By Tracey Dowdy
March is Womens’ History Month in the United States. While we should celebrate the outstanding contributions women have made throughout human history every day, setting aside 31 days to acknowledge their achievements is a great idea. Here are a few ways you can celebrate Womens’ History Month with your kids.
Chances are you’ve heard of Johnny Appleseed, but have you heard of Kate Sessions? Kate was instrumental in procuring many new plants from growers worldwide and introducing them to San Diego. Read her story in The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever. Or, learn about other eco-conscious women like marine biologist Rachel Carson whose book Silent Spring warned of the dangers to all natural systems from the misuse of chemical pesticides and questioned modern science’s scope and direction. She’s considered by many to be the mother of our contemporary environmental movement. Explore the life of groundbreaking primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall, who at just 26 sailed to what is now Tanzania equipped with little more than a notebook, binoculars, and her fascination with wildlife to immerse herself in the world of chimpanzees. Among her many accomplishments is transforming species conservation to include the needs of local people and the environment.
Check out this list of Inspiring Books for Women’s History Month and explore titles and the lives of heroines throughout time. Choose from picture books like Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines that tells the story of the woman who designed the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC, or Free as a Bird: The Story of Malala, which tells the story of Malala’s fight for all girls to be able to go to school. Older kids will benefit from reading #NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women, which breaks down stereotypes and provides insight into the lives of Native girls and women to help readers understand both the past and the future of a population too often abused or ignored American history or Rad Women Worldwide: Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and Other Revolutionaries Who Shaped History, whose title is pretty self-explanatory.
Celebrate the life and legacy of America’s first woman police officer Alice Stebbins Wells. Way back in 1909, a Los Angeles social worker named Alice Stebbins Wells petitioned then-Mayor George Alexander and the City Council to request that an ordinance providing for a Los Angeles Policewoman be passed. Not only was the measure adopted, but on September 12, 1910, Mrs. Wells became the nation’s first female to be designated a policewoman with arrest powers.* Scholastic even has a fun History Mystery that your aspiring officer can solve.
Parents can always count on BrainPOP for fun and educational resources. For Women’s History Month, they offer several (free) movies, texts, games, and lessons on famous and significant women in history. Kids can learn about women like Agatha Christie, Marie Curie, Sally Ride, and even Oprah Winfrey. You’ll probably even learn something yourself!
PBS’s Makers website offers hundreds of short documentaries about powerful and intelligent modern women in science, business, politics, art, and other fields who are changing the world for the better. Topics cover everything from the last five years of the women’s movement and its intersectional fight for equality to Sister Rosetta Tharp, revered as the Godmother of Rock and Roll.
Inspire your poet with the life and work of Amanda Gorman, the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate of the United States. President Biden selected her to read her original poem “The Hill We Climb” for his Inauguration on January 20, 2021, making her the youngest poet to have served in this role.
If you’re looking for inspiration that will last, have them create a quote board or vision board to remind them of all the great things they are capable of. Help them find famous quotes or phrases from women in history and then mount them on a bulletin board or a foam core display. Check out this list of Inspiring Quotes From 100 Extraordinary Women.
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.