Most Americans know the story of Rosie the Riveter, the cultural icon representing the American women who went to work in the factories and shipyards during WWII when the men were away. But what about the women who stepped up to the plate during WWI? It wasn’t so much a problem of having all of the men go to war, but rather, the American farm workers were lured away from their farming jobs to earn higher wages working in manufacturing. There weren’t enough men to handle the crops needed to feed Americans and her allies. Well, it turns out that the Rosie of that time were women who trained to work on farms and got food to the public.
In her book, Doing Her Bit: A Story About the Woman’s Land Army of America, Erin Hagar shows how young women joined the Women’s Agricultural Camp, which would later become the Women’s Land Army of America. The farmerettes, as they were called, were trained in all aspects of farming, but many farmers still didn’t believe that women were strong enough or skilled enough to do the job right.
The story that Hagar focuses on is Helen Stevens, who was a real farmerette. Stevens was a college student when she signed up, but many women were dressmakers, factory workers, teachers, and housewives.
The early Women’s Land Army of America girls had to prove that they could do the job and that they deserved the same wages as men. They were early fighters for equal rights and their story of perseverance and determination deserves to be told.
As with most non-fiction picture books, the Author’s note was incredibly interesting and full of great facts. The inside front and back covers were filled with actual advertisements that were placed encouraging women to join in the land army.
Every Wednesday I try to post a non-fiction picture book as part of the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy. There are truly so many amazing nonfiction picture books being published these days, it can be hard to contain myself sometimes. Make sure to check out Kid Lit Frenzy and the linked blogs to find some more fabulous books!
What’s the sign of a truly awesome book? When your kids ask to read it over and over again. I’m thrilled to say that both of my girls are enthralled with the exceptional biography of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
This book seems like a book about disagreeing, but really, it’s about how Ruth Bader Ginsburg helped change our country for the better by arguing for the things that she believed in, one disagreement at a time.
The book starts at RBG’s childhood where she learned early from her mother that it was okay to disagree with the status quo. At that time, Ruth lived among many different immigrant cultures in who all unfortunately shared one viewpoint – boys were expected to grow up and do big things while girls were expected to find husbands. Ruth’s mother, Celia, taught her that girls should be able to make their mark as well and encouraged Ruth to read about strong women from books in the library.
Ruth was also confronted with prejudice at an early age based on her religion, but it made her aware of prejudices against other groups as well. She never forgot the sting of prejudice and it impacted how she treated others in return.
One thing this book makes painfully clear is how difficult it was to be a woman in the 50s, 60s and 70s. When Ruth went to Cornell in the 50s she was considered different when she wasn’t just going to college to meet a husband. When she wanted to go to law school, people disapproved. When she graduated from law school, tied in her class for first place among 9 women and 500 men, she couldn’t find a job because no one wanted to hire a female lawyer (especially a Jewish one).
This biography does a great job of showing how many changes women have had to make over the years.
As a lawyer RBG appeared before the Supreme Court to fight for the equal treatment of women. “She wasn’t only fighting for women. When women were excluded from the work world, men were excluded from home life.” She has fought for equal rights for all Americans in the workplace, in the court system, and the schools. She believes that all people should be treated equally regardless of race, color or sex and has worked tirelessly to make sure our nation’s systems treat them the same. “Her voice sings out for equality…[and] step by step, she has made a difference.”
Now I just have to go and read the grown-up version, The Notorious RBG.
This is one of many amazing non-fiction picture books that I first heard about as a part of Kid Lit Frenzy’s non-fiction picture book challenge. It has quickly become a family favorite. You never know what amazing books you can find when you check out the awesome collection of linked up blogs.
Those who know me know that raising strong girls who believe that they can do anything they set their hearts to, is a big priority in my life. If you haven’t already checked out A Mighty Girl, go check them out as soon as you are done reading this, as they are an amazing resource for great books. Our latest find from that site in an absolutely awesome book called My Name is Not Isabella.
The tagline to this book is “Just how big can a little girl dream?” The answer? To the moon and back. What is marvelous about this book, aside from the story itself, is that girls can get different things from this story at different ages.
The story is of a little girl named Isabella who wakes up one morning and tells her mom “my name is not Isabella.” The mom plays along and asks the little girl who she is. “I am Sally, the greatest, toughest astronaut who ever was.” As in Sally Ride, the first American woman to go into space in 1983. Each day Isabella wakes up with a new name and a new profession to go along with it, including the ever important job of “mommy.” At the end of the book, her mother puts her to sleep so she can dream “about who she would be tomorrow.”
What the kids don’t realize is that each time Isabella changes her name, she is naming a famous woman who has helped change our world. As a child matures, the back of the book has information on all of these women and definitions of the roles that helped make them special. My 6 year old and I were able to have a conversation about why these women were important. She can’t imagine a world where girls were not expected to go to school and when aspiring to a job outside of the home was not encouraged. We were also able to have a conversation about the activism of women like Rosa Parks and how seemingly small, incredibly brave, acts can make a huge impact in the world around us. This is also a great way to show girls that they can succeed in any job, even those that haven’t been typically dominated by women. It is great that my daughter has no clue that women haven’t been always welcomed with open arms to professions like medicine and science, but we need to keep it in her head that those are great jobs for anyone. Her current career choice is marine biologist, so we must be doing something right!
Jennifer Fosberry didn’t just write a great book for girls. For boys, there is a companion book called “My Name is Not Alexander.” It looks like a great book about men who changed the world.
Girls and boys can be anything that they want to be as long as we encourage them to dream big.