From the Archives: Celebrating the Ladies

By Kay Weisman

In North America, females outnumber males by about three percent, but books highlighting women’s contributions are not always so numerous. Share the following clustered titles with students to help them appreciate the accomplishments of women.

SCIENTISTS
Butzer, Anna. Maria Mitchell. Great Women in History series. Capstone, 2015. ISBN: 978-1-4914-0539-0; 24p., Gr. K-2.
This brief introduction to America’s first female astronomer explains how her interest in the stars developed and cites her professional accomplishments. Included are period photos, a timeline, and appended back matter.

Fertig, Dennis. Sylvia Earle: Ocean Explorer. Women in Conservation series. Heinemann, 2015. ISBN: 978-1-4846-0470-0; 48p., Gr. 3-6.
Fertig discusses Earle’s early inspirations and details her many undersea achievements. Full-color photos, diagrams, and generous back matter supplement this very readable text. Other series titles include Dian Fossey, Jane Goodall, and Rachel Carson.

Polacco, Patricia. Clara and Davie: The True Story of Young Clara Barton. Scholastic, 2014. ISBN: 978-0-545-35477-6; 40p., Gr. 2-4.
Polacco recounts an episode from American Red Cross founder Barton’s childhood detailing how older brother Davie protected, encouraged, and mentored her. Later, when Davie is hurt in a fall, Clara becomes his nurse, putting her healing powers to work.

Stone, Tanya Lee. Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell. Illus. by Marjorie Priceman. Holt, 2013. ISBN: 978-0-8050-9048-2; 40p., Gr. K-2.
In the 1830s girls were encouraged to become wives and mothers. Adventurous Elizabeth Blackwell defied that expectation, becoming America’s first female doctor despite first being turned down by twenty-eight medical schools. An author’s note and source list append this inspiring biography.

CONNECT & INVESTIGATE:
Both Polacco and Stone employ narrative frameworks. Discuss the portions of Barton and Blackwell’s lives covered by these texts. Where is other information placed? How do the illustrations contribute to these biographies? Butzer and Fertig apply a more traditional chronological approach to their works on Mitchell and Earle. Where is additional information placed in these texts? What information is conveyed in illustrations and graphics? (RI: K-6.1; RI: 1-6.5; RI: K-6.7)

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