Mini-Reviews: Girls in Politics
When I have the choice between reading another book or reviewing the one I have just read, I usually choose to read another one. As much as I adore shouting about books on my blog, reading is, after all, my first love!
Therefore, I have decided to do some mini-review posts to tell you about some other books which I have read and think you might enjoy.
This time, the mini-reviews are all themed around girls going into politics, a subject which is very near to my heart as a teacher.
I believe that every child should be encouraged to reach for whatever dream they have, regardless of gender, sexuality, race, religion or anything else. Our differences are to be celebrated and draw us together rather than further apart.
Statistics show that women in politics are still in the minority in most countries, despite the fact that there are slightly more women than men in the world at the moment! It is important that parliament represents the interests of everyone in their country, regardless of gender, social-economic status, race or religion.
The graphics below show a snapshot of where women are well-represented in parliament and where they are not (view the whole map on the Inter-Parliamentary Union website here).
As a teacher, I am always looking for books that challenge the status quo and help encourage the children in my school to aspire for great things – here are a few that you might consider adding to your school library to encourage participation in politics!
Vote for Effie by Laura Wood
Join Effie Kostas as she fights to become Student Council President in her new school. With a campaign team of loveable misfits, she tackles the truly important subjects: gender imbalance, outdated school conventions…and good-looking boys stealing the last slice of chocolate cake at lunchtime. A laugh out-loud rallying call for switched-on kids everywhere.
Why aren’t more people shouting about this book?!
I fell in love with Effie straightaway, with her awkward enthusiasm and refusal to accept the status quo. She is a girl who cares deeply about lots of things and it was both sad and familiar to see people react to her passion with discomfort and dismissal, at least at first.
This is ultimately an empowering, uplifting read and I can’t wait to press it into the hands of my pupils!
“For me, Vote for Effie is a stand-out book because it offers a rationale for equal rights, equal opportunities, and an appreciation for diversity. It serves as a wonderful introduction to young people about female empowerment but also reminds us that the way forward is for everyone, regardless of gender, to work together and create a better tomorrow.”
“Effie will be an inspiration to many young people. She’s passionate, driven and with a strong sense of justice. She isn’t afraid to speak up and to challenge the status quo. She’s determined to make her voice and other marginalised voices heard.”
Things a Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls
Shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal 2019, National Book Award, Books Are My Bag Readers’ Awards and the YA Book Prize
Through rallies and marches, in polite drawing rooms and freezing prison cells and the poverty-stricken slums of the East End, three courageous young women join the fight for the vote.
Evelyn is seventeen, and though she is rich and clever, she may never be allowed to follow her older brother to university. Enraged that she is expected to marry her childhood sweetheart rather than be educated, she joins the Suffragettes, and vows to pay the ultimate price for women’s freedom.
May is fifteen, and already sworn to the cause, though she and her fellow Suffragists refuse violence. When she meets Nell, a girl who’s grown up in hardship, she sees a kindred spirit. Together and in love, the two girls start to dream of a world where all kinds of women have their place.
But the fight for freedom will challenge Evelyn, May and Nell more than they ever could believe. As war looms, just how much are they willing to sacrifice?
I had heard quite a few mixed reviews about this so was hesitant to start, despite being desperate to get my hands on a copy when I first heard of it. Because I went in with such low expectations, I was pleasantly surprised.
The book started really strongly with introducing us to Evelyn, May and Nell, three girls who are involved in the movement frighting for suffrage, in one way or another.
I loved Evelyn and Teddy’s relationship as, though he clearly disagrees with her joining the Suffragettes, he continues to support her in achieving her dreams and believes that women should have equal rights to men. I would have liked to hear more about Oxford, as it felt a bit like we don’t see much of Evelyn’s life as a student after she’s fought so hard to get there! I also liked hearing from Evelyn’s parents’ perspective as they clearly want what is right for their daughters, but are surprised that their eldest should want anything more than life as a wife.
May and Nel were both interesting characters. I liked seeing the Quaker perspectives and Nell’s view from a working class family at the time.
The first half was very strong, but I felt like the end fizzled out slightly, leaving me without a sense of resolution.
This book is carefully-researched and contains lots of historical tidbits that are sure to make you want to find out more about this period in time.
“The book opened by endearing us to each of the girls, and then as their stories progressed, we find ourselves frustrated and disagreeing with them, questioning their motives and wondering just what they’re trying to achieve, in many ways. Then, as the story continues, and the element of war, with men such as Evelyn’s brother, Nell’s own father, enlisting into the army and the whole of Britain on high alert, you begin to see cracks where you never expected to, and strengths in all the most unexpected places.”
“I adored this book and the characters within its pages. It left me feeling all fuzzy and hopeful. I’m so glad I decided to give it a read now and I think it’s going to be a book which stays with my into the future.”
The Closest Thing to Flying by Gill Lewis
Present day: Semira doesn’t know where to call home. She and her mother came to England when she was four years old, brought across the desert and the sea by a man who has complete control. Always moving on, always afraid of being caught, she longs for freedom.
1891: Hen knows exactly where to call home. Her stifling mother makes sure of that. But her Aunt Kitty is opening her eyes to a whole new world. A world of animal rights, and votes for women, and riding bicycles! Trapped in a life of behaving like a lady, she longs for freedom.
When Semira discovers Hen’s diary, she finds the inspiration to be brave, to fight for her place in the world, and maybe even to uncover the secrets of her own past
I borrowed this from my local library because Gill Lewis has become an auto-read author for me -everything she’s written is amazing!
In this book, she has done it again!
The story follows Semira, a young refugee from Eritrea as she joins a new school and attempts to support her mother. Her life changes when she comes across a Victorian hat, decorated with a small green bird that brings back memories of the country she left behind. In the bottom of the hatbox, she finds the diary of a girl around her age as she becomes involved in the early movements leading towards women’s suffrage and the founding of the Society for the Protection of Birds. Events in the past and the present overlap and intertwine, with the diary providing an escape and inspiration for Semira to change her life.
I was gripped – this is a must-read!
“Gill Lewis’s dual contemporary and historical novel for children aged 9+ is a beautifully judged affair that combines women’s rights, the treatment of refugees and animal rights in a well-balanced novel filled with courage and sadness and understanding and which is all the better for its bittersweet ending and the fact that it doesn’t offer pat solutions to difficult problems.”
Have you read any of these books?
Would you like to read any of them after reading this post?
Could you recommend any other books featuring girls going into politics?
What are you reading at the moment?
Thanks for reading!