Tag Archives: women who changed the world

Life in the Ocean – Sylvia Earle and a lesson in protecting our earth

ocean coverOur earth’s surface is about 71% water and 29% land, yet much of our seas have barely been explored. Life in the Ocean is the true story of Sylvia Earle, an oceanographer and activist. While the book is about how she fell in love with the sea at an early age, it is also a message that we need to take better care of our oceans.

The start of the book tells of Earle’s early life in New Jersey and her natural curiosity that developed while she was  living on an old farm. Earle investigated the world around her and studied nature and animals. A move to Florida and a pair of swim goggles showed her the amazing life that lived in the ocean and would forever change her life.

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The book then takes a quick turn by briefly describing Earle’s achievements. Between being the only woman doing the kind of research that she was involved in to developing equipment that would allow her to dive deeper in the water, she was obviously an important force in her field. I would have liked to have seen this developed more, but that is where the book becomes less of a biography and more of a book about the ocean and its future. Continue reading →

Chelsea Clinton’s She Persisted

she-persisted-bookYesterday Chelsea Clinton’s new book, She Persisted, arrived in my mail. I had pre-ordered it because I believe that it is an important item to show our children. Kids need to see people like them achieving their dreams. They need to know that life isn’t going to just hand them what they want, but if they believe in themselves and never give up, they can do great things. It is why I have also ordered a copy of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls.

I will admit, that when I first read the book, I was less than enamored with it. Clinton has put together 13 very abridged biographies about women from all over the spectrum – civil rights activists, artists, politicians, professionals, and athletes. I wanted something I could sink my teeth into a bit more. But I also tend to immerse myself in full picture book biographies about many of these subjects, so I wanted a viewpoint closer to the intended audience and asked my 10 year old to read it this morning. She actually read it out loud as we were driving to school and somehow hearing it in her voice gave it more power. Continue reading →

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark

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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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This biography does a great job of showing how many changes women have had to make over the years.

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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.”

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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.

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biographies of three strong women

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I am always on the lookout for something new to strike J’s fancy. Since starting this blog, I also look for books that I think are cool. I found these books from a variety of sources and was thrilled when our local library had them. I know that J liked one of these books, but we have been in the midst of packing, moving and unpacking, so she didn’t read any of them with me. But if you are looking for a good picture book that also introduces your child to the world of biographies, these are great. What I find extra special about these books is that they focus on strong women who changed the world that we live in. They are about women who made a difference and remind us that we all need to stand up and make a difference too.

miss-moore-thought-otherwise_hresMiss Moore Thought Otherwise, by Jan Pinborough, might be one of my favorite books of the year. This book tells the story of how Anne Carroll Moore created libraries for children. What is truly amazing about the book is how it continually shows how things were done in the late 1800s when Anne Moore was growing up and in the early 1900s, but when Miss Moore was faced with people telling her that girls “didn’t” or “shouldn’t” do something, the common refrain was “Miss Moore thought otherwise.”

It is hard for children today to comprehend that we live in a world where girls are not expected to just stay home and take care of the children. They can be stay-at-home moms, and my children see me and many others happily doing that, but a woman can choose to be almost anything she wants depending on the sacrifices that she is willing to make (just like a man). However, we are all well aware that this wasn’t always the case. As the book says, “In the 1870s many people thought a girl should stay inside and do quiet things such as sewing and embroidery.” But Anne Moore wanted to be like her 7 brothers out having fun and she wanted an education like them too.

It is also hard for children, and adults for that matter, to comprehend a time when children were not welcome in libraries. When librarians didn’t want kids to touch books for fear that they would hurt them (a la The Library Dragon). It was not until 1896 that the first library room designed for children was even created, and Miss Moore was given free rein to implement her ideas about how it should be run, including a pledge for kids wanting to take out books, story times, and the removal of “silence” signs. Miss Anne Moore was a major force behind publishing companies seeing the sense in publishing more books aimed at children and to make sure that they were quality books.

This book is full of wonderful history about Miss Moore and about the public library system.

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In the same feminist vein, I would also recommend Who Says Women Can’t be Doctors?, by Tanya Lee Stone. It starts out with the same point that Miss Moore Thought Otherwise was saying – “I’ll bet you’ve met plenty of doctors in your life. And I’ll bet lots of them were women. Well, you might find this hard to believe, but there once was a time when girls weren’t allowed to become doctors.” This book tells the story of Elizabeth Blackwell who became the first woman doctor in America.

In a very straight-forward manner, the book gives a great sense of who Elizabeth Blackwell was and how she wound up becoming a doctor. She was a girl who was spunky, strong, smart and who never walked away from a challenge. She was a curious girl who wanted to know more about the world around her She also never imagined being a doctor until a friend who was very ill put the idea in her head. Of course she was laughed at and rejected, but one school finally admitted her. “Elizabeth proved she was as smart as any boy.”

The book does breeze over the fact that even after she graduated she struggled immensely as people were still not ready to accept a female doctor. The information is there in the author’s note and is a good place to start a conversation with your child about what people can and cannot do. It is also a great lesson about how strong women from many years ago got us to where we are today. We need to be strong and smart in our own ways for future generations.

Brave-Girl-Markel-Michelle-9780061804427Brave Girl is the story of young Clara Lemlich who helps organize a strike of shirtwaist makers in 1909. I’m not sure how much we enjoyed this book given J’s age and interests, but it still deserves a place on this list.

When Lemlich’s family immigrates to the United States from the Ukraine at the turn of the century, Lemlich must go to work in the garment industry to help her family. There she is confronted by the exceptionally harsh rules of the time – 5 minutes late and you’re docked a half a day’s pay, prick your finger and bleed a drop on the cloth and you can be fired, not to mention the actual working conditions in cramped rooms without enough air where they are often locked in. Lemlich helped organize many strikes, including a massive general walkout where 20,000 employees refused to work.

I liked the concept of this book, but am not sure exactly what age group it was intended for. I think this makes more sense for 8-10 year olds, which is unfortunate, because there are a lot of great things to be learned from the story.  This is one that we will have to check out again when J gets older or perhaps if she starts to study this period of history.

My Name is Not Isabella

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.

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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!

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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.