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March 16, 2013

Celebrate Women’s History Month at the Muskogee Public Library

— How great it is to live in a land where women who are confident, in control, and competent can grow up to be what they want to be. Resilience is not something that is developed overnight. It is derived from choosing positive strategies to help them deal with life’s challenges. Here are some women who overcame adversities to follow their dreams from the shelves of the Muskogee Public Library.

Juliette Magill Kinzie Gordon Low was born at the beginning of the Civil War in Savannah, Ga. Juliette grew up to found the Girl Scouts of America on March 12, 1912. Today this organization provides mentoring opportunities for girls worldwide. Read “Juliette Gordon Low” by Kathleen V. Kudlinski to find out what led her to form this group after being raised during the Civil War.

“Memories of Anne Frank: Reflections of a Childhood Friend” Hannah Gosler writes the story of a childhood friend from some 60 years ago. Anne was a fun-loving 13-year-old who was more interested in socials and boys than Hebrew lessons. Gosler remembers wearing the bright yellow Star of David sewn to front of her outfits in Holland. German soldiers were everywhere the day that the Franks left without one word to her best friend. Her only bit of solace came from a neighbor who said they were headed for Switzerland. Hannah had many memories of living next door to Anne for nine years in Germany. In this book she remembers some good times and shares horrific times of the war.

In “Ellen Ochoa: First Hispanic Woman Astronaut” by Maritza Romero, we learn that Ellen was a good student who loved to read. Her favorite book was “A Wrinkle in Time” and she hoped one day to travel in space. Her favorite subjects were music and math, yet she won the San Diego spelling bee when she was 13. She also played in the Civic Youth Orchestra and was an accomplished flutist. Although Ellen graduated as the top math student in her class, she was undecided about an occupation. While attending San Diego State she decided to study music or business, but her real love was math. She spoke with her engineering professor who told her that engineering was too hard for a girl. Obviously, this did not stop Ellen. Discover how she became an astronaut picked from about 100 candidates.

“Mae Jemison” by Liza N. Burby, was another young woman who dreamed of space travel. Mae also loved science and earned degrees in chemical engineering, African and African-American history. She decided to find a way to help people with her scientific knowledge. That led her to the Peace Corps and travel assignments in other countries. Read how she became the first African-American woman in space.

Mae was not the only one who decided that giving back was what she wanted to do. In “Mother Teresa’s Alms Bowl” by Anita Ganeri, we learn she was born with another name in a country then known as Macedonia. When she became a nun, she changed her name to Teresa and founded a religious order of nuns called the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India. She devoted her life to the poor, sick, and dying around the world. We have other books about this devout woman so that you can pay tribute to her benevolence and contributions.

Sometimes it is the hardships and misfortunes that shape who we become. In “Eleanor” by Barbara Cooney, we see that although Eleanor Roosevelt was born with a silver spoon in her mouth, was raised in a lonely and sad environment. Eleanor was born red and wrinkled and a disappointment because she was not a boy. Nevertheless her dad adored her, but clearly did not have much time for her. Many times she was left with a nanny and was fearful and shy around other children. Her parents were a handsome couple and Eleanor knew she was not. Her mother gave her the nickname “Granny”. She did witness her father serving dinners at a mission. Her aunts and uncles trimmed trees and sang to lift spirits of the poor. Eleanor eventually had two younger brothers and soon after her parents separated. Each of her parents died within a year of each other. Eleanor was an orphan. How did an orphan end up a first lady?

In “VHERSES” a celebration of outstanding women” by J. Patrick Lewis, the poet tries to capture the very essence of the women displayed. The hope of Anne Frank, the daring of Amelia Earhart and the benevolence of Eleanor Roosevelt are but a few of the poems. Others are artists like Martha Graham the ‘Mother of Dance’ and Ella Fitzgerald and Georgia O’Keefe. Some are athletes like Gertrude Ederle and Venus and Serena Williams. In this volume you also have an illustration of each woman depicting their personality and passion for life.

Yes, girls can choose from a variety of things that help them feel connected and that they can make a difference in the world. Encourage your girls to explore the contributions of women during Women’s History Month. Knowledge is power as they ‘geek’ the Muskogee Public Library.

Liz Hanley is the Children’s Librarian at the Muskogee Public Library. Reach her at (918) 682-6657, Ext. 232.

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