Movement Celebrating body diversity and body positivity – a site created by Australia’s Taryn Brumfitt. (AWESOME! And Australian!) While you’re there also show them the Dove Evolution video. Yes, I know it’s Dove. And it’s been around for a while but this video is still a great reminder to tween girls about AIR BRUSHING OF IMAGES!
Enlighten Education Enlighten Education runs programs in schools to help girls decode the mixed messages they receive. Enlighten is all about girls developing their self-worth. AMAZING Australian organisation run by Dannielle Miller.
ReachOut ReachOut is Australia’s largest online mental health website for young people and it’s AMAZING. It’s full of tips, strategies, resources and advice. All free. All confidential. This is a great one to follow on social media since they post so many practical, useful articles.
Geena Davis Institute On Gender In Media “If she can see it, she can be it.” Great feminist site about the representation of women in media.This site will arm you with facts and stats. “The Institute is the only research-based organization working within the media and entertainment industry to engage, educate, and influence the need to dramatically improve, gender balance, reduce stereotyping and create diverse female characters in entertainment targeting children 11 and under.”
Hey Sigmund: where the science of psychology meets the art of being human. This is a GORGEOUS, USEFUL website for parents and non-parents alike. Psychologist Karen Young offers wisdom + the latest research on everything from relationship break-ups to parenting young kids and teens. GREAT RESOURCE.
Orange Sky Laundry: This is what good men look like. Two Brisbane men (uni students and mates) created the first mobile laundry service providing homeless people with access to free washing/drying facilities. LOVE.
UN Women Australia “Empower a woman, empower a nation. The Australian National Committee for UN Women is one of 18 National Committees worldwide. We are committed to gender equality and the empowerment of women. Join us in supporting women and girls worldwide by ending poverty, ending violence against women and creating a better future for all.”
Children’s Books Daily — this site run by award-winning Brisbane teacher-librarian Megan Daley is my go-to source for kids and YA recommendations. Megan KNOWS books like nobody else. If you or your tween/teen are looking for reading recommendations, Megan has them.
Words With Heart – an Australian company who produce eco-friendly notebooks and journals for girls and women. Fantastic covers! And part of the profits go towards educating girls around the world. The WWH Facebook page is always full of interesting posts about women and feminism.
Penguin Teen (they do a great FB page on what’s hot in YA books)
Smiling Mind – teaching kids and adults about mindfulness and meditation. Their app is TERRIFIC.
GIVIT and GIVIT KIDS (a great not-for-profit site that encourages people to donate their unwanted, no longer needed items to specific people in genuine need. Givit Kids allows Australian kids to help other Aussie kids in need.)
The Women’s Legal Service Queensland Interesting articles and stats on domestic violence as well as how to spot it and how to get out.
RIZE UP: Providing practical assistance to Australian families affected by domestic violence.
Charity Spam: An Australian hub for all things socially kind. Get involved in your community.
A FEW OF THE INTERESTING WOMEN I FOLLOW ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Here are just a few you may not already be following …
Celeste Barber: This Australian comedian’s hilarious Instagram account pokes fun at the ridiculousness of many celebrity social media posts. LOVE.
Turia Pitt – Um, it’s TURIA PITT. She’s fierce. (Turia is pictured below.)
Emma Watson Actress (beloved for her portrayal of Hermione in the Harry Potter films) she is a feminist, UN Global Goodwill Ambassador and actor.
Dawn Tan Brilliant Singaporean-Australian artist from Melbourne who specialises in quirky food and nature paintings!
Karni Liddell: Former paralympian Karni is a journalist, diversity educator and disability specialist.
Laura Geitz: Former Captain of the Queensland Firebirds and the Australian Diamonds. Netball, baby!
Casey Donovan: Girl can SING! Cassie’s enthusiasm for life and music is infectious.
Mindy Karling: Mindy is an American actress, comedian and writer best known for her TV series The Mindy Project (which she created and starred in) and her role on the US version of The Office. She’s a strong, smart role model for girls. Love her.
Gal Gadot: the Israeli actress starred in Wonder Woman in 2017 and her social media account is authentic, uplifting and feel good.
Natalie Cunningham: Indigenous Australian swimwear designer and creator of Emu Designs.
Ashley Graham Model, designer, author and body image activist. Ashley is one of the most successful super models. She also happens to be plus-size (what does that even mean in 2017? Nearly all of us are plus size!)
Dr Susan Carland: Muslim sociologist Dr Susan Carland is the author of Fighting Hislam: Women, Faith and Sexism.
Mia Freedman: Creative genius, feminist, entrepreneur, empire-builder, tea-lover and the co-founder of the Mamamia Women’s Network. BOOM. Mia’s podcast No Filter is where she has extraordinary conversations with some of the most fascinating women (and men) in the country.
Beverley Wang: Beverley is the host of the must-listen ABC podcast It’s Not A Race and an executive producer of Radio National Drive.
Taryn Brumfitt: Taryn is a writer, speaker and founder of the Body Image Movement. She’s a force of nature and most famous for her globally successful documentary EMBRACE which investigates why so many women loathe their own bodies. Tarryn is an internationally recognised positive body image activist!
Chrissie Swan: hilarious, brilliant TV and radio host. Mum to three small people. I love her.
Caroline Overington: Caroline is a two-timeWalkley-award winning journalist and best-selling author. You want your daughter to be following smart, strong women? Caroline Overington is one of them.
Dannielle Miller: Danni is the CEO of Enlighten Education which is Australia’s leading provider of workshops for girls on self-esteem. body image and empowerment. Danni’s social media feed is always full of interesting and insightful ideas and commentary about women, girls and feminism.
Meshel Laurie: Meshel is more than just a comedian, a columnist and a radio host, she’s an activist. Meshel is using her time in the sun to spotlight important social justice issues.
Tara Moss – author, speaker, feminist and ambassador for the Full Stop Foundation (an organisation dedicated to putting an end to sexual assault and domestic violence).
Natasha Stott Despoja Natasha is Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls. She is a former politician and former leader of the Australian Democrats. Natasha’s Twitter feed is always informative and inspiring.
Gloria Steinem: Feminist icon, writer, activist.
Malala Fund Inspired by teenage activist Malala Yousafzai, this page is focused on allowing girls to go to school and raising their voices for their right to an education.
Melinda Gates Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, businesswoman, and mother. Dedicated to helping all people lead healthy, productive lives.
Michelle Obama: Because, you know, it’s MICHELLE OBAMA
J.K Rowling: No explanation needed, really.
Jamila Rizvi – writer, presenter, political junkie. I fully suspect Jam is going to end up as our next female Prime Minister. Just watch …
Maya Angelou: Facebook page of the late, great author, poet and feminist
Elizabeth Gilbert the official FB page of author Elizabeth Gilbert is hilarious, fiesty and kind. She does swear a lot so keep that in mind if your daughter is younger and/or you are easily offended.
Carly Findlay – award-winning blogger, writer and appearance activist
Gretchen Rubin The New York Times best-selling author is a happiness expert. Gretchen posts lots of links and interesting research on habits and happiness.
Other great names for teenage girls to have on their radar: journalists Sarah Ferguson, Julia Baird, Annabel Crabb, Leigh Sales, Kate McClymont, Dr Fiona Wood, indigenous author Dr Anita Heiss, Captain Catherine McGregor, indigenous author Tara June Winch, the late disability activist Stella Young, Olympian Anna Meares, cook Poh Ling Yeow, entrepreneur Therese Rein and Australia’s first indigenous woman elected into the Lower House Linda Burney MP.
BOOKS – NON-FICTION for you and your daughter to read
Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls – 100 tales of extraordinary women. This book is FANTASTIC. Makes a terrific birthday present for a tween or teen girl. VOLUME TWO will be published in November 2017.
Amazing Babes by Eliza Sarlos (this book is BRILLIANT — gorgeous hardcover brimming with female role models. Makes a great present!)
Girls Think Of Everything: stories of ingenious inventions by women by Catherine Thimmesh and Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran My favourite book on feminism by comedy writer Caitlin Moran she covers everything from brazilians to strip clubs to abortion to workplace sexism.
Girl Stuff by Kaz Cooke (this is the bible on everything relating to teenage girls — great resource to have. Note: there is a new edition coming out for girls aged 8-12)
Good Selfie by Turia Pitt. I cannot recommend this ebook highly enough. Turia answers the questions she is most often asked by teens — most of which have to do with her resilience. The book is practical and full of clever strategies and ideas of how teens can get through tough times in their lives. LOVE IT. It’s an easy to read format – perfect for kids aged 10 and up.
Speaking Out by Tara Moss (I haven’t read this yet but it comes highly recommended)
Half the Sky: turning oppression into opportunity by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
Embrace by Taryn Brumfitt
The Girl With The Butterfly Tattoo by Danielle Miller
Lovability: an empowered girl’s guide to dating and relationships by Dannielle Miller and Nina Funnell (Great book!)
The Gift of Fear (and other survival signals that protect us from violence) by Gavin De Becker
For Foxes’ Sake: everything a fox needs to know about sex by Row Murray – this is a really great book by an Australian author that dishes up terrific advice about sex and your body. Highly recommend.
Ugly by Robert Hoge
How To Be Happy (a memoir of love, sex and teenage confusion) by David Burton
My non-fiction books for teenage girls …
* Find Your Tribe (and 9 other things I wish I’d known in high school) by Rebecca Sparrow
* Find Your Feet (the 8 things I wish I’d known before I left high school) by Rebecca Sparrow
* Ask Me Anything (heartfelt answers to 65 anonymous questions from teenage girls) by Rebecca Sparrow
BOOKS – FICTION for you and your daughter
My current recommendation are:
Take Three Girls by Fiona Wood, Cath Crowley and Simmone Howell. This is a page-turner of the book which deftly handles themes of friendship, identity, bullying and feminism. Girls in grade 9 and over will relate to the storyline of an anonymous rumour-based website targeting (and shaming) local high school girls.
Saving Jazz by Kate McCaffrey – this is a YA novel which is incredibly powerful about online behaviour, consent and the ramifications of sharing naked images without someone’s consent. It’s blunt and realistic – expect f-bombs but it will speak to many teens. Great to see a novel dealing with the issue of sharing naked images from the point of view of three perpetrators (two male and one female).
BOOKS – NON-FICTION FOR PARENTS
Girls and Sex: navigating the complicated new landscape by Peggy Orenstein (this is BRILLIANT)
Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein
Sexts, Texts And Selfies by Susan McLean (also known as the Cyber Cop)
Queen Bees and Wannabes (helping your daughter survive cliques, gossip, boyfriends and other realities of adolesence) by Rosalind Wiseman
Keep an eye out for articles online written by Mia Freedman who writes terrific stories on feminism for Mamamia.com.au
The Butterfly Effect: raising happy, confident teen girls by Dannielle Miller
Rising Strong by Brené Brown
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Option B: Facing adversity, building resilience and finding joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant This is a must-have book for every household, in my opinion.
VIDEO FOR PARENTS: Rosalind Wiseman (author of Queen Bees and Wannabes). This is a talk she gives on parenting teenagers.
Big Bad Love: With young women 18-24 being most at risk of abuse, Australian comedian Becky Lucas sets out to understand what an abusive relationship looks like, how it begins and why it’s so hard to intervene.
Killing Us Softly 4 – Advertisings image of women: this doco is based on Jean Killbourne’s lecture on gender stereotypes and the image of women in advertising.
Miss Representation – this 2010 doco explores how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in influential positions by circulating limited and often disparaging portrayals of women.
Embrace by Taryn Brumfitt (pre-order on iTunes now) ** this is a must-watch for all tweens and teens
He Named Me Malala (the story of Malala Yousafzai)
PINK’S VMA SPEECH on body image: “We will not change.”
We Should All Be Feminists TEDX Talk by Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This Ted Talk is brilliant and discusses the importance of feminism. It’s so powerful that Beyonce sampled part of this speech in the opening of her song Flawless.
Consent is like a cup of tea — a video designed to help young women understand the concept of consent. IMPORTANT!
Texting While Driving — some young drivers talk about their texting and driving habits and then are faced with a woman who lost her family to texting driver.
Four Things To Remember During Schoolies Week by Rebecca Sparrow
#TeamGirls in 10: This is a podcast I host which is perfect for teen girls to listen to in the car! Each episode is only 10 minutes long and joined by a different expert each week we cover Body Image, Sleep, Friendships, Sport Participation, Social Media and the role dads, uncles and other men can play in the life of teenage girls. #TeamGirls in 10 is powered by Suncorp.
Also No Filter by Mia Freedman will introduce you to some of Australia’s most fascinating people. Past interviewees include Lisa Wilkinson, Captain Catherine McGregor, Ita Buttrose, Sarah Ferguson and Gloria Steinem.
Words With Heart is an Australian company who produce eco-friendly notebooks and journals with fantastic covers for girls. Covers that say things like “She believed she could so she did” and “Small acts can change the world” and “Be Bold Be Brave Be Kind”. Best of all the company donate a percentage of their profits to educating girls around the world.
RESOURCES FOR YOUR TEEN WHEN THEY NEED HELP (I’m only listing a few — I have a full long list at the back of each of my books)
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Over the past 25 years Rebecca Sparrow has earned a living as a travel writer, a television publicist, a marketing executive, a magazine editor, a TV scriptwriter, a radio producer, a newspaper columnist and as an author.