Happy International Women’s Day! As a mom who is trying to raise boys who fully believe in the equality of women and men (and all people for that matter), I am always looking for books that will help them see all people as equals. This book (and the original titled just, She Persisted) does that and so. much. more.
I was amazed when we read the first book about the questions it prompted from my 6 ¾ yo. He was mostly confused at first. His innocence made him wonder why there needed to be a book about girls who changed the world. He asked if there were any boys who had changed the world.
Our answer was, “Of COURSE boys have changed the world. Many boys have done many amazing things, and you can do any amazing thing you put your mind to. But this book exists because there are people in the world who don’t think girls can do all the things boys can do, and we want to make sure you know that isn’t true.”
The first book was wonderful, and as a wide-ranging piece of nonfiction, it brought up questions about slavery, the treatment of workers, and access to education. We even spent some time discussing why there were not any women on our paper money and who we thought should maybe have a place there. The second book has done the same, but added a global aspect to the information.
One thing I struggle with as a white, upper-middle class woman, is how to ensure that my kids know that we are extremely fortunate to live where (and when) we live and have all of the resources we have. We recently found an organization where kids as young as 6 can volunteer to help feed the hungry (which you can read about in this post), and I have been trying to have conversations about situations/people/areas that are not as fortunate as we are when we see them in our daily lives, but I find that books are the place where we can have the most in-depth conversations about this issue. Books are especially helpful when we are trying to show the issues that people in other countries face, as we obviously can’t show them all of those things in person.
In She Persisted – Around the World we were able to see situations that my 6 ¾ yo could relate to, like going to school and going to the movies, and how women in some other countries have recently been denied the right to do these things. One thing I might recommend is having your phone or computer nearby when reading. My son wanted to know whether or not each woman in the book was still alive, that way he could put the times in a context he understood.
I know that for kids, time is a tricky thing to understand. Even my high school freshmen often make statements about things like the Civil Rights Movement being soooooo long ago. So I usually try to show how NOT long ago things were by talking to my boys about time periods in terms of when I was a little kid, or when their grandparents were little kids, or how long it was before that.
The story that affected my son the most was probably the story about Malala. He was very concerned about why people would be upset about a girl going to school. He was even more concerned when he found out that this happened during his lifetime. It was painful and uncomfortable to hear the worry in his questions about buses and security and where this event took place. I comforted him and let him know that Pakistan is very far away from here. But we also let the uncomfortable truth of how unfair it is for people to treat boys and girls differently settle a little. Then we focused on what Malala has done since she was attacked. We focused on the hope, the perseverance, and the power of one young girl.
The story that was the most interesting for me was definitely the one about Joanne Rowling. I had no idea why she wrote the books as J.K.!
The story that was the most shocking for my son was about Sisleide Lima do Amor who was not legally allowed to play soccer!
All of the stories were inspiring and relatable. The introduction and the conclusion of the book helped my son to see how these girls changed the world and how he might do the same. She Persisted Around the World and the original She Persisted book are probably two of my most highly recommended books for all kids. Even boys!
As I was thinking about this post and listening to the news on my way to work, I heard a story about a new feature section in The New York Times that goes along with the topic of these books, so I thought I would share. Apparently when they began to look through their obituaries, they noticed that a HUGE majority of them were about white men. Many prominent and influential women (especially women of color) were left out of the Times obituaries. The segment is called “Overlooked” and includes obituaries for 15 remarkable women. They will be adding more each week. Here is the link in case you are interested!
Find links to both books below. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts about these books or other inspiring books you have read with your kiddos. Click on the social links to the right to ask questions or share your suggestions on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
Thanks for reading!
She Persisted – by Chelsea Clinton
She Persisted – Around the World – by Chelsea Clinton