Children and Gender in Libraries, 1876-1900
If I were going to write the paper I've had in my mind for some time on what gender means in these book recommendations, what it says about the children and about the books, then I would use these books to launch that project:
Women's Education in the United States, 1780-1840, by Margaret A. Nash (2005)
This book would be a great way to get a feel for at least some women's lived gender context, and it's supposedly the flat-out best history on this topic available.
How Young Ladies Became Girls: The Victorian Origins of American Girlhood by Jane H. Hunter (2002)
Looks like I'll be copying the chapters on diaries and on reading out of this one, and thanks to A.P. for citing this in one of her recent articles. There's a ton to draw from here in understanding librarians' recommendations.