Books That Lock in Your “Coolest Aunt” Status

There are two little ladies in my life– and no, I’m not a mom. I’m an aunt. My nieces are two years and only four weeks old, and there’s only one thought that consumes my time with them: how can I ensure that they know I’m the coolest? This is very important to me.

Aunts, in my opinion, are free from the pressures of being the perfect, fair, and reasonable that my mommy friends feel. I grew up with a large volume of awesome aunts who painted my toenails without a special occasion, let me ride their horses,  and assisted me in my quest to get a dog– but most of all, they gave me books. I’m ready to pay it all forward. I don’t have a horse yet and my youngest niece is still in the “fourth trimester,” which probably makes her a terrible rider, and they already have a dog, so let’s start with the books.

Rad American Women A-Z by Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl

rad american women a-z

This book is so cool, my childless self bought four copies that are just hanging out in my house, waiting for children to come into my life so I can foist it on them. I really hope my nieces memorize the names Angela Davis, Carole Burnett, and Wilma Mankiller and think of them every time they see the alphabet. I haven’t brought this one over to my sister-in-law’s house yet, but once I do, that place is going to become a feminist paradise.

Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, and Grace Ellis

Lumberjanes Volume 2 by Noelle Stevenson

I’m going to need Noelle Stevenson to write Lumberjanes a little faster, because I tear through each one in a few hours and I am desperate for more. This is my Game of Thrones. Noelle, you’re awesome, and I don’t want to pressure you, but I have two little girls who need to be bathed in your empowering message of goofy adventure, magic, and bravery. I think it’s going to be at least 7 years before my nieces are old enough to read this, so do you think you could crank out, I don’t know, 150 new volumes by then? Possible?

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

the bloody chamber

If my nieces are anything like I was, they will approach the horror genre with both fascination and repulsion, and will find themselves watching “Scream” at a sleepover at my house when they are slightly too young for it. (Sorry, sister-in-law.) Let’s get them started on the weird dreams with Angela Carter’s feminist– and gory– fairy tales. Can’t be too much weirder than the original Grimm’s, right?


Summer Sisters by Judy Blume

summer sisters

Here’s my plan with Summer Sisters: I’m going to make sure my nieces read it the same way the rest of us did– by assuming it was a regular Judy Blume YA book, and then coming to the shocking, slow realization that there’s s-e-x in this book. I’m going to leave it innocently on a beach chair every summer until this happens. Whenever they’re ready. If this seems like too much for them maybe I’ll try it with Forever first.

Or maybe, really all I have to do is take them once a week to the biggest library I can find and say those magic words: pick out whatever you want.