Tag Archives: women’s history

2016 Hub Challenge Check-In #9

27 Mar


Yesterday, I reached the magic number of 25. I read my 25th book for the 2016 HUB reading Challenge. Yay me! I reached this magic number by reading Rad American Women A-Z written by Katie Schatz and illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl.


The book is exactly what the title implies: an alphabet  book of notable American women, beginning with


and ending with


In between we encounter many familiar names , and some new ones:

Billie Jean King, Carol Burnett, Dolores Huerta, Ella Baker, Florence Griffith-Joyner, the Grimke Sisters, Hazel Scott, Isadora Cuncan, Jovita Idar, Kate Bornstein, Lucy Parsons, Maya Lin, Nellie Bly, Odetta, Patti Smith, Queen Bessie Coleman, Rachel Carson, Sonia Sotomayor, Temple Grandin, Ursula K. LeGuin, Virginia Apgar, Wilma Mankiller, X,  and Yuri Kochiyama.

Each Rad Woman gets a one page biography, just enough to get a reader interested enough to learn more. The back matter includes suggestions about what readers can do as well as book and online resources for further research.

An excellent nonfiction book to add to classroom libraries across multiple grades.

Taking a stand

30 Jul


In She Takes a Stand: 16 Fearless Activists who have Changed the World author Michael Elsohn Ross has written an inspiring collection of short biographies  featuring 16 contemporary and historical women from around the world who have advocated for change around issues of injustice in its many guises.

Each chapter tells the story of one activist who passionately fought for equal rights at great personal cost. Causes included the rights of girls and women for equal access to the same liberties as men (to vote, for birth control, for education, for safety), to stop global crony capitalism, to support worker’s rights and many others.

This book is designed for slightly older readers. The text is set up fairly traditionally and each chapter has one black and white photo of its subject. This might be off-putting to someone who stumble sup on this book on the shelves but budding activists and lovers of non-fiction will enjoy the book if they take it off the shelf. Ross explains things clearly, with an emphasis on childhood details, motivations, and life turning points.

The book includes related sidebars, a bibliography, source notes, and a list of activist organizations.

YALSA’s 2015 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge Check-In #4

4 Jan

I didn’t make much progress on the Challenge this week. I started reading Ida M. Tarbell: The Woman Who Challenged Big Business—and Won! by Emily Arnold McCully.


She’s sort of the most famous woman you’ve never heard of. Born in 1857 and raised in Pennsylvania oil country, Ida M. Tarbell was one of the first investigative journalists and probably the most influential in her time. Her series of articles on the Standard Oil Trust, a complicated business empire run by John D. Rockefeller, revealed to readers the underhanded, even illegal practices that had led to Rockefeller’s success. So far, although informative, I’m finding it a slow read. It’s not hard, I just don’t feel as though I have the sense of her yet.

This will be the last nonfiction book I comment on. All the others are CYBILS YA nonfiction finalists for which I am a judge. I’ll be rereading and blogging about the Morris Award finalists, though.

Celebrate women’s history month with some great books

6 Mar

In January, the Amelia Bloomer Project announce the 2014  list of books that highlight the power of the individual and the collective voices of women across time and around the world. Here are the top 10.

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Cummins, Julie. “Flying Solo: How Ruth Elder Soared into America’s Heart.” Illus. by Malene R. Laugesen. 2013. Unpaged. Roaring Brook Press, $17.99 (978-1-5964-3509-4). K-Gr.2

Gevinson, Tavi (Ed.). “Rookie Yearbook Two.” 2013. 348p. Drawn & Quarterly, $29.95 (978-1-7704-6148-2). Gr.7-up.

Global Fund for Children. “Global Baby Girls.” 2013. Unpaged. Charlesbridge Publishing, $6.95 (978-1-5808-9439-5). PreS.

Markel, Michelle. “Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909.” Illus. by Melissa Sweet. 2013. Unpaged. Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (978-0-0618-0442-7). K-Gr.4.

Molloy, Aimee.“ However Long the Night: Molly Melching’s Journey to Help Millions of African Women and Girls Triumph.” 2013. 252p. HarperOne, $25.99 (978-0-0621-3276-5). Gr.10-up.

Mullenbach, Cheryl.  “Double Victory: How African American Women Broke Race and Gender Barriers to Help Win World War II.”  2013. 266p. Chicago Review Press, $19.95 (978-1-5697-6808-2). Gr.9-up.

Povich, Lynn. “The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued Their Bosses and Changed the Workplace.” 2012. 249p. PublicAffairs, $25.99 (978-1-6103-9173-3). Gr.10-up.

Schnall, Marianne. “What Will It Take to Make a Woman President? ” 2013. 386p. Seal Press, $17.00 (978-1-5800-5496-6). Gr.10-12.

Wishinsky, Frieda. “Profiles: Freedom Heroines.” 2012. 144p. Scholastic, $6.99 (978-0-5454-2518-6). Gr.4-6.

Yousafzai, Malala with Christina Lamb. “I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban.” 2013. 327p. Little, Brown and Company, $26.00 (978-0-3163-2240-9). Gr.8-12.

Click here to see the full list.

Ravensbruck: fiction/non-fiction pairing

14 Oct


I read Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein this weekend. It is a wonderful companion  to Code Name Verity. 

Rose Justice is a young pilot with the Air Transport Auxiliary during the Second World War. On her way back from a semi-secret flight in the waning days of the war, Rose is captured by the Germans and ends up in Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi women’s concentration camp. There, she meets an unforgettable group of women, including a once glamorous and celebrated French detective novelist whose Jewish husband and three young sons have been killed; a resilient young girl who was a human guinea pig for Nazi doctors trying to learn how to treat German war wounds; and a Nachthexen, or Night Witch, a female fighter pilot and military ace for the Soviet air force. These damaged women must bond together to help each other survive.

This got me thinking about a book I read in the summer: A Train in Winter : An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France by Caroline Moorhead.


Here’s the blurb from the back cover:

They were teachers, students, chemists, writers, and housewives; a singer at the Paris Opera, a midwife, a dental surgeon. They distributed anti-Nazi leaflets, secreted Jews to safety, transported weapons, and conveyed clandestine messages. The youngest was a schoolgirl of fifteen; the eldest, a farmer’s wife in her sixties.

Eventually, the Gestapo hunted down 230 women active in the French Resistance and imprisoned them in a fort outside Paris. Separated from home and loved ones, these disparate individuals turned to one another, their common experience conquering divisions of age, profession, and class, as they found solace and strength in their deep affection and camaraderie.

In January 1943, they were sent to their final destination: Auschwitz. Only forty-nine would return to France.

A Train in Winter draws on interviews and deep archival research to uncover a dark chapter of history that offers an inspiring portrait of ordinary people, of bravery and survival—and of the remarkable, enduring power of female friendship.

Both books shed light on the particular experiences of women in concentration camps. Both were  horrific, but shed light on a particular aspect of women’s history. This would be a great pairing for high school history teachers, looking for a way to give their students a deeper understanding of the Holocaust, or for kids who like me, love history. Both are very readable and I highly recommend them.

Almost to the finish line

11 Jun

Three more days.

The 4th grade is finishing up the Oregon trail unit, among other things and I think I know how the travelers must have felt as they approached Oregon City.

The kids in my high reading group are finishing up their biographies of famous Oregonians. They are making pizza box biographies, which are in various stages of completion. No matter what, they go home tomorrow afternoon. Here are some samples what they’ve been up to.

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I only let them use two online resources for research: The Oregon Encyclopedia and The Oregon Blue Book.

Women of the Frontier on the other hand, is a new print book written by Brandon Marie Miller.


Its subtitle is  16 Tales of Trailblazing Homesteaders, Entrepreneurs, and Rabble Rousers. The author uses journals, letters and song lyrics to give voice to the women who helped steel the West. Some of the women in this book were subjects of the 4th graders’ pizza box biographies. Most are unknown or not very well known.  The men seem to get all the glory, but these are important stories about real, down to earth people. It even has a section dedicated to the Native American experience as settlers moved onto traditional Native lands.

The book includes photos & drawings from the period and has an extensive bibliography. Most of my 4th graders won’t read this (though a couple of the girls might be interested), but I found this a very useful resource for me.

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