Friday, March 28, 2014

Women Who Changed the World (FAMILY magazine reviews)

Reading aloud with your child(ren) is a gift you can freely give.  You can begin on the day you bring them home from the hospital.  You can keep reading and talking with them about books and reading until the time they leave home.  Experts on children's reading observe that reading aloud is the easiest and most effective way to turn children into lifelong readers. And it's as much fun for you as it is for your child(ren)!
Keep some of these tips in mind as you and your child(ren) spend time together.
·      Reading out loud can help calm a fussing child or amuse a quiet one, and it can relax you, too!

·      Keep reading out loud, even after your children learn to read. Young readers enjoy listening to books they aren’t yet able to read on their own, and even teens want to hear past favorites.

·      Sometimes try reading books that are slightly beyond your children's reach. But if they seem frustrated rather than challenged, put the stories aside for another day.

·      Be open and flexible. If your child doesn't seem to like a book you're reading, stop and try a different one. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to learn the kinds of books your children want to hear.

·      Prepare in advance.  Take some time to look over a book before you read it out loud. Shorten or skip over places you think are too lengthy for your child(ren).

Try out any or all of these absorbing picture book biographies about lively girls and women whose experiences can be inspiring.  Remember, there is no age when the fun and benefits of reading out loud end!

Touch the Sky: Alice Coachman, Olympic High Jumper 
by Ann Malaspina
illustrations by Eric Velasquez 
 Albert Whitman, $16.99 (hardcover) 
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 3 
(This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online:

            Stunning oil paintings on watercolor paper match the easy-to-read free-verse text of this exciting biography. A strong Olympic athlete, Alice Coachman was a runner, a racer even as a young child in Georgia during the 1930’s.  With the help of her friends, her teachers, her coaches and eventually her family, she was able to realize her racing dream.
            Glowing colors pop out from both dark and light scenes.  One example is from the first double page spread: Alice’s white dress blazes against the dark ground as she sails across a tree trunk. Illustrations of family, of crowds of people, and of Alice alone supply contrast. 
Alice’s racing, flying body, as she hurtles through the air, highlights the poetic language of Alice’s story.  Her practice, competition, team effort and medals all serve to underline the importance of her success.  As the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal, her fame was guaranteed. She was honored despite the continuing racial issues following the 1948 Summer Olympics in London England.
An Author’s Note, accompanied by photographs is included at the back.

Write On, Mercy! The Secret Life of Mercy Otis Warren 
by Gretchen Woelfle
illustrated by Alexandra Wallner 
 Calkins Creek, $16.95 (hardcover) 
Interest Level: Grades 1-5 
(This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online:

            Regardless of the expectations of Americans in the 1700’s, young Mercy wanted more than the usual women’s work of cooking and sewing. Not only did she learn to read and write, but she found democracy in action, freedom and “natural rights” exciting.  Her older brother’s Harvard books and conversations kept her involved in politics even with her many family responsibilities.
            Despite catastrophes in her family life and the clamor of revolutionary change, Mercy did not want to be just a spectator.  She secretly wrote poetry and plays for the Boston newspapers. 
Accompanied by gouache paintings that feature a flat color style that emphasizes the colonial time period in America, the story of Mercy’s double life can be an example to readers. She wrote because she had something important to say.  Her brother’s friend, James Warren, became her husband and urged her to keep writing.  Short quotes from her writings are featured on several double-page spreads.  Her monumental work on the history of the American Revolution is the climax both of the book and of her life. 
An Author’s Note, a reproduction of John Singleton Copley’s portrait of Mercy Otis Warren, and a timeline of her life are part of the end matter.  Also included are a Selected Bibliography, a list of Books for Young Readers, and Websites.

Heart on Fire: Susan B. Anthony Votes for President 
by Ann Malaspina
illustrated by Steve James  
Albert Whitman, $16.99 (hardcover) 
Interest Level: Grades 1-4 
(This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online:

            In 1872, women in America were not allowed to vote.  This injustice did not stop Susan from registering to vote.  She argued and was permitted to register, and cast her vote.  But that was certainly not the end of the issue. 
            She was arrested, required to pay $1,000.00 and went to trial.  The judge advised the jury to find her guilty.  But she was stubborn and never paid the fine!
            Vivid paintings make careful use of white space – allowing facial expressions to share the emotional weight of the story along with the quickly moving text.  Punchy free-verse engages readers in Susan’s story.  A note from the author, a Selected Bibliography and several photos are part of the back matter. 

More great biographies to choose from:

Mary Walker Wears the Pants: The True Story of the Doctor, Reformer, and Civil War Hero 
by Cheryl Harness
illustrated by Carlo Molinari  
Albert Whitman, $16.99 (hardcover) 
Interest Level: Grades 2-5 (This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online:

Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World 
by Laurie Lawlor
illustrated by Laura Beingessner 
 Holiday House, $16.95 (hardcover) 
Interest Level: Grades 2-4  
(This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online:

Susan B. Anthony 
by Alexandra Wallner  
Holiday House, $16.95 (hardcover) 
Interest Level: Grades 2-4 
(This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online:

Paiute Princess:  The Story of Sarah Winnemucca 
by Deborah Kogan Ray 
 Farrar Straus & Giroux, $17.99 (hardcover) 
Interest Level: Grade 3-6 1  
(This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library; S Dade Regional Branch.  Also may be purchased from Books & Books online:

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