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Books That Celebrate the Underdog

March 6, 2018
By Lee Ann Cleary - Book Bag , OVParent

Are we teaching our young people about average people who have done extraordinary things? It's a question that I have been asking myself for the last year. As I have been working through this question and searching for books to read to the many groups I visit, I discovered something amazing - the books were just as uplifting to me as they were to the kids.

I think many people search out quality picture books or chapter books to share with children because they feel that is what the kids want or expect. Lately, I have been searching out biographies and historical fiction instead. And do you know what? The kids have responded enthusiastically. Surprised? I was! I have even received applause and have seen kids line up to ask questions after the story is over. And why wouldn't they? We all love a good "underdog" story. Children need to hear stories of people who were challenged in their life, whether by race, disability, income level or gender.

Since March is Women's History Month, I thought I would share just a few of the amazing biographies about women that I'm sure kids will love.

"Margaret and the Moon" by Dean Robbins and

"Grace Hopper, Queen of Computer Code" by Laurie Walmark

These two books deal with women computer coders. Grace Hopper simplified computers to make them easier to use. She is also credited with creating the term "computer bug." Margaret Hamilton was a computer programmer who worked for NASA on the Apollo space programs.

"Trudy's Big Swim: How Trudy Ederle Swam the English Channel and Took the World by Storm" by Sue Macy

This is my absolute favorite story to share with kids in elementary school. Trudy Ederle was the first woman to swim the English Channel and she did it faster than the previous men who accomplished the goal. The story is entertaining and the art work is beautiful. The descriptions of the cold and the jellyfish are great for getting kids interested in the story.

"Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean's Most Fearless Scientist" by Jess Keating

This is an amazing story of one woman's battle with women's rights and public opinion. Eugenie Clark wanted to be a scientist at a time when that was not an acceptable career for a woman. She was also fascinated with sharks, which were believed to be ugly, dumb and dangerous. She worked her entire life to bring light to the amazing sharks that she loved, even proving that sharks could be trained, much like a dog.



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