On February 15th, 1820 Susan Brownell Anthony came into the world. She grew up in a home that was strongly anti-slavery, and as a teenager became active in the anti-slavery and temperance movements. A few years later, Susan read about a speech that Lucy Stone gave at the first National Women's Rights Convention in Worcester, Massachusetts. From this moment Susan devoted her life to the cause of women's rights.
In honor of this great lady's birthday, I have a picture book for you that is about how one little girl in California was affected by Susan's words and deeds.
Claire Rudolf Murphy
Illustrated by Stacey Schuett
Historical Fiction Picture Book
For ages 7 to 10
Peachtree, 2011, 978-1-56145-593-5
Bessie is very annoyed because her father and brothers won’t take her hiking with them. They think that girls belong at home, and that “strenuous exercise is not for girls,” which is nonsense of course. After all, she can ride her bicycle faster than everyone who lives on her block, including her brothers. It is very irritating to be thus excluded because of her sex, and Bessie complains to her mother.
Bessie’s mother invites Bessie to help her get the house ready for Susan B. Anthony’s visit that afternoon. Bessie looks at Susan B. Anthony’s photo in the newspaper and thinks that she looks like a “crabby old lady.” Bessie soon finds out that the old lady in question is a force to be reckoned with, but she is also a willing to listen to Bessie’s problems
The next day, Bessie goes to hear Susan B. Anthony speak at the Golden Gate Auditorium, and she begins to understand that getting votes for women is important for many reasons. Bessie and her friend Rita decide to help with the cause. They learn that there are children all over the country who have to work instead of being able to go to school. Perhaps, if women could vote, laws would be put in place that would help “adults and children.”
This book is based on the real story about Bessie Keith Pond and the 1896 suffrage campaign in
. Just like the Bessie described in the story, the real Bessie’s family members were strong supporters of the suffrage movement, and Bessie was close friends with Susan B. Anthony. California
As they read this book, young readers will come to realize why gaining the vote mattered so much to so many. Through Bessie’s eyes they will see how women and girls were discriminated against, and what they had to put up with as they fought for the right to vote.
At the back of the book, the author provides her readers with further information about Bessie Keith Pond, the
suffrage campaign, Susan B. Anthony, and the history of the American suffrage movement with a timeline. California