Working in the children’s library has put me in the way of lots and lots of books. These are my recommendations of awesome feminist children’s books I recommend…so far. I understand that sometimes it is difficult to find good children’s literature on subjects that are important to you. I mean, don’t buy this book please (sorry, if you are the author of that book. You tried. You really tried.) If you are a parent or a wanna-be parent, and plan on raising 700 awesome feminist babies to infuse society with sanity and cool, I recommend dropping everything and buying these. Here goes…
Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Women’s Right to Vote
Now I’ve always really felt a connection to Ms. Cady Stanton. That’s not to say I’m half as awesome, but I’ve always just really liked her. This book is a great overview of her life and struggles, and focuses a lot on her youth and young adulthood, including her famous “Declaration of Sentiments.” While there is one line in it about how Elizabeth was Studying while other women were “having babies”, that I’m not a 100% fan of (this is one of the largest flaws of second wave feminism, I think. I mean, it’s not like your brain turns off at pregnancy or that you can’t contribute to society. To make it look like a choice between education and family, is a mistake. ) it isn’t the main point and is such a good book, that I recommend it even still…and let it be said that I am picky about my feminist children’s lit!
The illustrations are bright and pleasant, with large paint strokes and an approachable feel.
Ballots for Belva: The True Story of a Woman’s Race from the Presidency
So, this is a new book, and I really like the illustrations on this one. Great style and shading, and visually stimulating with details and interesting angles.
It covers the story of Belva Lockwood, and her law school experience (including having to fight her diploma from the President of the United States, even after finishing all the courses successfully) and her eventual run for the presidency. This book even includes mention of how even the suffragettes, fearing that she was making the movement ridiculous, withdrew support from her. The book includes details of the opposition, and the ballot fraud rampant in many states. And somehow it covers all these in a kid-friendly and interesting way, with a positive outlook. I’m a fan.
Miriam’s Cup: A Passover Story
Now, I love passover. I think that it’s a pretty cool tradition and I wouldn’t mind doing one in my own family (or at least, me and my houseplants and close friends). Seriously, passover is the digity. The only problem being that it filters down from thousands of years of sexist patriarchy (gulp…sorry. I just threw up a little in my mouth), so there’s not a lot of mention or participation of awesome women in it. When I do the passover, unless I am more interested in maintaining historical accuracy in the interest of critical pedagogy (“The oldest man leads the passover, in accordance with tradition. This comes from an ancient belief that…which we don’t believe now because…). When I stumbled across this book I literally started skipping around the library.
The gist. The family is getting ready for passover, and little brother Elijah proudly polishes Elijah’s cup. Miriam is busy getting ready for passover too, and her mom takes her aside and tells her the story of the the “prophet she was named after.” (jddaughter, pushes victory fist in the air and whispers “Yeah!”), and begins to tell the story of all the contributions of Miriam in the Passover Story. Great book. Lovely illustrations. Even has a great song about the prophet Miriam you can sing at your passover feast.
A great passover tradition book to read with your family. Even if you aren’t into passover, it’s still a great book about a great prophet in the Old Testament. A great sunday-bag read.
While much of the story comes from the Old Testament Account, a great deal of the details about Miriam come from the Midrash ( rabbi’s various interpretations of the scriptures. Think of it like a collection of Jewish Ensign articles where religious leaders expound upon the scriptures) and Jewish tradition. Take the details at the value of the sources they come from. To be fair, the Midrash has all sorts of “crazy” stuff like, that Abraham ran away from getting sacrificed by his father (man, who believes THAT! Crazy heads) and that Enoch founded a city that was taken up to heaven (Nuts I tell you. Nuts).
I’ll Pass for Your Comrade: Women Soldiers in the Civil War
This one, not so much a picture book. It’s a great elementary-junior high leveled read of the incredible stories of women who fought in the civil war, most of whom were in disguise. Apparently a lot of women did this. Hundreds and Hundreds, not including those that died anonymously or who were never discovered. The text is age appropriate for 4rth through about 9th grade, but I really enjoyed it and I’m in college. Every other page has great historical pictures, and all the sources are backed up and credible. A quick and very interesting read for any age.
Sun Mother Wakes the World
Interesting, native inspired illustrations tell the Australian Creation Story of how Sun Mother comes down from heaven and gently wakes the world from its slumber. Lovely. Even though apparently Sun Mother has a non-gender specific parent up in heaven somewhere who directs her actions a little, Sun Mother offers a nice little glimpse of the Feminine Divine.
All the animals are arguing about what God is like. Old turtle helps them to figure it out. I found this book randomly in the bookstore and teared up. Beautiful. Great oil illustrations, beautiful message. Mentions of both female and male God. One of my absolute favorites.
The inhabitants of earth are complaining about each other, but earth mother knows that everyone has a place. A great book with a beautiful image of who God is. A simple read for younger children.
Women of Camelot
Kick trash stylized art fills this great book which covers the stories of the Great Women of Camelot from their points of view. Fabulous Read. It has enough stories to fill up many a bed time. Beware, British authors have a slightly different idea of what is appropriate idea of what is appropriate for young children. There is mention of of affairs and violence.
Changing Woman and Her Sisters
A great collection of inspirational stories of Goddesses around the World. Great stories that teach morals. A little Nudity. Beware.
A great, exciting young-adult read about a society where everyone, upon turning 16, goes through an opperation that turns them all “Pretty” and brainwashed. A great novel from anyone struggling with the pressure to conform into a society they do not beleive to be right. Powerful female characters.
Sir Gawain and the Loathly Lady
A great picturebook with beautiful and detailed illustrations tells the story of King Arthur’s Quest for the world’s hardest question- “What do women want?”
One of the greatest, undertold, feminist tales of all time. Tell it!
And for all you grownups…I highly recommend
Possession: A Romance
Two scholars studying two poets. Two sets of romances. NOT a mindless read. One of the best books I’ve ever read.