Until I read this book, I had no idea how important Sarah Josepha Hale was to our country. She helped make Thanksgiving a national holiday (it was considered more of a New England holiday in the early 1800s).
Although as a young woman Hale was barred from college due to her gender, she studied at home alongside her brother, using his college texts. After the death of her husband, she was able to support her five children with her income as a writer.
As the influential editor of magazines for women, she encouraged education and exercise for women. She frequently wrote about the importance of Thanksgiving as a way to promote gratitude. She sent letters to politicians and businesspeople, and encouraged her readers to do the same. Finally, after five presidents had refused to consider her request to make Thanksgiving a national holiday, President Lincoln proclaimed in 1863 that Thanksgiving would be held nationwide on the last Thursday in November.
Hale’s story is told in simple, engaging language by Mike Allegra, with realistic, colorful pictures by David Gardner. The book also includes a biographical sketch for adults, as well as a list of resources for further reading. This book would be appropriate for elementary students above the age of seven or eight.
Just in time for the election, here’s a picture book about Susan B. Anthony voting for President in 1872–well before the 19th Amendment passed in 1920, officially acknowledging that women have the right to vote.
Anthony argued that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1868, gave women the right to vote because it stated that all citizens have equal rights.
She and 15 other women successfully registered to vote, and cast their ballots. However, soon after the election they were all arrested. Before her trial, Anthony toured the country, arguing her case before the American people.
Although she lost the case and was fined $100, she declared she would never pay a penny.
Anthony’s story is told in simple language by Ann Malaspina, with appealing watercolor illustrations by Steve James. An appendix includes background information for adults, a short bibliography, and a reproduction of a letter Anthony wrote to her friend Elizabeth Cady Stanton after she voted.
This book would probably be most appropriate for ages 8 and up, because younger children may not understand the legal concepts. It could also be used as a quick introduction to voting rights, women’s rights, and/or the 14th and 19th amendments, for older students.
My new novel, And Laughter Fell from the Sky, although not specifically for young adults, could be read and enjoyed by older teens. The novel is about two Indian-Americans in their twenties who are looking for happiness and fulfillment in the outside world, instead of realizing that they can create their own fulfillment. It’s also a love story with a theme of equality (although it’s not at all preachy about it).
Teachers might be interested in pairing this book with The House of Mirthby Edith Wharton, since my book was inspired by Wharton’s classic.
I’d love to hear from teens and teachers who’ve read the book. Feel free to leave a comment!
Anzia Yezierska immigrated from Poland as a child. She was a famous Jewish-American writer in the 1920s.
My new web site is Second Generation Stories: Literature by Children of Immigrants (www.SecondGenStories.com).
The site features book lists of dozens of authors who were born into immigrant families, or who immigrated to the U.S. as children. For example, Mario Puzo (author of The Godfather) was a child of Italian immigrants. William Saroyan, a playwright and fiction writer, was the child of Armenian immigrants.
The second generation often face unique challenges which cut across cultures. First-generation immigrant Americans tend to have strong ties to the home country, yet consciously chose to come to the United States. Their children, on the other hand, often have weak ties to the home country and had no choice about being raised in the United States.
The study of immigrant literature often throws first-generation immigrant writers into the same category as their children. In fact, the children of immigrants, second-generation Americans, may have very different perspectives from their parents.
This is a fun book to introduce kids to business. Eleven-year-old Ella, who has formed a band with three of her friends, desperately wants an electric guitar. In the process of trying to come up with the money to buy it, she learns about interest, the stock market, running a small business, marketing, and business loans. These concepts are introduced in a low-key way as part of the story.
My husband read this to our 9-year-old son, and they both enjoyed the story. My husband is an entrepreneur, and he felt the financial concepts in this book were sound.
One of the authors, Orly Sade, is a professor of finance, and the other, Ellen Neuborne, is a writer. They’ve done a great job of teaching financial concepts within the context of a compelling story.
I’ve included this book on my girls list.