Monday, April 5, 2010

Inspiring stories of American women in history

The books below feature just a few great women from American history, but your librarian can guide you to many more books about amazing women from all over the world. Look for copies at your local library by typing the title in the World Catalog search box, or use the link to buy any book you read about on BookBag.

A Whole New Ball Game: The Story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, by Sue Macy (Puffin Books) Nonfiction. During World War II, the U.S. workforce was depleted of men, and "more than 6 million women joined the work force for the first time." The baseball diamond was also emptied--more than half of major-league baseball's players were drafted--and women were for the first time allowed to play baseball professionally. A Whole New Ball Game is a fascinating read that gives insight into the day-to-day lives, struggles, and triumphs of the women of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in addition to revealing a little-known yet important piece of sports -- and women's -- history.

Take-Off! American All-Girl Bands During WWII, by Tonya Bolden (Knopf) Nonfiction. Big-band swing music was the hottest thing going in the late 1930s and early 40s--and it was played almost exclusively by men. But when most of America's men were drafted into World War II, women stepped in to fill the void on the bandstand. This interesting and fun history of female orchestras (or "orks," in the slang of the day) is packed with photos, posters, and newspaper clippings that bring the bands' stories to life, and there's a CD of swing music included to give readers a taste of the "tunes that still make folks jump, jive, and wail today."

Vision of Beauty: The Story of Sarah Breedlove Walker, by Kathryn Lasky (Candlewick Press) Nonfiction. This picture book for older kids tells the life story of the first African-American female entrepreneur. Born Sarah Breedlove Walker in 1867 to former slaves, Madame C.J. Walker would go on to own and operate an extremely successful beauty product company. And, after making her fortune, Mme. Walker used her money and influence to make life better for other African-Americans. Giving readers a vivid sense of the time during which Mme. Walker lived and a strong example of one person changing things for the better, Vision of Beauty is a powerfully inspiring story.

Mary on Horseback: Three Mountain Stories, by Rosemary Wells; illustrated by Peter McCarty (Puffin Books) Fiction. Mary on Horseback showcases the remarkable life of early 20th-century nurse Mary Breckinridge, a midwife and founder of the Frontier Nursing Service (which is still going strong today). After the deaths of two of her own children, Mary set up her medical practice in eastern Kentucky in order to save the lives of rural people who had no other access to doctors or medicine. The three dramatic stories in this book are based on Mary's autobiography and plainly show both how difficult life was for people in 1920s Appalachia--and how much Mary and the FNS helped them.

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