In honor of Women’s History Month, the National Museum of American History has created a virtual exhibit called “Girlhood (It’s Complicated)” that commemorates the anniversary of women’s suffrage by examining the way American girls “have spoken up, challenged expectations and been on the front lines of change” in five key areas: politics, education, work, health and fashion.
While a web search will yield a variety of relevant classroom activities, lesson plans, background information and more, libraries subscribing to EBSCO resources will also find a wealth of content to support and promote student research and classroom instruction related to women’s history.
Reader’s Advisory and Collection Development
NoveList Plus can help librarians find a variety of fiction and nonfiction celebrating female characters and culture. Check out the Recommended Reads Lists, including Extraordinary Women (under Biography and Memoir) and Historical Women in Fiction (under Historical Fiction). Use the “strong female” appeal term to find fiction with fierce female protagonists. NoveList K8 Plus is a great resource for librarians who serve younger readers. Use the “princess power” and “women of steel” themes to find fantasy and superhero stories for kids and teens. And for reading lists, find Women Who Dared (under History and Culture for ages 9-12), Girl Power (under Social Justice for ages 9-12), and Daring Women and Girls (under Real Life Stories for ages 0-8). Turn any book list into great social media content using LibraryAware.
For libraries looking to add new books by and about women to their shelves, Core Collections has great recommendations. Download the handout for a list of 10 to get you started. There are also plenty of relevant digital reading picks by and about women to enrich your collection this month.
Book Displays and Programming Ideas
Promote books by or about women, focusing on different contributions each week. Start with books about famous writers, singers and performers. Honor women in comedy with a display of nonfiction by funny females such as Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Ali Wong, Tiffany Haddish and Ellen DeGeneres. Other weeks can feature books by or about famous political figures, such as Eva Peron, Indira Gandhi and Hillary Clinton, and female scientists such as chemist Alice Ball and conservationist Rachel Carson.
Looking for Women’s History Month programming ideas? American Libraries magazine offers a round-up of special events, activities, movie nights and other ideas for honoring female trailblazers.
Resources for High School and College-Level Research and Instruction
Written by witnesses to history, firsthand accounts of women who made an impact in the world can be found in magazine archive issues of Life, TIME, People, Ebony, Jet, Vanity Fair, Forbes, Fortune and Bloomberg Businessweek. Students can explore coverage of the first woman in space, the first woman to run for president, the first woman to become a supreme court justice and more. In addition, students will be able to follow the evolution of women in advertising images as well as their representation in the media through the years. Another valuable resource is the bibliographic database Women’s Studies International which provides coverage of women’s studies and feminist research through abstracts and indexing of journals, newsletter, book chapters and more.
Additionally, Literary Reference Center Plus and Poetry & Short Story Reference Center are great sources of biographies for authors such as Emily Dickinson, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Kate Chopin, Amy Tan and Sylvia Plath. New contemporary author biographies include Aisha Saeed, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Dorothy West, Fatimah Asghar, Heid E. Erdrich, Henriqueta Lisboa, Imbolo Mbue and Monica Youn. Students and educators will also find literary criticism on works such as:
- Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths by Elizabeth Acevedo
- Fasting, Feasting by Anita Desai
- "Green" by Sefi Atta
- Letters from Rifka by Karen Hesse
- "On Being Brought from Africa to America" by Phillis Wheatley
- Something to Declare by Julia Alvarez
- The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
- Tracks by Louise Erdrich
Poetry & Short Story Reference Center also includes Poetry Showcases from The Paris Review that offer an in-depth look at poets and their works. Each showcase includes a biography, several poems and an interview with the poet, as well as audio recordings of the interview and of the poet reading her work. Featured poets include Franny Choi, Joy Priest, Cecilia Vicuña, Mónica de la Torre, Tracy K. Smith, Brenda Hillman, Eliza Griswold, Evie Shockley, Jana Prikryl, Jenny Xie, Layli Long Soldier, Solmaz Sharif and Tishani Doshi.
EBSCO Connect offers lesson plans that integrate school databases, including Literary Reference Center Plus and Poetry & Short Story Reference Center. Invite students to explore characterization with gothic literature and evaluate the plausibility of a perfect world.