Tuesday, March 7, 2017

March 8 - International Women's Day

I had never heard of International Women's Day until I taught in Ukraine back in the early nineties. My students were astonished that this wasn't a holiday we really celebrated in the US, because it is HUGE there! I always felt sorry for the few token boys at our mostly-girls' school, because they were expected to bring gifts (flowers, candy and deodorant - yes, deodorant - were most common) to ALL the girls in their class.

It's not so much about famous women in history as it is about celebrating the women in your life here and now. A little bit of women's history, however, can never hurt when you are trying to raise strong, capable young women, so:


SOOOO many famous women to read about. I am just going to feature some of the books I have most recently read:

I Dissent

Winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award, don't let the 4th grade reading level scare you away from sharing it with younger children. A lively and interesting account of Ginsburg's life and career - I am embarrassed that I never would have pictured her as a young grad student balancing a baby on one knee! I will also admit to pausing and smiling at the page containing only the words, "she persisted." 


Of course there are many titles about this young woman available, but I liked this one for the way it presents the facts of the Taliban's oppression and assassination attempt in a way that should be appropriate for young children - of course, you know your own child best, so you'll want to read through it first. Bright, hopeful illustrations offer discussion starters about symbolism, then give way to photographs at the end, as well as notes about other civil rights leaders. Really just a well-rounded book to spark age-appropriate discussion about world issues.

How about some general capable-girl titles?


Do you have a young lady who has to do everything perfectly? Who can never admit she is wrong? Who is seven years old and has blue eyes and blonde hair? We're speaking hypothetically, of course.

The first step to learning and trying new things is to be willing to make mistakes. I always prefer to learn my lessons through fictional characters, and this one comes through it all quite nicely.


Playful text sounds like a list of rules from days gone by (Beautiful girls smell like flowers), while the accompanying illustrations give them a more acceptable slant (as the girls are covered in the dirt said flowers might be planted in). A terrific celebration of the many things girls (and boys) can do and be, while being their beautiful selves!

Extension: Talk about stereotypes, where they come from, how to recognize them. Even things meant as compliments are harmful when they don't allow people to be individuals (all Asians are smart, all boys are good at sports, etc.)

Social Studies

See what books your local library has about the women's movement, throughout history and now. Talk about how things have changed, and what things still need some work - here and in other countries. Find out what issues strike your child as being the most pressing, and talk about ways he or she can help address them now and as they get older.


Who are some special women in your child's life? Help them write or dictate letters to them, telling them how much they mean to them. Maybe draw a picture or bake some goodies to go with them!


Or, give them flowers! Live flowers are great, but tissue paper flowers can last longer. There are as many ways to make flowers as there are boards on Pinterest, it seems, but this link will take you to four simple ways collected in one spot on Wikihow.


Go crazy with graphing! Some great subjects for bar graphs, using a variety of countries throughout the world:

- Ratio of women to men in general
- Ratio of women to men with a high school education
- Percentage of women in the work force
- Legal marriage, voting, adulthood age
- Rights given to women such as voting, driving, or holding public office.


What struck you about the results of your graph? Present your graph to another family member or friend. Present the facts you discovered, then express your opinion about any of the disparities you found - what you think might cause them, whether you see any as positive or negative, and if negative, what you think might be done about them.

Other Web Sites to Explore

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