Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Non-Fiction Picture Books Fill Readers With History

Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  Thanks to her hosting and sharing and those who add their posts, you can discover and celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books!  I always learn from these books, am happy that they are more and more available today for children, for everyone!

        I've been out of town most of the recent two weeks and before and since, I've been reading several books, this one that I'm most excited about thanks to Candlewick Press, out in October in the U.S. from their division, Walker Books. David Roberts, author and illustrator of earlier beloved books like Rosie Revere and Ada Twist, brings to older readers and teens a comprehensive and illustrated history of women's fight for equal rights, Suffragette, The Battle for Equality.

          David Roberts' introduction tells of a history teacher's project assignment to take one of the old books strewn across her desk where they must find a topic, research and illustrate it! He discovers a book among them where a photograph shows two women in old-time prison uniforms, above them the title, The Suffragettes. Who they were is the question he has answered in this wonderful book, full of stories really, of this seventy-five-year-old battle, one the foreword by Crystal N. Feimster, a Yale associate professor, writes "is one of the most important political movements in history." 
           The beginning chapter is "A Man's World", detailing the background of why women weren't allowed to vote. Others define suffrage itself, show the seeds of discontent with even earlier attempts, but as many have seen in other protests, calm does not always succeed although it does get attention. Alternating the history of the U.K. with the United States, one inspiring the other, the varying small stories entice, some showing the persistence of women who worked for this cause for over sixty years. I learned many stories, wonder if classrooms couldn't split up the chapters for research by individual students, deepening the information of the woman or women, the man or men who were in the thick of this struggle? Here are examples of the stories illustrated by Roberts' beautiful stylized watercolors.

A slogan coined by Emmeline Pankhurst that time to be polite was over. It was time for action!

One example of the ACTION! More than 3,000 women from over forty suffrage societies in what was called "a law-abiding procession" were to march two miles to the bandstand at Hyde Park Corner. "In 1907 it would have been shocking to see so many women join a protest march." The weather did not help!

Something new to me, but a woman named Edith Garrud had learned the skill of jujitsu. She and her husband William began classes for women and children. "Soon suffragettes started attending" tired of their now violent experiences that had been happening. 

It was great to see the story of Ida B. Wells who did not follow the rule of African-American women marching at the back, or not being included at all in the U.S. She waited and then joined the others at the front of the lines.

        Once in a while, there are small pictures with brief biographies of some of the more important people in the movements. There is a page that shows numerous buttons used during the different campaigns. There are songs and poems, words about those who went on hunger strikes and being force-fed. Each one is illustrated in ways that strike a note of interest, of inspiration. It is a book that I hope will end in classrooms across the U.S. In our days of continuing to speak of women's rights, it is time to learn of those who fought hard before.

        Roberts adds a bibliography at the end.

         Next week, I'll share another book about strong women, many living today, still working hard for women and girls. Now, I'm thinking of my granddaughters! 


  1. There seems to be more and more collections being published. I wonder how they are being used the most - whether kids check them out to read, or if they are pulled for research tools. Either way, it's nice to see so much great information compiled together!

    1. Yes, more and more. I think it would be a student who is really interested in the topic or needs to do some research. This could be used in part as a read aloud. Thanks, Michele!


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