Women’s roles are constantly changing! As you are reading this blog post, there are women making history and baby girls being born who will be future history-makers. It is important to deliver more than half of the story as we discuss leaders, activists, agents of change, and everyday heroes with our students. While some might think that stereotypes and prejudices have vanished into thin air, they haven’t.
One of the easiest ways to promote an understanding of women’s roles and choices is to read aloud to your students. After sharing Several Brave Women by Betsy Hearne, one fourth grade class at Upper Moreland interviewed three female family members and turned them into family histories for their mothers or grandmothers as a Mother’s Day gift. The students discussed how to conduct an interview and worked in small groups to create possible interview questions. They used these questions to gather interesting small moments that their mom, grandma, great grandma, aunt, godmother, big sister, or cousin wanted to “pass on” as part of their family heritage. They tried to capture glimpses of what it was like to live at a certain time and what these women were proud of and wanted to share. (For further reading, see Nonfiction Mentor Texts by Dorfman & Cappelli).
Expose your students to many picture book biographies including:
Phillis’s Big Test by Catherine Clinton,
Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford,
Different Like Coco by Elizabeth Matthews,
Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer by Carole Boston Weatherford,
Ruth Objects: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Doreen Rappaport,
Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson,
Madam President: The Extraordinary, True (and Evolving) Story of Women in Politics by Catherine Thimmesh,
Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed,
Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice by Nikki Grimes,
Lives of Extraordinary Women: Rulers, Rebels (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull.
Today we continue to see many wonderful books about women published for elementary and middle schoolers. Don’t miss Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell by Tanya Lee Stone, Annie and Helen by Deborah Hopkinson, Dolores Huerta: A Hero to Migrant Workers by Sarah E. Warren, and Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue (Women of Action) by Kathryn J. Atwood. The theme for National Women’s History Month for 2021 is “Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to Be Silenced.” Let’s celebrate by sharing and discussing appropriate current events articles about women in the work force. Let’s share books about women through read alouds, book talks, and book clubs. Let’s celebrate women by writing everyday hero essays,book reviews about books that highlight women, thank you notes, poems, and stories that celebrate the women in our lives: our moms and grandmoms, our teachers and coaches, our colleagues and friends. Introduce your students to “herstory” today.