Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Non-Fiction History Books Celebrate the Past, Include the Present

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!

        Last week I shared a book titled Suffragette, The Battle for Equality. The 'way-back-when' history of women fighting always for other women, for their right to be heard!

Thanks to Candlewick Press for this book!
          This week, I love introducing still another book filled with short biographies of more recent women, some now passed, but who in the past century up to today, continue that fight for women's equal rights, continue to live their lives as examples of how persistence can achieve goals. Illustrations by Kylie Akia and Alexandra Bye carry a patriotic theme.

          While reading profiles of fifty women, many whom I enjoy hearing speak today, I am both proud of their achievements, but sad at the obstacles they faced and had to overcome. The authors, Virginia State Senator Janet Howell and her daughter, Theresa Howell have identified eight important character traits that "great leaders often develop, along with some suggestions of how those qualities can be expressed."  Wouldn't it be terrific to examine each one, to discuss with students how these traits help in achieving life's goals? 

Here are some of the women with a special quote included and a tidbit of information I pulled from the profiles:

           I'm proud that Condoleezza Rice achieved a doctorate right here in Denver, at the University of Denver! She developed a reputation through her writings as an expert in Russian affairs and culture.

         Hillary Clinton has shown toughness many times in her life. After graduating from Wellesley, she spent the summer in Alaska, traveling, working as a dishwasher and sliming fish in a canning factory. 

         During her time at Boston University, AOC worked for Senator Ted Kennedy on immigration issues.
        Carla Hayden was the first woman and first African-American to serve as Librarian of Congress. She was "a strong defender of personal privacy during a time when the government wanted libraries to hand over information about the books patrons were checking out."
          After so much, being in the military and losing both her legs in an accident, she still recovered and still wanted something more. She is the first disabled woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Then she ran for Senator, the position she holds today! She also is the first to give birth while in office. 
             Nominated by President Reagan, Justice O'Connor became the first female Supreme Court Justice. 

               Abigail Adams wrote more than two thousand letters, providing a picture of the country's early days. They "show her as a woman with strong ideas about how to govern the country. She argued that girls should have an education equal to boys and that enslaved people should be freed." 
               In their stories, most of the women's stories showed that they started speaking out early in their lives. Bella Abzug, a Congresswoman eventually, began speaking in front of her father's butcher shop at age twelve about the need for a separate Jewish state. She went on to give speeches at subway stops and then asking for money for the cause. She argued that girls should be able to play in boy's street games! Harvard Law School turned her down saying they do not admit females, so she went on to Columbia Law School. She was a fighter!

       The backmatter adds pages that include "How to Stand Up, Speak Out, and Make a Difference: A Take-Action Guide", Additional Women's Names that can be good to research, comprehensive source notes, acknowledgments, short bios of the creators, and an index! The book can be a book to read and enjoy or a springboard for further research about one or more of these women. 


  1. I really like Leading the Way. It's in our school library now. It will be a perfect book to use for research.

    1. Oh yes, I think so, too, Michele. Glad to hear it is already in your library!

  2. I love that they used illustrators for the portraits. It suggests the continuity between strong women in the past and strong women today, rather than trying to mix paintings and photos.

    1. You're right, Annette. I felt it was a lovely gesture to do that, too. It felt as if the portraits gave them even more substance.


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