March is officially Women's History Month, and I couldn't be more thrilled to share some books and activities that will not only teach your students about the contributions that courageous and inspiring women have made, but also — just maybe — inspire your students to make history themselves someday.
The other day one of my students shouted to another boy, "You throw like a girl." I asked him, "What do you mean by that?" As the 13 girls in the class looked at him, he whispered, "I don't know." I couldn't have asked for a better teachable moment to introduce the fascinating women portrayed in the following books.
Through these nonfiction books, your students will learn about the lives and contributions of women such as Susan B. Anthony, Jane Goodall, Mia Hamm, Dolores Huerta, Billie Jean King, Florence Nightingale, Rosa Parks, Pocahontas, Sacagawea, Sonia Sotomayor, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and Madam C. J. Walker.
Up, Up, and Away: The Story of Amelia Earhart
Written by Susan Canizares
Illustrated by Pamela Chanko
I love this biography of Amelia Earhart because it uses real pictures of her and it is a terrific way to introduce your students to one of the most adventurous women that ever lived.
An activity to integrate with all three biographical books is to have each student choose one woman and write a biography of her. Using Kid Pix or another application, have your students draw one or two digital pictures of the person depicting their major accomplishment. For example, the picture of Amelia Earhart here includes the plane that she took her long flights in. (For more activities for and instructions on using Kid Pix, see Easy Activities for Using Kid Pix Software in the Classroom.) When students are finished, plan a day in March to celebrate these famous women by displaying the students' work and having the students explain their pictures to those who view it.
Just Us Women
Written by Jeannette Caines
Illustrated by Pat Cummings
Just Us Women is about an aunt and her niece who are going on a road trip together. The little girl in the story is thrilled because it is just going to be the two of them. This book provides the perfect opportunity for your students to share about a trip they have taken. Whether it is to the beach, Disneyland, or even the local park, each student will have a feeling to express and write about.
For this exercise, have your students use the "Reader-Response Triple Scoop" graphic organizer from Scholastic Printables. I find this graphic organizer so valuable because the students get to write about how the story made them feel, what the book reminded them of, and what the story made them think about. There is no better way to empower your students than to have them share their own life experiences with the class.
Grace for President
Written by Kelly DiPucchio
Illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Why hasn't there been a woman president? Good question! I think the main character, Grace, from the story Grace for President is wondering the same thing. But instead of just pondering the question, she begins her political journey and enters the race for president in her school's mock election. Soon your students will learn that it takes courage, perseverance, and a lot of heart to run for president. The students will also get a lesson in how the American electoral system works. After reading the story, you can have your students create their own presidential poster. REALLY! You will want to read this one to your class!
Girls Hold Up This World
Written by Jada Pinkett-Smith
Photographs by Donyell Kennedy-McCullough
This beautifully photographed book will warm your heart and bring tears of joy to your eyes with words that describe girls such as strength, unique, proud, self-esteem, hard work, powerful, beauty, and united. This is the book teachers will want to read to their students; daughters will want to share with their mothers, and sisters will want to share with each other. Girls Hold Up This World is a celebration of the bond that women all over the world share. An activity to go along with this book is to have your students write a letter to a woman who has changed their life.
On that note, I want to say thank you to a woman I am so lucky to call mom. You have always been my number one support system and my best friend, and you have given me the confidence to accomplish whatever I set my mind to!