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.
“One person can make a difference. Do your part. Use your voice. Make the world a better place.”
— The Whole World Was Watching: Living in the Light of Matthew Shepard–Romaine Patterson.
“Now we know unfairness when we see it, and that’s progress. We’ve made a good beginning, but it’s only a beginning. We haven’t even begun to imagine what could be.”
–Gloria Steinem: Champion of Women’s Rights—Nancy Garhan Attebury.
While America honors the 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, has a female Speaker of the House and a former first lady running for President of the United States, publishers, authors, and illustrators are looking to the past, present and future to bring to light girls and women who make a difference and take action to change the world. From celebrating the first female member of Congress and the first female Cabinet member to women who created and advance the fields of photographic realism and biomechanics, the 52 books contained in the 2007 Amelia Bloomer Project list represent the best that this year has to offer for feminist books for young readers.
While we celebrate the strides that feminists have made and rejoice in the possibilities that seem to be available to women in the United States, we are acutely aware that our rights, including the right to make our own choices, can be taken away with a stroke of a pen or a vote from a Justice or Congressperson. We are also keenly aware that those rights are not equally applied within our own backyard, let alone around the world, when girls are sold into sexual slavery, women are beaten and burned for not following the orders of their husbands, and women are kept from entering such fields as science and engineering because they are believed to be mentally incapable of the work.
The Amelia Bloomer Project committee members analyzed over 300 books and discussed over 114 nominations for the 6th annual Amelia Bloomer Project list. The books on this year’s list honor past victories through current personal struggles advancing women’s equality to visualizations of a future ideal society. The list includes books that look to our roots and gaze toward the future, including biographies of women who shattered the limitations placed on women regarding science, politics, sports, activism, civil and woman’s rights, fantasies featuring girls taking charge of their situations despite obstacles, and contemporary and historical fiction focusing on the fight for equality and rights that many take for granted.
Toward that end, we celebrate and applaud the authors, illustrators, editors, and publishers – large and small—who have created remarkable books for young readers showing how far we have come and who present role models for our children to emulate.
Members of the Amelia Bloomer Project: Jennifer Baltes (WI), Amy Cheney, Alameda County Library, Juvenile Hall (CA), 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), Maureen McCoy, Brooklyn Public Library (NY), Nel Ward, Central Oregon Coast Children’s Book Preview Center (OR).
The Amelia Bloomer Project is sponsored by the Feminist Task Force of the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association.
Baguley, Elizabeth. Meggie Moon. Il. Gregoire Mabire. 2005. unp. Good Books, $16.00 (1-56148-474-1). PreS-Gr. 2.
When Meggie Moon walks through the gate to the junkyard and demands equality, Digger and Tiger, who never play with girls, learn that girls have brilliant ideas for adventurous games.
Best, Cari. Sally Jean, the Bicycle Queen. Il by Christine Davenier. 2006. 32p. Melanie Kroupa books/ Farrar Straus Giroux, $16.00 (0-374-36386-2). Ages 3-7.
When Sally Jean outgrows her faithful bicycle and her parents can’t afford to buy her a replacement, she uses her knowledge and ingenuity to build a new one.
Cotten, Cynthia. Abbie in Stitches. Il. Beth Peck. 2006. unp. Farrar Straus Giroux, $16.00 (0-374-30004-6). PreS-Gr. 2.
In the early 1820’s in western New York, six-year-old Abbie is forced to learn needlework and declares that when she is grown, “I’ll have books instead of needles and threads and read as much as I like.”
Kessler, Christina. The Best Bee-Keeper of Lalibela. Il. Leonard Jenkins. 2006. unp. Holiday House, $16.95 (0-8234-1858-8). PreS-Gr. 2.
In the mountains of Ethiopia, a young girl vows that her honey will be the best in the land despite being told that making honey is men’s work; using her brain she finds a way to prove them all wrong.
Richards, Beah E. Keep Climbing, Girls. Il. R. Gregory Christie. 2006. unp. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, $15.95 (1-4169-0264-3). PreS-Gr. 2.
Girls are urged to “keep climbing,” in spite of warnings, as the way to achieve equality in this picture-book version of Richards’ 1951 poem.
Burgan, Michael. The 19th Amendment. [We the People Series] 2006. 48p. Compass Point Books, $18.95 (0-7565-1260-3). Gr. 3-5
Illustrations highlight the simple history of the suffrage movement and its courageous key players.
Lakin, Patricia. Abigail Adams: First Lady of the American Revolution. Il. Bob Dacey and Debra Bandelin. [Ready-to-Read, Level 3] 2006. 48p. Aladdin, $3.99 (0-689-87032-9). Gr. 2-4.
Abigail Adams, a strong, intelligent woman, helped shape the early history of the United States, influenced two of our nation’s presidents, managed the family farm and became a clever business woman.
Love, D. Anne. Of Numbers and Stars: The Story of Hypatia. Il by Pam Paparone. 2006. unp. Holiday House, $16.95 (0-8234-1621-6). PreS-Gr. 2.
The most famous and influential mathematician and philosopher of ancient Alexandria, Egypt was Hypatia, a woman.
Mannis, Celeste Davidson. Julia Morgan Built a Castle. 2006. unp. Viking, $17.99 (0-670-05964-1). K-Gr. 3.
In the late nineteenth century, Julia Morgan fought discrimination and followed her dreams to become California’s first licensed woman architect and design over 800 buildings, including William Randolph Hurst’s magnificent castle, San Simeon.
McCully, Emily Arnold. Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight became an Inventor. 2006. unp. Holiday House, $16.00 (0-374-34810-3). K-Gr. 3.
Margaret Knight’s passion for experiments inspired her invention of a paper-bag-making machine that she successfully patents in spite of male opposition in the nineteenth century.
Munsch, Robert. Paper Bag Princess: the Story Behind the Story. 25th Anniversary Edition. Il. Michael Martchenko. 2005. 64p. Annick Press, $19.95 (1-55037-915-1). Gr. 3-6.
Princess Elizabeth, the shero who defeated the dragon and rescued Prince Ronald, celebrates 25 years of publication and continues to inspire children around the world.
Hurst, Carol Otis. You Come to Yokum. Il. Kay Life. 2005. 137p. Houghton Mifflin, $15.00 (0-618-55122-0). Gr. 3-6.
Frank’s mother continues to campaign for women’s suffrage with less-than receptive neighbors when the family moves to rural Massachusetts to run a lodge in 1920.
Klise, Kate. Regarding the Trees: A Splintered Saga Rooted in Secrets. Il. M. Sarah Klise. 2005. 143p.Gulliver Books/Harcourt, $15.00 (0-15-205163-5). Gr. 4-7.
Letters and newspaper articles document the humorous misunderstanding that escalates a simple tree-trimming project into an environmental debate involving the entire community.
Nyoka, Gail. Mella and the N’Anga. 2005. 159p. Sumach Press, $9.95 (1-894549-49-X). Gr. 4-7.
Although forbidden to use the ancient women’s magic, Mella and the Senior Sister summon the N’anga to revive the Daughters of the Hunt and save her beloved father, the gravely ill king of the drought-stricken land of Zimbabwe.
Shinn, Sharon. The Dream-Maker’s Magic. 2006. 261p. Viking, $16.99 (0-670-06070-4). Gr. 4-7.
Magical possibilities imbue this tale of conflicting identities.
Springer, Nancy. The Case of the Missing Marquess. [An Enola Holmes Mystery] 2006. 216p. Philomel, $10.99 (0-399-24304-6). Gr. 4-7.
When her brothers Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes decide to send her to a young ladies’ finishing school, Enola Holmes runs away to London, using her own fledgling detective skills to locate her missing mother and find the kidnapped Marquess of Basilweather.
Timberlake, Amy. That Girl Lucy Moon. 2006. 294p. Hyperion, $15.99 (0-7868-5298-40). Gr. 4-7.
Lucy Moon is a girl who sees injustice and isn’t afraid to fight it; when she starts a campaign to fight corruption in her home town and is made a scapegoat, she learns that one person really can make a difference.
Attebury, Nancy Garhan. Gloria Steinem: Champion of Women’s Rights. [Signature Lives Series]. 2006. 112p. Compass Point Books, $30.60 (0-7565-1587-4). Gr. 5-8.
Throughout her life, Steinem championed women’s rights, becoming synonymous with the women’s liberation movement.
Bohannon, Lisa Frederikson. Freedom Cannot Rest: Ella Baker and the Civil Rights Movement. 2005. 176p. Morgan Reynolds, $26.95 (1-931798-71-0). Gr. 4-7.
Life-long civil rights activist Ella Baker advocated for nonviolent direct action and universal justice and equality in her work with the NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
Dee, Catherine. The Girls’ Guide to Life. 2nd Ed. Il. Ali Douglass. 2005. 144p. Little, Brown and Company, $15.99 (0-316-73628-7). Gr. 5-8.
Information, activities, quizzes and creative writing exercises guide readers through a variety of issues affecting today’s girls, including sexism, body image, pay equity, and sexual harassment.
Etue, Elizabeth. Hayley Wickenheiser: Born to Play. 2005. 40p. Kids Can Press, $6.95 (1-55337-791-5). Gr. 3-6.
Hayley Wickenheiser overcame gender bias to become the first North American woman to play professional hockey and be a key player on Canada’s gold medal women’s hockey team at the 2000 Salt Lake City Olympics.
Haynes, Diane. Flight or Fight. [Jane Ray’s Wildlife Rescue Series] 2005. 284p. Walrus Books/Whitecap Books, $6.95. (1-55283-638-5). Gr. 5-8.
After an oil spill in her community, reserved Jane learns to rescue injured wildlife and fights to bring the shipping company responsible for the spill to justice.
Hotchkiss, Ron. The Matchless Six: The Story of Canada’s First Women’s Olympic Team. 2006. 194p. Tundra Books, $16.95 (0-88776-738-9). Gr. 7-12.
Meet Canada’s finest female track and field athletes as they make history in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympic Summer Games.
Keller, Emily. Frances Perkins: First Woman Cabinet Member. 2006. 160p. Morgan Reynolds, $27.95 (1-931798-91-5). Gr. 6-10.
This unassuming but outspoken independent woman altered the way all people worked and lived in the United States.
Marx, Trish. Jeannette Rankin: First Lady of Congress. Il. Dan Andreasen. 2006. unp. Margaret K. McElderry, $18.95 (0-689-86290-3). Gr. 4-7
Four years before American women won the vote, Jeannette Rankin was elected to Congress – the first woman to win a seat in the House of Representatives – where she fought for women’s rights and advocated for peace during the tumultuous years of both world wars.
McClafferty, Carla Killough. Something out of Nothing: Marie Curie and Radium. 2006. 134p. Farrar Straus Giruoux, $18.00 (0-374-38036-8). Gr. 6-10.
Marie Curie overcame childhood poverty and professional discrimination to discover radium and win two Nobel Prizes for her scientific work.
Parks, Deborah. Nature’s Machines: The Story of Biomechanist Mimi Koelh. [Woman’s Adventures in Science Series] 2005. 118p. Franklin Watts/Scholastic, $31.00 (0-531-16780-1). Gr. 4-7.
Despite the expectations that girls not become scientists, Mimi Koehl followed her curiosity about how animals exist in their environments to develop biomechanics, a new branch of scientific discovery. The Women’s Adventures in Science series introduces women scientists in fields as diverse as climatology, wildlife, biology, robotics, robotics, sociology, forensic anthropology – the cutting edge of scientific method.
Swisher, Clarice. Women of the Roaring Twenties. [Women in History series] 2005. 112p. Thomson Gale/Lucent, $28.70 (1-59018-363-0). Gr. 5-8.
Women’s roles and lives were drastically changed by the demanding challenges of the 1920’s.
Averett, Edward. The Rhyming Season. 2005. 214p. Clarion, $16.00 (0-618-46948-6). Gr. 7-10.
A tragic accident, the shutdown of the lumber mill, and the questionable methods of a quirky coach give Brenda and her teammates the chance to prove that they’re just as good – and important – as the boys.
Bowen, Rhys. Oh Danny Boy. 2006. 325p. St. Martin’s Minotaur, $23.95 (0-312-32817-6). Gr. 7-10.
As a private investigator in turn-of-the-century New York, Molly Murphy fights rampant sexism while trying to save her ex-boyfriend’s life by identifying a serial killer targeting prostitutes.
Carter, Ally. I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You. 2006. 288p. Hyperion, $15.99 (1-4231-0003-4). Gr. 9-12.
On the surface, the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women is a typical private girls’ school, but the exceptional young women, including Cammie Morgan, learn advanced martial arts, codes, ciphers, and methods of making atomic bombs from household ingredients, and still manage to keep a boyfriend.
Davidson, Ellen Dee. Stolen Voices. 2005. 188p. Lobster Press, $9.95 (1-897073-16-X). Gr. 7-11.
Unable to find her Talent, and facing a lifetime of servitude, Miri secretly follows her age-mates to the Masking and discovers the gruesome secret behind the “perfect” society of Noveskina.
Durbin, William. El Lector. 2006. 195p. Wendy Lamb Books, $15.95 (0-385-74651-2). Gr. 6-9.
Thirteen-year-old Bella fights the narrow role of women during the 1930’s and saves her family from financial disaster through her creative approach to achieving her dream.
McCormick, Patricia. Sold. 2006. 263p. Hyperion, $15.99 (0-7868-5171-6). Gr. 9-12.
After 13-year old Nepalese Lakshmi is sold as a sex slave by her stepfather, she refuses to let horrific abuse smother her dreams of escape and a better life away from the degradation and humiliation of her situation in India.
Morgan, Robin. The Burning Time. 2006. 300p. Melville House, $15.00 (1-933633-00-X). Gr. 9-12.
Noblewoman Dame Alyce Kyteler fights to protect her people, her lands, and her beliefs from the ambitious Papal Emissary who is bringing the Inquisition to squash the followers of Ireland’s Old Religion.
Pratchett, Terry. Wintersmith. 2006. 323p. HarperCollins, $16.99 (0-06-089031-2). Gr. 7-12.
When thirteen-year-old witch-in-training Tiffany attracts the “undying love” of the Wintersmith, the spirit of winter, the “wee big hag” must use all her wits and powers to undo the harm her actions have caused and bring back spring, before it’s too late.
Reinhardt, Dana. A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life. 2006. 228p. Wendy Lamb Books/Random House Children’s Books, $15.95 (0-385-74698-9). Gr. 9-12.
An unexpected phone call from her birthmother turns Simone’s life upside down and forces her to decide how much she wants to know about her past.
Sheth, Kathmira. Koyal Dark, Mango Sweet. 2006. 250p. Hyperion, $15.99 (0-7868-3857-4). Gr. 7-10.
Thirteen-year-old Jeeta fights to find a balance between her East Indian traditional life and her “Western” ideals of furthering education and her choices of when and whom to marry.
Spiegler, Louise. The Amethyst Road. 2005. 328p. Clarion, $16.00 (0-618-48572-4). Gr. 7-11.
Serena risks her life to save her family, but her quest also reveals a way to create a better world for her people.
Williams, Susan. Wind Rider. 2006. 309p. Laura Geringer Books/HarperCollins, $16.99 (0-06-087236-5). Gr. 7-10.
Through taming and training a young horse, Fern, a girl from a prehistoric, nomadic tribe breaks the pattern of female subservience in 4000 B.C. while falling in love with a voiceless man in a rival tribe.
Wilson, Diane Lee. Firehorse. 2006. 325p. Margaret K. McElderry Books, $16.95 (1-4169-1551-6). Gr. 9-11.
Inspired by a badly-burned firehorse and an epidemic raging through the firehorse population, spirited 15-year-old horse lover, Rachel, is determined to become a veterinarian in spite of the opposition of her rigid father, her socially conscious mother and the constraints of 1872 Boston.
The Abortion Rights Movement. Ed. Meghan Powers. 2006. 154p. Greenhaven Press/Thomson Gale, $34.95 (0-7377-1947-8). Gr. 9-12.
This multifaceted account describes the abortion rights movement and its relationship to the feminist movement.
Cooney, Robert P.J. Winning the Vote: the Triumph of the American Woman Suffrage Movement. 2005. 479p. American Graphic Press, $85.00 (0-9770095-0-5). Gr. 7-12.
Three generations of American women campaigned, fought, sacrificed, and went to prison to win the right to vote. History of the struggle comes alive through period photographs and original writings in this lavishly illustrated work.
Durrant, Lynda. My Last Skirt: The Story of Jennie Hodgers, Union Soldier. 2006. 199p. Clarion Books, $16.00 (0-618-57490-5). Gr. 7-10.
In 19th-century Ireland, Jennie Hodgers disguises herself as a boy to get a better-paying job and treasures her freedom so much that she continues to masquerade as a male and fights in the Civil War for the Union Army.
Ebadi, Shirin. Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope. 2006. 232p. Random House, $24.95 (1-4000-6470-8). Gr. 10-12.
The life of this dedicated human rights advocate and winner of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize is filled with danger and courage as she tries to maintain the traditional women’s role in an Arab country while defending, as a lawyer, women and children, in politically charged cases that most in her profession refuse to touch.
Fradin, Judith Bloom and Dennis Brindell Fradin. Jane Addams: Champion of Democracy. 2006. 216p. Clarion, $21.00 (0-618-50436-2). Gr. 7-10.
This ardent suffragist and civil rights activist gained international recognition as a Nobel Peace Prize winner over 70 years ago.
Kimmel, Elizabeth Cody. Ladies First: 40 Daring American Women Who were Second to None. 2006. 192 p. National Geographic, $18.95 (0-7922-5393-0). Gr. 6-9.
Short profiles of 40 amazing American women reveal groundbreaking accomplishments in the arts, sciences, architecture, sports, and exploration.
Oppenheim, Joanne. Dear Miss Breed. 2006. 288p. Scholastic, $22.99 (0-439-56992-3). Gr. 9-12.
When the United States incarcerated more than 120,000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast during World War II, librarian Clara Breed continued to make a difference in her “children’s” lives by sending letters and care packages to them while they were interred.
Page, Cristina. How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America: Freedom, Politics, and the War on Sex. 2006. 256p. Basic Books/Perseus, $24.00 (0-465-05489-7).Gr. 10-12.
This researcher shows the riveting truths about the pro-life movement and its covert war against women’s sexual power.
Patterson, Romaine, with Patrick Hinds. The Whole World Was Watching: Living in the Light of Matthew Shepherd. 2005. 289p. Advocate/Alyson, $24.95 (1-5583-901-0). Gr. 10-12.
Imploring readers to “Do your part. Make the world a better place,” Romaine Patterson chronicles her life from tomboy to the realization of her sexual orientation to her role as activist for tolerance, acceptance, and nonviolence worldwide.
Schroeder, Lucinda Delaney. A Hunt for Justice: The True Story of a Woman Undercover Wildlife Agent. 2006. 270p. The Lyons Press, $21.95 (1-59228-882-0). Gr. 9-12.
When Schroeder infiltrated a camp of clandestine and unscrupulous hunters and hunting outfitters illegally killing game animals in the deep backwoods of Alaska, she entered a secret world and put her life on the line to take the criminals down.
Sullivan, George. Berenice Abbott: Photographer: An Independent Vision. 2006. 170p. Clarion, $20.00 (0-618-44026-7).
From her early years in the bohemian communities of Paris and New York’s Greenwich Village through her time as teacher, writer, inventor, and photographic archivist to her last work in the quiet countryside of Maine, Berenice Abbott was a pioneer, both as a woman in a male-dominated profession and as a creative genius as she changed the face of American photography.