Sunday, March 24, 2013

Women's History Month

We still have a few days left in March to celebrate the powerful women that came before us, clearing the way for equal rights (someday we'll truly get there) because we have come so far.  Groovy Girl and I have been reading Lives of Extraordinary Women; Rulers and Rebels (and what the neighbors thought) by Kathleen Krull and Kathryn Hewitt.

Krull's introduction begins "Not all governments have been run by men.  Here, in chronological order, are twenty women who wielded political power, as queens, warriors, prime ministers, revolutionary leaders, Indian chiefs, first ladies, or other government officials."

The first person in the book is Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile, and I have to say I thought I knew about Cleopatra but there was much to be revealed in her three page spread.  Her family loved ruling Egypt so much that they intermarried each other to keep it in the family.  She was forced to marry her 10-year-old brother and she dealt with it by ignoring him, like a normal older sibling, really!  She traveled extensively and often looted foreign libraries for their papyrus rolls so she could add to her own library.  She loved to spend time in her library (of stolen materials...) and may have even written a volume on cosmetics.  In the end she killed herself by letting a snake bite her.  I don't think she is someone to look up to exactly but she did lead an interesting life and she tried to be nice to ordinary Egyptians.

Eleanor of Aquitaine is the second ruler in this volume and she was queen of both France and England.  Her father died when she was 15 but he had taught her much during her short life.  She understood what it took to be powerful, she could read and write, and she was worth a lot of money at that time because of her land holdings.  She married Louis VII, the King of France, later divorced him because he was boring.  Later she married Henry who later became Henry the II, King of England.  They had 8 children together and when she was fed up with Henry's affairs she moved out and established her own court across town where they made fun of men! Henry eventually had her committed to a convent and after his death she was released.

This book is easy to read, has about three pages per extraordinary woman, and has lots of fun comments in the text. Check out Kathleen Krull's website.

As a March activity in the library we hung a picture quiz for students to identify famous American women.  See how you do...

This is just a select few but not many of our elementary students know these choices.  The two they do know is Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton, a victory for modern women.


Joanna Hennon said...

Sounds like a lovely book. I can 3 pages per woman. :-) The powerful women of the past have should really be admired, to accomplish that much in a society that didn't approve.

Marie said...

Sounds like a great and interesting book! Very nice review.

By the way, I can name three of the women pictured. One I knew, one I found with Google (it helped that I typed the right thing in) and finally, one was a guess that I was able to confirm with Google quite quickly. The only one I can't name is the ballerina. Not bad for a Canadian, eh? ;)