The Strong Women Books/Movies List

(The list is frequently being updated with new discoveries)

I began to take an interest in women authors and books with strong female characters after noticing that all through elementary school, junior high, high school and even into college; the vast majority of books and stories we read in my classes were written by men and were about men. The few exceptions with female authors were the “five greats”: Jane Austen, Charlotte and Emily Bronte, George Eliot and Edith Wharton. Other than those few, women authors tended to be ignored, and in the books we read, women characters were usually regulated to the background.
A 1984 study showed that only 28% of all characters in children’s books are female. Despite this amazingly low percentage of female characters, if there is a character who is victimized or humiliated, that character will be female 90% of the time. When you are female in a male-oriented world, and there are already so few of the characters in literature and film you can relate too, you begin to keenly feel the lack of positive female role models in literature and in film; because so often the females you do find are being victimized or humiliated, or are simply there as backdrop for the hero. Unfortunately, recent media studies show it hasn't gotten a great deal better: a study of 122 films between 2006 & 2009 shows that of 5,554 distinct speaking characters appeared across the sample, 29.2% were female and 70.8% male. That's 2.42 males are depicted to every 1 female. Additionally, a higher percentage of females than males are depicted under 21 (20.5% vs.12.5%) and between 21-39 years of age (54.3% vs. 49.3%). This trend reverses for characters 40 to 64 years old, with a higher percentage of males (33.7%) than females (20.2%) shown in this age group. And finally, a much higher percentage of women than men are shown to be physically attractive (14% vs. 3.6%) and showing more skin (24% vs. 4%) or having an unrealistic body ideal. (
So I began compiling this list of books and films that have positive female role models. Looking for books and films that I could relate to, or as Francis Spufford in The Child That Books Built said: looking for characters that are “alternate possible selves, speaking directly to the female mind,” and do not “require a woman reading them to be the man the narrative expects its consumer to be,” as so many of the other books that the world labels great expect their readers to be. Another main catalyst for my searching was my nieces. I want them to have not just positive role models in real life, but to make sure that they have the resources available so they can find plenty of positive female role models in literature and film.
As a caveat, some of my choices are women who may not seem all that revolutionary, but considering their time or culture, definitely belong on the list.
A Prayer for the Earth by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso—Based on an ancient folktale about how Naamah, Noah’s wife, collected two of every kind of seed before the flood.
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman—Grace tries out for the role of Peter Pan, despite discouragement from classmates because she is a girl and because she is black.
Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman—A prayer for an unborn girl that she be wise, strong and independent.
I Look Like a Girl by Sheila Hamanaka—A girl’s vivid imagination shows all the possible things she could be.
Louanne Pig in Making the Team by Nancy Carlson—Louanne tries out for football while her friend Archie tries out for cheerleading.
Minou by Mindy Bingham—When her owner dies, Minou the cat must learn to make her own way in the world.
The Adventures of Isabel by Ogden Nash—Isabel is beset by many dangers, but remains calm and in control.
The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by Du Bose Heyward—The mother of 21 children decides she is going to apply for the job of the Easter Bunny.
Tough Chicks by Cece Ming--Three baby chicks would rather play in the mud, fix the tractor, and swing from the bull's tail. When the tractor's brakes fail, it's up to the chicks to stop it and save the barnyard. *new 4/20/11
Children’s Fantasy
A Weave of Words by Robert San Souci—A weaver refuses to marry a prince unless he learns to read and weave as good as herself. In return, he teaches her to hunt and fight.
Clever Gretchen and Other Forgotten Folktales by Alison Laurie—Rare and often neglected folktales featuring resourceful girls.
Dove Isabeau by Jane Yolen—A new stepmother turns Isabeau into a dragon, and when a prince saves her, she must in turn save him.
Happily Ever After by Anna Quindlen—A tomboy makes a wish and is transported back in time to become a princess, only to find it’s really rather boring, and so she decides to shake things up.
Rimonah of the Flashing Sword by Eric A. Kimmel—Retelling of Snow White set in North Africa.
Swamp Angel by Anne Isaacs—Tall tale about a giant woman who wrestles an enormous bear making trouble in the area.
The Four Gallant Sisters by Eric A. Kimmel—A folktale of four sisters who disguise themselves as men to learn trades, and later enter the service of a king.
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch—When a dragon smashes the castle and steals her fiancé, the princess sets off to rescue him wearing the only thing the dragon didn’t burn.
The Rumpelstiltskin Problem by Vivian Vande VeldeVelde retells the fairy tale in six different versions.
The Serpent Slayer and Other Stories by Trina Schart Hyman—More folktales featuring women.
The Well of the Wind by Alan Lerner—When an adopted sister and brother are left orphaned, they find a witch has it in for them and search for their true parents.
Children’s Historical
African Princess By Joyce Hansen—Biographies of several African princesses.
Alice Ramsey’s Grand Adventure by Don Brown—The story of the first woman to drive across America.
Beautiful Warrior by Emily Arnold McCully—A nun in ancient China studies kung fu.
Clipper Ship by Thomas P. Lewis—The captain’s wife on a voyage around South America must take over when he falls ill.
Frida Maria by Deborah Nourse Lattimore—A young Hispanic girl in the New Mexico territory wants to ride horses and do as she pleases, while her mother just wants her to behave like a proper young lady.
I Could do That by Linda Arms White—Biography of Esther Morris, who was influential in getting the vote for women in Wyoming, and was the first female judge in the U.S.
I Have Heard of a Land by Joyce Carol Thomas—The story of a pioneer black woman’s migration to Oklahoma.
Kate Shelley and the Midnight Express by Margaret K. Wetterer—When a storm knocks out the railroad bridge just before the midnight train is due; Kate must warn the station and stop the train.
Madaket Millie by Frances Ward Weller—A woman becomes an honorary Coast Guard member for her work in saving ships.
Marguerite Makes a Book by Bruce Robertson—The daughter of a medieval bookmaker takes over as her father grows older.
Mary Cassatt by Robyn Montana Turner—A biography of the Impressionist artist.
Mary Patten’s Voyage by Richard Berleth—A young pregnant captain’s wife must take over when he falls ill with tuberculosis while going from New York to California.
Mermaid Queen by Shana Corey--Fictionalized biography of Annette Kellerman, who invented water ballet and the modern swimsuit, while arguing for athletics for women and dress reform.
Molly Bannaky by Alice Mcgill--Fictionalized biography of the grandmother of astronomer Benjamin Banneker.  Molly was an Irish indentured servant in America, who after securing her freedom was one of the first single women to own land, and then married a freed slave, at a time when doing so could mean slavery for herself as well. **new 2/13/2011
Ronia, The Robber’s Daughter by Astrid Lindgren—The daughter of a robber chieftain causes trouble when she befriends the son of the rival robber band.
Sense Pass King by Katrin Tchana—A folk tale from Cameroon, about a girl who continually outsmarts the king and helps her people improve their lives.
Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by Deborah Hopkinson—A young woman weaves a quilt which will help guide runaway slaves north to freedom.
Sybil Ludington’s Midnight Ride by Marsha Amstel—A young woman during the Revolutionary War helps warn the militia of the attacking British.
Tea with Milk by Allen Say—A Japanese-American family moves back to Japan and the daughter struggles to fit in.
The Emperor and the Kite by Jane Yolen—The youngest and smallest daughter of the emperor must find a way to free him when he is imprisoned by usurpers to the throne.
The Little Ships by Louise Borden—A young girl and her father help with the Dunkirk evacuation during World War II.
The Magic Weaver of Rugs by Jerrie Oughton—Two Navajo women learn from Spider Woman how to help their people.
The Secret Soldier by Ann McGovern—The fictionalized account of Deborah Sampson, who disguised herself as a man to fight in the Revolutionary War.
The Value of Adventure: The Story of Sacagawea by Ann Donegan Johnson—Fictionalized biography of the Native American translator/explorer.
The Value of Fairness: the Story of Nellie Bly by Ann Donegan Johnson—Fictionalized biography of the investigative reporter in the early 1900s.
The Value of Helping: The Story of Harriet Tubman by Ann Donegan Johnson—Fictionalized biography of the ex-slave who helped other slaves escape to freedom.
The Value of Learning: The Story of Marie Curie by Ann Donegan Johnson—Fictionalized biography of the first woman physicist to win the Nobel prize.
Young Adult Fantasy
A College of Magics series by Caroline StevermerA young woman sent to a women’s college for magic learns she is the heir to a magical throne.
A Hidden Magic by Vivian Vande Velde—When a dashing prince arrives in a very poor kingdom and ends up enchanted, the princess of the kingdom searches for a cure with an unconventional sorcerer.
Beauty Sleep by Cameron Dokey—Retelling of Sleeping Beauty; after a princess turns 16, chaos ensues in her kingdom as prophesied, so she runs away hoping that will save her kingdom. She finds herself in an enchanted forest where time moves very different from the outside world.
Before Midnight by Cameron Dokey—Retelling of Cinderella, after his wife dies, Cendrillion’s father refuses to see his daughter again, and she is raised by the cook until her father remarries and sends his new wife home.
Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale—Retelling of Rapunzel. A princess and her maid are locked in a tower over the princess’ refusal to marry. It is her maid who must keep them alive and come up with an escape plan.
Books of Bayern series by Shannon Hale—Retelling of the Goose Girl fairy tale, along with its sequel. A princess on her way to be wed is supplanted by her scheming maid who masquerades as the princess in her place, while the true princess tends the king’s geese and learns she has the power of wind. The sequel deals a girl who befriended the princess, who learns she also has a power, this time over fire.
Chalice by Robin McKinley—A young woman who serves as a Chalice, the living embodiment of mediation and harmony, must find a way to save her country when the balance is disrupted.
Chanters of Tremaris trilogy by Kate Constable—In a world where magic comes through song, Calwyn and her friends fight a sorcerer who seeks to control all forms of enchantment.
Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis—Two brothers and two sisters are transported to a magical kingdom via an enchanted wardrobe.
Crown Duel/Court Duel by Sherwood Smith—A poor countess fights against a tyrant king, both on the battlefield, and in court.
Deerskin by Robin McKinley—Retelling of the fairy tale Donkeyskin, in which a father pursues his young daughter and she hides under the disguise of an enchanted animal skin. Excellent novel but does deal with themes such as incest and rape, although not at all graphic, but is probably more suitable for mature teenagers.
Dragon’s Bait by Vivian Vande Velde—A girl is accused of witchcraft and is tied to a stake to be eaten by the local dragon, only to find he isn’t what he seems.
Dragon Adventures series by Jessica Day George—A poor seamstress finds out dragons are real, saves her kingdom and falls in love with a prince.
Dusssie by Nancy Springer—On her 13th birthday, Dussie finds out she is part Gorgon, and has grown snakes where her hair used to be.
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine—Retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale, a girl is given the “gift” of absolute obedience and must do whatever she is told. Despite this, she is able to retain her independence.
Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge--A young girl runs away from home with her pet goose and gets involved in political intrigue in a city filled with hundreds of gods and guilds supporting numerous contenders for the empty throne.
Golden by Cameron Dokey—Retelling of Rapunzel. Taken in by the sorceress Melisande after her mother can’t bear her appearance, Rapunzel is trained as Melisande’s heir until tragedy in the land strikes; and she finds out Melisande has a daughter trapped in a tower, and only Rapunzel can free her.
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling—Harry Potter and his friends study to become wizards/witches at Hogwarts.
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones—When a timid young woman is turned into an old woman by a witch, she finally finds the courage to speak her mind.
Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix—Another Cinderella story, this deals with Cinderella after she moves to the castle and gets to know Prince Charming better, and finds she may have been too hasty in her choice of a fiancé.
Magic Can Be Murder by Vivian Vande Velde—Nola and her mother are witches, going from town to town doing odd jobs. Nola casts a spell one day and witnesses a murder, only she becomes the suspect.
Plain Kate by Erin Bow--Woodcarver Kate gives up her shadow in exchange for safe passage out of town when people suspect she's a witch. But when she discovers what her shadow will be used for, she must find a way to get it back.
Rampant by Diana Peterfreund--Thought to be extinct for 150 years, unicorns (poisonous, meat-eating and aggressive) start appearing again. Astrid comes from a maternal line of unicorn slayers, and she is sent to the newly reopened warrior cloister in Rome to train. *new 4/20/11
Rapunzel’s Revenge/Calamity Jack by Shannon & Dean Hale—Graphic novel of Rapunzel, re-imagined as a cowgirl who’s out to bring to justice to the woman who imprisoned her for years.
Seer and the Sword by Victoria Hanley—The princess of a small kingdom becomes a seer and saves the life of a captive prince. When her kingdom is in danger, the two must flee and try to convince the high king of the land to keep peace.
Sorcery and Cecilia/The Grand Tour/The Mislaid Magician by Patricia Wrede & Caroline Stevermer—Two cousins in Regency England encounter magic and wizards.
Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley—Retelling of Sleeping Beauty, the heroine grows up in happy innocence of her true birth and has the ability to talk to animals. On her 21st birthday when the curse begins to take effect, she tries to save the village and her country.
Sunlight and Shadow by Cameron Dokey—A retelling of the Magic Flute opera, the daughter of the Queen of the Night is kidnapped by the Lord of the Day.
The Abhorsen Trilogy (Sabriel/Lirael/Abhorsen) by Garth Nix—A tale about two female necromancers known as Abhorsens, who lay to rest the undead raised by an evil sorcerer.
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede—A princess, a king, a witch and the “king” of the dragons fight against evil wizards.
The Hero and the Crown/The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley—A young girl realizes her birthright as the heir to her kingdom and discovers she is the only one able to wield an enchanted sword and free her people. The sequel deals with a similar theme; only a woman can wield the sword and help her people.
The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle—In order to save her sister, Kate agrees to become the wife of the goblin king in 1800s England. (There are two more books in the series, the second book is about Kate’s sister, and the third book about Kate’s son. The second is decent, but the third lacks the strong female characters of the first two books and features two women who are merely pawns used by the goblin king and elf king.)
The Lioness and Her Knight by Gerald Morris—An Arthurian tale, the Lady Luneta goes to visit her mother’s friend and winds up in adventures with an impetuous knight and a fool who was once a knight. Should be read after Savage Damsel and the Dwarf (see below).
The Princess, the Crone and the Dung-Cart Knight by Gerald Morris—An Arthurian tale about an orphan searching for revenge after the death of her mother, who meets up with Sir Lancelot and Sir Gawain.
The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf by Gerald Morris—A noble lady requests help from King Arthur to free her kingdom from a knight besieging them, and granted a rather dubious protector in the shape of Sir Gareth, the not-so-bright.
The Shamer Chronicles by Lene Kaaberbol—To look into the eyes of a Shamer is to recall every past sin and misdeed; Mena and her mother are Shamers and are called in to verify guilt or innocence when a crime has been committed.
The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine—Two very different sisters find their characters tested, the braver and more active one succumbs to a wasting illness and the more timid one must leave home to find a cure for her.
Young Wizards series by Diane Duane—A teenage girl begins to learn magic, forms a partnership with another fledging wizard and deals with her younger sister also learning magic.
Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu—After her friend is bitten by a snake while helping Zahrah explore her new powers of flight, Zahrah must find a cure for him on a dangerous journey.
Young Adult
An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott—A poor girl stays with a wealthy family off and on through the years and helps them discover happiness and inner resources when their fortunes fail.
Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery—An orphaned young girl with a vivid imagination is adopted by a brother and sister and gets into all sorts of scrapes.
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson—Two misfit children befriend each other and imagine a magical kingdom in the woods.
Eight Cousins/Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott—One girl’s upbringing among her seven male cousins, loads of aunts and an uncle. The sequel deals with the children grown up.
Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan—A 13 year old Indian girl is married and promptly widowed. Her in-laws abandon her to her fate in the city of widows.
Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson—An unhappy girl watches her twin win everyone’s affectations and attention, and finally discovers her own happiness and worth.
Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder—The experiences of a young woman on the western frontier.
Little Women/Jo’s Boys/Little Men by Louisa May Alcott—Adventures of the March sisters and their children.
Pat of Silver Bush/Mistress Pat by L.M. Montgomery—An imaginative young girl’s devotion to her family and house causes her to reject any suitors.
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin—Rebecca, a carefree young girl, goes to live with her staid and proper relatives.
The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis—A young girl living in Afghanistan under the Taliban disguises herself as a boy to earn money for her family.
The Ghost of Grania O’Malley by Michael Morpurgo—A young girl with Cerebral Palsy encounters the ghost of Grania O’Malley, pirate queen, who helps her fight the intended commercial development of her small island.
The Lamplighter by Maria Cummins—An angry and embittered orphan is taken in by a bachelor, who shows her kindness and love. She is also befriended by a blind woman who takes her in when her adopted father dies, and a poor widow and her son.
There’s a Girl in My Hammerlock by Jerry Spinelli—A teenager becomes the first female on her school’s wrestling team.
Tillerman cycle by Cynthia Voigt—After being abandoned by their mother, four children try to stay together and find a home.
Young Adult Historical
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith—A young girl grows up amid poverty in turn of the century Brooklyn.
Anna of Byzantium by Tracy Barrett—Fictionalized autobiography of the heir to the Byzantine empire, who wrote the Alexiad, the definitive account of life in Byzantium, and who was accused of trying to poison the brother who supplanted her.
At the Sign of the Star by Katherine Sturtevant—A young girl in 17th century England is the heir to her father’s bookselling business, until her father remarries.
Cat Royal Adventures by Julia Golding--An orphan brought up in the Theater Royal in Georgian London, the series follows Cat's adventures with street gangs, nobility, and theater life, usually in the company of her best friend, violinist prodigy and slave, Pedro.
Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman—An impoverished noble family tries to force an independent young girl into marriage with a much older man.
Daughter of Venice by Donna Jo Napoli—In 1590s Venice, a young girl breaks tradition to become a scholar and choose her own future.
Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson—A teenager must try to survive in the outbreak of malaria which killed 1/3 of all of Philadelphia, including her guardian.
Girl in a Cage by Jane Yolen—Marjorie Bruce, daughter and heir of Robert the Bruce king of Scotland, is imprisoned and confined to an outdoor cage by the king of England.
I Have Lived a Thousand Years/My Bridges of Hope by Livia Bitton-Jackson—The experiences of a young girl in the concentration camps of World War II and adjusting to life afterwards.
Island of the Blue Dolphins/Zia by Scott O’Dell—Two children are left behind when their tribe leaves their island and must find a way to survive. The sequel deals with the girl’s experience on the mainland after she is “rescued.”
Jahanara Princess of Princesses by Kathryn Lasky—Fictionalized autobiography of a princess in 17th century India.
Kingdom series (Jackaroo/On Fortune’s Wheel/The Wings of the Falcon/Elske) by Cynthia Voigt—The series deals with teenagers in a succession of adventures in a medieval kingdom, each heroine is the granddaughter of the girl from the previous book.
Lady of Ch’iao Kuo by Laurence Yep—Fictionalized autobiography of a young princess who saved her people against an invading group in 6th century China.
Mare's War by Tanita S. Davis--Driving cross country, two sisters hear the story of their grandmother's experience as an African American in the WAC during WWII.
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry—The Danish operation to save the Jews in their country during World War II, as seen through the eyes of a young girl.
Nzingha Warrior Queen of Matamba by Patricia McKissack—Fictionalized autobiography of a princess who fought against the Portuguese and their attempts to sell her people into slavery.
Our Only May Amelia by Jennifer L Holm—May is the only girl in a family with seven boys, and the first girl born in her rural town in 1800s Washington.
Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope—Retelling of the Tam Lin ballad (in which a girl must save the boy she loves from the fairies by holding him and not letting go as he is changed into terrible creatures), set in Elizabethan England.
Pirates! By Ceclia Rees—When her father dies, Nancy discovers she is to be forced into an arranged marriage, so she flees with Minerva, a slave; and they embark on a life as pirates.
Radical Red by James Duffy—A girl and her mother join Susan B Anthony and the suffrage movement.
Rowan Hood by Nancy Springer—When her mother is killed, Rosemary must set off to fight her famous father, Robin Hood.
Sarah Bishop by Scott O’Dell—After her family is scattered by the British during the Revolutionary War, Sarah must fend for herself in the wilderness.
Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlin—Life for a mail order New England bride and her new family in the Kansas frontier.
Second Daughter by Mildred Pitts Walter--Fictionalized account of Elizabeth Freeman, a slave who successfully sued for her freedom after the Revolutionary War, a case which helped end slavery in Massachusetts. *new 4/20/11
Seven Daughters and Seven Sons by Barbara Cohen—Based on an Iraqi folktale, one of the seven daughters of a businessman convinces her father to let her dress as a man and learn his business, along the way she meets and falls in love with a prince, but cannot reveal her true identity.
Sing Down the Moon by Scott O’Dell—Two Navajo girls are kidnapped by Spanish slave traders. They attempt to escape and find their homes again.
Sondok by Sheri Holman—Fictionalized autobiography of the girl who became the first queen of Korea.
The Edge on the Sword/Far Traveler by Rebecca Tingle—Fictionalized account of Aethelflaed, a woman who led her people against the Viking invasions of England in 800 AD. The second novel deals with her daughter Aelfwynn.
The Endless Steppe by Esther Hautzig—A Jewish family is condemned to the Siberian steppe in World War II.
The Legend of Lady Ilena/Lady Ilena: Way of the Warrior by Patricia Malone—In 500 AD England, a newly orphaned girl must find out her true heritage.
The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman—Set in medieval England, an orphan is taken in by a midwife and given a name and a job.
The Minstrel’s Tale by Berit Haahr—A noblewoman disguises herself as a boy to study as a minstrel in the King’s academy.
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi—While crossing from England to America, a mutiny occurs and Charlotte must chose between the crew and the captain.
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare—A spirited young girl from Barbados is accused of witchcraft after moving to New England.
War Comes to Willy Freeman by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier—During the Revolutionary War, a young woman sees her father killed and mother imprisoned and must make her way up north to avoid being put into slavery.
Adult Fiction
A Room with a View by E.M. Forster—A young woman and her aunt on vacation in Italy meet a passionate young man, but the young woman is engaged to someone else.
Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte—Life for an impoverished young woman working as a governess for two families in Victorian England.
Belinda by Maria Edgeworth—A young girl comes out into Regency society and meets an odd assortment of characters and would-be suitors.
Bleak House by Charles Dickens—Three orphans move in with their guardian and deal with never-ending inheritance lawsuits, love and the like.
Cecilia by Frances Burney—An heiress’ uncle writes a condition in his will that in order for his niece to inherit, she has to find a man willing to take her last name.
Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn—A family secretly battles oppression when their island begins outlawing certain letters of the alphabet.
Emma by Jane Austen—A rich young woman likes to play matchmaker, often with disastrous results.
Evelina by Frances Burney—A naïve and innocent young country girl comes to London for her coming out and is beset by unscrupulous characters.
Howards End by E.M. Forster—Two independent and free-thinking women get mixed up with a stuffy self-conscious family when the older sister marries into the other family.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte—An orphaned young woman becomes the governess at a lonely manor, with an abrupt and mysterious owner.
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen--a poor young girl goes to live with her wealthy and snobbish relatives. I realize this is probably the most controversial choice on my list so to defend Fanny, I'll start by pointing out that she is at the mercy of her neglectful and insulting relatives and can't retaliate, talk back or otherwise stand up for herself--if she were to offend them, she gets sent home and her family of 10 (on a very meager income with an alcoholic and mostly unemployed father) suffers for it. Additionally, she's spent 8 of her formative years in a house where she's ignored, berated, or made to feel guilty for the room and board she's being provided--despite earning her keep by doing any errand or work the family asks of her. The only mark of kindness if from her cousin Edmund, who's usually away at school. It's only natural she'd turn out quiet and timid. And yet, despite that timidity, Fanny has an infallible moral compass and won't let anyone pressure her from doing what she thinks is wrong (remarkable for an adult, even more remarkable for an 18 year old who might otherwise be glad to do anything her peers say to get the positive feedback she's so sadly lacking), she's unerring in her judge of other people's characters, knows her own worth and won't throw herself away on a marriage to a man she doesn't love or trust.
Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe—The adventures of a maid/prostitute/thief/much-married woman.
Norton Anthology of Literature by Women by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar—Excerpts from books by women authors.
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell—A woman moves from the rural South of England to the industrial North, and encounters a mill owner, and then follows a series of misunderstandings and hasty impressions between them.
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen—An imaginative young woman believes her host to be a murderer and falls in love with his son.
Persuasion by Jane Austen—Forced to give up her fiancé by her class-conscious family, a woman meets him again seven years later.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen—The Bennet family with five daughters experience love and trials.
Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell—A young woman in Victorian England has a child out of wedlock and pays for her mistakes.
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen—The romantic adventures of two sisters, both with very different temperaments.
Shirley by Charlotte Bronte—Two very different heroines befriend each other in Regency England. One is a shy young woman with no fortune, looked after by a strict and oppressive uncle, the other is a confident and independent young woman who inherits an estate.
Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte—After an unwise marriage, a woman flees her alcoholic and cheating husband in Victorian England.
The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery—Upon hearing she has only a year to live, a sheltered and timid woman finally decides to live as she chooses for her remaining time.
The Bondwoman’s Narrative by Hannah Crafts—A recent discovery unearthed a manuscript which turned out to be the first novel written in America by a black woman. The novel tells the story of a slave and her half-black mistress who flee north.
The Bone People by Keri Hulme—A reclusive Maori woman befriends a lonely and abused boy and his father.
The Inn at Lake Devine by Elinor Lipman—A young Jewish woman finds herself drawn to an inn which doesn’t allow Jewish guests during the 1950s.
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith—A woman starts the first detective agency in Botswana, the series follows her adventures.
Their Eyes were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston—The experiences of a black woman in 1930s Florida, who goes from being a sharecropper’s wife, to prosperity as the wife of the town mayor, and defies convention as a widow to leave town with a younger man.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee—The experiences of life in 1930s Mississippi, as seen through the eyes of a young girl.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe—The effects of slavery on several families, each fighting slavery in their own way.
Villette by Charlotte Bronte—A young woman moves to Belgium and takes a role as a schoolteacher, and begins seeing ghosts in the school.
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy—The story of a Russian family during Napoleon’s invasion, especially the son who goes to war and his free-spirited and innocent younger sister (don’t read the epilogue though; Tolstoy manages to completely negate Natasha’s whole character by the way her story ends).
Wieland by Charles Brockden Brown—Mysteries, sleep-walking, spontaneous human combustion and murder are the themes of one of the first American novels.
Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell—After her father remarries; a young woman is saddled with a silly stepmother and less-than-truthful stepsister who threaten to ruin her prospects with the man she loves.
Work by Louisa May Alcott—A woman without family or friends tries to make her living in various professions in Civil War New England.
Adult Fantasy
A Fine and Private Place by Peter Beagle—Two ghosts meet and fall in love, a recluse who lives in the cemetery and can see the ghosts also finds love.
Allison Hewitt is Trapped by Madeleine Roux--Post-apocalyptic novel of zombies over-running the world.  The main character has hacked into the military's internet system and blogs about her experiences. (the violence for the most part is never overly graphic despite the subject matter, however, the is quite a steady stream of language) **new 2/14/2011
Alpha & Omega series by Patricia Briggs—spin off of the Mercy Thompson series mentioned below. A female werewolf tries to overcome the abuse from her previous clan and find happiness with her new mate.
Chronicles of Elantra by Michelle Sagara—A young woman with strange markings on her body works in law enforcement and battles evil.
Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly—The witch and lord of a rural outpost are recruited to fight a dragon and evil sorceress.
Elemental Masters series (The Serpent’s Shadow, The Gates of Sleep, The Fire Rose, Phoenix and Ashes, The Wizard of London) by Mercedes Lackey—Retelling of various fairy tales set between 1890s and World War I. The Fire Rose is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in 1900s San Francisco (the rest are set in England). An impoverished woman accepts a job reading books for a reclusive alchemist. The Serpent’s Shadow retells Snow White, the daughter of an Indian woman and British man flees an unknown danger in India and moves to England, where she begins practicing medicine. The Gates of Sleep retells Sleeping Beauty, in which a young woman is taken to be raised by artist friends of her parents after a curse is set on her after her birth. Upon her parents’ deaths, she is torn from her home to live with a cold and harsh aunt. Phoenix and Ashes is a retelling of Cinderella, set during World War I. When Eleanor’s father goes off to war, her stepmother performs a spell which binds Eleanor so she can never leave the house and makes people forget about her. The Wizard of London is a retelling of The Snow Queen in which two girls are at a school for magic, where an attempt is made on their lives.
Emergence by David Palmer—An 11 year old survives nuclear warfare and searches for other survivors.
Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett—The seventh child of a seventh child tries to become the first female wizard.
Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King—Four old women in a modern-day mental hospital turn out to be the original humans in American Indian myth and their escapes from the mental hospital always coincide with disaster and chaos.
Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs—A shape-shifting mechanic deals with werewolves, vampires and witches in modern-day Washington.
Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett—Part of the Discworld series (which can stand alone as independent novels), a girl grows weary of life on the farm, disguises herself as a man to join the military, and finds soldiers are not always what they seem.
Pern series by Anne McCaffery—Settlers move to a new planet and discover it is beset by organisms which fall from the sky and destroy anything they fall upon; they find they can fight it by using dragons and their riders to burn it before it falls to the ground. The series has over 20 books, and feature many different main characters, but a number of strong female characters.
Raven’s Shadow/Raven’s Strike by Patricia Briggs—A gypsy mage and ex-soldier marry to protect each other. They find people in the town don’t like the presence of a mage in their midst.
Sevenwaters series by Juliet Marillier—Retelling of the Seven Swans fairy tale (seven brothers are turned into swans and their sister must sew shirts for them, not speaking until the shirts are finished), set around 600 AD Ireland. The sequels follow the daughter and nieces of the woman from the first novel.
Sianim duology (When Demons Walk/Steal the Dragon) by Patricia Briggs—A thief is recruited by a lord to find a demon; and a former slave turns spy to help facilitate peace.
Tam Lin by Pamela Dean—Retelling of Tam Lin, this time set on a 1970s Minnesota college campus among English Literature majors.
The Black Swan by Mercedes Lackey—Retelling of the Swan Princess (an evil enchanter turns a princess into a swan during the day), told from the point of view of the enchanter’s daughter, who disagrees with what her father has done.
The Hob’s Bargain by Patricia Briggs—To protect her home from invading evil forces, a woman must make a bargain with a hob, a mischievous mythical creature.
The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle—A unicorn sets out to find if she is truly the last of her kind.
Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde—A mix of fantasy and mystery, Thursday is a detective in an alternate 1980s, where dodos and mastodons have been cloned, time travel is possible, and where it is possible to go actually travel inside books.
Adult Historical
A Name of Her Own by Jane Kirkpatrick—Fictionalized account of Marie Dorian, a Native American woman who made an 11 month trek with a fur-trading party to Oregon while pregnant and caring for two toddlers.
Copper Crown by Lane von Herzen—Two girls try to stay friends after racism and lynchings threaten to tear them apart.
Davita’s Harp by Chaim Potok—A young girl turns to the Orthodox Judaism that her family abandoned after her father is killed, and struggles to succeed at an Orthodox school despite much inherent sexism.
Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier—After her mother’s death, a young woman moves in with her aunt and uncle, only to discover her uncle is a thief and she is in great danger.
Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan—The lives of four women in WWII China and the lives of their daughters in America.
Kinship and Courage series by Jane Kirkpatrick—After the men on a wagon train die from disease or accident, the 11 remaining women and children face the decision of turning back or continuing on to California.
Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley—A single woman who looks after her brother decides she needs a vacation and buys a traveling book wagon to do it.
Ride the River by Louis L’Amour—One of the Sackett novels, Echo Sackett is a courageous and savvy mountain girl who makes a long trip to collect her inheritance, and must protect it from those trying to get the better of her.
The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan—When her mother develops Alzheimer’s, her daughter finds the story of her mother’s life in China as the child of a rural bonesetter/healer.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak—Death narrates the story of a young Jewish girl taken in by a German family during WWII.
The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan—A mother and daughter don’t get along until the daughter hears of her mother’s life in China and her marriage to an abusive man and comes to understand her.
These is My Words/Sarah’s Quilt/The Star Garden by Nancy Turner—Life for a young woman in the Arizona/New Mexico territories.
Two Old Women by Velma Wallis—Two Inuit woman are abandoned by their tribe when they grow too old to contribute, and must find a way to survive alone.
A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen—A sheltered and naïve woman is taken to task by her morally uptight husband for signing notes without his consent but in his name (as she needed money to save his life); causing her to examine her life and marriage.
Antigone by Sophocles—A princess defies the order of the new king to leave her brother’s body unburied.
Cymbeline by Shakespeare—Abandoned by her new husband when he believes she has cheated on him, a woman disguises herself as a man and goes out to find him.
Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare—Battles of wits fly between Beatrice and Benedick, as the half-brother of the prince tries to foul up a wedding between Beatrice’s cousin and Benedick’s friend.
Trifles by Susan Glaspell–A woman kills her husband, and while the sheriff and his men investigate, it is their wives who discover what her motives were.
Trojan Women by Euripides—The aftermath of the Trojan War as the female survivors are sold into slavery and must leave their homes.
Twelfth Night by Shakespeare—Twins survive a shipwreck, but are separated from each other and each believes the other is dead. The female twin disguises herself as a man to enter into the service of the Duke of the island.
Wit by Margaret Edson—The professor of John Donne poetry examines her life after getting ovarian cancer.
Anne Bradstreet—The first female poet in America, she dealt with women’s themes and the subject of how her writing would be considered “unfeminine.”
Carol Lynn Pearson—Mormon feminist who’s poems and plays deal largely with the role of women in the church, as well as the divine.
Christine de Pizan—The first woman to make her living as an author in Europe, she often wrote about women and refuted men’s dismissal of women as inferior and immoral beings.
Emily Dickinson—A pioneer in form and style, Dickinson dealt largely with society’s perceptions and expectations for proper behavior in women.
The Penguin Book of Women Poets by Carol Cosman—Great collection of poems by various women poets.
Adult Biography
Abigail Adams by Phyllis Lee Levin—Biography of the second First Lady.
American Goddess at the Rape of Nanking by Hua-Ling Hu—The biography of a schoolteacher in Nanking during World War II, who helped establish a Red Cross safe zone when the Japanese invaded the city and tried to care for and protect the 100,000 people within the safe zone borders.
Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody—Life for a young black woman in Mississippi and her involvement in the Civil Rights movement.
Do They Hear You When You Cry by Fauziya Kassindja—A woman flees FGM and forced marriage to seek political asylum in the US, only to be imprisoned for 18 months. Her case was the first time a woman was granted political asylum for FGM.
Dreams of the Heart by Violeta Barrios de Chamorro—Autobiography of the first female president of a Central/South American country (Nicaragua), who helped bring peace and stability back to a country torn apart by decades of civil war.
Grimke Sisters from South Carolina by Gerda Lerner—Biography of two abolitionist and suffragist sisters, the first women to speak before a legislative body in the U.S.
Hypatia’s Heritage by Margaret Alic—Biographies of early women scientists.
I, Rigoberta Menchu by Rigoberta Menchu—Life for the native tribes in Guatemala. Menchu won a Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to bring awareness to the rights of natives everywhere.
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs—A woman flees slavery and spends several years in hiding.
Jane Austen a Life by Claire Tomalin—The life of the author.
Jane Austen’s Letters ed by Deidre le Faye—Letters by the author to her family.
Lakota Woman by Mary Crow Dog—Experiences of a young woman who joins the American Indian Movement.
Land of a Thousand Hills by Rosamund Halsey Carr—A woman moves to Rwanda and runs a plantation, and later opens an orphanage at the age of 86 for orphaned survivors of the Rwandan genocide.
Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng—A woman who speaks out against the Cultural Revolution in China is imprisoned for seven years.
Lone Woman by Dorothy Clarke Winston—A biography of Elizabeth Blackwell, first female doctor in the US.
Madame Curie by Eva Curie—Biography of the physicist and first woman to win the Nobel Prize.
Mankiller by Wilma Mankiller—Biography of the first female chief of the Cherokee nation.
Me by Katharine Hepburn—Autobiography of the actress.
My Forbidden Face by Latifa—Life for a teenager under the Taliban.
My Path Leads to Tibet by Sabriye Tenberken—A blind German woman travels alone to Tibet and opens the first school for the blind in the country.
Opposite of Fate by Amy Tan—Autobiography of the writer.
Norton Book of Women’s Lives by Phyllis Rose—Excerpts from biographies or autobiographies of various women.
Slave by Mende Nazer—Autobiography of a girl in Sudan who was kidnapped and sold into slavery.
Space for Women by Pamela Freni—The story of 13 women trained as astronauts at the beginning of the space program.
Susan B Anthony by Alma Lutz—Biography of the abolitionist and suffragist.
The Family Nobody Wanted by Helen Doss—Life for a young couple who adopted 12 bi-racial children in the 1940-1950s.
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom—A devout Christian family takes in Jewish refugees in World War II Denmark.
This Child Will be Great by Ellen Sirleaf Johnson—Autobiography of the first democratically elected female president of an African country (Liberia).
To the Edge of the Sky by Anhua Gao—Life during the Cultural Revolution in China.
Walls: Resisting the Third Reich by Hiltgunt Lassenhaus—The experiences of a woman forced to work as a translator for the Third Reich, while secretly helping those imprisoned by the Nazis.
Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals—The experience of one of the Little Rock Nine who helped to integrate Arkansas schools.
Wild Swans by Jung Chang—Three generations of women in China.
The Woman Behind the New Deal by Kirstin Downey—Biography of Frances Perkins, the first female Cabinet member, and instigator behind such work reforms as Social Security, the 40 hour work week, unemployment benefits, work safety standards, end of child labor, etc.
Adult Nonfiction
Bachelor Girl by Betty Israel—A history of single women and society in the U.S. over the last 100 years.
Cherokee Women by Theda Purdue—How the matrilineal and egalitarian Cherokee society changed after exposure to European society.
Great Books for Girls by Kathleen Odean—The book has extensive lists of books with great female characters, with short synopses of the books. The books are divided into categories by age and subject.
500 Great Books by Women by Erica Bauermeister—A list of great books written by women with short summaries.
Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn—How gender inequality keeps nations in poverty.
Journey to Zion by Carol Cornwall Madsen—Excerpts from journals and memoirs of pioneers on their way to Utah.
Leading Ladies: American Trailblazers by Kay Bailey Hutchison—Biographies of women pioneers and leaders.
Mothers of the Novel by Dale Spender—Looks at 100 of the early English innovators of the novel before 1800.
Nine and Counting by Barbara Boxer—Biographies of the nine women senators serving in 2001 (the highest number of women senators at the time).
Reviving Ophelia by Mary Pipher—Look at the psychology and effects of modern life on adolescent girls. A great companion read is Raising Cain by Dan Kindlon about adolescent boys.
Susan B Anthony Slept Here by Lynn Sherr—A guidebook to landmarks and historical sites dealing with women’s history in the U.S.
The Stronger Women Get, the More Men Love Football by Mariah Burton Nelson—Terrible title, but great book about gender and sports.
The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf—A look at how the media shapes the perception of beauty and the effects on women.
The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker—How to protect yourself and trusting in your instincts when a situation doesn’t feel right.
The Second Shift by Arlie Russell Hochschild—Women, men and juggling domestic roles when both parents work.
Things Will be Different For My Daughter by Mindy Bingham and Sandy Stryker—A guide to building a girl’s self-esteem and self-reliance through her formative years.
When and Where I Enter by Paula Giddings--The impact of African American women in political and social reform throughout American history.
Women Rulers Throughout the Ages by Guida Jackson—Encyclopedia of women queens, regents, chiefs, prime ministers and presidents throughout history.
Adult Religious
A Single Voice by Kristen M Oaks—Experiences of being single women in the Church.
Daughters of God by M. Russell Ballard—Eternal role and worth of women.
Daughters of God: Scriptural Portraits by S. Michael Wilcox—Selected portraits of women in the scriptures.
Faith, Hope and Charity by Janet Peterson & LaRune Gaunt—Biographies of the General Relief Society presidents.
Mormon Enigma by Linda King Newell—The life of Emma Hale Smith, first Relief Society president and wife of the prophet.
Mormon Sisters edited by Claudia L Bushman—Life for early women of the Church.
Sarah the Priestess by Savina Teubal—Looks at the women of Genesis in context with Babylonian culture and tradition.
Sisters at the Well by Jeni Broberg & Richard Holzapfel—The women of the New Testament and Jesus’ interactions with them.
The Sisterhood by Dorothy Allred Solomon—The lives of modern and historical Mormon women.
Women and Authority ed. Maxine Hanks—Essays on Mormon feminism.
Women in Scripture by Carol Myers—Short biographies of all of the women mentioned in the Old and New Testaments.

Anastasia (1997)—Amnesiac Anna meets a con man who thinks she may be the Grand Duchess Anastasia. One of the few films, children’s or otherwise, where the woman rescues herself and her love interest, without that rescue involving sacrificing either her own life or some essential part of herself (her memory, a limb, her voice, etc) . G
Beauty and the Beast (1991)—Bookish Belle offers herself in her father’s place to live in the Beast’s castle. G
Chicken Run (2000)—Ginger leads the other chickens in their attempts to escape the coop before being turned into pot pies. G
Ferngully (1992)—A tree fairy accidentally shrinks a logger to her size and enlists him to help save the forest. G
Flushed Away (2006)—A posh pet rat is flushed down the toilet and tries to navigate the sewers with the help of a scavenger pilot named Rita. PG
Lilo and Stitch (2002)—A young girl in danger of being taken away from her older sister finds an unusual alien. G
Monsters vs Aliens (2009)—After getting hit by a meteorite and growing to a huge size, a woman joins forces with other “monsters” to save Earth from invading aliens. PG
Mulan (1998)—Mulan disguises herself as a man to fight in the army in her father’s place. G
My Neighbor Totoro (1988)—Two young sisters befriend a troll that lives near their new house. G
Quest for Camelot (1998)—A teenage girl wants to be a knight at the Round Table like her father was. G
Spirited Away (2001)—After her parents turn into pigs, a young girl has to find a way to change them back. PG
The Incredibles (2004)—A family with superhero powers has to learn to work together. PG
The Powerpuff Girls: the Movie (2002)—4 kindergartners use their superpowers to save their town from an evil monkey. PG
The Secret of NIMH (1982)—A field mouse must find a way to save her family from the approaching plows. G
Tarzan (1999)—Tarzan meets Jane, who tries to help him save his friends from hunters. G
Treasure Planet (2002)—One of the few Disney movies where one of the parents is gone, but it’s not the mother. A teenage boy goes looking for fabled treasure, accompanied by the tough Capt Amelia. PG
Wall-E (2008)—A robot left to clean up earth meets another robot very set on her mission. G
9 to 5 (1980)—Three women take revenge on their sexist boss. PG
Adam’s Rib (1949)—Wife and husband lawyers take opposite sides of a case when a woman tries to shoot her cheating husband. NR
Bringing Up Baby (1938)—A carefree heiress helps a befuddled anthropologist find his dinosaur bone, while he helps her find her pet leopard. NR
Desk Set (1957)—The research department (compromised of all women) at a firm is in danger of being replaced by computers. NR
His Girl Friday (1940)—An ace reporter thinking of quitting to get married is called in for one last assignment by her boss, who’s also her ex-husband. NR
Pat and Mike (1952)—A gym teacher at a small school decides to turn professional athlete, excels at several sports and deals with a patronizing fiancé and her trainer who falls in love with her. NR
Strictly Ballroom (1992)—A misfit young woman and professional dancer try to introduce new steps to ballroom competition dancing. PG
The Farmer’s Daughter (1947)—When a young woman goes to the capitol to work as a maid, she ends up running for Congress. NR
The Philadelphia Story (1940)—A rich young woman is reunited with her ex-husband on the eve of her marriage to someone else. NR
The Trouble with Angels (1966)—Two high-spirited girls clash with the heading nun at their boarding school. PG
A Walk to Beautiful (2008)—Follows several women at the Fistula Hospital in Ethiopa and their experiences living with their conditions. NR
Blossoms of Fire (2000)—Life on the isthmus of Mexico, which still retains some of its matriarchal Zapotec past. NR
Dare to Dream (2005)—The story of the beginning of the U.S. Women’s National soccer team. NR
Iron Ladies of Liberia (2007)—Shows the first year in office of Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, first female president of Liberia (and any African country), including her many female Cabinet members. NR
Pray the Devil Back to Hell (2009)—The story of the women’s peace movement in Liberia, which helped lead to the end of their civil war, and dictator Charles Taylor being exiled. NR
Zanzibar Soccer Queens (2008)—Determination and struggles of a female Muslim soccer team. NR
Akeelah and the Bee (2006)—A young girl from a poor community in S. Los Angeles has a chance to win the National Spelling Bee. PG
American Violet (2008)--Based on a true story of a woman wrongly indicted for selling drugs; who changed Texas law on informants and ended a racist drug task force. PG-13
Choices of the Heart (2005)—Biography of Margaret Sanger, who fought for women to have access to birth control. NR
Edge of America (2003)—An African-American man coaches the women’s high school basketball team on the Navajo reservation. NR
Homecoming (1996)—Adaptation of the Cynthia Voigt novel previously mentioned. PG
Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958)—A missionary woman must take 100 children over the mountains to safety by herself when the Japanese invade their part of China. NR
Iron Jawed Angels (2004)—Alice Paul and the other suffragists work for the right to vote during World War I. NR
Lakota Woman (1994)—Adaptation of the Mary Crow Dog biography previously mentioned. NR
Places in the Heart (1984)—A widow tries to keep her family and farm together during the Great Depression. PG
Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002)—Three young Aborigine girls who were forcefully taken from their homes to a boarding school run away and try to make their way along the 1200 miles home. PG
Rain Shadow (2007)—The lives of two female veterinarians in a rural Australian community. NR
Real Women Have Curves (2002)—A young Hispanic woman wants to be the first in her family to go to college, but her mother wants her to stay home and work at the family’s sweatshop and get married. PG-13
Salt of the Earth (1954)—When their husbands’ strike at the mines in 1950s New Mexico, the wives of the miners examine their own rights. NR
Shadowlands (1993)—CS Lewis falls in love and marries, only to have his wife develop cancer shortly afterwards. PG
Testament (1983)—Life for a family after a nuclear attack. PG
The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard (2007)—A woman with no political experience becomes the Prime Minister of Great Britain with a largely female Cabinet. NR
The Hiding Place (1975)—Adaptation of the Corrie Ten Boom autobiography previously mentioned. NR
The Journey of Natty Gann (1985)—A teenage girl separated from her father during the Depression sets off to find him. PG
The Joy Luck Club (1993)—Adaptation of the Amy Tan novel previously mentioned. R (some language and brief sex scene)
The Long Walk Home (1990)—During the bus boycotts in 1955 Montgomery, a rich white woman agrees to drive her black housekeeper to and from work. PG
The No 1. Ladies’ Detective Agency (2008)—Adaptation of the Alexander McCall Smith novels previously mentioned. NR
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)—Adaptation of the Harper Lee novel previously mentioned. NR
Whale Rider (2002)—A young girl tries to show her grandfather her own worth when he is looking for the next tribal chief to succeed him. PG-13
Wit (2001)—Adaptation of the Margaret Edson play previously mentioned. PG-13
Fantasy/Science Fiction/Action
A Knight’s Tale (2001)—When a squire disguises himself as a knight to fight in the tournaments, he is helped by two other squires, a female blacksmith and noblewoman. PG-13
Chronicles of Narnia (2005 and continuing)—Adaptations of the C.S. Lewis books previously mentioned. PG
Dragonslayer (1981)—A sorcerer’s apprentice and young woman try to save the kingdom from a dragon. PG
Elektra (2005)—An assassin sent to kill a young girl ends up protecting her and her father against evil forces. PG-13
Harry Potter series (2001 and continuing)—Adaptations of the JK Rowling novels previously mentioned. PG and PG-13
Labyrinth (1986)—A young girl must free her brother from the goblin city. PG
Lord of the Rings (2001, 2002, 2003)—A ring must be destroyed to keep Middle Earth from being enslaved. Although there are few women in the film, the few that are there, are strong and independent characters. PG-13
Willow (1988)—An evil sorceress tries to kill the baby foretold to destroy her. The child is protected by the sorceress’ daughter, a mercenary and a would-be sorcerer. PG
X-men series (2000, 2003, 2006)—Mutants with extraordinary powers fight evil and safe the world. PG-13
Chak de! India (2007)—The Indian women’s field hockey team has their first shot at the World Cup. PG
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)—A warrior couple searches for a missing sword, stolen by a young woman. PG-13
Dor (2006)—After her husband accidentally kills a man, a woman’s only hope to save him from execution is getting the widow of the dead man to pardon him. PG
Hula Girls (2006)—When the mine begins to lay off workers, it’s up to the young women of the town to help their families through jobs at the new “Hawaii” Center as hula girls. NR
I Have Found It (2000)—An adaptation of Sense and Sensibility set in India (make sure to get the Kino version, as the subtitles in the Aingharan version are impossible to read). NR
Monsoon Wedding (2001)—A family in India prepares for an upcoming wedding, while the bride tries to deal with the prospect of her unwanted arranged marriage. R (brief language)
Moolaade (2004)—Young girls flee their FGM and take refuge with a local woman who refused to have her own daughter cut. NR
Mr. and Mrs. Iyer (2002)—During inter-faith riots, a woman from a strict Brahmin family traveling alone impetuously pretends a Muslim man is her husband in order to save his life. PG-13
Mrityudand (1997)--A village is ruled by a corrupt gang. When one woman, new to the village, repeatedly stands up to leader and defends the women of the village, he finally incites the men of village against her, and the other women rise up to protect her. NR *new 4/20/11
Offside (2006)—Several Iranian women disguise themselves as men to get into the World Cup soccer game. PG
Sophie Scholl (2005)—Biography of the last days of a college student who was executed for her involvement in the anti-Nazi group, the White Rose NR
The Circle/Dayereh (2000)—Life for various women under the strict Islamic regime in Iran. PG-13
The Fifth Reaction (2003)--When her father-in-law tries to take her children as tradition dictates, a widow flees with them aided by four of her friends.  NR **new 2/13/2011
Two Women (1999)—When her abusive husband is attacked, a woman turns to an old college friend she hasn’t seen in years for help. NR
Bride and Prejudice (2004)—Adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, set in modern-day India. PG-13
Fiddler on the Roof (1971)—Jewish parents in Tsarist Russia deal with their daughters’ choices in marriage partners. G
Swing Time (1936)—A gambler gets a job as a dancer to earn $30,000 so he can marry his society fiancé, only to fall in love with his dance partner. NR
The Bells of St Mary’s (1945)—A nun and a priest clash over different ideas on running the parish. NR
The King and I (1956)—A schoolteacher arrives in Siam to teach the king’s children. G
The Sound of Music (1965)—A would-be nun becomes governess to the children of a widower. G
Period Pieces
A Room with a View (1985)—Adaptation of the E.M. Forster novel previously mentioned. Not Rated (brief full frontal nudity)
All the Rivers Run (1983)—Upon her immigration to Australia, a young woman becomes part owner of a steamboat. NR
An Ideal Husband (1999)—A woman attempts to blackmail a member of Parliament. PG-13
Anne of Green Gables/Anne of Green Gables the Sequel (1985 & 1987)—Adaptations of the L.M. Montgomery novels previously mentioned. NR
As You Like It (2006)—Banished to the forest by her uncle, a noblewoman dresses as a man to protect herself. PG
Cold Comfort Farm (1995)—A city girl stays with her distant cousins on their farm and tries to rearrange their lives. PG
Cranford/Return to Cranford (2007/2009)—Life in a small English town, populated mostly by single women. NR
Emma (1996)—Adaptation of the Jane Austen novel previously mentioned. PG
Emma Smith: My Story (2008)—Biopic of the first Relief Society president and wife of the prophet. PG
Far From the Madding Crowd (1998)—A free-spirited and independent new heiress is beset by suitors. NR (brief sexual content)
Follow the River (1995)—A pregnant woman is captured by Shawnee Indians, along with her sister and son. She tries to find a way to return the 1000 miles home to her husband. Based on a true story. PG
Howards End (1992)—Adaptation of the E.M. Forster novel previously mentioned. PG
Jane Eyre (1944, 1973 and 1983 versions are the best)—Adaptation of the Charlotte Bronte novel previously mentioned. both NR
John Adams (2008)—Miniseries of the US President and his wife. NR
Little Women (1994)—Adaptation of the Louisa May Alcott novel previously mentioned. PG
Madame Curie (1943)—The story of Marie Curie, first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. NR
Miss Austen Regrets (2008)—Biographical film of Jane Austen towards the end of her life. NR
Much Ado About Nothing (1993)—Adaptation of the Shakespeare play previously mentioned. PG-13
My Brilliant Career (1979)—A young woman dreams of becoming a writer, but must choose between marriage and her dream. G
Nicholas Nickleby (1982, 2001, 2002)—A young man and his sister try to support themselves and their mother after their father dies, all while dealing with a devious, cold uncle. First two NR, third is PG.
North and South (2004)—Adaptation of the Elizabeth Gaskell novel previously mentioned. NR
Northanger Abbey (2006)—Adaptation of the Jane Austen novel previously mentioned. NR
Persuasion (1995)–Adaptation of the Jane Austen novel previously mentioned. PG
Pride and Prejudice (1980, 1995 & 2005)—Adaptation of the Jane Austen novel previously mentioned. First two NR, Third is PG
Sense and Sensibility (1995)—Adaptation of the Jane Austen novel previously mentioned. PG
Sister Kenny (1946)—An Australian nurse finds an effective treatment for polio, but doctors refuse to listen. G
Song of Love (1947)—Composer/Pianist Clara Schumann tries to juggle her career, seven children and a manic depressive husband. NR
The African Queen (1951)—A missionary woman and alcoholic captain battle the Germans in World War I Africa. NR
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)—A widowed woman moves into a haunted house and falls in love with the ghost of the former owner. NR
The Lion in Winter (1968)—A typical Christmas for Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II and their children. PG
The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)—A silent film about the trial and execution of Joan of Arc (featuring an absolutely amazing score). NR
Trojan Women (1971)—Adaptation of the Euripides play previously mentioned. PG-13
Twelfth Night (1996)—Adaptation of the Shakespeare play previously mentioned. PG
Walkout (2006)—Based on history, students stage a series of walkouts at inner-city Los Angeles schools in the 1960s, protesting the conditions of their schools and the racism of the district towards Chicano students. Student Paula Crisostomo is one of the ringleaders. PG-13
Wives and Daughters (1999)—Adaptation of the Elizabeth Gaskell novel previously mentioned. PG
Cagney & Lacey (1981)--Two very different female police detectives make their partnership work.
Commander in Chief (2005)—The first year in office for a female President.
Firefly/Serenity (2002 & 2005)—A spaceship crew engages in smuggling and fighting the dictatorial government. NR & PG-13
In Plain Sight (2008)—A U.S. Marshall for the Witness Protection program deals with the stress of her job and her dysfunctional family. M
Judging Amy (1999)—Family court judge Amy moves with her daughter to her mother’s house after divorcing her husband.
Destry Rides Again (1939)—A pacifist is recruited to help clean up a corrupt town and butts heads with the local dance girl. NR
How the West was Won (1962)—The lives of two sisters in their journeys out west, spanning decades of their lives. G
Shenandoah (1965)—A father, his sons and only daughter go out looking for the youngest boy who is captured during the Civil War. NR
Westward the Women (1951)—A wagon train of mail order brides battle the elements as they cross the country. NR