Girl, I have a book for you…

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We all have role models in our lives.  As I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, I was presented with many role models in my daily life.

I knew what a proper woman did.  I saw all of the moms on my street who stayed at home and took care of their families.  There were many of them, my grandmother included, who never wore pants.  Dresses only for them.  (Grandma got rebellious in her older year and started wearing them.)  And for us, no dresses in school either.  Cold outside?  Put your snow pants on under the dress and remove them when you got to school.  And my gifts for Christmas reflected those roles.  They were usually baby dolls, bride dolls, and (of course) Barbie.

When people inquired about my future, the question was usually not “What do you want to be” but rather “Do you want to be a secretary, nurse or teacher?”  And I was told often that those were great careers for a woman to “fall back on” if it was necessary…you know, if your husband dropped dead and you had no choice but support yourself.  It was the common joke that women went to college to get their MRS degree.  Even as late as when one of my nieces was going off to college, my mother said that Ashley was going to SMU to meet a doctor.  A total misconception!  She was going to SMU to start her path to BECOMING a doctor!

There were women from outside the neighborhood who were role models in my daily life too.  Lucy Ricardo. Donna Reed. Harriet Nelson.  And I had lovely books to read as a teen.  I loved Rosamond du Jardin’s Double Date, Wait for Marcy, Boy Trouble, and Practically Seventeen.  Sure Nancy Drew was out there, but no one introduced us.

The world isn’t quite like that.  My own life turned out much different than those early predictions.  I did become a teacher, and I truly enjoyed being a teacher.  I often wonder, though, if there was something else out there that I would have been really good at doing.  Could I have really made a mark?  I thought about doing something else, but didn’t even know where to begin to look beyond my experiences.

I want more for the girls in my life.  For Lily, Alyanna, Caydence, Candice, Samantha, Megan, and Kate the choices and possibilities are endless, and I want them to grow up knowing that.  I once had a visit from Teresa Ralicki, a very intelligent and vibrant former student, who exclaimed that she had just realized she could take the things she loved most and make a career of them.  The discovery that she could take a couple things that were seeming completely disparate, joined only by her love of them, and that they could be combined, studied, and used to make a life was a door opening a world of possibilities for her.  It also was an “Aha” moment for me.  What else is out there that I don’t even know about?  How can I help the girls in my life to discover them?  (Yes I wanted the boys to discover their passions too, but that’s for another post.)

 

We need to provide examples, role models, and possibilities for the girls in our lives so that they can grow into their full potential.  I want them all to be able to follow their dreams.  Become a doctor.  Go hang gliding off a mountain in Rio on a business trip.  Run the Berlin marathon.  Create an ad showing women their strengths and possibilities.  Stay home and raise their babies.  Write that book.  Dream higher and go farther than I thought possible back in my childhood days.

 

One way we can do this is through our choices of books, television, and movies for your girls.  Here are some great book suggestions from picture books all the way up through reading for adults.  As usual, I have a large list and it is only a sampling of what I would have liked to put on the list.  Dig in and don’t miss out on the children’s ones!

Check these books out at your local library or a web site such as indiebound.org or goodreads.org for information about the books and where to get them.  (Some day maybe I’ll quit being so eager to get titles to you and being too lazy to actually give you a synopsis.)

PICTURE BOOKS  (* indicates nonfiction)

  • Baguley, Elizabeth Meggie Moon
  • Beath, Andrea Ada Twist, Scientist
  • Rosie Revere, Engineer
  • Beaumont, Karen I Like Myself
  • Bissonette, Aimee North Woods Girl
  • Brennan-Nelson, Denise Willow
  • Castillo, Lauren Nana in the City
  • Cronin, Doreen Bloom
  • Fern, Tracey *Dare the Wind:  The Record-breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud 
  • Kemp, Anna The Worst Princess
  • Levy, Debbie *I Dissent:  Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark 
  • Matthews, Elizabeth *Different Like Coco 
  • Meltzer, Brad *I am Lucille Ball, *I am Amelia Earhart, *I am Rosa Parks 
  • Munsch, Robert The Paper Bag Princess
  • Pinkney, Andrea Davis *Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa
  • Polacco, Patricia An A From Miss Keller
  • Plourde, Lynn You’re Wearing THAT to School?
  • Powell, Patricia Hruby *Josephine:  The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker 
  • Rosenstock, Barb *Dorothea’s Eyes:  Dorothea Lange Photographs the Truth 
  • Winter, Jeanette *Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa 
  • Winter, Jonah *Sonia Sotomayor:  A Judge Grows in the Bronx 
  • Verde, Susan The Water Princess

 

MIDDLE GRADE/YOUNG ADULT

  • Alcott, Louisa May Little Women
  • Acampora, Paul  I Kill the Mockingbird 
  • Anderson, Laurie Halse Chains
  • Bauer, Joan Backwater, Hope Was Here, and Almost Home
  • Buren, Jodi & Donna Lopiano *Superwomen:  100 Women-100 Sports 
  • Collins, Suzanne The Hunger Games
  • Curtis, Christopher Paul The Mighty Miss Malone
  • Dagg, Carole Estby Sweet Home Alaska
  • Dahl, Roald Matilda
  • DiCamillo, Kate Because of Winn-Dixie
  • Fitzhugh, Louise Harriet the Spy
  • Freedman, Russell *Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery 
  • L’Engle, Madeleine A Wrinkle in Time
  • Park, Linda Sue A Long Walk to Water
  • Pratchett, Terry The Wee Free Men and I Shall Wear Midnight
  • Roth, Veronica Divergent
  • Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and… (the whole series as long as Herione Granger is there!)
  • Shetterly, Margot Lee *Hidden Figures (Young Readers’ Edition)
  • Spotswood, Jessica A Tyranny of Petticoats (editor) and Wild Swans
  • Thimmesh, Catherine *Girls Think of Everything and Madam President: The Extraordinary, True (and Evolving) Story of Women in Politics (NF)
  • Williams-Garcia One Crazy Summer
  • Vanderpool, Clare Moon Over Manifest
  • Woodson, Jacqueline *Brown Girl Dreaming 
  • Yousafzai, Malala *I Am Malala:  The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban 

*Who Was… SERIES

Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Helen Keller, Marie Curie, Sally Ride, Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Earhart, Harriet Tubman, Sacagawea, Mother Teresa, Joan of Arc,  Jane Goodall, Clara Barton, Lucille Ball, Hilary Clinton, Marie Antoinette, Sojourner Truth, Sonia Sotomayor, Queen Elizabeth, Maya Angelou, Michelle Obama,  Julia Child

 

ADULT

  • Adichie, Chiamamanda Ngozi *We Should All Be Feminists
  • Albright, Madeleine K. *Madam Secretary:  A Memoir
  • Angelou, Maya *I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
  • Bauermeister, Erica The School of Essential Ingredients
  • Bradley, Alan The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
  • Child, Julia *My Life in France
  • Cisneros, Sandra The House on Mango Street
  • Dinesen, Isak *Out of Africa
  • Hosseini, Khaled A Thousand Splendid Suns
  • Hurston, Zora Neale Their Eyes Were Watching God
  • Kidd, Sue Monk The Secret Life of Bees
  • Kingsolver, Barbara The Bean Trees
  • Kristof, Nicholas D. *Half the Sky:  Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
  • Letts, Billie Where the Heart Is
  • McBride, James *The Color of Water:  A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother
  • Nafisi, Azar *Reading Lolita in Tehran
  • Robinson, Mary *Everybody Matters
  • Sandburg, Sheryl *Lean In
  • Shetterly, Margot Lee *Hidden Figures: The Untold True Story of Four African-American Women Who Helped Launch Our Nation Into Space
  • Stockett, Kathryn The Help
  • Summit, Pat *Sum It Up: 1,098 Victories, a Couple of Irrelevant Losses, and a Life in Perspective
  • Tada, Joni Eareckson *Joni: An Unforgettable Story
  • Walls, Jeannet *The Glass Castle
  • Waters, Alice *The Art of Simple Food:  Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution

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6 thoughts on “Girl, I have a book for you…

  1. Great blog! I really wish I had any inkling in the world that I was ‘smart’ when I was growing up. I simply didn’t. I never thought I’d be good at math or tech because girls weren’t good at those things. It wasn’t until I was messing around with a computer and someone noticed I had a knack for it (other than the blistering typing speed) that I started to discover what sort of mind I had. What a pity that I didn’t have an engineer’s education! It shouldn’t be surprising (or maybe it is) that I still face adversity and sexism in my very male-dominated workforce. Men called me ‘honey’ and never bat an eye, and because I’ve spent my entire career having to be smarter, better, and faster than they are at the job, it is starting to pay off — but I’m still seen as an aggressive bitch. It makes my soul happy to see so many positive role models for women out there — and to see women bonding together over these issues.

    Liked by 1 person

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