March is Women’s History Month, a time to reflect on the advancements women have made in history and focus on the challenges women must overcome. One of the ways we can educate and empower young women is to expose them to books and materials that challenge gender roles and show women in “nontraditional” roles.
The American School Counselor Association Standards for Students include two Career Standards focusing on exposing students to nontraditional careers:
- C:A1.2 Learn about the variety of traditional and nontraditional occupations
- C:B1.7 Describe traditional and nontraditional career choices and how they relate to career choice
Many states also have specific career standards that focus on nontraditional careers. In Pennsylvania, my home state, there are specific standards related to nontraditional careers in the department of education’s Academic Standards for Career and Work:
- 13.1. Pennsylvania’s public schools shall teach, challenge, and support every student to realize his or her maximum potential and to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to:
- 5. C. Relate the impact of change to both traditional and nontraditional careers
- 8. C. Explain how both traditional and nontraditional careers offer or hinder career opportunities
Here are three picture books that show young women in nontraditional careers. These are great books to highlight during Women’s History Month and share with ALL of your students year round!
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Angela Beaty
This is the story of Rosie, who builds miraculous inventions out of found items. She longs to be an engineer, but stops her inventing when she is made fun of by her uncle. When her great-great-aunt Rose comes to town, she tells Rosie about how she built airplanes a long time ago! Great-great-aunt Rose asks Rosie to build her a flying machine. Will Rosie be able to do it? Read Rosie Revere, Engineer by Angela Beaty to find out!
Why I love it:
I love this book because it shows a young woman who is curious and courageous. I also love that this book connects to women’s history by learning about how Rosie’s great-great-aunt built airplanes. The illustrations in this book are also amazing. There are lots of great supplemental materials for this book including teacher guides, extended trailers, and activities available on the author’s website.
Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio
When Grace learns about the past presidents of the United States in school, she is shocked to learn that the United States has never had a female president. She immediately begins working on a campaign for her school’s election to change history. Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio teaches students about the United States electoral system in addition to challenging gender roles.
Why I love it:
Grace for President is an informative look at how the United States chooses leaders. I love that it highlights that there has never been a female president and that Grace aims to change that. Grace shows hard work, determination, and courage when working on her campaign. This is an empowering book to share with young women about going after what you want.
My Name Is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream? by Jennifer Fosberry
Isabella goes on an imaginative adventure and highlights the lives of amazing women who made history. She goes to bed each night dreaming of being someone great. Isabella is inspired by female role models, including her mother. She is empowered by these women and learns she doesn’t have to be someone else to be great—she can be herself.
Why I love it:
My Name Is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream? portrays various women in history including Sally Ride and Rosa Parks. I love that the book gives a history lesson about women who made history. I also love that My Name Is Not Isabella sends a message that Isabella can be great by just being Isabella.
What books and resources do you share with students that challenge gender roles or showcase nontraditional careers?
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