March is designated as Women’s History Month. The month honors women’s contributions to American history. However, it actually started in 1978 as a local “Women’s History Week” celebration in Santa Rosa, California. This week quickly found national recognition, and over time evolved into Women’s History Month, and has been recognized as such since 1995. The 2020 Women’s History Month theme is “Valiant Women of the Vote,” in recognition of the centennial of the 19th Amendment. The theme honors “the brave women who fought to win suffrage rights for women, and for the women who continue to fight for the voting rights of others.” We’ve selected just a few of the many new books that have recently been published recounting the accomplishments of women to share with you. Some names may be familiar while others may be relatively unknown. Enjoy learning about women’s history!
A Wynk, a Blynk, and a Nod to New Books about Women’s History
Counting the Stars by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illus. by Raúl Colón
This biography pays homage to African American Katherine Johnson, who broke societal and racial barriers by becoming one of NASA’s first human computers. There’s quite a bit of text, which makes the book suitable for older elementary students, but it is accompanied by Colón’s signature style illustrations, that include layers of watercolor and colored pencil, which enhance the story.
Fight of the Century: Alice Paul Battles Woodrow Wilson for the Vote by Barb Rosenstock
Using the framework of a boxing match, this is the story of suffragette Alice Paul and her campaign to win women the right to vote. It is quite appropriate given this is the year of the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment. The author’s approach is certainly a way of making history fun and relevant for the young, independent reader.
The Girl Who Named Pluto: The Story of Venetia Burney by Alice McGinty, illus. by Elizabeth Haidle
In 1930 an 11-year-old girl in England made history by suggesting a name for the newly discovered ninth planet. Her grandfather sent her suggestion to a friend at the Royal Astronomical Society who in turn shared it with the astronomers in Arizona who made the discovery. The story is engaging, and the muted illustrations are an appropriate touch.
Her Fearless Run by Kim Chaffee, illus. by Ellen Rooney
In 1967 Katherine Switzer became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon as an officially registered runner. The illustrations are rich and vibrant and capture the movement and emotion of the story.
How Emily Saved the Bridge: The Story of Emily Warren Roebling and the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge by Frieda Wishinsky, illus. by Natalie Nelson
Emily Warren Roebling stepped in to oversee construction of the Brooklyn Bridge after her father-in-law died and her husband was stricken with a debilitating disease. Without Emily’s determination, the iconic bridge connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn might never have been completed. The illustrations are done in cut-paper collage.
The Important Thing about Margaret Wise Brown by Mac Barnett, illus. by Sarah Jacoby
Margaret Wise Brown, author of over 100 children’s books including the classic Goodnight Moon, lived an interesting and colorful life. Quirky facts are woven into the story, and the whimsical illustrations are just delightful!
Joni: The Lyrical Life of Joni Mitchell by Selina Alko
Folk singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell wrote more than 200 songs. Influenced by the world around her, her songs told stories. The mixed media illustrations evoke the emotion of her songwriting.
Mary Blair’s Unique Flair by Amy Novesky, illus. by Brittney Lee
What a wonderful and vibrant book! Mary Blair was an artist who became one of the “Disney legends,” responsible for the art behind Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan as well as the “It’s a Small World” attraction at the Disney theme parks. This colorful and cheerful book traces her career.
On Wings of Words: The Extraordinary Life of Emily Dickinson by Jennifer Berne, illus. by Becca Stadtlander
This picture book biography introduces us to the unusual life of the 19th-century reclusive poet. Covington, Kentucky native Stadtlander’s folk art-style illustrations provide a detailed rendering of Dickinson’s world. This is really a beautiful and quite stunning book.
The Only Woman in the Photo: Frances Perkins & Her New Deal for America by Kathleen Krull, illus. by Alexandra Bye
Frances Perkins served as Secretary of Labor under FDR and is credited with creating the U.S. Social Security system. This biography focuses on her professional accomplishments. The illustrations make the book quite appealing.
A Race Around the World: The True Story of Nellie Bly & Elizabeth Bisland by Caroline Starr Rose, illus. by Alexandra Bye
Two 19th century women reporters, Bly and Bisland, raced to circle the globe. This is the true story of their adventures and historical accomplishments.
Ruth Objects: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Doreen Rappaport, illus. by Eric Velasquez
A near life-size portrait adorns the cover of this new picture book biography. Information is presented in a manner easily accessible for children. The oil painting illustrations are realistic and effectively complement the text.
The Spacesuit: How a Seamstress Helped Put Man on the Moon by Alison Donald, illus. by Ariel Landy
Although this is a work of fiction, it is based on real people and events. Eleanor Foraker became a talented seamstress. She was encouraged to enter a competition to design a spacesuit. She and the other seamstresses and engineers at the company she worked for won the NASA competition. She and the others overcame the technical challenges with which they were faced, and made a significant contribution to the space program.
What Miss Mitchell Saw by Hayley Barrett, illus. by Diana Sudyka
This is the story of astronomer, Maria Mitchell, who in 1847, discovered a “telescopic comet” that bears her name. She earned international fame for this discovery. She went on to become America’s first professional female astronomer. This is a nicely done picture book biography. The text is poetic, and the illustrations accompany the story perfectly. Back matter provides further information about her career.
Interested in this topic? Search the online card catalog for more great stories at, www.kentonlibrary.org.
Written by Cecilia Horn and Terri Diebel
Cecilia Horn is currently the Juvenile Collection Development Librarian for the Kenton County Public Library. Terri Diebel is a Children’s Librarian at the Covington Branch. Both hold Master of Library Science degrees and have worked in the field of Children’s Literature for many years. In recent years, they have collaborated on presentations at local, state, and national library and literature conferences.
“Children’s literature is our passion. Through this blog, we hope to share that enthusiasm and love of children’s books. As children’s literature enthusiasts, our blog name pays homage to the classic children’s poem from 1889, “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod,” by Eugene Field.”