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Women's History Month 2020

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Every March, we celebrate women's and girls' contributions to our global history. This year, we're back with new titles that chronicle the myriad ways women have helped to shape this wonderful world in which we live. As we start this new decade, we're highlighting titles by and about women and girls who are making history today. These ladies are telling stories (real and imagined) that give color and depth to everyone's understanding of the lived experiences of women and girls. These gals are getting things done today, and we think that's pretty awesome!

Women Through History

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Mulan by Michaela Morgan

A man from each family must join the army. Mulan's father and brother cannot go. Mulan is just the right age…but she is a girl. Traditional Tales offer the best-loved stories from around the world with clear phonic progression. These enchanting tales have been shared for generations and now every child can listen for themselves.

Puritan Girl, Mohawk Girl by John Demos

Puritan Girl, Mohawk Girl will captivate a young audience, providing a Native American perspective rather than the Western one typically taught in the classroom. As the armed conflicts between the English colonies in North America and the French settlements raged in the 1700s, a young Puritan girl, Eunice Williams, is kidnapped by Mohawk people and taken to Canada. She is adopted into a new family, a new culture, and a new set of traditions that will define her life. As Eunice spends her days learning the Mohawk language and the roles of women and girls in the community, she gains a deeper understanding of her Mohawk family. Although her father and brother try to persuade Eunice to return to Massachusetts, she ultimately chooses to remain with her Mohawk family and settlement. Puritan Girl, Mohawk Girl offers a compelling and rich lesson that is sure to enchant young readers and those who want to deepen their understanding of Native American history.

Historical

Audacity by Melanie Crowder

A gorgeously told novel in verse written with intimacy and power, Audacity is inspired by the real-life story of Clara Lemlich, a spirited young woman who emigrated from Russia to New York at the turn of the twentieth century and fought tenaciously for equal rights. Bucking the norms of both her traditional Jewish family and societal conventions, Clara refuses to accept substandard working conditions in the factories on Manhattan's Lower East Side. For years, Clara devotes herself to the labor fight, speaking up for those who suffer in silence. In time, Clara convinces the women in the factories to strike, organize, and unionize, culminating in the famous Uprising of the 20,000. Powerful, breathtaking, and inspiring, Audacity is the story of a remarkable young woman, whose passion and selfless devotion to her cause changed the world.

Our Hearts Were Young and Gay by Cornelia Otis Skinner and Emily Finnbrough

 

Actress Cornelia Otis Skinner and journalist Emily Kimbrough offer a lighthearted, hilarious memoir of their European tour in the 1920s, when they were fresh out of college from Bryn Mawr. Some of the more amusing anecdotes involve a pair of rabbit-skin capes that begin shedding at the most inopportune moments and an episode in which the girls are stranded atop Notre Dame cathedral at midnight. And, of course, there's romance, in the form of handsome young doctor Tom Newhall and college "Lothario" Avery Moore. Published in 1942, the book spent five weeks at the top of the New York Times bestseller list in the winter of 1943 and was made into a motion picture in 1944.

Contemporary Ladies

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All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung

Nicole Chung was born severely premature, placed for adoption by her Korean parents, and raised by a white family in a sheltered Oregon town. From childhood, she heard the story of her adoption as a comforting, prepackaged myth. She believed that her biological parents had made the ultimate sacrifice in the hope of giving her a better life, that forever feeling slightly out of place was her fate as a trans-racial adoptee. But as Nicole grew up - facing prejudice her adoptive family couldn't see, finding her identity as an Asian American and as a writer, becoming ever more curious about where she came from-she wondered if the story she'd been told was the whole truth. With the same warmth, candor, and startling insight that has made her a beloved voice, Nicole Chung tells of her search for the people who gave her up, which coincided with the birth of her own child. All You Can Ever Know is a profound, moving chronicle of surprising connections and the repercussions of unearthing painful family secrets-vital reading for anyone who has ever struggled to figure out where they belong.

One Plastic Bag by Miranda Paul

Plastic bags are cheap and easy to use. But what happens when a bag breaks or is no longer needed? In Njau, Gambia, people simply dropped the bags and went on their way. One plastic bag became two. Then ten. Then a hundred. The bags accumulated in ugly heaps alongside roads. Water pooled in them, bringing mosquitoes and disease. Some bags were burned, leaving behind a terrible smell. Some were buried, but they strangled gardens. They killed livestock that tried to eat them. Something had to change. Isatou Ceesay was that change. She found a way to recycle the bags and transform her community. This inspirational true story shows how one person's actions really can make a difference in our world.

Contemporary

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan

With a welcome mix of humor, heart, and high-stakes drama, Sabina Khan provides a timely and honest portrait of what it's like to grow up feeling unwelcome in your own culture. Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali tries her hardest to live up to her conservative Muslim parents' expectations, but lately she's finding that impossible to do. She rolls her eyes when they blatantly favor her brother and saves her crop tops and makeup for parties her parents don't know about. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life in Seattle and her new life at Caltech. But when her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend Ariana, all of Rukhsana's plans fall apart. Her parents are devastated and decide to whisk Rukhsana off to Bangladesh, where she is thrown headfirst into a world of arranged marriages and tradition. Through reading her grandmother's old diary, Rukhsana gains some much-needed perspective and realizes she must find the courage to fight for her love without losing the connection to her family as a consequence.

The Disturbed Girl's Dictionary by NoNiequa Ramos

Macy's school officially classifies her as "disturbed," but Macy isn't interested in how others define her. She's got more pressing problems: her mom can't move off the couch, her dad's in prison, her brother's been kidnapped by Child Protective Services, and now her best friend isn't speaking to her. Writing in a dictionary format, Macy explains the world in her own terms-complete with gritty characters and outrageous endeavors. With an honesty that's both hilarious and fearsome, slowly Macy reveals why she acts out, why she can't tell her incarcerated father that her mom's cheating on him, and why her best friend needs protection . . . the kind of protection that involves Macy's machete.

For Younger Children

Childrens

The Magic Boat by Kit Pearson and Katherine Farris

Every summer morning, Ellie and her Nonna go to the beach. They swim and build sandcastles, and while Nonna reads, Ellie watches the other children play. One day Ellie builds up the courage to approach an older girl playing on her own in a beached rowboat. Piper has a gift, an imagination so great that she whisks Ellie off on grand adventures, going high in the air, deep below the ocean and everywhere in between in their little blue boat, their magic boat. When Piper has to leave, Ellie discovers she has her own vivid imagination.

Noisy Nora by Rosemary Wells

With everyone in her house too busy to listen, Nora makes her presence known at every turn.

Collections of Stories

Collections

The Women's Suffrage Movement by Sally Roesch Wagner

An intersectional anthology of works by the known and unknown women that shaped and established the suffrage movement, in time for the 2020 centennial of women's right to vote, with a foreword by Gloria Steinem. Comprised of historical texts spanning two centuries, The Women's Suffrage Movement is a comprehensive and singular volume that covers the major issues and figures involved in the movement, with a distinctive focus on diversity, incorporating race, class, and gender, and illuminating minority voices. In an effort to spotlight the many influential voices that were excluded from the movement, the writings of well-known suffragists such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony are featured alongside accounts of Native American women who inspired suffragists like Matilda Joslyn Gage to join the movement, as well as African American suffragists such as Sarah Mapps Douglas and Harriet Purvis, who were often left out of the conversation because of their race.

Girls Who Rocked the World by Amelie Welden

If you made a list of people who rocked the world, how many girls would be on it? Author Amelie Welden was inspired to write this story when she learned of the many young women who made their mark on history before the age of 20. Cleopatra was only 18 when named queen of the Egyptian empire, and Victoria was only 19 when crowned Queen of England. Phillis Wheatley is credited with starting the African-American literary tradition, and jazz singer Bessie Smith was only nine when she made her stage debut. This book covers the best-known heroines as well as some you may never have heard of. Kids will find that there are many ways to make a difference, and included with each story are statements from today's girls about how they plan to rock the world.

Preparing for Spring Break? Check out our suggestions for your reading lists  here.

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