I hadn’t really thought about how much stuff happens in March until I started this blog, but it’s a lot! March is an amazing month for many reasons, but today I’m going to focus on just one of those reasons: Women’s History. Though we should be celebrating the contributions women make all year round, March is the month set aside to really bring these contributions to light. In particular, today is the 100th International Women’s Day. From Feministing:
International Womens’ Day was the brainchild of a woman by the name of Clara Zetkin in 1910. Zetkin was leader of the ‘Women’s Office’ for the German Social Democratic Party and at the second International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen, she proposed establishing day of celebration and activism, to be held on the same day every year, around the world. Thanks to Zetkin, in 1911, the first International Women’s Day was celebrated in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.
There are many women who are often mentioned during International Women’s Day and throughout Women’s History Month. Sacajawea , Rosie the Riveter, Susan B. Anthony (and the Suffragettes in general), Rosa Parks, and Amelia Earhart all get mentions because of their courage and their impact on history.
Along with these amazing women, here are some others that made an impact that don’t often get as much of a mention:
- Zora Neale Hurston: This American writer and folklorist was all but forgotten until author Alice Walker brought her back to the spotlight. Zora Neale Hurston: Writer and Storyteller tells children about her life that, though complex, is made easy to understand.
- Pura Belpré: Despite having an award named after her, not many children know much about the woman herself. Belpré was the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library and worked hard to have the library reach out to the Puerto Rican community. The Storyteller’s Candle/La velita de los cuentos introduces children to this incredible woman.
- Hypatia of Alexandria: Going much further back in history, Hypatia is noted as the first female leader of mathematics and was also a teacher of astronomy and philosophy. The life of this fascinating woman that many children will not have heard about is documented in Of Numbers and Stars: The Story of Hypatia.
There are a number of really great booklists available for those who want to create programming around Women’s History Month or just want to introduce children to women’s history. Here’s a list of some of the best ones out there on the web:
- New York Public Library – This list is very helpful because it separates the titles by folks and fairytales (not a category I would have thought of), non-fiction, picture books, recordings and videos, and stories, which means fiction works with strong female protagonists.
- Parentdish – What I like about this list is the inclusion of some lesser known women of history.
- Carol Hurst – I love this list because of the categories used to organize it. Books of all types are included in the categories “women who expanded traditional roles”, “women in the arts”, “women who protested” (my personal favorite), and “women’s rights”. I highly recommend this list.
- Kidlit Celebrates Women’s History Month – This blog is dedicated to celebrating women’s history month through children’s literature. The thoughtful blog posts will really expand your knowledge of women’s history and how to teach children about it.
- Scholastic – Another great list from the children’s literature publisher. Grade levels after the description make picking and choosing titles easy and also makes subject selection a snap.
There’s a lot of children’s literature out there about women’s history, so celebrate it this month, but maybe expand it to other months. There’s a lot to read and know.