Monday, April 02, 2007

Women’s History Month

by Kittenpie

Did you know March was Women’s History Month? I think it’s interesting to use these opportunities to remind us to talk with our kids, but I will say right up front that I find a lot of the books related to topics like this are more factual than fun, more history than story. And while there are biographies and stories talking about hundreds of important and interesting women, I’m not sure this what parents are looking for as shared reading with our kids. Instead, we as parents can teach more gently, reading books that open discussion and lead to questions, rather than providing a straight history, per se. To that end, here are just a few books that I particularly like for just opening a topic or approaching women’s history obliquely. These are told in fun picture book form, though they are sophisticated enough to appeal to older kids, too. They are, rather than non-fiction, stories built upon events or people in history, sometimes embellished for effect, to help make them a good read. Who says history has to be dull?

Amelia and Eleanor Go For A Ride
Pam Munoz Ryan, ill. Brian Selznick

This gorgeous book is based on a night when Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt dined together, and takes off with the possibility of what two such daring women might get up to together. It’s lovely, and a nice way to introduce these women without being too information-heavy. Instead, they are real, fun people who are a little less demure than their age expected of them.
You should also take a look at the same duo’s breathtaking tribute to Marian Anderson, When Marian Sang, which I neglected when I posted for Black History Month.

She’s Wearing a Dead Bird On Her Head!
Kathryn Lasky, ill. David Catrow

Two well-heeled Boston women star in this look at the way a woman can make a change when she perceives something wrong. Appalled at the trend in hats that was endangering birds, Harriet Hemenway and Minna Hall rounded up the women of society, as well as a good number of men, and began the Audubon Society. They not only made their voices heard, but got laws passed and enforced through their determination, even at a time when, as the book notes, women had little voice and power. This story includes a little more context about the time, but not enough to drag it down, especially with Catrow’s amusing illustrations to brighten things up.

You Forgot Your Skirt, Amelia Bloomer!
Shana Corey and Chesley McLaren

A silly look at the stir caused by the arrival of bloomers and the shedding of massive underpinnings. More symbolic of a sweeping change than being one itself, this is a cute way to talk about how much life has changed for women in the past century or so.

Moms of girls might also want to make this month a chance to take a look at one of the many bibliographies of great books for kids featuring girl-power-friendly characters. The library carries a few of these:

Once Upon a Heroine
Alison Cooper-Mullin and Jennifer Marmaduke Coye

100 Books For Girls To Grow On
Shireen Dodson

Let’s Hear It For The Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14
Erica Bauermeister and Holly Smith

These and other great books for boys and girls can be found at your local public library!


A career Children’s Librarian, kittenpie has worked in library systems in both New York and Toronto, and delights in sharing favourite books with kids of all ages. Settled back in Toronto, she now brings work home to read to her own little Pumpkinpie.

1 comment:

something blue said...

You mean I cannot just put on the Spice Girls and dance around the house? hee hee.

Once again, I love your suggestions!