A is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women, by Lynne Cheney

I’m a little late to the party, I know. It’s already the end of March and I’m just now getting around to doing a post celebrating women in history. Sometimes I’m on top of things and sometimes I’m not. Anyhow, this morning I sat cross-legged in front of the picture book shelf and started pulling out possible candidates: Georgia O’Keeffe? Ella Fitzgerald? Elizabeth Cady Stanton? The women themselves- stellar. The books? Meh. So as my 2 year old napped alongside her daddy, I packed up my five year old (complete with paper crown, foam sword in a carabiner-sheath, and gum boots) and we went to the library, confident that we’d find a crazy-awesome book celebrating, I don’t know, Josephine Baker maybe, or Eleanor Roosevelt or Amelia Earhart. I looked through the picture books- nothing. I finally went over to the Juvenile Biography section. Two and a half bookcases in the entire section. I’d conservatively say one in 12 or 13 was about a woman. This was frustrating, particularly since the whole reason they came up with the idea of giving women in history a month was to give them (and their achievements) a much deserved place in our memories and history books. I know more books exist on this topic, I follow A Mighty Girl with their constant updates on girl-centered books and toys. It’s just that very few of them have found their way into our little library. It bummed me out, man. But I did manage to find a book in the Juvenile American History that honors not just one woman in history, but well upwards of 26- one (or five or six or a whole slew for that matter) for each letter of the alphabet. And you know how I feel about alphabet books by this point. Anyway, there are more women celebrated in A is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women, written by Lynne Cheney and illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser, than there are children’s books about women in history in the entire two and a half cases in our public library. Just saying.

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In her famous letter to her husband, second American president John Adams, Abigail Adams wrote:

“I desire you would remember the ladies…If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”

IMG_2747The book recounts hundreds of women who have contributed greatly to our society, some that I haven’t heard of, like Mary Anderson, who in 1903 invented the windshield wiper, and many that I have, like Edith Wharton, who was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in fiction in 1921.

IMG_2748When my son handed it to me, asking “Mommy, read this one now please,” I came to page ‘F,’ which stood for First Ladies, and was a full two pages of renditions of 50 or so past wives of presidents. I said, “You know, some day, there will be a man on this page. Because there will be a woman president, and instead of being a first lady, he’ll be the first man.” And he nodded, because this generation, they’ll understand that there’s change afoot.

Hopefully.

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3 thoughts on “A is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women, by Lynne Cheney

  1. Pingback: A Long Piece of String, by William Wondriska | Amélie's Bookshelf

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