Since 2002, the Amelia Bloomer Project has created an annual booklist of the best feminist books for young readers, ages birth through 18. We are part of the Feminist Task Force of the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association.
“Alone a woman’s voice was a whisper. Together…their voices thundered.”
(Catherine Gourley, Society’s Sisters, p. 10)
The struggle for women’s rights in the United States has been a history of strong, heroic, fascinating women and men working to change the prevailing trends of society. Publishing, as an industry, has both followed society’s restrictive trends and broken new ground in the movement toward freedom for all.
Today, in an increasingly conservative U.S. political climate, quality books exhibiting feminist viewpoints and ideals–especially books for children and young adults–are becoming difficult to find. The Amelia Bloomer Project of the Feminist Task Force of the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association examined literally hundreds of titles for readers from birth to age 18 before it selected 30 titles published between July 2003 and December 2004 for the fourth annual Amelia Bloomer list.
The criteria used by the Amelia Bloomer Project in selecting books for the list include:
- Significant feminist content
- Excellence in writing
- Appealing format
- Age appropriateness for young readers
Through the course of the Amelia Bloomer Project, several key markers helped the group determine what is feminist and what is considered appropriate for the list. Among these are the following questions:
- Would the story change if the protagonist were male instead of female?
- Does the material show an awareness of gender-based inequalities with action to change these?
- Do females blaze new trails for themselves and those who follow them?
- Do females use power for purposeful action and empowering others?
- Is the character true to herself?
- Do girls and women take on nontraditional roles?
The books selected for the 2005 Amelia Bloomer List show the fight for the freedom of self, of body, of mind, and of spirit that embody feminist principles. The Amelia Bloomer Project applauds authors, illustrators, editors, and publishers who exemplify the courage to challenge today’s society by publishing quality feminist literature for tomorrow’s adults.
2005 Amelia Bloomer Project members: Jenny Baltes (WI), Chair; Marilyn Ackerman, Brooklyn Public Library (NY); Jane Cothron, Lincoln County Library District (OR); Christie Gibrich, Dallas Public Library (TX); Helma Hawkins, Kansas City Public Library (MO); Brenda Kilmer, Felix Varela Senior High School (FL); Gay Ann Loesch, Sun Valley Middle School (NC); Nel Ward (OR); and Ilene Cooper, Booklist, consultant.
Funke, Cornelia. The Princess Knight. Illus. by Kerstin Meyer. 2004. unp. Scholastic/Chicken House, $15.95 (0-439-53630-8). Gr. K-3.
The young princess Violetta proves strength is not measured by size alone.
Geeslin, Campbell. Elena’s Serenade. Illus. by Ana Juan. 2004. unp. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, $16.95 (0-689-84908-7). PreS-Gr. 2.
Following her dream of being a glassblower, a young Mexican girl learns this magical skill on an enchanted journey to Monterey.
Moss, Marissa. Mighty Jackie: The Strikeout Queen. Illus. by C.F. Payne. 2004. unp. Simon and Schuster, $16.95 (0-689-86329-2). Gr. K-3.
Jackie Mitchell, an 18-year-old baseball pitcher, plays against the legendary heroes Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig–with surprising results.
Collins, Pat Lowery. The Fattening Hut. 2003. 186p. Houghton Mifflin, $15.00 (0-618-30955-1). Gr. 9-12.
When Helen finds out the secret that her tribe’s fattening hut contains, she runs away from all she knows for a chance to be free.
Constable, Kate. The Singer of All Songs. 2004. 297p. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, $16.95 (0-439-55478-0). Gr. 7-10 .
Calwyn, a young priestess of ice “chantment,” leaves the safety of Antaris to help save her homeworld from a sorcerer who would claim all the magic for himself.
Frederick, Heather Vogel. The Education of Patience Goodspeed. 2004. 314p. Simon & Schuster, $15.95 (0-689-86411-6). Gr. 5-9.
In 1836, the impatient 14-year-old heroine saves her father’s ship and its crew before being confined to a boarding school run by the narrow-minded Reverend Wiggins.
Jocelyn, Marthe. Mable Riley: A Reliable Record of Humdrum Peril and Romance. 2004. 288p. Candlewick Press, $15.99 (0-7636-2120-X). Gr. 5-9.
Mable dreams of being a writer and having adventures, while secretly befriending a neighbor who holds scandalous opinions about women’s rights.
Pratchett, Terry. A Hat Full of Sky. 2003. 278p. HarperCollins, $16.99 (0-06-058660-5). Gr. 5-9.
When young Tiffany Aching’s magical talent attracts the deadly attention of a disembodied hiver seeking her soul, not even the combined strengths of the witches and brawling tribe of Wee Free Men may be able to save her soul and her sanity.
Ryan, Pam Munoz. Becoming Naomi Leon. 2004. 246p. Scholastic, $16.95 (0-439-26969-5). Gr. 5-9.
Abandoned by her mother, a shy young girl finds her will and her voice through the search for her father and the help of her loving grandmother.
Stolz, Joelle. The Shadows of Ghadames. Trans. by Catherine Temerson. 2004. 118p. Delacorte Press, $15.95. (0-385-73104-3). Gr. 5-9.
When Malika helps care for an injured man hidden in her home in nineteenth-century Libya, the 11-year-old never dreams that this man, so opposed to women’s rights, may satisfy her yearning to read.
Weil, Sylvie. My Guardian Angel. 2004. 202p. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, $16.95 (0-439-57681-4). Gr. 5-9.
Preferring reading and writing to women’s traditional work, Elvina, 12-year-old granddaughter of a renowned rabbi, risks her Jewish community when she gives refuge to a young Christian Crusader in 1096 Troyes, France.
Whelan, Gloria. Chu Ju’s House. 2004. 231p. HarperCollins, $15.99, (0-06-050724-1). Gr. 5-9.
To protect her baby sister from being sent away as the second girl born to her parents, 14-year-old Chu Ju leaves home to survive on her own in a rural modern-day China.
Ball, Heather. Great Women Leaders. 2004. 100p. Second Story Press, $7.95 (1-896764-81-9). Gr. 5-9.
Be inspired! Ten courageous women from all corners of the world use their intelligence, abilities, and strength to accomplish great things.
Bausum, Ann. With Courage and Cloth: Winning the Fight for a Woman’s Right to Vote. 2004. 111p. National Geographic, $21.95 (0-7922-7647-7). Gr. 5-9.
Violence and persecution followed the women suffragists as shown through the events of the nineteenth century and the fight led by Alice Paul in the early twentieth century.
Gourley, Catherine. Society’s Sisters: Stories of Women Who Fought for Social Justice in America. 2003. 96p. Lerner/Twenty-First Century Books, $26.60 (0-76132-865-3). Gr. 6-9.
Women from many walks of life and many fields of work agitate for women’s and children’s issues, changing their roles in society through collective strength.
Homan, Lynn M. and Thomas Reilly. Women Who Fly. Illus. by Rosalie M. Shepherd. 2004. 103p. Pelican Publishing Company, $14.95 (1-58980-160-1). Gr. 3-7.
The authors’ love of flying shines in these narratives of women aviation pioneers who were determined to fly.
Krull, Kathleen. A Woman for President: The Story of Victoria Woodhull. 2004. unp. Walker & Company, $16.95 (0-8027-8908-0). Gr. 3-7.
A girl from poverty and abuse rises to stockbroker and newspaper owner on her way to running for president in 1872, campaigning for women’s suffrage and equality.
Marcovitz, Hal. Nancy Pelosi. 2004. 120p. Chelsea House, $22.95 (0-7910-7737-3). Gr. 5-9.
In 2002 Nancy Pelosi did what no woman had done before: she took leadership of the Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Stearman, Kaye. Feminism. 2004. 64p. Raintree, $22.95 (0-73986-415-7). Gr. 3-7.
This beginning portrayal of the many faces of feminism shows its influence, past and present, around the world.
Thimmesh, Catherine. Madam President: the Extraordinary, True (and Evolving) Story of Women in Politics. Illus. Douglas B. Jones. 2004. 80p. Houghton Mifflin, $17.95 (0-618-39666-7). Gr. 3-7.
When she declares her intention to become President, a girl is shown vignettes of the vital leadership roles of women world-wide in politics, paving the way for aspiring young women leaders.
Aidinoff, Elsie V. The Garden. 2004. 403p. HarperTempest, $16.99 (0-06-055605-6). Gr. 9-12.
In the beginning, God created the wise, beautiful, and just serpent to train the newly-created Eve in the ways of the world. He knew not what he did.
Mackler, Carolyn. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Things. 2003. 246p. Candlewick Press, $15.95 (0-7636-1958-2). Gr. 7-10.
Feeling like and alien within her thin, brilliant, and gorgeous family, 15-year-old Virginia deals with her self-image, her first boyfriend, and her disillusionment with some of the people closest to her.
Winspear, Jacqueline. Birds of a Feather. 2004. 360p. Soho Press, $25.00 (1-56947-368-4). Gr. 9-12.
The search for a runaway heiress leads private investigator Maisie Dobbs to a series of murders stemming from activities during World War I.
Arnesen, Liv & Ann Bancroft, with Cheryl Dahle. No Horizon is So Far: Two Women and Their Extraordinary Journey Across Antarctica. Illus. 2003. 253p. Da Capo Press, $26.00 (0-7382-0794-2). Gr. 7-12.
Two women adventurers combine their skills and talents to achieve their lifelong dream of crossing the Antarctic under their own powers.
Barnet, Andrea. All-Night Party: the Women of Bohemian Greenwich Village and Harlem, 1913-1930. 2004. Algonquin, $16.95 (1-56512-381-6). Gr. 9-12.
Twenty-two artists show the true feminist spirit in daring to celebrate their inner selves through demanding the same freedom as men.
Brackett, Virginia. Restless Genius: The Story of Virginia Woolf. 2004. 144p. Morgan Reynolds, $21.95 (1-931798-37-0). Gr. 7-10.
This leading feminist of the early 1900s authored groundbreaking novels, essays, and short stories.
Carson, Mina, Tisa Lewis, Susan M. Shaw. Girls Rock! : Fifty Years of Women Making Music. Illus. 2004. 235p. The University Press of Kentucky, $29.95 (0-8131-2310-0). Gr. 9-12.
With grit, determination, and passion, female rock 'n rollers are taking an increasingly visible and feminist stand, changing a male-dominated music industry and inspiring audiences, other musicians, and fans from all over the world.
Dublin, Anne. Bobbie Rosenfeld: the Olympian Who Could do Everything. 2004. 148p. Second Story Press, $14.95 (1-896764-82-7). Gr. 7-12.
This unconventional outstanding Canadian Olympian and sports journalist excelled in a multitude of sports in the early 1900s to the disbelief of males and the amazement of many before encouraging other women to enter sports once dominated by men.
Roy, Carole.The Raging Grannies: Wild Hats, Cheeky Songs, and Witty Actions for a Better World. Illus. bibliography, index. 2004. 227p. Black Rose Books, $24.99 (1-55164-240-9). Gr. 9-12.
This courageous group of older “invisible” women use unorthodox means–antics, songs, costumes, and other expressions of protest–to challenge Canada’s political landscape.
Souad. Burned Alive: a Victim of the Law of Men. 2004. 225p.The 2016 list of the Amelia Bloomer Project, which recommends feminist literature for young people from birth through 18. Warner Books, $24.00 (0-446-53346-7). Gr. 10-12.
In this first true account by a victim of an attempted “honor killing,” Souad shares the story of her crime, her sentence and horrible punishment, and her survival.