Kiddosphere: Celebrating Women! Books for National Women’s Month
As someone who loves reading history and biography, February and March are two of my favorite months for blogging purposes: Black History Month and Women’s History Month! Here are my top favorites for learning about women from all walks of life:
Want something that’s possibly the most (visually) cheerful and adorable children’s book about the suffragist movement? Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, A Kitten, And 10,000 Miles is for you. Nell Richardson and Alice Burke traveled the country in their little yellow car with a typewriter, a sewing machine, a tiny kitten and much determination to fight for women’s right to vote. Along the way, they dealt with uncooperative weather, car issues and backlash–but also people who believed in their cause.
I haven’t read Before She Was Harriet (2017 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor recipient) yet, but this gorgeous picture book biography written in verse is next on my to-be-read list. Harriet Tubman was many names in her lifetime: as Minty, she was a young enslaved woman; as “Moses,” a leader of hundreds to freedom on the Underground Railroad, and as General Tubman, a spy for the Union Army. Older readers would find Who Was Harriet Tubman? and Harriet Tubman, Secret Agent fascinating; Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom is a fabulous biography for adults (especially if you’re only familiar with her Underground Railroad work).
Count on Us: American Women in the Military is a bit dated (2004 publication), but it’s still a great overview of the military history of American women, starting with the Revolutionary War (time for an update, National Geographic!). If women’s military history interests you, also check out Yankee Doodle Gals: Women Pilots of World War II or Angels of Mercy: The Army Nurses of World War II; adults should read Ashley’s War (heartbreaking story, but one of my favorite reads in the past several years).
Duncan Tonatiuh is one of my favorite author-illustrators, so I was excited when his latest, Danza! Amalia Hernandez and El Ballet Folklorico de Mexico, was another outstanding read. Combining elements of traditional Mexican dance, Amalia Hernandez created the famed El Ballet Folklorico de Mexico; as it is with many new artistic endeavors, there were many who did not approve. However, the company is now celebrated worldwide. Tonatiuh continues his immediately recognizable and unique illustration style modeled after Pre-Columbian art (Mixtec code).
In the late 1950s, Chinese cuisine was largely unknown outside of Chinese-American communities. After fleeing the Communist takeover in China, Joyce Chen opened her first restaurant in Cambridge, MA, popularizing the concept of a Chinese buffet (she also promoted healthy cooking techniques and refused to use food coloring). Later, she wrote a popular cookbook and had her own show on PBS. Dumpling Dreams: How Joyce Chen Brought the Dumpling From Beijing to Cambridge is the inspiring story of the Chinese-American immigrant who expanded other Americans’ taste buds.
I’m ready for a knockout full-length biography of Mae Jemison, the first African-American female astronaut. In the meantime, Mae Among the Stars is an enchanting introduction to this incredible astronaut, engineer, and physician. The obstacles and discrimination that Dr. Jemison faced is only hinted at in this story; her Caucasian teacher is doubtful of her dreams of going into space. Instead, this is a moving story of Jemison’s aspirations and her parents’ love and support. For a very basic biography, try the recent Rookie biography. Interested in the history of women astronauts? Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream and these biographies of Sally Ride are available: Who Was Sally Ride? and Sally Ride: America’s First Women in Space (adult biography). To the Stars! The First American Women to Walk in Space is a great picture book biography of Kathryn Sullivan. For general books about women scientists, try Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World or Women Who Launched the Computer Age. Of course, don’t miss the two Hidden Figures books for young readers (picture book and middle grade adaptation).
For more titles, check out the Kiddosphere blog.
For program highlights and staff suggestions for children and young adult readers, make Kiddosphere your source for all the latest on what to read and what to do for kids!
Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library