The Children's Book Compass

Women Voting

Posted on: September 25, 2011

Marching With Aunt Susan: Susan B. Anthony and the Fight for Women’s Suffrage by Claire Rudolf Murphy.  Illus. by Stacey Schuett.  (2011). Pages not numbered.  Peachtree.  Grades 3-6.  Picture Book/Historical Fiction.

One of my college students once explained how reading a children’s book about the fight for women’s suffrage impacted her voting behaviors.  “I’ll never miss voting again, now I see what a precious right it is.”   This excellent book will influence younger students about our hard-won voting rights.  Murphy has fictionalized an incident from 1896 in the life of Bessie Pond, a girl growing up in San Francisco.  Bessie’s family hosts Susan B. Anthony when she comes to California to lead the campaign for a referendum to give women the vote.  Bessie is inspired by Anthony to see the inequalities that women suffer.  Murphy frames her story from the point of view of Bessie who is angry that she is not allowed to participate in activities with her brothers because girls are not considered strong enough.   Sadly, it would be fifteen more years until women were granted full voting rights and twenty four years until the The Nineteenth Amendment would give women in every state voting rights.  Schuett’s illustrations extend the text with details that add to the characterizations and dramatic scenes.   Extensive back matter provides short biographies of Bessie and Anthony as well as a time-line about the fight to achieve the vote for women, information about the California Suffrage campaign, suffrage history, photos and recommendations for further reading.  An author’s note on the copyright page lists the author’s sources.  Read aloud this story to encourage a conversation about voting rights and being involved in our democracy.

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Marilyn Carpenter, PhD.

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