Today, March 8, 2011 is the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. I could easily spend hours listing female authors, friends and family, as well as artists and contributors who shaped the woman I’ve become. But instead, to honour the day, I’d like to highlight some of my favourite female protagonists in novels. Many of these books were also written by women, but I am focusing more on the characters that jump off the page.

Hey World, Here I Am! by Jean LittleKATE BLOOMFIELD from Hey World, Here I Am by Jean Little

Hey World, Here I Am was one of the first books of poetry I remember reading and relating to. The musings on writing, being an artist, friendship, differences, and family all struck me very personally. Kate writes the poems in her personal diary and I love the honesty in her poetry and the truths she ponders.

I still enjoy reading the poems and stories in this short book. In fact, it got me started reading more by Jean Little, a well-known Canadian author who writes for young adults.

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by AviCHARLOTTE DOYLE from The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

If someone had to ask me my favourite book of my childhood, I would probably say, “The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, hands down”. Heck, I even want to name my first-born daughter “Charlotte” because of the strength and integrity of this character.

The adventure begins when she is on a crossing to England and the Captain isn’t quite the gentleman he was portrayed to be and the crew is on the verge of mutiny. Avi paints an incredible adventure and sticks Charlotte in a situation where the outcome will determine the course of her life. I love Charlotte Doyle and when I was growing up I wanted to be her so badly.

Flavia de Luce - The Buckshaw Chronicles by Alan BradleyFLAVIA de LUCE from the Buckshaw Chronicles by Alan Bradley

Alan Bradley’s protagonist, Flavia, in The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag, and the latest, A Red Herring Without Mustard is absolutely charming.

A precocious 10-year-old, Flavia balances her time between the chemistry lab, torturing her older sisters, and solving murders she somehow ends up in the thick of. Her insatiable curiosity is refreshing, relate-able and makes for an enjoyable story. Alan Bradley managed to get the voice of Flavia quite perfectly: you can tell she’s still a child yet has a wisdom beyond her years.

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne CollinsKATNISS EVERDEEN from the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Katniss from The Hunger Games series is not without her faults, but I think that’s what makes her character so real. From the moment we meet Katniss, you know she is like no other girl in District 12; she hunts, she fishes, she disobeys the rules… but all of it is to feed and support her family. Working with her best friend, we learn her values very early on and as the story develops she becomes even stronger in her opinions and views. I think this is an incredible portrait to paint for young girls (unlike the passive “save me” attitude of Bella in Twilight).

My favourite book is probably the first, The Hunger Games, I think that Catching Fire was an incredible strong sequel, and although I have some issues with the final book, Mockingjay, Katniss’ character throughout is resolute.

Confessor by Terry Goodkind (Sword of Truth series)KAHLAN AMNELL from the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind
[pictured: Confessor is the final book in the series]

The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind is a huge series spanning 11 books. The two main characters are Richard and Kahlan and I was just starting book blogging in 2008 when I finished reading the series. Terry Goodkind has a huge cast of characters but the thing that I love about Kahlan and most of Goodkind’s female characters is their strength. (Do you sense a theme here with my blog post?)

Kahlan has the weight of the new world on her shoulders. In the first book she is sent to find Richard’s grandfather, a wizard, to help save the world from Darken Rahl. This is only the cataclyst for an entire war, which Kahlan leads with determination. In her world, she is the last Confessor, who are highly regarded for their powers and abilities. I love that this role is held by a woman, and that even when Kahlan experiences amnesia, she still has the same core values.

More books with strong female protagonists:

What books/female characters would you suggest??