The new guide, "Great Books for Girls" (Ballantine Books Trade Paperback), is sort of a family tree of literature's best heroines.
Kathleen Odean, chairwoman of the 2002 Newbery Award committee, offers more than 600 book suggestions for girls ages 3-14 in an updated version of a 1997 guide.
The main characters in each of the books are "brave, intelligent, dynamic and female. These girls are not waiting to be rescued; they are doing the rescuing. They fashion their own stories and their own endings," according to the publisher.
Favorite fictitious girls, including Eloise, Harriet the Spy and Nancy Drew, are represented, as are admirable real-life women, such as Helen Keller and Eleanor Roosevelt. Characters who break the "girl" mold such as sports enthusiasts and scientists figure prominently.
Of Beverly Cleary's "Ramona the Pest," Odean writes, "Ramona has some clear notions about differences between girls and boys boys are not supposed to want ribbons but she doesn't seem to limit herself to certain roles. She stomps in the mud with the best of them, a thoroughly likable and strong-minded child."
Odean also devotes a section of the book to boys and why they should read about girls so they grow up to treat them as equals.
Good fit is important
Having a child's car seat for passengers up to age 10 puts a family on the road toward a safer trip but the seat must be positioned correctly to be at its most effective.
"Installation is the most important thing," says Bob Yakushi, senior manager of auto safety engineering at Nissan North America. "The seat has to fit the vehicle and be the proper seat for the child."
According to Yakushi, the car-safety seat shouldn't move more than one inch when wiggled side to side or forward. There typically is less movement when car seats use the designated anchors available in newer vehicles than securing them with adult seat belts.
He offers these tips to make sure the seat performs properly:
Choose a safety seat that matches your child's weight and age.
Place the safety seat in the back seat of the vehicle.
Attach the safety seat to the vehicle using safety belts or anchors.
Secure the child snugly in the safety seat using the harness. A parent should only be able to fit two fingers under a secured harness.
Position the harness clip at the child's armpit level.
Yakushi also advises parents not to dress their children in heavy, bulky clothes when using a car seat because the harness ends up securing the clothes, not the child. Use a blanket over the harness if you're concerned about warmth, he says.
Another common mistake is that many parents "graduate" their children from their car seats to an adult seat belt too early, Yakushi says. A booster seat can be used in the transition.
Children aren't ready for the adult seat until they can sit with their back against the seat and their legs dangle over the cushion at a 90-degree angle.
Nissan offers its own fit guide, called Snug Kids, providing parents with specific information about the best-fitting seats for 2000-2002 Nissan or Infiniti vehicles.