Not so long ago, children's knowledge of women in history was pretty much limited to the two Queen Elizabeths and Martha Washington. Even now, schools focus heavily on the achievements of the Y-chromosome heroes of the world. But as Women's History Month approaches, you can help expand your kids' knowledge by reading them one of the great women's history picture books for children. Because it's about time the next generation learned about everyone who shaped the world.
Last year, the National Women's History Museum published a report on the "status of women's history in state-level social studies standards." The news wasn't great: Although states do include women in their standards, most often the same figures are mentioned (most notably Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, and Harriet Tubman), and usually only in the context of certain segments of history, such as the civil rights movement or women's suffrage. "The standards overwhelmingly emphasize women — by more than half (53 percent) — in their domestic roles," added the report. In other words, kids are learning that women didn't do much over the centuries except keeping order at home, except for the few times when they were standing up for integration and voting.
Although some of these girls-rock! books do include the better-known female historical figures, they go farther by adding more unfamiliar names and widening the span to include not just suffragists, but also scientists, artists, jurists, and other fields of work. From board books for toddlers to slightly deeper books for kindergartners and first-graders, there's something to delight and inspire everyone here.