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Friday Five

Friday Five: Books for Women’s History Month

Friday Five

Happy Women’s History Month! Now that it’s halfway through the month, I’m finally getting around to sharing some of my favorite books about women’s history. I keep most of these books in my classroom year round, and they are picked up by both the boys and the girls.

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls
by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo

After the holidays, one of my students walked into the classroom clutching this book. She couldn’t stop talking about Serena Williams, Ada Lovelace, Cleopatra and other remarkable women. Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls holds the record for most funded book in crowdfunding history, and uses the fairytale format to tell the true stories of 100 inspirational women. My favorite part? It includes blank pages to tell the story of the rebel girl who is reading the book.

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark
by Debbie Levy

I can’t wait for this book to make its way into the hands of little girls around the world. It tells the story of a girl who wanted to change little things, and built her way up to changing big things. This story teaches a powerful lesson about activism. It proudly proclaims that even young children can work to change things in their communities. (Read my full review here!)

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World
Written and Illustrated by Rachel Ignotofsky

Last summer, in an independent bookstore on Cape Cod, the cover of Women in Science caught my eye. The remarkable illustrations in this book draw readers in, but it’s the incredible stories of female scientists that keep readers reading. This book taught me so much about the women who fought for spaces in labs and on research teams. We are all better off thanks to their courage and conviction.

Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote
by Tanya Lee Stone

This book does a remarkable job introducing the women’s suffrage movement and telling the tale of one of its heroes. Author Tanya Stone introduces not only the reasons women pushed for suffrage, but also some of the reasons people pushed back against it. After reading this book, my students were begging to read more about the women who fought for the vote.

Who Was Maya Angelou?
By Ellen Labrecque

I recently found some Who Was books on sale at a local store, and had to snatch up this one, along with the biographies of Amelia Earhart, Rachel Carson, and more. The Who Was series is beloved by students around the world, and Women’s History Month is the perfect time to pull out some special stories.

Do your students have any favorite books about Women’s History? Feel free to share in the comments below!


Friday Five: Books for Black History Month and Beyond

#DiverseKidLit, Friday Five

“I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.”
Martin Luther King, Jr., 1964, Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech

Around February every year, I see lists of great books featuring black protagonists or written by black authors. I love having this opportunity to share books that celebrate some amazing figures in our nation’s history. My hope, however, is that we can use these texts year-round in our classrooms. Kids deserve to see themselves represented in literature, and they also need to see the lives of others represented. My students have all read at least four of the books on today’s Friday Five list, and I can tell you that these books are in high demand year-round. The time is always right to share these stories with our children.

Martin’s Big Words
by Doreen Rappaport

I have always found the words of historical figures to be powerful tools in understanding a person’s impact on the world. The words of Martin Luther King Jr. live on in both our hearts and on stone, and with good reasons. My students were so inspired by the words of Dr. King, and they created posters to share their favorite quotes from the story. The quotes hang around our classroom as a reminder to be our best selves and help others in every way we can.

The Other Side
by Jacqueline Woodson

My students absolutely love Jacqueline Woodson’s books, and I love the way they introduce empathy and understanding to kids. In a New York Times article, author Kwame Alexander referenced Woodson’s books, then said: “If we don’t give children books that are literary mirrors as well as windows to the whole world of possibility, if these books don’t give them the opportunity to see outside themselves, then how can we expect them to grow into adults who connect in meaningful ways to a global community, to people who might look or live differently than they?” The Other Side is an excellent example of how Woodson creates windows and mirrors for kids.
Through My Eyes
by Ruby Bridges
There’s something extremely powerful about hearing someone’s story in their own words. Ruby Bridges’ memoir for children is an incredible collection of moments, feelings and memories. I read Through My Eyes for the first time in third grade, and I was completely hooked. I’ve never forgotten Ruby Bridges’ story. When I met her at a conference in 2012, I had the chance to tell her what an impact Through My Eyes made on me. The book is still inspiring children to reach out of their comfort zones in order to make connections with others.
Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis
by Jabari Asim
In 2012, I met Congressman John Lewis for the first time at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC. I asked him what work was left to be done for civil rights education, and he said “I think it’s important for all of our schools, elementary, middle school but even kindergarten level, really to teach young people about what happened and how it happened.” In our country, we have a tendency to teach a few lessons about the Civil Rights Movement during January and February, then check it off our list of things to cover. We need to make sure that education about civil rights heroes is engrained in our instruction so that students can understand America’s history. Preaching to the Chickens is an amazing new biography from Jabari Asim. It tells the story of John Lewis’ childhood, inspiring children to realize that any kid can grow up to be a world changer.
Who Was Rosa Parks?
Rosa Parks once wrote, “People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” Rosa Parks’ story is one that often gets reduced to a sentence or two of a black history month presentation. My students love this book because it lets them dig deep into the story of Rosa Parks’ deliberate actions towards creating a better world.

Feel free to share your favorite books in the comments below!