Inspired Feminist Children’s Books On the Rise #JACBA Newsletter 1Jun2017

15 Feminist Children’s Books That Will Inspire Readers Of Any Age

Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by Catherine Thimmesh and Melissa Sweet tells the stories of the women who invented everything from windshield wipers, to liquid paper white-out, to aircraft bumpers, to the chocolate chip cookie, and more.

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy and Elizabeth Baddeley tells the (condensed, simplified) version of the amazing life and achievements of Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, while combating the idea that young girls and women should always be agreeable, accommodating, and non-confrontational – a lesson I know that at least I need to keep learning over and over.

The Invisible Princess by Faith Ringgold is an African American fairy tale set during slavery, telling the story of one couple whose wishes for their child come true in ways they never could have imagined. That daughter becomes the Invisible Princess, who will one day liberate her parents from slavery, and bring freedom to all the slaves on the plantation. This one is a great reminder of the difference just one individual can make – invisible or not.

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Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909, written by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet 2014 Awardee

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark, written by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley, 2017 Awardee

We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song written by Debbie Levy and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton 2014 Awardee

Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky by Faith Ringgold 1993 Awardee

Friday essay: the feminist picture book revolution

Newish picture books out there for the budding feminist.

Books about broader activism (such as conservation, segregation, the right to vote) featuring girls or women include One Plastic Bag; Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of Gambia (2015) by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Elizabeth Zunin and The Youngest Marcher; The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist (2017).

There is power in the political picture book to reveal the marginalised stories of women in politics, but only space in this article to mention a few. So I’ll start (of course) with Hillary (2016) by Jonah Winter, a biography of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Winter has had a number of political picture books published, including one about the work of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas.

My favourite in this category is, I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes her Mark (2016) by Debbie Levy and illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley. I Dissent uses the Notorious RBG to introduce ideas around working mothers, persistence, shared domestic responsibilities and stay-at-home dads. The book explores the language of dissent while showing the (completely lovable) liberal US Supreme Court justice in her real life, thereby positing the girl with a voice as something special, but nonetheless natural.

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We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song written by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton 2014 Awardee

Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by Jonah Winter 2016 Awardee

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark, written by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley, 2017 Awardee

ASU student uses literature to shine light on marginalized groups

Duncan Tonatiuh, told students at the beginning of the day, “It’s important to share our stories, because if we don’t, others won’t either.”

Tonatiuh’s books reflect his Mexican-American heritage in both story and illustrative style, which is heavily influenced by pre-Columbian art with strong Aztec and Mayan overtones. Copies of his book, “Separate Is Never Equal,” were given out at the event.

“This event is really about connecting youth with literature that mirrors their experiences,” Flores said. “It provides a space for them to realize the power their stories and experiences can have to liberate and change lives, and how through sharing their stories and experiences, they can make a difference in the world.”

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Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and her family’s fight for desegregation, written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh 2015 Awardee

Angelina Jolie Is Helping to Bring a Canadian Classic to Theatres
But TBH, Angelina is only one of many reasons to get excited about this film

Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai told the New York Times that the story is one that all girls should read: “The Breadwinner reminds us how courageous and strong women are around the world.”

That spirit comes through in the recently released trailer for the upcoming film, which is set to be released this fall.

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The Heaven Shop by Deborah Ellis 2005 Awardee

The Breadwinner Trilogy, three books by Deborah Ellis 2004 Awardee

Parvana’s Journey by Deborah Ellis 2003 Awardee

A Day of Accolades at Bank Street

A Cook Prize Honor Books went to Follow the Moon Home: A Tale of One Idea, Twenty Kids, and a Hundred Sea Turtles (Chronicle) by Phillipe Costeau and Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Meilo So.

Hopkinson said she has been heartened to see readers’ level of enthusiasm for Follow the Moon Home; it has taught her that “students are eager to participate in environmental conservation efforts. I believe that community action projects help to nurture interest in STEM and STEAM,” Hopkinson said.

Also receiving a Cook Honor was Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor (Simon & Schuster) by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Raúl Colón.
Raúl Colón next accepted his award. The illustrator spoke about how art and science are often interconnected in that both involve the imagination.

The process of illustrating the book led Colón to conduct his own research into the science-or is it the art?-of mapping the ocean floor, allowing him to learn along with readers.

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Steamboat School, written by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Ron Husband, 2017 Awardee

Girl Wonder: A Baseball Story in Nine Innings by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Terry Wideners, 2004 Awardee

Shutting Out the Sky: Life in the Tenements of New York 1880-1924 by Deborah Hopkinson 2004 Awardee

A Band of Angels: A Story Inspired written by the Jubilee Singers by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Raúl Colón, 2000 Awardee


Artist Faith Ringgold is prominently featured throughout the eight-panel exhibit. In 1970, she and her daughter, Michele Wallace, forced the Whitney Museum of American Art to include two Black women artists-Betye Saar and Barbara Chase-Riboud-in their Sculpture Annual for the first time.

Now, the Brooklyn Museum is honoring Ringgold’s struggle for equity. Her oil painting For the Woman’s House (1971) shows an array of women at work. Female inmates at Rikers Island used to be able to purchase the painting, though the jail later banned it. Just as she advocated for Saar and Chase-Riboud, Ringgold created the painting to honor Angela Davis, after she was arrested for a crime she was later acquitted for.

“An exhibition like this is years in the making, so over the course of producing the exhibition, the pertinence and necessity of it seems to have only increased. It certainly speaks to the need people have to talk about the contributions Black women have made to our culture.”

Our contributions are innumerable, immeasurable, and, certainly, not to be disregarded.

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Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky by Faith Ringgold 1993 Awardee

LVC Education Students Co-Publish Article with Professor

Lebanon Valley College education students Cara Dowzicky and Chelsea Bear co-authored an article along with Dr. Ann Berger-Knorr, associate professor of education, titled “Female Game Changers of the 20th Century: Picture Book Biographies and the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award” which was accepted for publication by Pennsylvania Reads: The Journal of the Keystone State Reading Association.

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Good books, like teachers, acknowledge children’s lives, says author Jacqueline Woodson

“You have to read slowly in order to be a writer,” she said. “You learn to listen to the silences and to the unsaid things.”

Woodson is cherished in the world of young-adult literature for telling the untold stories of diverse American lives with generosity, tenderness and hope.

“I wanted kids to have stories in the world that reflected their lives,” Woodson said.

Musing on the common observation that children’s books function as “mirrors and windows and sliding-glass doors,” she recalled that “I grew up with a lot of windows into white culture. And not very many mirrors.

“That’s one of the things teachers do for us: They see us. Brilliance is passion recognized,” she said. “For some of us the passion gets shaped into the brilliance. And some of us never get seen.”

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Each Kindness written by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis 2013 Awardee

From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun by Jacqueline Woodson 1996 Awardee

I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This by Jacqueline Woodson 1995 Awardee

Summer Reading Recommendations, From 6 Novelists Who Own Bookstores

Books Are Magic is opening in the midst of a renaissance for independent booksellers. The American Booksellers Association counted 1,775 members around the country in 2016, up from 1,410 in 2010. And Ms. Straub is joining a small but growing club of novelists who moonlight as booksellers – their ranks include Larry McMurtry, Louise Erdrich, Ann Patchett, Judy Blume and Jeff Kinney.

Louise Erdrich, AUTHOR OF “LaRose”, BOOKSTORE Birchbark Books in Minneapolis


  • ‘Al Franken: Giant of the Senate’ by Al Franken “Flips the classic born-in-a-shack rise to political office tale on its head. I skipped meals to read this book – also unusual – because every page was funny. It made me deliriously happy to learn that Franken has outlawed the word ‘robust’ in his office.”
  • ‘Standard Deviation’ by Katherine Heiny “About a perfectly mismatched New York City couple whose son, with autistic tendencies, is an origami prodigy. Both heart-piercing and, crucially, very funny.”
  • ‘The Futilitarians’ by Anne Gisleson “About an Existential Crisis Reading Group with a secret handshake.”
  • ‘The Song Poet’ by Kao Kalia Yang “The exquisite story of Kao Kalia Yang’s father, village life, war life, refugee life, then a St. Paul housing project; America’s secret war in Laos; and a people’s history as sung by Bee Yang and remembered in fascinating and poetic detail by his daughter.”

Judy Blume, AUTHOR OF “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret”, BOOKSTORE Books & Books in Key West, Fla.

Two illustrated books for all ages:

  • ‘Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White’ by Melissa Sweet
  • ‘I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark’ by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley

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The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich 2000 Awardee

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909, written by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet 2014 Awardee

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark, written by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley, 2017 Awardee

We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song written by Debbie Levy and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton 2014 Awardee

Since 1953, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award annually acknowledges
books published in the U.S. during the previous year. Books commended by the
Award address themes of topics that engage children in thinking about peace,
justice, world community and/or equality of the sexes and all races. The books
also must meet conventional standards of literacy and artistic excellence.

A national committee chooses winners and honor books for younger and older children.

Read more about the 2017 Awards.

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