A Reading List for Women’s History Month

If my work as a middle school librarian has taught me one thing, it’s that one of the best ways to inspire people is to tell them a good story. For this Women’s History Month, I’ve curated a list of books that do just that – tell a beautiful story, and in the process change or contribute to our understanding of girlhood. Below you’ll find a wide array of books – historical fiction, non-fiction, comics, tales of adventure – which bring together gender identity, culture, and race to tell a story about modern girlhood, and what it means to be a woman today. Grades K-2...

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Celebrating Black History Month throughout the year

Though on the surface it seems strange to come out with a reading list for Black History Month after the fact, one of the most important things we can do to support and advocate for people of color around the world is to keep reading and sharing their stories long after their designated “month” is over. True equality, after all, comes when we read and listen and pay attention to all people in equal measure, and that means extending your reading list past the month of February and making it a point to read authors of color all year. Without any further ado, I’ll share a curated list of...

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Review: Caroline Lawrence’s The Roman Mysteries

Last year I became a graduate with a degree in Ancient History and History. I loved it, and the main reason I decided to study the degree was because it included the ancient world. However, I was not exposed to the world of Classics or Ancient History whilst I was at school. So why would I become so interested in the subject? The answer to this question is the work of Caroline Lawrence and her Roman Mysteries. I’m not a bookworm, but Lawrence’s books appealed to my love of solving mysteries and history. The series consist of seventeen books that follow the life and adventures of Flavia...

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Girls Undercover: Violet Strange

Name: Violet Strange Occupation: Girl detective and debutante Location: New York City, 1899 As seen in: The Golden Slipper and Other Problems for Violet Strange, by Anna Katharine Green Violet Strange is a character, created by Anna Katharine Green for her mystery short stories, The Golden Slipper and other Problems for Violet Strange, published in 1914. Strange is an astute young woman – only 17 years old – and the daughter of a rich banker. She takes up solving crimes in secret. Though the stories she appears in are old-fashioned and a bit stilted, Violet Strange is credited with being the...

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Ginny Weasley Is Not Impressed

Sarah Gailey wrote an amazing essay about Ginny Weasley (of Harry Potter fame) at Tor.com. Often considered a more minor character, Sarah looks into how truly awesome Ginny really is, and why she. Is. Not. Impressed. As I’m doing another Harry Potter re-read of my own, it’s nice to find new interpretations of characters I already know well, or–in the case of Sarah’s review of Ginny–find an interpretation that I heartily agree with. Six brothers. That’s how many brothers it takes to make a Ginny Weasley. That’s how much familial finally-a-daughter pressure is required to...

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Mary Shelley and the birth of Frankenstein

If you like scary reads, then there is one story you should definitely read – Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley. We’ve all heard of the book, and its famous author, but what is the story behind the creation of this Gothic Horror with its horrific descriptions and empowering emotions? Mary Shelley was born in 1797 to William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, who was herself a writer and an early feminist. In 1812, Mary would meet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Two years after meeting the couple decided to elope, leaving Percy’s first wife Harriet Shelley without her husband. Harriett tragically...

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Marley Dias’s Campaign for 1000 “Black Girl Books”

  I always love hearing about young girls creating a meaningful difference in some way, so when I read that Marley Dias had created a book drive for books with main characters who are black girls I was very excited. 11-year-old Marley, who is from West Orange, New Jersey, had grown frustrated with the books her class was reading in school because they seemed to all be about white boys and their dogs. She couldn’t relate to these books at all. So she decided to do something about it and start collecting books about black girls. People have supported her so much with her project that she...

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Girl Soldiers: Sir Alanna from Song of the Lioness (Tamora Pierce)

Being a woman in a man’s world is never easy: now imagine that world is a fantasy kingdom in which chivalry, might, and the sword rule. Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness quartet follows Alanna, a young girl who wants desperately to escape the conventional life planned for her and become a knight. D’you think I want to be a lady? ‘Walk slowly, Alanna. Sit still, Alanna. Shoulders back, Alanna.’ As if that’s all I can do with myself! –Alanna in Alanna: The First Adventure There seems to be no way around her gender – no woman has become a knight before – so to get her training, she disguises...

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Girls Undercover: Miss Phryne Fisher

Name: Miss Phryne Fisher Occupation: Detective (fictional) Location: St. Kilda, Melbourne, Australia, 1928 As seen in: Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher detective novels (1989-) and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (2012-2015)   The first undercover lady in our series on female detectives and spies is Miss Phryne Fisher, a fictional private detective and aristocrat living in Melbourne, Australia in the late 1920s. Named after famous 4th Century Greek courtesan Phryne, Miss Fisher is an unmarried, trouser-wearing, bohemian flapper who drives her own car and has a reputation for...

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Book Review: Where’d you go, Bernadette?

Where’d you go, Bernadette? is a witty yet touching comedy novel by Maria Semple. It came out in 2012, but I have been recommended it by several people recently and decided to give it go – and I’m glad I did. It’s a book about Bernadette Fox, a talented recluse living in Seattle with her husband Elgie Branch and their daughter Bee. We discover that Bernadette was a brilliant architect back in Los Angeles with a bright future ahead of her when something happens that causes her to be very receptive to the idea of moving to Seattle with Elgie for his job at Microsoft. Once living in...

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