Tag Archives: Women’s history

More interesting women: Beyond picture books

Amazing Women by Caryn Jenner
Shares the experiences of important women in history, including Aung San Suu Kyi, Arianna Huffington, and Madam C.J. Walker.

Fannie Never Flinched: One Woman’s Courage in the Struggle for American Labor Union Rights by Mark Cronk Farrell
Traces the life of Fannie Sellins, a union activist who traveled the nation promoting fair wages and decent working and living conditions for workers in the garment and mining industries.

Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science by Jeannine Atkins
A novel in verse about three girls from different time periods who grew up to become scientists introduces the lives of insect life-cycle artist Maria Merian, fossil pioneer Mary Anning, and comet discoverer Maria Mitchell.

A Kids’ Guide to America’s First Ladies by Kathleen Krull; illustrated by Anna Divito
Examines Americas first ladies and how they helped advance women’s rights, political causes and other important progressive changes.

Motor Girls: How Women Took the Wheel and Drove Boldly into the Twentieth Century by Sue Macy
Presents the first generation of female motorists who drove cars for fun, profit, and to make a statement about the evolving role of women.

New picture books about interesting women

Anything but Ordinary Addie: The True Story of Adelaide Herrmann, Queen of Magic by Mara Rockliff; illustrated by Iacopo Bruno
Traces the story of dancer-turned-magician’s assistant Adelaide Herrmann, placing her achievements against a backdrop of period conventions about women in the arts and her determination to continue her work after the death of her husband.

Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles by Mara Rockliff; illustrated by Hadley Hooper
Follows suffragettes Nell Richardson and Alice Burke’s cross-country journey to campaign for women’s right to vote.

Caroline’s Comets: A True Story by Emily Arnold McCully
Caroline Herschel was the first woman to discover a comet and the first woman to be paid as a scientist.

Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education by Raphaële Frier; illustrated by Aurélia Fronty.
Describes how a young Pakistani activist was violently targeted by the Taliban for her efforts to secure educational rights for girls.

Miss Mary Reporting: The True Story of Sportswriter Mary Garber by Sue Macy; illustrated by C.F. Payne
Details the life and accomplishments of Mary Garber, the first woman to win the Associated Press Sports Editors’ Red Smith Award and to be inducted into the Hall of Fame of the National Sportcasters and Sportswriters Association.

Miss Paul and the President: The Creative Campaign for Women’s Right to Vote by Dean Robbins; illustrated by Nancy Zhang
A picture book introduction to the achievements and legacy of indefatigable suffragette Alice Paul describes how she launched campaigns, organized protests and met with President Woodrow Wilson to secure voting rights for women.

Swimming with Sharks: The Daring Discoveries of Eugenie Clark by Heather Lang; illustrated by Jordi Solano
This picture book biography follows the life of Eugenie Clark, the Japanese-American scientist, researcher, and diver, who became famous as “The Shark Lady” for her groundbreaking discoveries about shark behavior.

Ada Lovelace Day

One time in Girl Scouts, I was working on a badge.  One of the activity options was to learn about a woman who played a role the history of computer science.  The computer books in the children’s section of my library were pretty old, and I didn’t find anything.  Some time after that I was reading one of my dad’s magazines and found an article about Ada Lovelace.  I thought to myself That’s who they must have been talking about! (although I later learned that there were other women, too).

Recently, a couple of children’s books about Ada Lovelace have been published:

Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark
The daughter of famous romantic poet Lord Byron develops her creativity through science and math and writes the world’s first computer program to demonstrate the capabilities of inventor Charles Babbage’s pioneering mechanical innovation.

Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer by Diane Stanley
A fascinating look at Ada Lovelace, the pioneering computer programmer and the daughter of the poet Lord Byron.  School Library Journal called it “Great for read-alouds and lesson plans on coding.”

There’s even some fiction about young Ada!  The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency series is closer to steampunk than historical fiction (but I enjoy that, because the first book I read with Ada Lovelace as a character was a steampunk novel for adults, The Difference Engine).

The Case of the Missing Moonstone by Jordan Stratford
Imagines an alternate 1826 London, where Ada Lovelace (the world’s first computer programmer) and Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein) meet as girls and form a secret detective agency. Their first case involves a stolen heirloom, a false confession, and an array of fishy suspects.

The Case of the Girl in Grey by Jordan Stratford
Spotting a ghostly girl in the park who resembles the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency’s new client, Lady Ada and Mary discover links between the girl and a case involving a hospital, a missing will, a hasty engagement, and a devious servant.

Ada Lovelace Day is for celebrating not just Ada Lovelace, but other women working in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  These new books have information about a variety of other women:

Women in Information Technology by Shaina Indovino
Read about several women in computer science history (including Ada Lovelace), and opportunities for careers in the field.

Trailblazers : 33 Women in Science who Changed the World by Rachel Swaby
A collection of profiles of some of history’s most fascinating female scientists (including Ada Lovelace).

 Women who Launched the Computer Age by Laurie Calkhoven
True story of six women who programmed the ENIAC computer as part of a secret WWII mission. They learned to program the computer without any software, instructions or tools (none existed).
More new books are coming soon!  You may have already seen trailers for the movie Hidden Figures, based on a book for adults.  The Young Readers’ Edition is coming out in November, and you can place a hold on it now:
If you want to inspire (or reinforce the existing interests of) a younger child, you might try the new picture book Ada Twist, Scientist (I think she may owe her name to Ada Lovelace)!
Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty
Ada Twist is a very curious girl who shows perseverance by asking questions and performing experiments to find things out and understand the world.

75 years of Lynne Cheney

Former Second Lady Lynne Cheney turns 75 today.  Did you know that she has written a number of books on American history for children?

a abigail
A is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women
“Each letter of the alphabet is represented by an important woman in the history of the United States, as well as others in her same field of accomplishment.”

america primer
America: A Patriotic Primer
“Each letter of the alphabet is represented by important people, ideas, and events in the history of the United States.”

time freedom
A Time for Freedom: What Happened When in America
Browse your way through American history with facts, trivia, and quotations.

we people
We the People: The Story of Our Constitution
“In May 1787 delegates from across the country–including George Washington, James Madison, and Benjamin Franklin–gathered in Philadelphia and, meeting over the course of a sweltering summer, created a new framework for governing: the Constitution of the United States.”

when washington
When Washington Crossed the Delaware: A Wintertime Story for Young Patriots
“Best-selling author Lynne Cheney tells the dramatic story of the military campaign that began on Christmas night in 1776.”



Zora Neale Hurston at 125

January 7 marked 125 years since author and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston was born.  You can sample her work, read about her life, and even find her in works of fiction:

Roy Makes a Car by Mary E. Lyons; based on a story collected by Zora Neale Hurston, illustrated by Terry Widener
Roy Tyle, the best mechanic in the state of Florida, can clean spark plugs by just looking at them, and he takes a two-dollar bet that he can make an accident-proof car.

The Skull Talks Back  collected by Zora Neale Hurston; adapted by Joyce Carol Thomas; illustrated by Leonard Jenkins
A collection of six scary stories for middle grade readers

The Three Witches collected by Zora Neale Hurston; adapted by Joyce Carol Thomas; illustrated by Faith Ringgold.
Three hungry witches set out to eat two orphaned children while their grandmother is away at the market.

Zora!  The Life of Zora Neale Hurston by Judith Bloom Fradin and Dennis Brindell Fradin
Read the story of the author’s life, including her childhood, her role in the Harlem Renaissance, photographs, and excerpts from her letters.

A Song for Harlem by Patricia C. McKissack
In the summer of 1928, Lilly Belle Turner of Smyrna, Tennessee, participates in a young author’s writing program, taught by Zora Neale Hurston and hosted by A’Lelia Walker in her Harlem teahouse at the height of the Harlem Renaissance.  Part of the historical fiction series Scraps of Time

Zora and Me
Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon
A fictionalized account of Zora Neale Hurston’s childhood with her best friend Carrie, in Eatonville, Florida, as they learn about life, death, and the differences between truth, lies, and pretending.  Winner of the 2011 John Steptoe New Talent (Author) Award

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Girl Detectives

The popular mystery writer Agatha Christie would have been 125 years old this year.  In her honor, here is a batch of new historical mysteries featuring girl detectives.

The Case of the Missing Moonstone
The Case of the Missing Moonstone by Jordan Stratford
This is more steampunk than historical fiction, but how could I leave it out?  “Imagines an alternate 1826 London, where Ada Lovelace (the world’s first computer programmer) and Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein) meet as girls and form a secret detective agency. Their first case involves a stolen heirloom, a false confession, and an array of fishy suspects”– Provided by publisher.
This title is available on the Children’s Services Nook and as a Playaway audiobook.

The Case of the Stolen Sixpence
The Case of the Stolen Sixpence by Holly Webb
Junior sleuth Maisie Hitchins, who lives in her grandmother’s boarding house in Victorian London, uncovers an intriguing plot involving stolen sausages, pilfered halfpennies, and a fast-paced bicycle chase.  This not-too-scary mystery is a good choice for younger chapter book readers.  It is also available as a Playaway audiobook.

Chasing Secrets
Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko
Thirteen-year-old Lizzie and her secret friend Noah, who is hiding in her house, plan to rescue Noah’s father from the quarantined Chinatown, and save everyone they love from contracting the plague that is spreading in 1900 San Francisco.  This is a brand new title by the author of the popular Al Capone Does My Shirts.

The Detective's Assistant
The Detective’s Assistant by Kate Hannigan
“In 1859, eleven-year-old Nell goes to live with her aunt, Kate Warne, the first female detective for Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency. Nell helps her aunt solve cases, including a mystery surrounding Abraham Lincoln, and the mystery of what happened to Nell’s own father. Includes author’s note and bibliographic references”– Provided by publisher.
Although Nell is fictional, Kate Warne was a real detective!
This book is also available as a downloadable ebook and e-audiobook through eRead Illinois.

Murder is Bad Manners
Murder is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens
At an English boarding school in the 1930s, crime-solving friends Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells struggle to find an exciting mystery to investigate until Hazel discovers the dead body of Miss Bell, the science teacher.  This title is also available as a downloadable ebook through 3M.

Nooks & Crannies
Nooks & Crannies by Jessica Lawson
Eleven-year-old Tabitha Crum finds herself in a mysterious situation.  Her parents were just about to abandon her when she is invited to the country estate of a wealthy countess along with five other children and told that one of them will become her heir.

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place
The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry
“Seven very proper Victorian young ladies conspire to hide a murder from the authorities at their boarding school”– Provided by publisher.
To be fair, they are trying to solve the murder.  The audiobook (available on CD and as a download) won an Odyssey Honor.  An ebook is also available to download.

The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill
The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill by Megan Frazer Blakemore
Hazel Kaplansky and new student Samuel Butler investigate rumors that a Russian spy has infiltrated their small Vermont town, amidst the fervor of Cold War era McCarthyism, but more is revealed than they could ever have imagined.   This title is also available as a downloadable ebook.

Twelve Minutes to Midnight
Twelve Minutes to Midnight by Christopher Edge
Thirteen-year-old Penelope, the secret author of macabre tales in “The Penny Dreadful,” Victorian London’s bestselling magazine, investigates the mystery of a strange phenomenon occurring in the local insane asylum.

Unstoppable Octobia May
Unstoppable Octobia May by Sharon G. Flake
In 1953 ten-year-old Octobia May lives in her Aunt’s boarding house in the South, surrounded by an African American community which has its own secrets and internal racism, and spends her days wondering if Mr. Davenport in room 204 is really a vampire–or something else entirely.   This title is also available as a downloadable ebook and a Playaway audiobook.

Quick Picks: The Voting Rights Act

Lillian's Right to Vote
Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by Jonah Winter

A woman goes on a symbolic journey through American history on the way to cast her ballot.

This book was inspired by Lillian Allen, who voted in the 2008 election at the age of 100!

It impressed me to learn that the real Lillian Allen campaigned from door to door in Pittsburgh for President Obama’s first election.  My pop-pop and great aunts live in Pittsburgh and are almost Ms. Allen’s age.  Doing anything door to door in mountainous Pittsburgh is quite a feat!

Grandaddy's Turn
Grandaddy’s Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein

Young Michael goes with his grandfather as he attempts to vote and is prevented from doing so.  Michael carries the memory with him when he is old enough to vote for the first time.

The notes on this book discuss how literacy tests were used to keep people from voting.  I had a chance to look at some old family papers a few years ago and was surprised to see forms certifying the literacy of my mom’s parents.  It seemed funny at first, since they were both college graduates.  It was less funny when I saw the marriage paperwork for two of my dad’s grandparents.  His grandmother was a new immigrant, and signed an X instead of her name.

Comparing the two books, Lillian’s Right to Vote does more to show how people worked to change unjust laws.  It also brings up (in the Author’s Note) the current issue of voter ID laws.  Although the story in Grandaddy’s Turn is moving, it’s a little unsatisfying that such elements are not included– and that Michael’s grandmother is never shown going to vote.