A Lady Has the Floor: Belva Lockwood Speaks Out for Women’s Rights by Kate Hannigan; illustrated by Alison Jay. 2018. Alkyd paint with crackle varnish. Published by Calkins Creek.
Brief summary: Belva was already a teacher at age 14 and went to college in 1857 to learn more. She taught in New York encouraging and teaching girls how to speak publicly and for the girls to be able to have gym classes. She went to law school and completed her studies but was not given her diploma, because she was a woman. Belva wrote to the president of the school who later delivered it to her personally…Ulysses S. Grant who just happened to also be the President of the United States of America at the time. Belva was the first woman to have a law license. She fought for widows and Civil War veterans. She was not allowed to argue her cases, because she was a woman. She was the first woman to run for President under the National Equal Rights Party.
Comments: I really did not know how many things a woman was not permitted to do until I read this book. Belva Lockwood had guts and was a determined women’s rights activist that I’d like to have more credit given to in the history books. I can just imagine how it felt to have men dress up in women’s clothing and making fun of her in the streets as she tried campaigning against Grover Cleveland. Thank you, Belva! Back pages: Author’s note and Timeline
Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles by Mara Rockliff; illustrated by Hadley Hooper. 2016. “Pencil printmaking techniques then scanned and completed digitally.”
Brief summary: In 1916, Nell Richardson and Alice Burke travel across America beginning in New York City traveling in a yellow car with a black kitten wearing a yellow ribbon. Roads in America at that time were more like dirt paths and without maps. They gave many speeches urging and encouraging that women had a right to vote. Sometimes they were well received, and sometimes not.
Comments: In the back of the book, there is an information page about the cross country car trip, an explanation of the color yellow, and a further reading section. This could be shared around election time to help students understand the history women endured to just have the right to vote. It could inspire young girls to not take for granted this right and encourage them to give thanks to suffragists brave enough to fight for them.
Elizabeth Started All the Trouble by Doreen Rappaport; illustrated by Matt Faulkner. 2016.
Brief summary: This narrative nonfiction begins the women suffragists’ history with Abigail Adams urging her husband not to forget about the rights of the women when he and other men were drafting the Declaration of Independence and features other suffragists, women activists and women social reformers over the decades.
Comments: Sections in the back of the book include: trailblazer biographies of some of the most famous women, important dates, selected research sources, websites, and author’s notes. This book could be used with intermediate, middle, and h.s. students for units of voting, women’s rights, and equality.