Brainy and Brave: A Salute to Hermione Granger

  • by Gwen Glazer

    September 19 marks the birthday of Hermione Granger, arguably the finest character in the Harry Potter books, who saves the day countless times with her sharp intellect and careful research.

    Hermione is smart, strong, determined, fierce. She’s also sensitive and compassionate, with a real sense of social justice. And she's flawed: She can be a bit of a bossy know-it-all, which just makes us love her more. Author J.K. Rowling called her “me, near enough”—Rowling’s own stand-in in the magical world she created.

    Emma Watson as Hermione. Image via

    There can only ever be one Hermione, but these other brainy, brave heroines from young-adult and middle-grade fiction remind us of her in some important ways.

    Can you think of more Hermione-like characters? Let us know in the comments.


    Jo March from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

    We’ll get the obvious one out of the way first. Jo is whip-smart, and she has more tenacity than all her sisters combined.






    mary anne

    Mary Anne Spier from The Babysitters Club series by Ann M. Martin

    She was technically the secretary of the club, but Mary Anne is the guiding voice of reason. She’s responsible, empathetic, and great in a crisis. One of the books is even titled Mary Anne Saves the Day, because of course she does.






    Janae from the Blacktop series by LJ Alonge

    Janae is like Hermione for basketball, except quieter (but she makes the honor roll, too). She works incredibly hard and plays through tremendous adversity… a Gryffindor if ever there was one.






    percy jackson

    Annabeth Chase from the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan

    How could the daughter of Athena be anything but wise and brave?






    hunger games

    Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins

    Katniss is smarter and heartier than most of her male counterparts, and she gets the spotlight that Hermione’s always deserved.







    Jen from the Lumberjanes series by Noelle Stevenson and co.

    As the counselor in charge of a group of unruly campers, responsible Jen is constantly struggling to keep the girls safe—and help them learn some obscure facts about botany while she’s at it.






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    Violet Baudelaire from A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

    Violet has a huge vocabulary, and she can be a bit bossy. She loves gadgets and invents things to help herself and her siblings puzzle out mysteries; we’d love to see what she could do with a time-turner.





    carry on

    Penelope Bunce from Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

    Brainy, brave, bookish, best friends with a Chosen One who’s destined to save the magical world (and who isn’t as good at magic as she is, and who desperately needs her help).







    Harriet from Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

    Intense and sometimes isolated from her peers, Harriet has Hermione’s ability to examine things intently and study situations closely.







    Matilda from Matilda by Roald Dahl

    She’s not as rule-abiding as Hermione, but Matilda’s love of books and fighting spirit is the epitome of the brains-and-bravery combo.







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    Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!