Top 5: Women’s History Month

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Hello, everyone! It’s the end of the month, so it’s time for another Top 5 list! As you may know, March is Women’s History Month, so we thought we’d spend this Top 5 taking a look at some of our favorite kidlit biographies of notable women. Some challenged stereotypes to serve their nation, some fought for the rights of women and children, and some made their mark with art and dance, but all of them were brave, dedicated and hardworking women who made an impact on the world. Celebrating these real-life female icons and role models sends the important message to our little girls and our little boys that women are strong, women are important, and women can do anything.

So, without further ado, here are our Top 5 Women’s History Month biographies:

1. On Our Way To Oyster Bay: Mother Jones And Her March For Children’s Rights (Monica Kulling)

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Told through the eyes of two young cotton mill workers, On Our Way To Oyster Bay relates the tale of elderly activist Mary Harris “Mother” Jones’ protest march to Oyster Bay, NY, to raise awareness for worker’s and children’s rights. As a biography, it really only covers a slice of Mother Jones’ work, but captures the essence of who she was as a leader and organizer, and her passion for and dedication to the people she was representing. The young protagonists give little readers characters they can relate to, and the book does a fantastic job of showing a glimpse of what life was like for children, and child workers, in the 1900’s in a way that is striking, but not so graphic as to be frightening. The art by Felicita Sala is colorful, lively, and draws you into the world of Mother Jones and her fellow protesters. The story leaves the reader with the lesson that you must fight for your beliefs, even in the face of disappointment or difficulty, and that. be you man or woman, young or old, your voice matters.

2. Me, Frida (Amy Novesky)

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This award-winning picture book biography of Mexican artist and feminist icon Frida Kahlo covers the time period in which Frida had moved to San Francisco with her husband, Diego Rivera. Channeling her homesickness, isolation, and physical and mental health struggles into ecstatically beautiful art, Frida finds herself and her beauty within her talent, expressing herself in ways that no woman in art had before. While the story relies a bit too much on a romanticized version of Kahlo’s marriage (which, in reality, was an absolute mess), the key message is one of self-acceptance, perseverance, and belief in oneself. And in a book about art, David Diaz’s gorgeous Kahlo-inspired illustrations fill every page with life and energy to bursting, and the story of Frida’s unapologetic desire to be herself in person and in her art sends to the message to young readers that we are far more beautiful and powerful as we are, not as the world tries to make us.

3. Doing Her Bit: A Story About The Woman’s Land Army Of America (Erin Hagar)

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While technically not a biography, Doing Her Bit is based on the true story of the Woman’s Land Army, a collective of brave women from all walks of life who volunteered to become farmhands and take up the workload left by men who had shipped out to fight in WWII. Centered around the experiences of a young woman named Helen, it follows the story of a group of these women undergoing backbreaking training to learn how to do farm labor, only to have their efforts refused by farmers who doubt their abilities and value as workers. When the hard-nosed female director of the camp negotiates a chance for the women to prove their mettle, the farmers find that bravery and skill know no gender. Highlighting a lesser-known chapter in women’s history, the story does a great job of making the characters and story accessible, and the art by Jen Hill gives the women personality and life. The overall effect is a story that leaves baby bookworms with the lesson that women are strong, brave, kind, and never ever less than their male counterparts.

4. For The Right To Learn: Malala Yousafzai’s Story (Rebecca Langston-George)

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While the infamous assassination attempt on women’s and children’s rights activist Malala Yousafzai’s life is covered in this kidlit biography (subtly, yet poignantly), the tale of the youngest person to ever receive the Nobel Peace Prize does not focus too much on that event. Instead, the story centers around Malala’s childhood in Pakistan, she and her father’s dedication to education as an inalienable right to every man, woman and child, and the fearless risks Malala took as a young teenager to speak out against the subjection and censorship of her people by the Taliban. The art by Janna Bock is sweeping and emotional, and seems to leap off the page to draw the reader into Malala’s life and world. This is a beautiful and powerful true story of a remarkable young woman, and it is sure to leave any young reader in awe of the power of education and their own voice.

5. Firebird (Misty Copeland)

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Misty Copeland set out to create a unique ballet book for young dancers who looked like her, and she absolutely succeeds. Forgoing the prim, pale pastels of other ballerina tales, Firebird tells the story of Copeland’s rise to the first African-American principal dancer of the American Ballet Theater through her encouragement of a young dancer who is struggling with confidence. Copeland cuts through the idea that the young girl’s goals of being a renowned dancer like her are not achievable, saying that she once stood in the girl’s shoes, and that hard work, dedication, and belief in herself is what led her to greatness, showing that with these qualities, any young dancer (of any color) can shine bright like the Firebird, and inspire the next generation of dreamers to come. With ecstatically vibrant art by Christopher Myers that dances across every page and stylistically lyrical text, this is a ballerina book that breaks the mold.

There it is! A Top 5 that celebrates the women who make their mark on history. Also, we want to include two honorable mentions: I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark, written by Debbie Levy and illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley and I Am Jazz, written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas, two phenomenal kidlit biographies about fearless women. The only reason we didn’t include them in this list is because we’ve featured them before, but you should absolutely check them out, because they are wonderful. What do you think? Did we miss any of your favorites? Do you have a picture book biography of an awesome woman you’d like to recommend to us? Let us know in the comments, or message us from our Contact page. Thanks so much for reading, and Happy Women’s History month!

Top 5: Girl Power!

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Hello, friends! This Top 5 is coming to you a day late, as JJ’s daddy graduated from college yesterday (yay!) and we were a bit busy. But not to fret, this one is chock full of awesome books about Girl Power! As the mother of a daughter in a world that can be scary for girls and women, books that celebrate girls and all the things they can do and be are essential. So in no particular order, here are The Baby Bookworm’s Top 5 Girl Power books of 2016:

1.  Not All Princesses Dress In Pink (Jane Yolen & Heidi E.Y. Stemple)

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A great rhyming story about how princesses can come in all shapes, sizes and colors. This book features a multicultural cast of princesses who play sports, get mucky caring for animals, build treehouses together, and never judge one another on how a princess should look or act. Fantastic for showing girls that getting their hands dirty doesn’t mean they can’t be royalty, and the importance of supporting their fellow females.

2. Grace For President (Kelly DiPucchio)

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Yes, another Kelly DiPucchio book! What can I say? She’s one of our favorites, and this book is a very good reason why. The story of a determined little girl who runs for class president, Grace shows that politics isn’t just about popularity – it’s about hard work, dedication, and being the best girl for the job. Grace is a fantastic role model for young readers, and should be a staple of any little girl’s library.

3. My First Book Of Girl Power (DC Comics)

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An awesome board book for little superheroes! Covering some of the best and brightest heroines of the DC Universe, each page describes a female superhero and how she uses her powers (described simply as wisdom, strength, courage, kindness, etc.) to help others. It shows that girls can be powerful and fierce, and is perfect for beginning readers.

4. I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark (Debbie Levy)

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A picture book biography of feminist icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg, this book is a fabulous story of a real-life female superhero. Ginsburg faces discrimination from all sides as she pursues her dream of becoming a lawyer and helping people, and her journey is absolutely inspirational. With phenomenal illustrations and a heaping helping of positive messages for young girls about bravery and self-respect, this book is a slightly longer read that is well worth it.

5. Rosie Revere, Engineer / Ada Twist, Scientist (Andrea Beaty)

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Okay, okay, so we’re sort of cheating here with two books, and technically this makes it a Top 6, but it’s impossible to pick between these two outstanding tales of little girls pursuing their passion for the STEM sciences. Both Rosie and Ada are brilliant ladies with the need to build, explore and understand, through engineering inventions and scientific study respectively. Both face setbacks (though, pleasantly, not related to their gender) and people who don’t understand, but both find the inner drive and courage to let their beautiful minds do great things. Wonderful additions to any little future STEM-er’s library.

That’s it! Our five favorite Girl Power book reviews from 2016! Did we leave any out? Tell us what you think! What were your favorite books about awesome girls this year? And be sure to join us next Saturday (Christmas Eve!) for another Top 5 list. See you tomorrow!

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark (Debbie Levy)


Hello, friends! Today, we read a fantastic book called I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark, written by Debbie Levy and illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley, a picture book biography of an amazing feminist icon.

Ruth Bader is born into a world that discriminates against her gender and religion, but she refuses to accept the limitations society places on women and Jewish people. Whenever Ruth is faced with an obstacle – she objects! Disagrees! Dissents! She educates herself, puts herself through college and law school, and fights for the rights of all people who are marginalized by sexism, racism, anti-semitism, and all other forms of prejudice. She works hard her whole life, and is declared a Supreme Court justice.

This was an awesome biography of a phenomenal woman. I Dissent is packed full of information, not only about Bader Ginsburg’s life but also the history of segregation in America, what lawyers do and how the Supreme Court works, and the importance of gender equality. There are wonderful lessons to be found everywhere: Bader Ginsburg’s ability to disagree with people yet still maintain friendships with them, the importance of finding a mate who supports your ideas and goals, and that failure is a normal, natural part of life – and can be overcome. Now, this one was pretty long for baby bookworms (this would likely be best for slightly older readers), but the gorgeous, colorful illustrations held JJ’s attention through the whole book. So if you have a patient baby bookworm, you could probably get away with this one. Overall, a fantastic book about a true hero that every boy and girl can enjoy. Baby Bookworm approved!