As this school year started (I was hired just a few days, I think three before school started) I quickly realized that one thing that could quickly get put on the back burner was story time at bedtime. Not because we are terrible heathens, but because, well honestly – reality, exhaustion, time, you name it, life just happens and sometimes those little moments that we so preciously guarded when our petites were younger become harder to carve out as life gets busier. When things calmed down at school for me, we made a much more concerted effort to get story time in, not the five or more book extravaganza of days past, but intentional story time.
Okay, so the books we’ve been really really, I mean my kids throw some serious shade my way when we don’t read these books at night, are all about empowerment, informing, understanding and raising petites who understand the world in which we live. We want our girls, who are 5 and almost 9, to understand that overcoming adversity is what so many get minds, have had to do to accomplish amazing feats. That often times ordinary people take huge risks in order to achieve their goals sometimes failing along the way. But mainly that kindness and love are always the answer. Always.
Here are some of the books that currently reside on my nightstand we read one page a night which covers one amazing woman:
Little Leaders Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison 2017 Little Brown and Company has become quite the obsession at our house. In fact there were a few days where we didn’t read it at night and my daughter checked it out from her school library to secretly read it on the bus that is how much she loves this book. So let me tell you what is to love. Basically everything. Vashti Harrison does a fabulous job of telling you the story of the 40 women, in a way that explains who they are, delves into their lives, history and what they overcame and accomplished. What I particularly love is that it is a good mix of well know and lesser known women in black history. Another aspect that I love as a parent is that these biographies are inspiring my daughters to want to know more these amazing women – whether it is pulling up a YouTube video of Josephine Baker dancing or listening to Maya Angelou discuss being a rainbow in someone else’s cloud it doesn’t matter to me as long as they are learning and discovering and engaging with the text and the girls are doing just that with this book. They love it. We are so excited to heard that Vashti Harrison is coming out with a new book in November Visionary Women Around the World. Basically she is my new author illustrator crush, so I am smitten, seriously her art is A-mazing! Check it out.
Perfect for: 8-11 years old (can be read aloud to younger readers with some paraphrasing)| Lexile 1050
Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky 2016 Ten Speed Press. This book has been waiting on our shelves for the petites to get a little bit older to fully retain all that this amazing book has to offer. It offers us as readers a glimpse into the lives of scientists from around the world, names I’ve never heard of whose contributions clearly made and continue to make a difference. These women are remarkable. When we love about reading this book is that my husband and I both have wow moments where we learn something too. This book is a little bit of a stretch for our 5-year-old, but I just read it in a more fanciful engaging tone and ask lots of questions when she gets a little squirrely. To read a complete review, or basically, my swooning love for this book, check out this post from 2016. Rachel Ignotofsky’s art is remarkable, so detailed, she has another book about Women in Sports as well, we’ve yet to check that one out yet, but it is in our library cue.
Perfect for: Ages 10 and up | Lexile 990
Rad Women Worldwide by Katy Schatz with art by Miriam Klein Stahl 2016 Ten Speed Press. Are you noticing a theme here? Short biographies, strong women, doing remarkable things, changing the world for the better, what more could you ask for in a bedtime story? Right. Let’s jump into Rad Women Worldwide. This book discusses 40 women from every continent. What I love about this book is that is highlights women who made huge contributions that have largely gone unnoticed or unknown outside of their specific countries or areas. This book helps to change that. As the cover states, this book discusses Grace O’Malley swashbuckler from Ireland, Venus and Serena Williams, Marta from Brazil known as the female Pele. Maria Montessori from Italy and so many more amazing women who I feel my kids are smarter for having read this incredible book.
Perfect for: Grade 6 and up |Lexile 1040
I want to be very real about these books too. Tough questions often come up when reading these stories, for example: Why would people enslave other people? Why would someone abuse another person, how could someone separate families and think that is okay?Although not traditional topics in bedtime stories, these are important conversations to be having with our children. The lives of these women give us a place to safely talk with our children about the harsh realities of the world. What I have discovered as a parent and as a teacher, is that most of the time I am more nervous about the conversations to be had than my girls. They are usually not traumatized by it – usually quite the opposite, they are empowered to stand up, speak out and make a difference. I also very rarely eff it up and if I do, kids are resilient and they will see me fail and try again and that is life. It’s messy but that doesn’t mean I am not going to try and have these conversations with my petites, after all nothing good ever comes from avoiding something uncomfortable.
So these are the books we are reading right now. My husband and I are loving the conversations we are having with our daughters. We are relishing in these moments where they still want to lay in our bed at night for a story and a snuggle. Do any of you have long/sweet/ridiculous nighttime routines? We do…I would love to hear about yours.