Thursday, March 6, 2014

School Age Storytimes: Women’s History Month

Storytimes for grades K-3 celebrating women in history and encouraging girls and boys to go beyond their comfort zones, to take risks and make history!

"Do something every day that scares you." -- Eleanor Roosevelt
"Do what you feel in your heart to be right -- for you'll be criticized
-- Eleanor Roosevelt

There was a young woman who wanted to fly.
But the people said, "Kiss that wish good-bye!
The sky's too big and the sky's too high,
And you never will fly, so you'd better not try."
But this woman laughed, and she just said, "Why?
Nobody owns the sky!"

from Nobody Owns the Sky: The Story of
"Brave Bessie" Coleman by Reeve Lindbergh
Elizabeth Leads the Way (Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote)
by Tanya Lee Stone (JB Stanton)
(some classes) sing/chant: "V-O-T-E (form letters with bodies – tune “YMCA”)-- Women Want Equality!!"

Eleanor: Quiet No More by Doreen Rappaport (JB Roosevelt)
Nobody Owns the Sky -- The Story of "Brave Bessie" Coleman by Reeve Lindbergh (black woman who became a pilot in 1921 when everyone said she couldn't do that), ...mentioned Amelia Earhart books, Soar Elinor by Tami Lewis Brown, Sky High, The True Story of Maggie Gee by Marissa Moss (WWII women pilots finally receiving Congressional Medals of Honor a couple of years ago) & compared with the fictional picture book "Amazing Grace" by Mary Hoffman).  Other great female pilot books at:
Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers -- Kathi Appelt (JB Roosevelt) (just told segments in some groups) (inspiration for Barbara Cooney's picture book "Miss Rumphius"?) finished with quote: ...When asked why she helped found the National Wildflower Research Center, Lady Bird said that it was her way of
"paying rent for the space I have taken up in this highly interesting world!"
3/16  School Age Storytime: Hold Fast to Dreams–Fly High!
School Age Storytime: Hold Fast to Dreams–Fly High!

(K-3rd grade)
At the tale end of  Read Across America week celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday and the beginning of Women’s History Month, we shared stories of girls who defied convention, worked hard and followed their dreams.
(Relates to Dr. Seuss’ book Oh the Places You’ll Go)

Amazing Grace – Mary Hoffman  Grace loves acting out stories. Told by her classmates that she can’t play the part of Peter Pan because she’s a girl & black, she learns that she can do anything she puts her mind to.

Asked what they wanted to be when they grew up. Women often were told they couldn’t be what they wanted to be.

Every-Day Dress Up – Selina Alko – A girl ditches her princess duds in favor of daring dames – Amelia Earhart, Ella Fitzgerald, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Marie Carie & more. Briefly discussed each woman presented. When we discussed Stanton, mentioned women couldn’t even vote in the US until a little less than 100 years ago – had them figure out how old the US is (240 years) so for most of that time, women couldn’t vote. Long battle, Stanton and others spent their whole lives (70 years!) trying to get women’s voting rights.

“It is fun to dress up in princess skirts for dress up or a party, but how would they like to wear long heavy skirts (as heavy as a box of books!) everyday?  They couldn’t bike, or climb a tree, or run and play…”

You Forgot Your Skirt, Amelia Bloomer! --- Shana Corey –  Delightful biography of the suffragist & newspaper founder who founded a movement to get women out of long limiting skirts.

Nobody Owns the Sky: The Story of “Brave Bessie” Coleman – Reeve Lindbergh (youngest daughter of Charles) – No American flying school would teach Bessie because she was black so she sailed to France for lessons then returned to the states with the dream of starting her own school for African American pilots.

Movement – “Stretch High, Bend Low, Reach to the Sky, Then to Your Sides, Spread Your Wings, Turn around , then sit back down.”

Sky High: The True Story of Maggie Gee – Marissa Moss – Maggie Gee, who dreamed of flying from the time she was a girl, finally gets her chance during WW2 when she becomes one of only two Chinese-American WASPs (Women Airforce Service Pilots).

(did a variety of stretches and chants encouraging the kids to dream high & work hard to achieve their dreams)

Some other great titles:

My Name is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream? – Jennifer Fosberry
To the Stars: The First American Woman to Walk in Space – Carmella Van Vleet
Wilma Unlimited – Kathleen Krull
Elizabeth Leads the Way:Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote – Tanya Lee Stone
I Could Do That: Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote – Linda Arms White
Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor – Robert Burleigh
many more here:
and here:

Arrived too late: To The Stars: The First American Woman to Walk in Space by Caremella Van Vleet & Dr. Kathy Sullivan

More on early pilots:

Bedm. 3/16.


Girls Can! Determination Succeeds.

Showed "Boy Meets Girl" from "Free to Be You and Me" ...discussed how for much of US (and world) history, women have not been allowed to do the same things as, jobs, even drive (Saudi Arabia)...

Asked children “Who has a woman doctor?” – lots – wasn’t always that way. (Kindergarten only) Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman (black girl told she can’t be Peter Pan in the class play discovers she can do anything she puts her mind to. Booktalked: Boundless Grace and Princess Grace – great book for promoting powerful princesses!)

Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell by Tanya Lee Stone
Rough Tough Charley by Verla Kay (one class) – rhyming tale based on true story of stagecoach driver who spent her life disguised as a man

Tillie the Terrible Swede: How One Woman, a Sewing Needle and a Bicycle Changed History by Sue Stauffacher. (no time in Kindergarten) Art in Society: Toulouse Lautrec, The Bicycle and the Women’s Movement  (Background: article (for adults) analyzing the role of the bicycle in the women’s movement.)

On the topic of overcoming personal odds…even disability (talked about this word)…

Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman by Kathleen Krull (The amazing story of a tiny, sickly black girl stricken by polio who ended up winning gold medals in track at the 1960 Olympics!)  (This is a long text so I talk it rather than reading the text aloud to younger classes.)

Another story about a running race
--  "Atalanta" from "Free to Be You and Me"



“I Could Do That!”

Sybil’s Night Ride (Sybil Ludington) by Karen B. Winnick (The story of young Sybil Ludington, who, like Paul Revere, rode through the countryside to alert the colonists that the British were coming.)

Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret Knight Became an Inventor by Emily Arnold McCully or In The Bag!: Margaret Knight Wraps it Up by Monica Kulling --  both Biography Knight (Each tells the story of Margaret Knight, eventual holder of twenty patents, who fought discrimination and proved that she was just as intelligent an inventor as a man.) Could also use Kulling's Spic-in-Span: Lillian Gilbreth's Wonder Kitchen JB Gilbreth, which tells the story of the world's first female efficiency expert and the first woman elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

I Could Do That! Esther Morris Gets the Vote by Linda Arms White –JB Morris (In 1869, a woman whose "can-do" attitude had shaped her life was instrumental in making Wyoming the first state to allow women to vote, then became the first woman to hold public office in the United States -- 50 years before women across the country finally got the vote with the 19th Amendment.)

Annie Jump Cannon, Astronomer by Carole Gerber – JB Cannon (Introduces a trailblazer in the field of astronomy, who developed the Harvard Spectral Classification System, a system to classify a star's light, still used today. Also presents insight into the challenges of women interested in science during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.)

Meet My Grandmother: She’s a Deep Sea Diver by Lisa Tucker McElroy  (Groundbreaking marine biologist and diver whose ocean exploration and advocacy have made her known around the world.) Life in the Ocean: The Story of Sylvia Earle by Claire A. Nivola – JB Earle is beautiful but small pictures make it problematic for sharing in a large group.

3/15: reprised: Sybil's Night Ride (K-3 kids didn't know about Paul Revere or the American Revolution) and I Could Do That! (lots of historical items to discuss along with women getting right to vote (note: both a bit long), added Goldie Takes a Stand by Barbara Krasner (true story of 10 year old immigrant girl (discussed meaning of "immigrant", where families came from) who organized a fund-raising drive so kids in her school could have textbooks -- that girl grew up to become Golda Meir, Prime Minister of Israel. -- Had kids consider what they might want to do to make the world a better place.  sing/chant: "V-O-T-E (form letters with bodies – tune “YMCA”)-- Women Want Equality!!"
Girls Can Do Anything(long…have to pick and choose for 40 min.)

Showed "Boy Meets Girl" from "Free to Be You and Me"
...discussed how for much of US (and world) history, women have not been  allowed to do the same things as, jobs, even drive (Saudi Arabia)...

Rough Tough Charley by Verla Kay (some classes) -- based on true story of stagecoach driver who was a woman disguised as a man.

Mama Went to Jail for the Vote by Kathleen Krull ...after the vote was achieved, women still not allowed to do many jobs...until WW2 necessitated (booktalked Rosie the Riveter J940.531 PRI)

Sky High -- Biography Gee (Chinese American Woman who became a WASP,
then a physicist)

Overcoming personal odds Wilma Rudolph (shared poem from All by Myself  J811.54 PAU)

Told story Wilma Unlimited (abridged the text by Kathleen Krull)
Finished with "Atalanta" from "Free to Be You and Me"
(some classes also got to see a 14 year old Michael Jackson:

Other possible empowering women read-aloud titles include:

The Ballot Box Battle by Emily Arnold McCully
The Bobbin Girl by Emily Arnold McCully
Heart on Fire: Susan B. Anthony Votes for President by Ann Malaspina
Marching with Aunt Susan: Susan B. Anthony and the Fight for Women’s Suffrage by Claire Rudolph  Murphy
A Woman for President: The Story of Victoria Woodhull by Kathleen Krull
The Taxing Case of the Cows by Iris Van Rynbach and Shea Pegi Deitz
Liberty’s Voice: The Story of Emma Lazarus by Erica Silverman
Emma’s Poem by Linda Glaser
Only Passing Through: The Story of Sojourner Truth by Anne Rockwell
Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds: a Civil War Hero by Marissa Moss
The Daring Nellie Bly: America’s Star Reporter by  Bonnie Christensen 
Patience Wright: America’s First Sculptor and Revolutionary Spy by Pegi Deitz Shea
They Called her Molly Pitcher by Anne Rockwell
Mary Walker Wears the Pants: The True Story of the Doctor, Reformer, and Civil War Hero by Cheryl Harness
Friends for Freedom: The Story of Susan B. Anthony & Frederick Douglas by Susanne Slade (J303.484 SLA)
Brave Girl: Clara & the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel

Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World by Laurie Lawlor
Seeds of Change by Jen Cullerton Johnson,
Mama Miti by Donna Jo Napoli
The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever by Joseph Hopkins
Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor by Robert Burleigh

Look Up! Henrietta Leavitt, Pioneering Woman Astronomer by Robert Burleigh
Of Numbers and Stars: The Story of Hypatia by  D. Anne  Love
Julia Morgan Built a Castle by  Celeste Davidson Mannis
To The Stars: The First American Woman to Walk in Space by Caremella Van Vleet & Dr. Kathy Sullivan

Queen of the Track: Alice Coachman Olympic High-Jump Champion by Heather Lang
Fearless: the true story of racing legend Louise Smith by Barbara Rosenstock
Mermaid queen: the spectacular true story of Annette Kellerman, who swam her way to fame, fortune and swimsuit history by Shana Corey
Players in Pigtails by Shana Corey
Girl Wonder by  Deborah Hopkinson
She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story by Audrey Vernick
The Bravest Woman in America by Marissa Moss

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
Red bird sings: the story of Zitkala-Sa by Gina Capaldi
The Librarian of Basra : A True Story of Basra  by Jeanette Winter

Looking for many more suggestions?  Check out:

Note, there are a LOT of books about female pilots. Find them at:

There are many more book possibilities for this program – check out the early reader’s section of the annual lists at for more great suggestions.

And Karen Chace has posted an excellent list of Women's History Sources here:

Reading Rainbow: Kate Shelley and the Midnight Express
Collective Biography: Amelia to Zora: Twenty-six Women Who Changed the World by Cynthia Chin-Lee


  1. Thank you for sharing this. What a great resource!

    1. Delighted you find it useful. Enjoyed looking at your blog as well...may do the St. Pats take home craft next week! :)C


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