Review: Votes for Women!

Facts First! Nonfiction Monday

Votes for Women! cover
Votes for Women! American Suffragists and the Battle for the Ballot
by Winifred Conkling
Algonquin Young Readers, February 13, 2018

Grades 8-12, 320 pages

Here’s what the publisher says about Votes for Women!:

For nearly 150 years, American women did not have the right to vote. On August 18, 1920, they won that right, when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified at last. To achieve that victory, some of the fiercest, most passionate women in history marched, protested, and sometimes even broke the law—for more than eight decades.
From Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who founded the suffrage movement at the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, to Sojourner Truth and her famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech, to Alice Paul, arrested and force-fed in prison, this is the story of the American women’s suffrage movement and the private lives that fueled its leaders’ dedication. Votes for Women! explores suffragists’ often powerful, sometimes difficult relationship with the intersecting temperance and abolition campaigns, and includes an unflinching look at some of the uglier moments in women’s fight for the vote.
By turns illuminating, harrowing, and empowering, Votes for Women! paints a vibrant picture of the women whose tireless battle still inspires political, human rights, and social justice activism.

And what the critics say about Votes for Women!:

  • “This is a fascinating account of the bumpy road to women’s suffrage in the U.S. . . . Well-chosen black-and-white archival reproductions and photographs ably support the text, which makes excellent use of primary sources, including excerpts from letters and writings to bring key personalities to life.” —The Horn Book Magazine (starred review)
  • “From the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls in 1848 to the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, this is a commanding and relevant account of sweeping, hard-won social reform and action.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • “Spanning multiple centuries, this work may be the most comprehensive account for young readers about the founders, leaders, organizers, and opponents of the American suffragist movement . . . Conkling delivers a tour de force.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
  • “Looking for a comprehensive, well-written history of women’s fight for the right to vote? You’ve found it. Conkling draws readers in  . . . this is great for research as well as a good read.” —Booklist
  • “The intense drama of the 72-year battle for women’s suffrage springs vividly to life from the pages of this compulsively readable account.” —School Library Journal

And here are my thoughts about Votes for Women!:

I listened to this one as an audiobook as part of judging the CYBILS contest. I also plan to check out the print version so I can see the images and backmatter.
From the opening scene to the final chapter, I was completely drawn in. I thought I knew a fair bit about the history of the women’s suffrage movement, but it turns out I had only superficial knowledge of the people and events involved. I’m grateful to have been enlightened, although I’ll admit the experience wasn’t always easy nor pleasant. There were times when the injustices and insults endured by the women made me sputter with outrage. And there were other times when I was, literally, reduced to tears by the way they were treated. But mostly I was grateful for the courage and persistence of these heroic female leaders and buoyed by it. Conkling has brought these icons to life and given us a peek inside their daily lives in addition to their well-known accomplishments. I found it thoroughly engaging.
This book should be required reading in schools for both girls and boys. It offers important lessons not only in history but also in equality and fairness, grit and determination, group dynamics and social interactions, and power and process. It also feels quite timely in this era of resistance, activism, and #MeToo. Highly recommended.
Facts First! Nonfiction Monday

Be a Changemaker is a Cybils award finalist!


I woke up this morning to news that Be a Changemaker made the list of finalists for the 2014 Children’s and Young Adult Blogger’s Literary Award, better known as the Cybils, in the Nonfiction for Young Adults category. What a way to kick off 2015!
The nominations in this category were varied and impressive, and the books that made the finalist list are truly among the best I’ve read all year. It’s an incredible honor to have my book in such amazing company!

Alice + Freda cover Alice + Freda Forever: A Murder in Memphis by Alexis Coe
Be a Changemaker cover Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters by Laurie Ann Thompson
Beyond Magenta cover Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin
Popular cover Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen
Family Romanov cover The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming
Freedom Summer Murders cover The Freedom Summer Murders by Don Mitchell
Port Chicago 50 cover The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin

Thanks, Pat Zietlow Miller, for nominating it in the first place. Thanks, Stephanie Charlefour at Love. Life. Read., for the finalist write-up, and to the entire panel (also including Aaron Maurer from Coffee for the Brain, Michelle Lockwood from Blogs Like a Girl, Karen Ball from Mrs. B’s Favorites, and Danyelle Leach from Bookshelves in the Cul-de–Sac) for reading, considering, and ultimately selecting it. I’ve been a first round Cybils judge twice and am a second round judge in a different category this year, so I know what a lot of hard work and dedication goes into it! Finally, thanks to the people who keep the Cybils running. It’s one of my favorite awards in children’s books as a reader, author, and judge. I’m always glad to be a part of it, so having my own book make that finalist list means even more to me. Kidlit bloggers ROCK! 🙂

Review: Start It Up teen nonfiction


START IT UP by Kenrya Rankin is a must-have resource for teen (and even middle-grade) readers who wish to start any kind of business, whether it be for profit, nonprofit, or mixed.
The book is clearly written and easy to understand, yet includes a wealth of information for young entrepreneurs. The design is clean and functional, with pullouts for quick tips, anecdotes, quotes, and recommended resources. There are also fun quizzes and helpful worksheets. All of this combines to turn what could be a dull, dry topic into a fun, encouraging yet realistic resource.
I’d bet there’s enough substance there’s enough substance in this little gem that even the most seasoned entrepreneurs (adults included!) will find something of use here. And it’s presented in such a way that even the least business-minded individuals (again, adults included!) will be inspired and able to get started in no time.
For changing a life, or changing the world, this book is a winner! For more great nonfiction books, check out the rest of the catalog at Zest Books–Teen Reads With a Twist. (And no, I haven’t been compensated in any way for this post. I received a free galley from NetGalley for review purposes only.)
This post is part of the Facts First! Nonfiction Monday roundup. Nonfiction Monday takes place every Monday at various blogs throughout the kidlitosphere, who write about nonfiction books for kids and collect all the reviews in one place. This week, the Nonfiction Monday roundup is being hosted by Jean Little Library. To see the entire schedule, please visit the Nonfiction Monday blog.

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