Drawing from a diverse collection of interviews with women and girl activists, Powered by Girl is both a journalistic exploration of how girls have embraced activism and a guide for adults who want to support their organizing. Here we learn about the intergenerational support behind thirteen-year-old Julia Bluhm when she got Seventeen to go Photoshop free; nineteen-year-old Celeste Montaño, who pressed Google to diversify their Doodles; and sixteen-year-old Yas Necati, who campaigns for better sex education. And we learn what experienced adult activists say about how to scaffold girls’ social-change work. Brown argues that adults shouldn’t encourage girls to “lean in.” Rather, girls should be supported in creating their own movements—disrupting the narrative, developing their own ideas—on their own terms.

packaginggirlhoodThe idea of girl power was snapped up by the media, and what it sells is an image of being empowered, argue the authors. Girls are offered two choices by the marketers: they are “either for the boys or one of the boys.” Even rebellion is being packaged, “the resistance, that edginess and irreverence that once gave girls a pathway out of the magic kingdom.” The book is incredibly readable and rises above others in the genre by giving parents concrete tools to help battle stereotypes. Lamb and Brown include lists of books and movies with positive role models and talking points to help your daughter recognize how she is being manipulated. The authors aren’t trying to deny anyone princesses or pink; they just want girls to be knowledgeable enough to choose what will truly interest them.”

Player. Jock. Slacker. Competitor. Superhero. Goofball. Boys are besieged by images in the media that encourage slacking over studying; competition over teamwork; power over empowerment; and being cool over being yourself. From cartoons to video games, boys are bombarded with stereotypes about what it means to be a boy, including messages about violence, risk-taking, and perfecting an image of just not caring. Straight from the mouths of over 600 boys surveyed from across the U.S., the authors offer parents a long, hard look at what boys are watching, reading, hearing, and doing. They give parents advice on how to talk with their sons about these troubling images and provide them with tools to help their sons resist these messages and be their unique selves.

Girlfighting traces the changes in girls’ thoughts, actions and feelings from childhood into young adulthood, providing the developmental understanding and theoretical explanation often lacking in other conversations. Through interviews with over 400 girls of diverse racial, economic, and geographic backgrounds, Brown chronicles the labyrinthine journey girls take from direct and outspoken children who like and trust other girls, to distrusting and competitive young women. She argues that this familiar pathway can and should be interrupted and provides ways to move beyond girlfighting to build girl allies and to support coalitions among girls.

With a psychologist’s sensitivity and an anthropologist’s attention to cultural variations, Lyn Mikel Brown makes provocative observations about individual differences in the girls’ experiences and attitudes, and shows how their voices are shaped and constrained by class: working-class girls are more willing to be openly angry than their middle-class peers, and yet they are also more likely to denigrate themselves and attribute their failures to personal weakness.

A compelling and timely corrective to conventional wisdom, this book attunes our hearing to the true voices of teenage girls: determined, confused, amusing, touching, feisty, and clear.

On the way to womanhood, what does a girl give up? For five years, Lyn Mikel Brown and Carol Gilligan, asking this question, listened to one hundred girls who were negotiating the rough terrain of adolescence. This book invites us to listen, too, and to hear in these girls’ voices what is rarely spoken, often ignored, and generally misunderstood. This groundbreaking work offers major new insights into girls’ development and women’s psychology. But perhaps more importantly, it provides women with the means of meeting girls at the critical crossroads of adolescence, of harkening to the voices of girlhood and sustaining their sell-affirming notes.

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR.