Girls and Self Esteem

An annotated literature review of resources about girls and self esteem…

Girls and Self Esteem: Annotated Literature Review
Provided by JoAnn Deak, Ph.D.

1] Aulicino, Christine and Deak, JoAnn Ph.D. eds. THE BOOK OF HOPES AND DREAMS FOR GIRLS AND YOUNG WOMEN. Shaker Heights, Ohio: Laurel School, 1999.

From Jane Goodall to Gloria Steinem, incredible women from all over the world write about their lives and what they want for the females just now entering the world. What really grabs your heart is the letters, poems and pictures of the young girls in response. Grandparents and parents are buying multiple copies for the girls they love.

2] Benson, Peter L. WHAT KIDS NEED TO SUCCEED. Minneapolis: Free Spirit Publishing, 1998.

The title of the first chapter is the major theme of the book: What Do Kids Really Need? The authors identify how to build external assets and internal assets that will lead to strong self-esteem. Although there are no differentiations made for girls and boys, this is a good overall compendium of thinking about the topic of self-esteem.

3] Branden, Nathaniel. A WOMAN’S SELF-ESTEEM: STORIES OF STRUGGLE, STORIES OF TRIUMPH. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers , 1998.

Branden brings a unique perspective: he works with women in private practice and he also consults in the corporate world. In both areas, his specialty is self-. His focus is more reflective and personal than behavioral. This book is small and readable and can be tackled in an evening.

4]Brooks, Susan M. ANY GIRL CAN RULE THE WORLD. Minneapolis: Fairview Press, 1198.
Simply a treasure of resources and ideas for girls, period.

5] Burnett, Darrell J. Ph.D. YOUTH SPORTS AND SELF-ESTEEM: A GUIDE FOR PARENTS. Indianapolis, IN.: Masters Press 1993

Practical, practical, practical! Burnett even includes checklist of what to do for everything from what to do to “86 ways to say very good”. Although not specific to girls, much of what is said is relevant for females [but not all of it…].

6] Chipman, Dawn et. al. COOL WOMEN: THE THINKING GIRL’S GUIDE TO THE HIPPEST WOMEN IN HISTORY. Los Angeles: Girl Press. 1998.

One of the “hippest” books on the market! You won’t be able to stop reading and looking at it. Although not technically about self-esteem, every story is saturated with the concept.


In her introduction to the book, Mary Pipher summarizes the book by saying: “She… offers us good original thinking on the much muddied concept of self-esteem. Her ideas are both theoretical and practical and are presented in ways that have implications for actions.”

8] Erlback, Arlene. WORTH THE RISK: TRUE STORIES ABOUT RISK TAKERS PLUS HOW YOU CAN BE ONE, TOO. Minneapolis, Free Spirit Publishing, 1999.

A rare book! One of the few books that jumps right in and begins by giving ways of becoming a risk taker. In fact, the entire book is a proactive approach of what to do. The three sections include: Part one- what is a risk? part two: real risk takers; part three- ready, set, risk!

9] Girls Count and Marone, Nicky. PARENTING OUR DAUGHTERS [NOT FOR PARENTS ONLY]. Denver, Colorado: 1996.

Two thumbs up! Just read this quote: “We believe it is the responsibility of all adults to “parent” the children of our society. This kind of “parenting” does not necessarily involve the day-to-day care of the child, but can take place at a distance, such as being a good role model to a niece…or something as simple as having a kind word for the child who lives next door.” The subtleties of what builds self-esteem permeate this book.

10] Glennon, Will. 200 WAYS TO RAISE A GIRL’S SELF-ESTEEM. Berkeley, CA.: Conari Press, 1999.

The author begins by suggesting that the self esteem literature is mostly theoretical and what is needed is some understanding of what to do to ensure that developing females have positive self esteem. As the title suggests, he goes on to name ways that adults in the lives of girls can provide experiences to enhance self-esteem.


Very practical, readable, and most importantly- HELPFUL. Even the title of the first chapter acknowledges that this will be worth reading: Achievement Behavior: Here Today, Gone Tomorrow?

12] Mauro, Raf. WHEN KIDS ACHIEVE: POSITIVE MONOLOGUES FOR PRETEEN BOYS AND GIRLS. Rancho Mirage, California: Dramaline Publications, 1997.

Individual girls and boys tell about their achievements. We can learn a lot by reading this small paperback.

13] McKay, Matther, Ph.D. SELF-ESTEEM. Oakland, California: New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 1992.

Not a practical manual or an easy read, but a very thorough look at the concept of self-esteem. Others must agree, since this is the second printing.

14] Ms. Foundation for Women and Forsyth, Sondra. GIRLS SEEN AND HEARD: 52 LIFE LESSONS FOR OUR DAUGHTERS. New York: Penguin, Putnam Inc.

This book was written in response to an overwhelming need expressed to the Ms. Foundation after the annual event, Take Your Daughters to Work Day, They were deluged by calls and letters asking how to develop girls’ confidence not just on one day, but every day. This book is the result of several years and many people attempting to answer that question.

15] O’Gorman, Patricia A. DANCING BACKWARDS IN HIGH HEELS: HOW WOMEN MASTER THE ART OF RESILIENCE. City, Minn: Hazelden Educational Materials, 1994.

With a title like this, how can it be anything but fascinating… and it is! The author looks at women who have survived and prospered inspite of incredible events and life stories.

16] Orenstein, Peggy. SCHOOL GIRLS: YOUNG WOMEN, SELF-ESTEEM, AND THE CONFIDENCE GAP. New York: Doubleday, 1994.

Peggy Orenstein approached the topic of girls and self esteem with her journalistic background. She uses a narrative approach to tell the story of adolescent self-esteem and the difference between how girls and boys are taught to think about themselves.

17] Pipher, Mary. REVIVING OPHELIA. New York: Ballantine Books, 1995.

The classic book of girls and self-esteem in the 1990s. Mary Pipher poignantly paints the portrait of diminishing self-esteem of girls as they travel through the adolescent years.

18] Rimm, Sylvia. SEE JANE WIN. New York: Crown Publishers, 1999.

The author and her daughters interviewed one thousand successful women to try to identify those components in their growing years that contributed to their success. Chapter one captures the reader right away by identifying twenty “research findings”. One research finding is that extracurricular activities are important and sports are listed. Another finding suggests that coping with some pressure is good for girls.

19] Russell, Anita. SELF-ESTEEM. Winnepeg, Canada: Peguis Publishers Limited, 1989.

This is really a book for school personnel: for anyone who deals with children in grades one through eight. It is very organized, helpful and practical.


When I read the part about “the missing element in most games”, I knew this book would make the list. Not just another book about sports and coaching, it makes you think about how you are shaping the children on your team.

21] Youngs, Bettie B. Ph.D. THE 6 VITAL INGREDIENTS OF SELF-ESTEEM AND HOW TO DEVELOP THEM IN YOUR CHILD. New York, Rawson Associates. 1991.

The summary on the jacket cover says it best: “Children with high self-esteem not only do better in school, studies show they do better in life generally. When parents aren’t paying attention to their kids’ emotional lives and physical whereabouts, the children are at high risk…”

22] Welden, Amelie. GIRLS WHO ROCKED THE WORLD: HEROINES FROM SACAGAWEA TO SHERYL SWOOPES. Oregon: Beyond Words Publishing, Inc., 1998.

The author tries to provide as many female role models throughout history as possible. Included are such sports figures as Babe Didrikson, Wilma Rudolph, Nadia Comaneci Sheryl Swoopes, Cristen Powell and Martina Hingis. Great stories, great pictures of the women, nice clean layout.

23] White, Julie. BUILDING SELF-ESTEEM IN YOUR DAUGHTER. Career Track Publications, 1995.

I’m still looking for this book, sounds good, but I haven’t been able to get my hands on it yet.