This is not your school's summer reading list

About Girls of Summer

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Meg and Gigi at the March on Monument

It’s MLK Day in our nation, during a time when our country is heartbreakingly fractured. On Saturday, January 14, 2017, the two of us took a stand and walked in the March on Monumenta peaceful coming together of the various social justice groups that serve the Richmond community.  Two thousand or so of our neighbors stood shoulder to shoulder chanting a call and response:

Show Me What Democracy Looks Like! THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE! 

What do we need? LOVE. When do we need it? NOW. What do we need? Unity. When do we need it? NOW. 

There were older women and men. Parents pushing strollers and carrying signs. Old Basset hounds. Seasoned activists and college students. Wheelchair users. Artists, writers, musicians. And, members of the faith community.

Looking around, we saw our community celebrating diversity and inclusion at the statue of Robert E. Lee asking, How do we knit ourselves together in strength? How can we make our community a place where all people are respected and cared for? What can each of us offer?

We had been thinking long and hard about Girls of Summer, our curated reading list for strong girls, now approaching its seventh year. To be frank, last year, we wondered if it might be time to let the list go. Exhausted and overscheduled, we could point to dozens of other reading lists for girls to choose from.

But then the world got upended in deep and disturbing ways, most notably in an infamous video and talk of grabbing women by their genitals. And we realized that now was not the time to stop. There is still so much work to do together to make this world safe, secure, and nurturing of girls.

So plans have changed.

For the next four years, not only are we not letting go of Girls of Summer, but we are going to grow it big. We’ll use every ounce of our strength as authors, mothers, and literary citizens to build it up as a resource to empower young women of all ages to become lifelong readers and learners, with the tools to find their voices, to stand up, and to protect themselves.

So, here is the first of what will be many exciting changes this year:

Our Girls of Summer team is growing. We are joined by new and dynamic friends with loving ties to our city. These are book women, strong women, and advocates who will be helping to choose our list, plan our event, and spread the word to girls here at home and around the country. They are:

Stacy Hawkins Adams

Stacy Hawkins Adams

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Amanda Nelson

aisha-saeed-headshot

Aisha Saeed

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Maya Smart

In the coming months, you can expect to hear about new a partnership with Richmond Young Writers, too, as we develop new ways for young people to have access to our visiting authors. You’ll hear about a literary breakfast event organized by our longtime champions at the Richmond Public Library and about new schools and organizations who have asked to join us in this effort. And it’s our hope that you will, in fact, engage with us through attendance, donations, and support with new and urgent energy.

We linked arms as we marched on Saturday, in effort to stay warm and in thanksgiving for this friendship of ours. Encircled by thousands of new friends, we got caught up in the spirit of loving kindness and the spirit of justice that rolled down Monument Avenue. How did this happen, we wondered? Just two girls: one with roots in Cuba and one from Mississippi, two friends who have found that it’s our differences that make us strong and our shared values that keep us brave.

Our friendship is what sparked Girls of Summer, but we know that friendship alone isn’t what sustains this important project. For that kind of sustenance, we need a community filled with smart people who care about books and reading in the lives of every day folks. (Here’s looking at you bbgb books and Kris Spisak – champions from the start.) We need a community that is invested in respecting and empowering females, from ages eight to eighty-eight. We need neighbors who insist on equality and inclusion where we live, work, and play.

And in Richmond, Virginia, as it turns out,  we have found exactly that.

Stayed tuned.

Meg Medina and Gigi Amateau are authors of works for young readers. Among their many projects, they are the cofounders of Girls of Summer List, a curated summer reading list for strong girls. They live (proudly) in Richmond, Virginia.

2016 Girls of Summer Title Index

2015 Girls of Summer Title Index

2014 Girls of Summer Title Index

2013 Girls of Summer Title Index

2012 Girls of Summer Title Index

2011 Girls of Summer Title Index

11 responses

  1. Patty

    Gigi and Meg– This is fantastic! I’m so excited about it and will pass along the site to friends. Can’t wait for the Writing Show in July!

    July 2, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    • Patty! Thanks for checking out the site. We’re having so much fun! Hope to see you soon.

      July 2, 2011 at 5:48 pm

  2. Pingback: Girls of Summer: Orthodontia and Faulty Stars - RVANews

  3. Pingback: Girls of Summer Reading List: An Update

    • Stacey, thanks so much for writing about Girls of Summer! Glad you enjoyed Happy Like Soccer and The Queen of Water. We’d love to know some of your favorite books for strong girls!

      July 18, 2012 at 8:49 am

  4. What a great idea, I wish I had something like this when I was a kid.

    June 25, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    • Thank you! We have such a great time doing this blog together and with our guest authors. btw, Harmony, your blog is pretty awesome, too!

      June 25, 2013 at 3:21 pm

  5. zaneta

    Hi I am new to the bloggers world and just have been browsing different blogs. I really love this and would like to with your permission shout you out in my own blog that I am currently in the process of designing. As a young young girl I have always loved books and loved to read. I think it is very important to surround the generations coming up with positivity and inspiration and I think you are doing just that.

    June 28, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    • Hi Zaneta! Thanks for your feedback! Good luck to you with your blog. Girl Power!

      June 28, 2013 at 4:16 pm

  6. Hi Meg and Gigi,
    Oh how I wish this had been around many decades ago when I was trying to find my way in the world and then years later when I was raising daughters of my own! Now, I am passing your blog on so my grand-daughters will benefit!

    July 1, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    • Linda! Thanks so much for your kind words. Please do share the site with your granddaughters. I hope they’ll share their favorite books with us, too!

      July 1, 2013 at 8:41 pm

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