Heroine’s Reading List

Where can you find the heroine’s journey? Which books and movies offer the purest form, step by step?
Epics Children’s and YA Books Movies, Musicals, and Television Mainstream and Classic Books Comics Fantasy Books Feminist Fairy Tale/Folktale Collections Feminism and Commentary Mythology Databases

Also try this list of Feminist Fairytales for kids and teens.
Heroine’s Journey Reading List FAQ Links


The Trojan Women
Descent of Ishtar into the Lower World.
“Inana’s Descent to the Nether World.”
Hymn to Demeter and other Homeric Hymns
The Burden of Isis
The 1001 Arabian Nights
Kalidasa. “Sakuntala and the Ring of Recollection.”
Apuleius, Lucius. “Cupid and Psyche.” The Golden Asse.
The Tam Lin Version Three: Child 39C
The Hell-Ride of Brynhild
The Lay of Brynhild
The Ancient Lay of Gundrun
Devî Gita
Lord, Karen, Redemption in Indigo
Dudbridge, Glen. The Legend of Miao-shan. London: Ithaca P, 1978.
Emerson, N.B. Pele and Hi’iaka: A Myth from Hawaii (New York: AMS Press 1915).
Hirschfield, Jane. Women in Praise of the Sacred
Zolbrod, Paul G., Diné bahané: The Navaho Creation Story (USA: U of New Mexico P, 1984).
Cassuto, U. The Goddess Anat., Translated by Israel Abrahams. Jerusalem: The Magnes Press, 1971.
Courlander, Harold. The Fourth World of the Hopis. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1971.
Trial of Joan of Arc. Translated by W.S. Scott. London: Associated Book Sellers, 1956.
“The Alphabet of Ben Sira.” In Rabbinic Fantasies: Imaginative Narratives from Classical Hebrew Literature Yale Judaica Series, edited by Professor David Stern and Mark Jay Mirsky, 167-202. USA: Yale U P, 1998.
Cameron, Anne. Daughters of Copper Woman. Canada: Press Gang Publishers, 1981.
Spretnak, Charlene. Lost Goddesses of Early Greece: A Collection of Pre-Hellenic Myths. USA: Beacon Press, 1992.

The Internet Women’s History Sourcebook

Many strong heroines can be found in these other classic epics:
The Tain
The Mahabarata
The Ramayana
The Mabinogion
The Younger (Prose) Edda.
The Elder (Poetic) Edda.
The Nibelungenlied
Wagner’s Ring of the Niblung
The Volsung Saga
Le Morte de Arthur
The Kalevala
The Book of the Dead
The Bible
The Therigatha
The Nibelungenlied
The Qur’an
Popol Vuh
Ovid, Metamorphoses
Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings
The Decameron
The Iliad
The Odyssey
Works & Days
Enuma Elish: The Epic of Creation
Epic of Gilgamesh
The Epic of Son-Jara : a West African tradition
The Songs of Ullikummi (Hurrian myth)
The Ozidi Saga
Lianja of the Mongo
Jeki la Nzambe in Cameroon

Some of the best mythology databases likewise contain these epics:
The Celtic Literature Collective: Containing the Ulster Cycle, Fenian Cycle, and more
The CELT Project: Corpus of Electronic Texts
The ETCSL Project: The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature
The Internet Classic Archive
The Internet Medieval Sourcebook
The Internet Sacred Text Archive
The Perseus Digital Library Project
The Theoi Project
Anatolian database
Other ancient manuscripts
European texts (though not in translation)
Ancient Texts (Greek and Roman)
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
The International Dunhuang Project: The Silk Road Online

Children’s Books

The Oz Books by L. Frank Baum
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
Prince Caspian
The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader”
The Silver Chair
The Horse and His Boy
The Magicians Nephew
The Last Battle
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games
Catching Fire
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede
Dealing with Dragons
Searching for Dragons
Calling on Dragons
Talking to Dragons
The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce
Alanna: The First Adventure
In the Hand of the Goddess
The Woman Who Rides Like a Man
Lioness Rampant
Immortals by Tamora Pierce
Wild Magic
Wolf Speaker
Emperor Mage
The Realms of the Gods
His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman
The Golden Compass
The Subtle Knife
The Amber Spyglass
The Tiffany Aching Books by Terry Pratchett
The Wee Free Men
A Hat full of Sky
The Inkheart Trilogy by Cornelia Funke
Sorcery & Cecelia Series by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
Sorcery & Cecelia
The Grand Tour
The Mislaid Magician or Ten Years After
The Young Wizards Series by Diane Duane
So You Want to be a Wizard
Deep Wizardry
High Wizardry
A Wizard Abroad
The Wizard’s Dilemma
A Wizard Alone
Wizard’s Holiday
Wizards at War
A Wizard of Mars
The Abhorsen Triology by Garth Nix
The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray
A Great and Terrible Beauty
Rebel Angels
The Sweet Far Thing
Modern Faerie Tales by Holly Black
The Great Alta Saga by Jane Yolen
Sister Light, Sister Dark
White Jenna
The One-Armed Queen
The Heralds of Valdemar by Mercedes Lackey
Arrows of the Queen
Arrow’s Flight
Arrow’s Fall
The Girl Who..by Catherynne M. Valente and Ana Juan .
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There
The Kairos and Chronos Series by Madeline L’Engle
First-generation (Murray) (Time Quartet)
A Wrinkle in Time
A Wind in the Door
A Swiftly Tilting Planet
Many Waters
Second-generation (O’Keefe)
The Arm of the Starfish
Dragons in the Waters
A House Like a Lotus
An Acceptable Time
Meet the Austins
The Moon by Night
The Young Unicorns
A Ring of Endless Light
Troubling a Star

Shorter Series
Wildwood Dancing and Cybele’s Secret by Juliet Marillier
Mairelon the Magician and Magician’s Ward by Patricia Wrede
Solstice Wood by Patricia A. McKillip
Tehanu by Ursula K. LeGuin
The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Caroll
Foiled and Rats! Foiled Again by Jane Yolen
Coraline by Neil Gaimen
The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
Ella Enchanted
The Secret Garden
A Little Princess
Calico Captive
The Witch of Blackbird Pond
Charlotte’s Web
Homecoming and Dicey’s Song
The Island of the Blue Dolphins
A Girl Named Disaster
Julie of the Wolves
Number the Stars
Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind
Caddie Woodlawn,
Little Women
Anne of Green Gables
Pippi Longstocking
The Paper Bag Princess

Movies, Musicals, and Television

The Wizard of Oz
Return to Oz
The 10th Kingdom
Xena: Warrior Princess
Dark Angel
Babylon 5
Wicked the Musical
Into the Woods
Stargate seasons 9-10
Pan’s Labyrinth
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Ever After
Pretty Woman
The Last Unicorn
The Snow Queen
The Mists of Avalon
Lilo & Stitch
The Chronicles of Narnia – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Dark Crystal
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
The Shrek Trilogy (Shrek / Shrek 2 / Shrek the Third)
Sailor Moon
The Powerpuff Girls
Mother of Tears
The Nine Lives of Chloe King
Once Upon a Time (ABC)
Agents of SHIELD
Agent Carter
Whale Rider
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Star Wars: Rogue One
Mad Max

Mainstream and Classic Books

Till We Have Faces
Jane Eyre
Tess of the D’Umbervilles
Gone With the Wind
Romeo and Juliet
All’s Well that Ends Well
Measure for Measure
As You Like It
The Faerie Queene, by Edmund Spenser
Lives of the Greek Heroines by Louisa Menzies
The Handmaid’s Tale
Their Eyes were Watching God
Like Water for Chocolate
Daughters of Copper Woman
The Awakening
The Color Purple
The Joy Luck Club
The Woman Warrior
The Stand
The Scarlet Letter
To Kill a Mockingbird


(While the outfits and proportions are unfortunate, as is the tendency for someone like “Batgirl” to be cast as a sidekick, there is often a strong heroine’s journey arc for the characters, especially on their own series.)

All Fall Down
The Avengers
Birds of Prey
Black Widow
Captain Marvel
Donna Troy
Ms. Marvel
Power Girl
Rising Stars
Superhero Girl
Squirrel Girl
Teen Titans
Wonder Girl
Wonder Woman

Fantasy Books

The Mists of Avalon and The Fall of Atlantis
by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Otherland Series by Tad Williams
The Compass Rose Series

Kushiel’s Legacy by Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel’s Dart
Kushiel’s Chosen
Kushiel’s Avatar

Naamah’s Kiss
The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop
Daughter of the Blood
Heir to the Shadows
Queen of the Darkness

The Shadow Queen
The Tir Alainn Series by Anne Bishop
The Pillars of the World
Shadows and Light
The House of Gaian
The Ephemera Series by Anne Bishop
The Troy Game by Sara Douglass
Hades’ Daughter
Gods’ Concubine
Darkwitch Rising
Druid’s Sword
The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay
The Summer Tree
The Wandering Fire
The Darkest Road
The Secret Texts by Holly Lisle
Diplomacy of Wolves
Vengeance of Dragons
Courage of Falcons
The World Gates by Holly Lisle
Memory of Fire
The Wreck of Heaven
Gods Old and Dark
The Halfblood Chronicles by Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey
The Sevenwaters Trilogy by Julliet Marillier
Daughter of the Forest
Son of the Shadows
Child of the Prophecy
Heir to Sevenwaters
The Bridei Chronicles by Juliet Marillier
The Dark Mirror
Blade of Fortriu
The Well of Shades
The Great Alta Saga by Jane Yolen
Sister Light, Sister Dark
White Jenna
The One-Armed Queen
The Obsidian Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
The Outstretched Shadow
To Light a Candle
When Darkness Falls
The Heralds of Valdemar by Mercedes Lackey
Arrows of the Queen
Arrow’s Flight
Arrow’s Fall
(For many trilogies, book one is a perfect representation of the heroine’s journey, and the entire trilogy likewise follows such an arc. Also, many in this section are meant for mature audiences.)

Feminist Fairy Tale/ Folktale Collections

Agha-Jaffar, Tamara. Women and Goddesses in Myth and Sacred Text. USA: Pearson Education, Inc, 2005.

Barchers, Suzanne I. Wise Women: Folk and Fairy Tales from Around the World. Libraries Unlimited, Colorado, 1990.

Kate Bernheimer. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Women Writers Explore Their Favorite Fairy Tales.

Chinen, Allan B. Waking the World : Classic Tales of Women and the Heroic Feminine. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1996.

Cox, Marian Roalfe. Cinderella: Three Hundred and Forty-five Variants of Cinderella, Catskin, and Cap O’ Rushes, abstracted and tabulated. London: David Nutt for the Folklore Society, 1893. ©Heidi Anne Heiner, SurLaLune Fairy Tales February 1, 2006 http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/cinderella/marianroalfecox/index.html

Estes, Clarissa Pinkola. The Dangerous Old Woman: Myths and Stories of the Wise Old Woman Archetype. New York: Random House Large Print, 1996.

Gonzenbach, Laura. Beautiful Angiola: The Great Treasury of Sicilian Folk and Fairy Tales Collected by Laura Gonzenbach. Jack Zipes, translator and editor. New York: Routledge, 2004.

Jurich, Marilyn. Scheherazade’s Sisters: Trickster Heroines and Their Stories in World Literature. Greenwood Press. Westport, Conn. 1998.

King, Coretta Scott. Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales, and True Tales.

Lambert, Johanna, Ed. Wise Women of the Dreamtime: Aboriginal Tales of the Ancestral Powers. Collected by K. Langloh Parker. Inner Traditions International: Rochester, Vermont, 1993.

Lurie, Alison. Clever Gretchen.

Monaghan, Patricia. The Book of Goddesses and Heroines. New York : Dutton, c1981. 40

Phelps, Ethel Johnston. Tatterhood.

Phelps, Ethel Johnston. The Maid of the North: Feminist Folk Tales from Around the World. Holt, Rhinehart, and Winston: New York, 1981.

Rush, Barbara. The Book of Jewish Women’s Tales. University of California Press: USA, 1994.

Ragan, Kathleen. Fearless Girls, Wise Women, and Beloved Sisters. WW Norton and Co.: New York, 1998.

Yolen, Jane. Not One Damsel in Distress: World Folktales for Strong Girls

The Woman in the Moon: And Other Tales of Forgotten Heroines
The Serpent Slayer and Other Stories of Strong Women
Folktales of Strong Women (Audio Cassette)
Tatterhood and Other Tales: Stories of Magic and Adventure
Cut from the Same Cloth: American Women of Myth, Legend and Tall Tale

Feministsf.org a wonderful directory of bibliographies, links, and criticism.

Women in Mythology, Religion, and Herstory goddess legends

New Fairy Tales by Rosemary Lake with a feminist spin

Snow White Scholarly research on this popular tale.


Feminism and Commentary

For a More Complete List, see the From Girl to Goddess Bibliography
Auerbach, Nina, and U. C. Knoepflmacher, editors. Forbidden Journeys: Fairy Tales and Fantasies by Victorian Women Writers. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.
Bernheimer, Kate. Mirror, Mirror On The Wall: Women Explore Their Favorite Fairy Tales. New York: Anchor Books, 1998.
Birkhauser-Oeri, Sibylle. The Mother: Archetypal Image in Fairy Tales. Toronto: Inner City Books, 1988.
Bly, Robert and Marion Woodman. The Maiden King. Henry Holt and Co, New York, 1998.
Bolen, Jean Shinoda. Goddesses in Everywoman. New York: Quill, 2004.Coffin, Tristram Chervin, Ronda. The Woman’s Tale: A Journal of Inner Exploration. New York: Seabury Press, 1980.
Cinderella: A Casebook. Alan Dundes, Ed. Wildman Press: New York, 1983.
Douglas, Susan J. Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media. New York: Crown, 1994.
Estés, Clarissa Pinkola. Women Who Run With the Wolves. New York: Ballantine Books, 1992.
Gould, Joan. Spinning Straw into Gold. New York: Random House, 2005.
Haase, Donald. Fairy Tales and Feminism: New Approaches (Series in Fairy-Tale Studies). Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2004.
Harries, Elizabeth Wanning. Twice Upon a Time: Women Writers and the History of the Fairy Tale. Princeton: Princeton University, 2001.
Jurich, Marilyn. Scheherazade’s Sisters : Trickster Heroines and Their Stories in World Literature (Contributions in Women’s Studies). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998.
Lederer, Wolfgang. The Kiss of the Snow Queen: Hans Christian Andersen and Man’s Redemption by Woman. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990.
Levorato, Alessandra. Language and Gender in the Fairy Tale Tradition: A Linguistic Analysis of Old and New Story-telling. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.
Lundell, Torborg. Fairy Tale Mothers. New York: Peter Lang, 1990.
Minard, Rosemary. Womenfolk and Fairy Tales. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1975.
Murdock, Maureen. The Heroine’s Journey. Boston: Shambhala Pub, 1990.
Orenstein, Catherine. Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked: Sex, Morality, and the Evolution of a Fairy Tale. New York: Basic Books, 2002.
Paradiz, Valerie. Clever Maids: The Secret History of the Grimm Fairy Tales. New York: Basic Books, 2004.
Perera, Silvia Brinton. Descent to the Goddess. Canada: Inner City Books, 1981.
Potter, Tristram. The Female Hero in Folklore and Legend. Seabury Press: New York, 1975.
Rusch-Feja, Diann D. The Portrayal of the Maturation Process of Girl Figures in Selected Tales of the Brothers Grimm. New York: Peter Lang, 1995.
Schectman, Jacqueline M. The Stepmother in Fairy Tales : Bereavement and the Feminine Shadow. Boston: Sigo Press, 1993.
Sellers, Susan. Myth and Fairy Tale in Contemporary Women’s Fiction. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2001.
Tatar, Maria M. The Hard Facts of the Grimms’ Fairy Tales. Princeton: Princeton University, 1987.
Von Franz, Marie-Louise. The Feminine in Fairy Tales. Boston: Shambhala, 2001. Revised edition.
Von Franz, Marie-Louise. Problems of the Feminine in Fairytales. Dallas, TX: Spring Publications, 1986.
Warner, Maria. From the Beast to the Blonde. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1994.
Waelti-Walters, Jennifer R. Fairy Tales and the Female Imagination. Montreal, Canada: Eden Press, 1982.
Zipes, Jack. Beauties, Beasts and Enchantments: Classic French Fairy Tales. New York: New American Library, 1989.
Feministsf.org a wonderful directory of bibliographies, links, and criticism.
Women in Mythology, Religion, and Herstory goddess legends
New Fairy Tales by Rosemary Lake with a feminist spin
Snow White Scholarly research on this popular tale.
345 variants on Cinderella
Matrifocus articles A great magazine for women in myth
Journal of Mythic Arts


Specific Collections
The Celtic Literature Collective: Containing the Ulster Cycle, Fenian Cycle, and more
The CELT Project: Corpus of Electronic Texts
The ETCSL Project: The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature
The Internet Classic Archive
The Internet Medieval Sourcebook
The Internet Sacred Text Archive
The Perseus Digital Library Project
The Theoi Project

Mythology General
Myths and Legends
Encyclopedia Mythica
Encyclopedia of Monsters
The Open Directory Project
Regional Folklore and Mythology

Norse Mythology
Yggdrasil: the Norse mythology interactive worldtree.
Norse Mythology: key points from figures to runes.
Norse Mythology

Fairy Tales Online
Surlalune Fairy Tales: The best fairytale website for commentary, collections, and retellings
GrimmFairyTales.com Flash presentations of delightful tales.
Hans Christian Andersen All his fairy tales, plus resources.
Folklore, Myth, and Legend Hundreds of online fairy tales.
Cinderella Resources
Cinderella Stories by Continent
Fairy Tale Links
Fairy Tales: A Guide to Resources on the Web
Folklore, Fairy Tales, and Mythology Links
Fairy Tale Bibliography
Fairy Tale Review