Hi everyone! So this post was actually inspired by my college essay (turns out school is good for something. Hardy har har). As I was brainstorming topics, I realized that most of my role models growing up have been book characters.* I guess because I read so much I identify a lot with characters, and seeing how great their lives turned out, I would try to emulate them to do the same. Anyway, especially in elementary and middle school, book characters were who I looked up to in life. If I was faced with an obstacle, I would think of a character who also faced an obstacle and pulled through, and feel empowered to do the same.
I toyed with the idea of making this a monthly feature, but honestly, I don’t think I’d have enough to say. That’s why this is going to begin as just a discussion post in list form because that’s my favorite type of discussion post. It might expand into TWO discussion posts (also in list form) or maybe even THREE! But as of now, I’ve put the idea of making it a feature to rest.
So who inspired little wee Sydney as an elementary and middle schooler to be her best self?
1. Anne Shirley
This classic character is the first heroine I remember admiring. I think it was her stubborness that drew me to her. My own family would always call me stubborn, and they meant it as something I should change, but then I opened Anne of Green Gables and found a character even more stubborn than myself. I remember specifically in the first book a scene where Anne refused to eat dinner and went upstairs and cried herself to sleep. This isn’t really an inspiring scene, I know. But you would not believe the number of times I threw a temper tantrum and stomped upstairs without dinner because I was too proud to say I was hungry. And seeing this character do the same thing as me, and seeing the love she got just for being herself, really validated me.
2. Meg Murray
Again, the reason I looked up to Meg isn’t a classic reason, but it’s a reason all the same. Before all the craziness happened and Meg and her family started jumping into other dimensions and planets and whatnot to find her father, Meg and Calvin had a romantic moment. And I remember specifically that Calvin took off her glasses and told Meg that she was beautiful, and should leave her glasses on so no one else got to see how pretty Meg’s eyes were but him. This sounds a little creepy now, but I grew up in the age of the Princess Diaries, which, I admit, was a great book and movie, but told me that girls with glasses were ugly and needed a makeover to be beautiful. And here comes Meg Murray being told she was beautiful even with her glasses on. Every little girl needs to believe she is beautiful, and Meg Murray is who taught me that I was.
3. Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Little House in the Big Woods series was my favorite series of all time as a little girl. I devoured Laura’s stories, and then read up and down her family tree, all the way up to Martha who I think was her great grandma? and down to Rose, her daughter. And while I fell in love with each of the generations of women (although Caroline was my favorite), Laura always held a special place in my heart. It was her strength. She wouldn’t let any man tell her what to do just because she was a woman and he was a man. They had to earn her respect. And it was her heart. The way she loved her Pa, and helped Mary after she went blind, and loved her little dog inspired me to love my family the same way- fiercely and strongly.
4. Maeve Kaplan-Taylor
From my other favorite series of all time- The Beacon Street Girls! This series used to have a special place of honor in my room. Instead of being on my bookshelf like the rest of my books, The Beacon Street Girls got a shelf on my desk devoted to all 20 or so of their books. And while all five girls were amazing in their own way, Maeve was my favorite. She was fiery and sweet and bubbly and romantic and just everything I wanted to be. I wanted to be as outgoing as her, and as kind as her, and as good a friend as her. And when I was in elementary and middle school, I was convinced I wanted to be an actress, and movies were Maeve’s thing, so I thought we were kindred spirits. Also, her
love obsession of the color pink is the sole reason why I decided pink was my favorite color in middle school for a couple brief years.
5. Hermione Granger
Of course I had to include the amazing Hermione Granger on my list. She was living proof that just because you were smart didn’t mean you were useless and a wimp, and I needed that. Because I am smart like Hermione, but I didn’t know that I didn’t have to be confined to excelling in the classroom. I can still fight the Dark Lord and save my friends as well. But more than her intelligence, it was her pure selflessness that I admired. The way she fought for house elves’ freedom and refused to see the bad in anybody different than her and stood up for others who couldn’t stand up for themselves inspired me to be a better person.
So I couldn’t find her last name, but this is Ella from Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. I think I was inspired by the fact that she had literal magic conspiring against her, yet still found a way to achieve her dreams and do what she wanted (can you tell I was drawn to the feisty characters?). And she was also just a very kind character, befriending people of all different types as she worked towards her goal.
Again, no last name? But she’s from The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. First off, her attitude, AGAIN. I just was really inspired by spunky girls, okay? And second of all, her bravery. She bands the girls together to fight against their enemies using all of their natural talents. I LOVE THAT. I want to be that selfless and brave leader that she was. And I love her relationships with her family. And she gets a prince #nuffsaid.
8. Sara Crewe
I LOVED THIS GIRL! I don’t remember much now, but I would read this book again and again as a little girl. Because Sara Crewe was just so strong. Her father, who loved and adored her, dies and leaves Sara to be forced into the attic. And does she give up? Of course not! She redecorates her room and uses her imaginative little brain to keep herself happy and pretend that things are better than they are.
9. Samantha Parkington
Who was sadly discontinued by American Girl but continues to be one of my favorite American Girls! I just remember how big her heart is. She befriends Nellie, her servant’s daughter, and refuses to see class differences between them. That’s admirable for a child in the early 1900s. I also remember one scene in the later books where she takes a boat by herself into the water, only for there to be a huge storm. I rememebr reading the scene and thinking how strong Samantha was to fight for her life like that, and how resourceful she was to survive. As a child, I thought, “I want to be like her. I want to be as strong as she was”.
10. Leslie Burke
First off, can we just discuss how freaking heartbreaking this book was. Bridge to Terabithia has such a lighthearted and deceiving title, until it rips your heart out. But I love it anyway. I fancied myself as being pretty imaginative when I was younger, so coming across a girl like Leslie was amazing. She created whole worlds in her mind! I read about her worlds and then tried to do the same with my friends at recess. We even had our own Terabithia, down a little hill in our field at school. And I would create other lands for us, such as Ever, a land of magical beings with four different quadrants. She just inspired my imagination to take flight, and not to be ashamed of it.
And that’s it for my book role models!
Who is your book role model? Why? Who from this list inspired you the most?