#1 – Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone
I really liked this book. It detailed the story of the “Mercury 13” women, who basically attempted to become astronauts at the same time as the “Mercury 7,” a group of seven men who were the first team of the newly created NASA program. At first I thought this book was going to be all about NASA and the process of becoming an astronaut (which it was), but it was also largely framed around the struggle for women’s rights in the last half of the 20th century. Although the Mercury 13 were not successful in becoming astronauts, they paved the way for women in the space program and had a significant impact on the women’s rights movement as a whole. Jerrie Cobb, the first women to go through all the tests, etc. and fight for women’s rights to fly in space, has been noted as a hero in this area.
I want to be a history teacher, and I definitely find this book appealing for my classroom. It highlights the prejudice that has been shown towards women and other “minority” groups. It uses the story of these 13 women to describe the larger context of women’s struggle to leave their “place in the kitchen” and be successful in careers commonly held by men. Many aspects of this part of history are brought up in this book with evidence and in a way that is easy to understand. Because it is about astronauts it may really be a cool way to get some students interested. Also, the pictures draw the reader in and make it more interesting.
#2 – Anne Frank by Josephine Poole
This picture book is definitely written more as a story than a traditional non-ficition text. Through Anne, it describes the growing hatred and persecution of Jews in Germany. It then describes Anne’s life hidden away in an annex of her father’s office building for over two years. To me, the main point of the book seemed to be to peak the reader’s interest in finding out more about Anne Frank and looking into reading her diary, the one that she wrote while in the annex. In terms of the actual story, I am not sure how much of it is totally accurate, but I do think this book could be a great way to introduce the Holocaust and a study of Anne Frank’s diary.
#3 – Sojourner Truth by Frances E. Ruffin
Didn’t like this one as much. This picture book was from a series called American Legends, and it was sort of dry and boring. The pictures did not add much to the text, and some of them even seemed random or like they didn’t belong. Also, the book had some words in bold and then had a glossary for them in the back, which is kind of cool and kind of weird. The bold words were sometimes distracting and made it feel more like a textbook. The book certainly could be used to teach about Sojourner Truth in a classroom, but I feel like there are probably better options out there. If I were to use it, it would probably be in a younger elementary school classroom.