This well-written book highlights the lives of 10 women activists: Sojourner Truth, Ruth First, Gloria Steinem, Michelle Douglas, Temple Grandin, Olympe de Gouges, Sarojini Naidu, Joan Baez, Leilani Muir and Shannen Koostachin. Each chapter profiles the life of a courageous woman who fought for necessary change.
Crysdale begins with Olympe de Gouges, the 18th century French feminist and abolitionist. She finishes with Shannen Koostachin, the teenage activist from Attawapiskat First Nation who was nominated for the International Childrens’ Peace Prize and was the founder of Shannen’s Dream, a youth-driven movement for educational equity in Canada.
Some of the rebels Crysdale profiles are household names: Gloria Steinem, Joan Baez and Temple Grandin. She also includes stories of lesser-known activists. The message throughout the book is the same: All these women fought bravely for change, and some of them put their lives in jeopardy to pursue their goals.
This book is most appropriate for intermediate students. Teachers could highlight the profiles most relevant to their lesson plans. Michelle Douglas’s 1989 dismissal from the Canadian Forces sparked her battle with the Department of National Defence and resulted in the Canadian military abandoning its policy banning LGBTQ people. Leilani Muir’s lawsuit held the Alberta government accountable for the compulsory sterilization inflicted upon her as a teen. Both of these could be used in the context of Canadian history curriculum for grades 7 and 8. The full group has many possible curriculum connections to Character Education, Health and Phys Ed and Language Arts.
This title is part of Second Story Press’s Women’s Hall of Fame series that also includes other titles that could deepen the curriculum connections like Amazing Women Athletes and Exceptional Women Environmentalists. The one criticism I have of the book is that I would have preferred to have seen more Canadian activists featured. Surely there are 10 Canadian women who changed the course of history.
Norma DeNoble is a member of the Waterloo Region Occasional Teacher Local.