The 6 Best Girl-Powered Classic Book Series of All Time

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Image via Cephus’ Corner

I read a lot when I was growing up, and I especially loved it when I found a new series to burn through. I’d check out every volume available from the local library, comb used bookstores, and search through my relatives’ attics for unwanted copies. Nancy Drew — with her perfect strawberry blonde hair, blue convertible, loyal friends, college boyfriend, and knack for solving mysteries — was one of my first loves. The series, ghostwritten under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene, continued for 175 numbered books and were released from 1930 to 2003. I loved Nancy for her bold curiosity, and spent years wishing my hair was strawberry blonde so I could be just a little like her. And as you can see from the book covers, she had an undeniable style.

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Image via Cindy Bear’s Den

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Image via Nancy Drew Mystery Stories

The Dana Girls mysteries were also written under the name Carolyn Keene, and focused on a pair of sisters at a boarding school. The series was much less popular, but the writers still churned out 47 published books, and the girls had solid fashion sense.

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Image via Cephus’ Corner

The Boxcar Children featured another set of amateur sleuths. The series premiered in 1940 and was created by and originally written by Gertrude Chandler Warner. The four kids lost their parents and had to move with a grandfather who they were convinced didn’t want them. They spent the first book living in the titular Boxcar, but moved in with their grandfather by the end. The name sticks for all 100+ titles.

I read the re-released paperbacks, and the kids still seemed pretty well put together, especially considering their living situation in the first volume.

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Image via Tiny Town Books and Toys

Trixie Belden was my favorite girl detective. The first six volumes of the 39-book series were penned by Julie Campbell Tatham, and the rest were written under the pseudonym Kathryn Kenny. Trixie’s background was more like my own — she lived on a farm with her parents and brothers, and complained about chores and struggled with her math homework. She and her friends formed a club called Bob-Whites of the Glen to solve mysteries together.

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Image via Marcia Strykowski: Children’s Author

Not all series have to be about solving mysteries, though, which brings us to The Baby-Sitter’s Club. Ann M. Martin created the series in 1986 and wrote the first 35 books in the over-200-book series. The club started with four friends who got together to organize babysitting jobs. Each book focused on one of the characters, and their babysitting misadventures.

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Image via KeySmash

And of course, no list of books would be complete without Sweet Valley High (and Sweet Valley Twins). Francine Pascal created the original series in 1983, and between the two series there are hundreds of books. Jessica and Liz, who were both beautiful and popular, navigated high school and middle school, struggling to remain close and express their individuality at the same time.

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Image via Shannon’s Sweet Valley High Blog

Was there a series that was close to your heart? Were there any books that you loved, or characters that you wanted to be? Be sure to share your faves in the comments!

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About Jamie

Jamie loves reading and writing, and she's especially fond of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. She also enjoys RPGs (both tabletop and console), crocheting, baking, and hiking, and she's passionate about unicorns, tea, flannel shirts, novelty socks, and William Shatner.

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7 Responses to The 6 Best Girl-Powered Classic Book Series of All Time

  1. Charlotte Dunn 03/20/2014 at 12:29 pm #

    For me it was always Sweet Valley, and the Chalet School books, and Mallory Towers by Enid Blyton.

  2. Sydney 03/20/2014 at 1:58 pm #

    Nancy Drew!! I still have all my old books!!

  3. Katherine 03/20/2014 at 2:56 pm #

    I LOVE Trixie Belden! I still have my collection of all the books, which took me awhile to find at used bookstores and antique stores when I was a kid. The days right before eBay!

  4. Nicola 03/21/2014 at 10:51 pm #

    loved the Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden books!!

  5. Katharine Ellis Tapley 03/22/2014 at 2:47 pm #

    I was never a big fan of the Sweet Valley High books. I understood why people liked them, I just preferred the more relatable, middle class, girls of the BSC (their lives had a lot less drama). And Nancy Drew.

    Also, my grandmother gave me a book series that belonged to her when she was in middle school. The Dana sisters books. They were a lot like the Nancy Drew books, only they were sisters and they were set at their private school. They were SO good. I LOVED those.

  6. Rachel Lauren 03/23/2014 at 2:08 pm #

    Nancy drew books were my favorite along with the Bobbsey Twins!

  7. Bernadine 04/02/2014 at 9:12 am #

    I loved The Babysitter Club. I remember going to the library and sweeping as many books as the
    library allowed (which was about 6) and spending whole afternoons reading through them.

    And Nancy Drew. I never realised her fashion style until you mentioned it. Awesome!

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