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Books for Women's History Month

Elisabeth Padjen
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Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month.

Book Buzz is a blog produced in collaboration with neighborhood librarians from Houston Public Library, Harris County Public Library and the Bellaire Library.

March is Women’s History Month; I encourage readers to delve into the often-surprising and unacknowledged history of women. Thankfully more and more literature is being published recognizing women’s history. There is also the emergences of female characters not only in genres they had previously been absent from but also characters that are complex and interesting.

I worked at Barnes & Noble before my time at HPL and my number one request in regards to picture books featuring female characters was that customers just wanted a female character and that the focus of the story wasn’t that she WAS female, and the second request was featuring a minority female character.

The first book I recommend is When Penny Met POTUS by Rachel Ruiz. Penny has never seen POTUS and her imagination goes wild with the possibilities and both she (and the reader) will be pleasantly surprised. I also recommend the new picture book Beautiful by Stacy McAnulty, it shows what truly makes girls beautiful. Picture books featuring heroines of diversity are Come On, Rain!  by Karen Hesse, The Moon Ring by Randy DuBurke, Amazingly Wonderful Things by Marla J. Hohmeier, Last Night by Hyewon Yum, Mooncakes by Loretta Seto, Umbrella by Taro Yashima, Alicia’s Happy Day by Meg Starr, The Sandwich Swap by Queen Rania of Jordan, Big Red Lollipop by Khan, Sand Sister by Amanda White and A Box Full of Kittens by Sonia Manzano. The more diverse the books kids read the better; try to find books that diminish stereotypes and show how unique each person truly is!

I know it is important for young readers to learn about history but I have never seen so many glum kids come in to find biographies on important figures for school reports. If they truly are interested in Amelia Earhart or Muhammad Ali by all means get every non-fiction book out there but I encourage more fun reads with subtle messages like having a strong heroine. I first suggest The Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley, an extensive series about two sisters who become fairy tale detectives. Any reader who loves classic fairytales will thoroughly enjoy this series.

My next recommendation is one I loved as a child The Land of Elyon series by Patrick Carman. The protagonist is young Alexa Daley, an intelligent and bright young girl who has spent her life encased in the walls that surround the kingdom. Alexa, however, soon finds herself on an epic event in the wild - outside the safety of the walls. I always advocate at this age for parents to read the same book as their child. Pick up two copies and then have a mini book club to discuss!

For teen readers I am going to recommend two graphic novels. Not only are they continuously growing but graphic novels are often criticized for their images of women - or lack thereof. First is the feminist Princeless series by Jeremy Whitley. The story focuses on Princess Adrienne, one of seven sisters who have all been locked in towers to await a princess to rescue them. Adrienne decides to bust out and takes the dragon guarding her tower to go on a mission to rescue her sisters. My second recommendation is another graphic novel with less overt feminist tones is the Lumberjanes series by Noelle Stevenson. A hilarious series about a mismatched cabin at a girls summer camp who go on quite the strange adventures.

Some of the main comic book companies have also made an effort to showcase female superheroes. DC recently launched Batgirl of Burnside featuring “Babs” a scientist Batgirl in college and Marvel released the new Ms. Marvel who by day is Kamala Khan, a Pakistani American teenager with shapeshifting abilities. The more female readers comic book companies get the more they will cater to them! Discover the numerous new superheroes that are out there!

Take time to celebrate women this month, whether it’s spreading the story of a beloved historical female figure, regaling in the story of a favorite fictional heroine, highlighting your favorite woman author or starting a book club with other women to share the love of books!  

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