[alert variation=”alert-info”]Publisher: Scholastic Paperback Nonfiction
Formats: Paperback, eBook, Kindle
Purchase: Powell’s | Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | iBooks[/alert]

Girls growing up today are fortunate to have a lot of quality reading and viewing material aimed at them. They have more movies with female heroines where the plot doesn’t necessarily revolve around finding Prince Charming, lots of books at every reading level about the experience of being a girl…and they have this book, about all of the fabulous female role models throughout history who have done amazing things.

The book focuses on American women, presumably just to narrow the playing field and keep it under 100 pages. But there is a wide variety of women in the 50 who were chosen: politicians, activists, scientists, writers, a few first ladies, and some entertainers. One could quibble about which women were included and which excluded, and whether these were the best choices, but they truly represent a wide cross-section of American women. They are young, old, black, white, Asian, Native American, Latina, Republicans and Democrats, some from poor backgrounds, some from abusive homes, some married, some married multiple times, some never married, some with many children, some with no children, and even one woman who was mentioned to have had a female partner. Every girl will find someone she can relate to.

Nearly every page of this book will elicit a “wow, I didn’t know that!” Did you know that journalist Nellie Bly beat the record set in Around the World in Eighty Days for global circumnavigation, and also that she was nicknamed “Pink” as a girl because she loved pink, frilly dresses? Or that Pocahontas loved to dance? Or that Amelia Earhart once built a roller coaster in her backyard as a child? Or that environmentalist Rachel Carson was one of the first to recognize that the pesticides that kill insects were also harmful to humans and other animals? Or that Nancy Reagan acted in school plays and went on to major in theatre? There are tidbits in the women’s stories about their childhoods that make them much more relatable and human.

There are even 50 more exceptional women mentioned in the back of the book, each with a sentence or two to describe her achievements. Some of these runners-up could have been given a full bio in the book (Madeleine Albright and Sandra Day-O’Connor would have been great to hear more about), but hopefully this will spur girls on to research more about women in history, and women who are pioneers today. This book is a great resource for both girls and boys, and will fill in some gaps in American history that may not have been given consideration in their history classes at school – but should have been.

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