Mar 5, 2012

And now let's hear it for WOMEN!

Whether March came in like a lion or a lamb where you live, it ushered in Women’s History Month here in the USA. Initiated as Women’s History Week back in 1981, this annual spotlight has a short track record considering that females have outnumbered males in this country for decades.

If you read my post at the start of February regarding Black History Month you can safely assume those same sentiments apply to this month’s designation.

*sigh of resignation*

In the interest of sharing picture books deserving of a place on any bookshelf any time of the year, let’s look at three titles featuring six amazing women- three history-makers and three authors, all women of distinction in their own right.

When Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming was released last spring I posted a detailed review for the Center for Children’s Literacy. Since its release it has garnered four starred reviews and the coveted SCBWI Golden Kite Award for non-fiction. It’s a comprehensive and authoritative biography that reads like the best of fiction and features extensive photographic and archival images.

Nikki Grimes offers another impressive portrait in Talkin’ About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman (illustrated by E. B. Lewis). Grimes, acclaimed for her poetry and fiction, infuses energy, emotion, and insight into the story of Bessie’s short but influential life. This book has the distinction of winning a Coretta Scott King Honor for the text and medal for the illustrations.

Rounding out this high-flying trio of picture book inspiration is Amelia and Eleanor Go For a Ride, by Pam Munoz Ryan, (illustrated by Brian Selznick). Ryan depicts an evening at the White House dinner at which Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt slip away to share a night flight over Washington. They return and cap off a memorable evening when Eleanor slips behind the wheel of her brand new car to drive Amelia around Washington. Ryan’s notes in the back indicate the blend of research and imagination underlying her award-winning title.

All three are set in a time before Women's History Month was conceivable, paving the way for those of us who came after. Together they depict an era in which barriers of race and gender were far beyond overt and offensive, to say the least. That familiar old saw, "Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it", hovers over all of us. These three titles offer a line-up of impressive women from that time, each of whom deserves our attention on any day or month of the calendar.

And don't overlook the authors who brought these stories to us, three very impressive women by any measure.

So who do you nominate as an author or history-maker of note?


  1. Oh wow! This is pretty amazing. I knew about Amelia Earhart of course, but have never heard of the other two women.

    I am looking for some good picture books on women in Japanese history or Canadian history and it's hard. That's why we need Women's History Month.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Medea. It's fun to know that you found some new titles (and historic American women) from this post.
    As for Japanese and Canadian women in history, I can see your challenge. I tried several searches, including a few Canadian publishers I'm aware of, and I came up with nothing, so far. Stay tuned, though. I I turn anything up I'll get back to you. Readers, anyone have any suggestions?

  3. Medea, I tweeted for help from others. Allison/librarian reminded me of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes- not a picture book, but a terrific story of a national heroine of Japan- and of peace-lovers throughout the world.

  4. One book I'd recommend is "Lives of Extraordinary Women" by Kathleen Krull and illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt, if I'm not mistaken. The illustrations are very lively and vivid, incorporating small details that relate to the lives of notable women in history. Some are very well-known (Cleopatra, Eleanor Roosevelt, etc.), and some are probably less so for young readers (Rigoberta Menchu, Wilma Mankiller, etc.) I loved reading this book when I was younger, and I think it would be intriguing to kids who are interested in historical figures!

  5. Julle, thanks for the great lead. I've seen this title and haven't read it-yet-but I will now. The cover illustrations alone should have done it for me, and your suggestions makes it a must. I especially enjoy bios that thread through traits and details that make a person "real". Hope others take a look, too.


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