Celebrate Women's History Month in March by learning more about women's achievements, and celebrate their success in raising awareness against bias and taking action for equality.
Here are 7 books empowering books.
A Most Clever Girl How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice by Jasmine A. Stirling (Raincoast Books, www.raincoast.com)
In this picture book, we learn the Jane Austen grows up in a large home surrounded by her loving family and a number of boys studying under her father. Jane is lucky. Her father values encourages his daughters to be more than just devoted wives and arranges them to have their own study where Jane writes. While what she writes is clever, it’s not her own. Something, she thinks, is missing. We learn that the family eventually falls into poverty and her father dies, leaving Jane to grieves for a long time. One day she finds her voice and becomes a celebrated author, learning to use and value her voice.
Canadian Women Now+Then by Elizabeth MacLeod and Maia Faddoul (Kids Can Press, www.kidscanpress.com/)
In this book, we learn about the women who are helping or have helped shape Canada in a variety of fields from lawyers to activists. The “now” are people who are alive today and are doing such work discovering a bacteria that can break down oil to the “then”, of a black woman standing up against racism. There are also people who are featured as both then and now, such as Clara Hughes, who competed in the Olympics and is a spokesperson for mental health.
The book features more than 100 biographies of amazing women.
Legacy, Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes (Raincoast Books, www.raincoast.com)
In this book, poet Nikki Grimes tells the reader that women have been doing great things throughout history, but their accomplishments have fallen out of the historical records. In Legacy, Grimes pulls together poetry from the women of the Harlem Renaissance, allowing the reader to hear from women from that time. She then takes the poetry piece and creates her own, using the Golden Shovel method, meaning she takes a line from the poem and the poem in its entirety and create something new. Each poem contains a colourful picture. Poetry isn’t my favourite medium, but I am impressed by Grimes’ talent.
Counting on Katherine by Helaine Becker (Raincoast Books, www.raincoast.com)
Until I read Helaine Becker’s Counting on Katherine, I had never heard of Katherine Johnson, an African-American mathematician who worked at NASA and was instrumental in bringing the Apollo 13 crew home. And she did it in her head – without the use of computer.
In this picture book, we get a look at this amazing woman and what she had to overcome to get where she was.
I interviewed Becker about this book. Read it here: https://booktime584.wordpress.
Emmy Noether, The Most Important Mathematician You’ve Never Heard of by Heleine Becker (Kids Can Press, www.kidscanpress.com/)
Emmy Noether was a mathematician who was born in 1882 at a time when girls were supposed to be gentle and quiet. Emmy was neither of those things, yet she was the one who “solved the mystery of why some laws of physics, such as the law of gravity, never changed” and helped Albert Einstein become famous. Emmy continued to do math, without credit for her discoveries because she was a woman. The book was informative, funny and interesting, but has too much math for me.
Send a Girl, The True Story of How Women Joined the FDNY by Jessica M Rinker (Raincoast Books, www.raincoast.com)
This picture book shares the story of Brenda Berkman who spent most of her life being told girls were not allowed – to play sports and to do “men’s” jobs. But things were starting to change and when she heard the New York Fire Department was accepting women, she knew that is what she wanted to do. However, while they said they were welcoming, they weren’t really, and the tests to become a firefighter ensured not one woman passed. Brenda sued the fire department and won. Sadly, the challenges were just beginning.
The book shows what Brenda and other women firefighters had to go be treated as equals. The end of the book features more information about Brenda as well as further reading.
Shark Lady, The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist by Jess Keating (Raincoast Books, www.raincoast.com)
Eugenie Clark was another woman I didn’t know about until I read this picture book by Jess Keating. Eugenie fell in love with sharks and decided to study them. Eugenie was born in 1922 at a time when woman weren’t become scientists. Yet, she became a professor zoology in 1968 and had a lifelong love of sharks. Shark Bites at the back of the book was a nice addition.
Lisa Day is the author of two book blogs, Book Time, where she reviews a variety of books for a variety of readers and offers author Q&As, and followsummer.com Follow her on Twitter @LisaMDayC, Instagram @LisaMDayC and @LisaMDayReads, and check out Book Time at https://booktime584.