Thursday, March 21, 2013

Women's History Month: Some Women You Should Know

We continue our month-long celebration of women with some more books about strong, awesome women. But these women are real.


Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose. Rosa Parks wasn't the first woman in Montgomery to be arrested for refusing to give up her seat. Claudette Colvin was, and she was only in high school. This is the story that you never knew, and it stars a remarkable and brave teenager that history tried to forget.

Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss. This is a beautiful book, filled with illustrations and pictures. While it looks like a work of visual art, it's also a stunning look at the Curies, their life, their work, their love, and the repercussions of what they discovered. Published for adults, teens will be drawn into and love this.

Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World by Sy Montgomery and Temple Grandin. This inspiring biography details how Grandin is able to use her autism to her advantage. She has long been interested and obsessed with cows and has turned this passion into revolutionizing the livestock industry to make it much more humane. Older readers may want to turn straight to Grandin's books such as The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism and Asperger's


Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing by Ann Angel. Jopin remains a major music icon and influence in rock. She was 27 when she died. Angel traces her life and struggles, as well as how she changed music.

"Scribbling Women": True Tales from Astonishing Lives by Marthe Jocelyn. This book introduces several women writers from around the world and throughout time. Many lived in a time or place where women writing was scoffed upon. While you may already know some of these women, the strength of this title lies in introducing the reader to some extraordinary people you've never heard of.

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang. Chang tells the story of her grandmother, her mother, and herself, and through this covers a tumultuous century in Chinese history. From a concubine, to a leading communist, to a modern woman living in England. Published for adults, teens will enjoy this engrossing read.


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Henrietta Lacks was a poor black woman who died of cancer. Doctors saved some of these cancerous cells and started a medical revolution and industry. The world knows her cells as HeLa, but Skloot tells us of the woman behind the cells, the story of what those cells have done, and Lacks's children and their search for justice and the truth.

Zora!: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston by Dennis Brindell Fradin and Judith Bloom Fradin. Many teens have to read Zora Neale Hurston's work in English class, but she was penniless for most of her life as her books were never major sellers until after she was gone. The Fradins bring her back to life, detailing her exploits and larger than life personality, while also placing her work in the context and explaining why it wasn't accepted in her lifetime.

Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton. Everyone should be reading Beaton's webcomic by the same title. This isn't a nonfiction book, or a biography, but many many many many many of Beaton's cartoons in this book do introduce us to amazing historical women, or offer a different slant on their stories (sometimes the hidden truth, sometimes just hilarious updates.)

What are your must-read biographies of women?

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