March means National Women's History Month
and International Women's Day!
One of my favorite things about being a librarian is getting to do book displays – which not only help match every book with its reader; they also give librarians a chance to boost circulation and highlight important parts of their collection that might otherwise get lost in the stacks. So naturally, March yields some wonderful Girl Power book displays.
I must point out, of course, that March shouldn't be the only time of the year strong girls and women are highlighted in your library – this should be happening every month, just as books about people of color and/or different cultures should be found in book displays year-round, not just during the months designated to honor them.
Whether you're a librarian or not, March can serve as an annual reminder for all of us about *just how important* it is to see ALL girls (and boys and others – but largely, girls) of ALL kinds represented in the media we consume and willingly and/or otherwise allow the future generation to consume!
So without any further ado, here are some of the titles I've been paying extra attention to displaying this month! Broken down into five categories, these are a few of my favorite picture books that promote women's history, feminism, bravery, strength and independence to our youngest library patrons – male, female or anything beyond and in-between!
Brains, Beauty AND Bravado
A self-affirming text featuring girls of all colors, sizes and abilities, this book reminds girls that regardless of what others say (or what you might sometimes think about yourself): YOU ARE ENOUGH! This lyrical ode to being yourself, loving who you are, and treating others with kindness and respect makes it a picture book that I think everyone could use right now!
This endearing story (only a few years younger than myself) is about a little girl who proves she's "big" in lots of other, special ways – much in thanks to her healthy and loving relationship with her wise grandmother. This book provides excellent reinforcement about the power and importance of nurturing healthy relationships between multi-generational women.
A truly adorable book with tremendous, inclusive illustrations that show the many different ways girls are beautiful. As the back of the book explains, it's not all about your clothes, your hair, your style. It's all about WHO YOU ARE.
NOTE: This one may be my all-time favorite Girl Power picture book EVER! I've bought this book multiple times as birthday presents for the young girls in my life, because it is a book that could and should be shared aloud together, again and again.
Future Leaders & Early Activists
Perhaps one of the better known contemporary Girl Power picture books, Grace for President serves as a fun and understandable childhood introduction to the American electoral system. But even more importantly, this book also teaches children the value of supporting brave and hardworking leaders who listen to and fight for their constituents. And in this book, that leader just so happens to be a young black girl named Grace, not her white, male opponent.
The Pink Hat was inspired by the 5 million people (many of them children) in 82 countries who participated in the 2017 Women's March. This timely and adorable story is empowering and promotes strength in a diverse and active feminist community, beginning at a young age.
NOTE: I'm willing to bet that this will be one of my favorite picture books of 2018, and we're only a quarter through the year! The first time I read this book after I ordered it for my library, I could not stop smiling, almost cried, and then ran around showing it to my colleagues before reading it again.
I mean . . . is it even an option to not include a book about (AND BY) Malala in this section? If she hasn't exemplified what a Phenomenal Woman can be . . . I just don't know who has!
Malala's recent book details how her desire and drive for equality and girlhood education ultimately almost cost her her life, but it also led to her becoming the youngest recipient of Nobel Peace Prize at just 17 years old.
NOTE: I sometimes hear/see parents steering their child(ren) away from particular books, not dissimilar to this one, because they address "more adult topics" like violence and oppression. OK. It's your child – it's your right. But wasn't Malala herself just a child when what she writes about took place? Clearly, some children don't have the privilege to ignore those "adult topics," and can still flourish and grow into someone as amazing as Malala.
Full STEAM Ahead, Girls
"'Why does it tick and why does it tock?' 'Why don't we call it a grandDAUGHTER clock?' 'Why are there pointy things stuck to a rose?' 'Why are there hairs up inside of your nose?'
She started with 'Why?' and then 'What?' 'How?' and 'When?' By bedtime she came back to 'Why?' once again. She drifted to sleep as her dazed parents smiled at the curious thoughts of their curious child, who wanted to know what the world was about. They kissed her and whispered, 'Figure it out,'" -Ada Twist, Scientist
For another endearing and aspirational book about girls and STEAM, be sure to check out another of Beaty's books: Rosie Revere, Engineer! They both make great gifts for the curious and knowledge-hungry youngsters in your life.
As such a great, colorful and rhythmic piece of Girl Power nonfiction, The Girl Who Thought in Pictures just has to be included in this section.
When young Temple Grandin was diagnosed with autism at the age of two, no one expected her to talk, let alone become one of the most powerful voices in a field like modern science, which is heavily dominated by men. But yet, somehow the determined visual thinker did just that, and proved that people on the autism spectrum can and will accomplish incredible things!
Pocket Full of Colors: The
Pretty Princess in Pink & Beyond
This lovely book asks children who they want to be and where would they like to play, rather than what they are ascribed or told. What makes this selection even more useful is the included is "Note to Parents and Caregivers" that is filled with useful advice and strategies to help children engage in imaginative play, and ultimately envision and inspire themselves beyond the limited roles and expectations that gender stereotypes create.
In traditional princess books and movies, the seemingly helpless girl is always waiting for her Prince Charming to arrive and save the day – but not The Paper Bag Princess. Not only does she spend little time worrying about her material possessions or appearance (something that causes great alarm to her perspective suitor Prince Ronald), she also doesn't wait around for a man to come solve her problems. Instead, our princess uses her brains to outwit a scheming dragon, and eventually tells her hopeful Prince Charming to buzz off!
Another personal all-time favorite, this book proves that girls can jump in mud puddles, climb trees, play sports and make messes – all while wearing their tiaras if they want! As the Goodreads book summary states, "Not every girl has a passion for pink, but all young ladies will love this empowering affirmation of their importance and unlimited potential." What makes this story even more special is that it was co-written by a mother and daughter! How sweet and lucky they both must feel to have each other and to have created this book together.
Our Foremothers & Trailblazers
This new title from Susan Hood not only talks the talk – it walks the walk. The entire book was written, illustrated, edited and designed entirely by women. How cool is that? What's even cooler is the book introduces readers to 14 revolutionary young women – each paired with a noteworthy female artist – that will inspire the next generation of activists, trail-blazers, and rabble-rousers.
The persistent women featured in the book include the following: Selina Alko, Sophie Blackall, Lisa Brown, Hadley Hooper, Emily Winfield Martin, Oge Mora, Julie Morstad, Sara Palacios, LeUyen Pham, Erin Robinson, Isabel Roxas, Shadra Strickland and Melissa Sweet.
There's a living legend on the Supreme Court who goes by a lot of different names: Some call her "Ruth," others say "Justice Ginsburg," but I'll always prefer "the Notorious RBG." And boy, what I wouldn't give to shake her 85-year-old hand!
In this first picture book about her life, RBG proves that girls can say no(!), and that disagreeing does not make you disagreeable. Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has spent a lifetime as a woman dissenter in a male-dominated world, and her story is one that is truly incredible. When asked if there will ever be enough women on the Supreme Court, RBG replied: "When there are nine." Think of how many times in history there were nine men on the bench and no one though anything of it! If that quote alone doesn't already make you love her, then this book will fuel your feminist fire even more.
Earlier this month Chelsea Clinton published a new follow-up to her highly acclaimed 2017 nonfiction children's book called She Persisted. Similar to its predecessor, this book offers another collection of great biographical information about real women who never took no for an answer, and who always, inevitably and without fail – persisted. It is these women who helped rewrite history (*HERstory) around the globe, and they are surely worth celebrating.
NOTE: This book is a great resource for learning about international female leaders and activists who children aren't generally taught about in school. For slightly older readers, I also recommend: Rad Women Worldwide: Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and Other Revolutionaries Who Shaped History by Kate Schatz