Already it is nearing the end of March and I haven't even mentioned March being Women's History Month. Last week I received SIX boxes of books at school that I am still going through. I brought a stack home to read over spring break this week, two of which are great books about women who helped pave the way for those of us alive now.
Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell by Tanya Lee Stone, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman is the colorfully depicted story of Elizabeth Blackwell, who as a girl looked forward to any challenge that came her way. Although medicine had not been a lifelong dream, when Elizabeth talked to her sick friend, Mary, who confided in her that she would rather have been examined by a female doctor, Elizabeth began considering a career in medicine. Soon that thought turned into Elizabeth's dream - one she wouldn't give up despite being rejected by 28 different colleges.
My girls were a bit surprised that women were not always allowed to be doctors. They take for granted the idea that women and men are equals. This story captured my kindergarten daughter's attention as well as my third grade and fifth grade daughters'. The text and story were fast moving, yet gave enough information to tell Blackwell's story, also including two pages at book's end containing more information and a photo of Blackwell.
Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Maker's Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel, illustrated by Melissa Sweet is another great book for Women's History. Clara Lemlich is not a famous American, but the story of immigrant garment workers and the poor treatment they endured by their bosses is one that all Americans should know about. Clara went to work in one of these factories where she spent many hours hunched over a sewing machine. When Clara finds a group of men who are interested in striking she agrees that she, too, can strike as can other females. Clara was just as tough as any man, experiencing beatings, arrests, and broken ribs. And yet she didn't back down. The women, led by Clara and her encouragement continue to strike until their demands for higher salaries and better working conditions are met.
Melissa Sweet's illustrations which I have fallen in love with in all the books I have seen that she has illustrated - are colorful and brought Clara's story to life.
Although Clara is not well known, her message- that you can do anything you put your mind to- is one for all girls (and boys, too).