Mar 17, 2015

Women's History Month

This March marks the 35th year of celebrating women's history. President Jimmy Carter issued a presidential proclamation to commemorate the week of March 8th, 1980 as the first "Women's History Week". His presidential message included this fantastic quote:

"From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well."

You can find the rest of his presidential message, and a lot more on Women's History at the National Women's History Project web site. Women's History Week didn't evolve into the nationally recognized Women's History Month until 1987. Since that time Congress and the proceeding presidents have acknowledged March as Women's History Month. If you are eager to look for more information about this inspiring month-long celebration, check out the History Channel and the Women's History Month web sites. We are lucky to have a non-profit group in Ohio, Women in History, that will provide actresses to portray historically accurate women throughout time.

Each year the National Women's History Project declares a theme for the month to encourage national collaboration and unity. This year's theme is "Weaving the Stories of Womens' Lives". Since we are all about stories, historical and otherwise, we wanted to share some of our favorites featuring females with you this month.

 The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly (Squarefish, 2011).

This charming story follows the Tate family through the turn of the century on their sprawling Texas cotton and pecan plantation. Calpurnia is the only girl in the family of seven children. While her mother (and what seems like the rest of the town) expect to her to act like a lady, practice her needlepoint and piano, Calpurnia has other plans. Over time she wins the affection of her stern grandfather, and together they follow in Darwin's footsteps and explore the natural world around them.  Just like any great coming-of-age story, while Callie is fighting the process of growing up, she  ends up evolving in the process. To be perfectly honest, I didn't 'read' the book,  I listened to the audio book read by Natalie Ross. I enjoyed her narration immensely, and would very much enjoy having her read everything to me until the end of time.

The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer (Puffin, 2007).

This story is book one in the intriguing series featuring Sherlock Holmes' younger sister, Enola. Throughout the entire series Enola grapples with solving the bigger mystery of her missing mother, while each book has its own special case to crack. Using her wits, a multitude of disguises, and her vast intelligence, Enola is able to strike out on her own in 1890's London.

Unspoken: A Story From the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole (Scholastic Press, 2012).

This beautiful, moving, and wordless picture book shows a young girl grappling with the decision to help the runaway slave(s) in her family's barn. This unnamed girl doesn't hesitate for long and begins taking food to the barn. This book is so incredible because it has the power to evoke so many emotions, and such a deep story, without any words. The story is truly about personal strength and thinking for yourself.

My Name is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream by Jennifer Fosberry (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2010).

This charming picture book follows a young girl throughout her day. Her mother's interactions with her are the typical maternal reminders that urge the day along. She addresses Isabella and asks her to get out of bed, but Isabella insists that is not her name. Her mother gamely plays along, asks who she is, and together we go on a brief journey of remarkable women throughout history. The ending of this picture book leaves us with an exhausted Isabella dreaming of who she will be tomorrow.

I will leave you with a final quote, this time from the fabulous Sarah Silverman's stand-up comedy:

"Don't tell girls they can be anything they want when they grow up. Because it would have never occurred to them that they couldn't."