As June is the month of celebrating childhood in many countries around the world, I join the party by sharing with you stories of amazing children and teenagers from books. This post presents a list of children, main characters in fiction and non-fiction books, each one portraying valuable life lessons.

Happy Children’s Day! 🙂

Harriet Cleve Dufresnes

“The Little Friend” by Donna Tartt (fiction)

Harriet, the heroine of the story, is a 12-year old girl from the 1970s who wants to revenge the suspect death of her brother. She is an overly courageous girl, with bold ideas and strong determination to put them into practice. Harriet’s coming-of-age story is a profound and unusual journey seen through the eyes of a curious girl.

Harriet | Illustration by Caitlin Murphy

Theodore Decker

“The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt (fiction)

Being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Theo is caught in a terrorist bombing in an art museum, where he loses his mother. Being 13-year-old at the beginning of the story, Theo grows up in multiple environments, but with his destiny linked to “The Goldfinch” painting. Theo illustrates relevant aspects of our times, such as losing a family member in a terrorist attack and being lured into drugs.

Theo | Image from “The Goldfinch” movie (2019)

Marie-Laure LeBlanc and Werner Pfennig

“All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr (fiction)

Marie-Laure and Werner belong to the opposing fronts of WW2. Marie is a curious and brave French girl who unfortunately became blind at the age of 6. Werner is an orphan German boy passionate about engineering. Their lives change dramatically as the war intensifies: while Marie-Laure moves to another city to take refuge, Werner is accepted to a Nazi military school. They both portray ordinary children in extraordinary circumstances.

Marie-Laure | Illustration by Allison Craig

Jean Louise “Scout” Finch

“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee (fiction)

Scout is a young girl, only 6 years old, living in the fictional town of Maycomb, in the 1930s. As her father, who is a lawyer, defends a black man accused of raping a white woman, Scout and her brother experience first-hand the racist attitude of the community toward black people. Scout is a symbol for children learning about racial injustice in the segregated USA.

Scout | Illustration by Emily Atwood

Catherine Danielle “Kya” Clark

“Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens (fiction)

Kya, also known as “The Marsh Girl”, grows up isolated in a marsh in North Carolina, in the 1950s-1960s. Her life follows an interesting path, as “the Marsh Girl” does not attend school but studies what she’s known for all her life – the marsh. Kya also has to fight for her freedom against all odds and proves that perseverance is key to success.

Illustration of Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Kya | Painting by Jenn from The Bibliofile

Annelies Marie “Anne” Frank

“The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank (non-fiction)

Anne, a 13-old Jewish girl from Amsterdam, documents the 2 years (1942-1944) she hid in the Secret Annex with her family during the German occupation of the Netherlands in WW2. Anne is a funny and witty girl, passionate about learning, with high aspirations for her future. Despite the difficult situation she faces, Anne remains optimist and continues her studies while in hiding.

Anne | Image from The New Yorker

Tara Westover

“Educated” by Tara Westover (non-fiction)

Born in a radical Mormon family in Idaho, Tara (born 1986) fights to escape from her family’s beliefs and achieves impressive academic results. She is a living example showing that “where there’s a will, there’s a way” – from living off-grid (not even having a birth certificate until 9 years old), Tara manages to surpass all barriers and get a PhD in history from University of Cambridge.

What other children from books would you add to this list? I’m looking forward to hearing you thoughts!

If you would like to buy books or other (non)bookish things, please consider using one of these links: Amazon | Waterstones | Carturesti. Thank you!

‘Till next time … happy reading!


Cover photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

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