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Suffrage: How Women Won the Vote

On this presidential election day, Debbie Glade reviews a book about the history of women voting in the USA.

Now is the perfect time to read Rightfully Ours: How Women Won the Vote; 21 Activities ($16.95, Chicago Review Press, Ages 9 and up) by Kerrie Logan Hollihan. Young readers will learn about the important struggles women of America faced for rights from the cradle of American history through the early 1920s when they were first allowed to vote. They will be introduced to the term, “suffrage,” the act of voting, and will become familiar with the most important figures in women’s voting history.

What I realized when I began reading this book is that there is a lot I didn’t know about the history of women’s rights in America. Sure, I was aware that women struggled for rights, but the details were always lacking in my education. I’m sure many other Americans can say the same.

This book proved to be so very inspiring for me. Women have been fighting for their rights in America since the very beginning of its history. It took great courage and resilience for them to stand up for what they believed in, in a time where their opinions were not respected. Had it not been for the efforts of: Lucy Stone, the first woman to earn a college degree in the state of Massachusetts; Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, organizers of the first women’s rights convention; Harriet Tubman, an organizer of the Underground Railroad; Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin and many other prominent female figures in the women’s rights movement, we as women would not have the rights we do today. Readers will understand more about the sacrifices our ancestors made that shaped American history and perhaps they will be grateful for their own civil rights.

As with all Chicago Review Press for Kids Series, there are 21 wonderful activities that accompany this book’s theme. Among my favorites are: crafting your own soap, which reminds us of the way women used to make their own from grease; making an oil lamp with a glass jar; staging a reader’s theater for suffrage; finding out how “comfortable” a corset may be; and making a coat hanger banner similar to those that suffragists marched with to promote their cause. In the back of the book are excellent resources for further learning – books, places to visit and websites of interest.

In October, 2011, I interviewed the author  of this book, Kerrie Logan Hollihan for her impressive Elizabeth I, the People’s Queen: Her Life and Times, 21 Activities book. She has also written, Isaac Newton and Physics for Kids: His Life and Ideas with 21 Activities and Theodore Roosevelt for Kids: His Life and Times, 21 Activities. I so admire Hollihan’s dedication to writing these factual historical books on such important subjects for children which take a great deal of time and passion and I look forward to her next book.

Check out all the Chicago Review Press Kids Series books here.

An Interview with Author Kerrie Logan Hollihan by Debbie Glade

Kerrie Logan Hollihan is the author of: The Latin American Celebrations and Festivals 4-book series; Isaac Newton and Physics for Kids: His Life and Ideas with 21 Activities (For Kids series); Theodore Roosevelt for Kids: His Life and Times, 21 Activities (For Kids series) and her latest book, Elizabeth I, the People’s Queen: Her Life and Times, 21 Activities (For Kids series).

After reviewing two of Kerrie’s fabulous nonfiction books for kids, Theodore Roosevelt for Kids and Elizabeth I, the People’s Queen, I asked her if she’d answer some questions for our curious readers. She said yes, and wow did she share some invaluable information!

Meet Author Kerrie Logan Hollihan

How did you get started writing nonfiction for children?

When I was a kid growing up in Oak Park, Illinois, I lived two blocks from an African American chemist whose home was firebombed when he moved in with his family. I did some research on him and discovered that my neighbor, Dr. Percy Lavon Julian, was the first black admitted to the National Academies of Science. He developed a plant substitute for cortisone in the 1930s — from soybeans! Dr. Julian fought racism his whole life.

So…I decided to write a middle grade biography about him. To make a long story short, the manuscript hasn’t yet found a home.

I connected with a local group from the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. Two nonfiction authors saw me carrying a stack of books about Isaac Newton out of the library and connected me with their editor at Chicago Review Press, and that’s how I got started.

What a great story, and now you’ve got me interested in Dr. Percy Lavon Julian!

What made you decide to choose Queen Elizabeth I for your latest biography?

I figured that the Tudors always have a following, and I pitched the idea to Chicago Review Press. Over the course of a few months, the topic was refined a bit and we ended up with “Liz” as my subject. Because we develop at least 21 themed activities to our subjects, I was sure I’d have some fun thinking about what to go with. I tried to tap into a variety of activities that relate to life in Elizabethan England.

How on earth did you sort through and organize all the information out there about Elizabeth I for your book? That must have been quite a time-consuming challenge for you.

When I start with a topic like Elizabeth I, I read several adult biographies first. I try to choose one of the “classic” biographies from earlier in the 20th century, and at least another one published since 1990. That way, I have a feel of how history’s view of her has changed over the years. I also read several examples of juvenile biography to see how other authors have presented her since the 1960s. Then I dip into general histories of the time to help with context and background. My favorite go-to resource for historical overviews and authenticating details is Britannica.com.

I develop a timeline with key events and people — always keeping in mind what I want my middle grade readers to understand about Elizabeth and the backdrop of her life, the Reformation. I have to keep things simple but still explain the historical setting in which she lived. In writing about the Reformation, I tried to show both the Protestant and Roman Catholic point of view.

I use MS OneNote to organize all my research. It’s a wonderful tool. For Elizabeth, I wrote an outline for each chapter in a section and added other information that I wanted to include. By the time I start writing, I feel fairly familiar with the information I have and it goes from there.

That is quite a process! Before writing this book, did you find the British royal family tree to be as confusing as so many others do?

Yes and no…at one time I could have told you every English/British monarch from Alfred forward to Elizabeth II. I knew about the Tudor line of course, but when I studied Elizabeth’s family tree I gleaned a lot of new information…all those aunts and uncles and cousins and the sometimes crazy stories about what happened to them.

One cool thing I always enjoyed is that Elizabeth was a direct descendent (through her grandmother Elizabeth of York) of Katherine (Kathryn) Swynford, mistress and later wife of John of Gaunt. Back in the day, Anya Seton wrote a fabulous historical novel about her entitled Katherine.

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