A Year of Picture Books (April)

We found quite a few gems to add to our picture book series this month. Every single book we picked out features a woman (which was not intentional!) We learned about an awesome female architect who used nature as inspiration for her designs, an invention that made the Queen of England more comfortable while sea bathing, and a female mathematician that helped the Apollo 11 mission land on the moon (really, they either were going to crash or have to turn back before she calmly stepped in)

Homeschooling Tip: Besides getting to learn about all of these real life inspirations, we also always try get as much “learning” as we can out of our reading time by including geography and a timeline into the mix. One way that we do this is by trying to find all the countries mentioned in each book on our world map to improve our geography skills. Then, we write an entry into our Book of Centuries if the person was of historical importance. This way we get history, geography, and literature out of the way in one swoop. Easy peasy!

Margaret and the Moon

Margaret and the Moon told the amazing story of how one girl’s love of science and math led her to single handedly (well, mostly) save the Apollo 11 moon mission from failure. Ben was amazed at all the things Margaret used computers for during the Apollo missions and we both loved seeing all of the real life pictures at the end of the book. Margaret was also one of the first women “software engineers” (she actually came up with that job title herself) If you love history and anything about the moon missions, this book is for you.

Lizzie Demands a Seat!: Elizabeth Jennings Fights for Streetcar Rights

I had never heard about Elizabeth Jennings before, but she was basically the original Rosa Parks. In 1854, Lizzie boarded a street car in New York City and refused to get off when the conductor told her to wait for the Blacks Only car that was coming later. At that time black people in New York City could technically ride with whites as long as no one complained and no one did that day, but for some reason the conductor objected to Lizzie’s presence. We were interested to find out that Chester A. Arthur (the future 21st President of the US) was the attorney who defended Ms. Jennings in this court case. We found it incredibly sad that Rosa Parks would face the same discrimination and have to fight the same fight in Montgomery, Alabama almost a hundred years later after Ms. Jennings won her case.

The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid

Thanks to the internet we actually got to see what all of Zaha Hadid’s architectural feats look like in real life after we read about them in this book. The World is Not a Rectangle follows the amazing story of how architect Zaha Hadid reimagined and pushed the limits in the field of architecture by designing buildings to look like things in nature. She received a lot of pushback in the male dominated field, but once she built her first building, her whole career took off from there. It was really interesting to see how an Iraqi-born Muslim woman completely turned the architectural world upside down. Ben’s favorite Hadid design was the Signature Towers in Dubai (shown below) because it was designed to look like grass in a field.

See the source image
Miss Moore Thought Otherwise: How Anne Carroll Moore Created Libraries for Children

We love the library, so we loved learning about the woman who basically invented the children’s library movement. Back then, children were not allowed to be in the libraries because they were too noisy and the libraries did not offer children’s books to their patrons because they would probably destroy the books. Miss Moore thought otherwise! She was a delightful woman who knew that good books could enrich children’s lives and set out to make sure that every library in America had a children’s section filled with wonderful books. Miss Moore also encouraged more authors to write better quality children’s books and fill them with beautiful illustrations. Some of the authors that she encouraged were Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss), Carl Sandburg, Beatrix Potter, and Pamela Travers (creator of Mary Poppins)

Queen Victoria's Bathing Machine

This was definitely one of my favorite books we read this year. I am a sucker for wonderful illustrations, delightful rhyming, and of course a wonderful story. Queen Victoria faced a problem. She did not want to be looked at in her bathing costume while she swam in the ocean, so she refused to go with her family. Her husband, Prince Albert, dreamed up a wonderful invention that transformed a carriage into a bathing machine that would protect her modesty and privacy. We really loved this book. It was a fun read and was actually historically accurate. The original bathing machine is still around today in a British museum.

The Lady with the Books: A Story Inspired by the Remarkable Work of Jella Lepman

Ben is really into WWII right now so we were happy to read about a Jewish woman who set out to heal the world, by bringing international children’s books to post war Germany. Jella Lepman, a German Jew, felt that by bringing the best children’s books back into the libraries and hands of the German children would prevent future wars from ever occurring. One of the ways that Adolf Hitler furthered his agenda was to ban certain children’s books from other countries that were not promoting his message. So Ms. Lepman tried to reverse this trend, by holding international book exhibits around Germany and was proactive in getting many childhood classics translated into German. We especially were thrilled to learn that every child that attended the exhibits were given their own copy of The Story of Ferdinand to take home. **Apparently the pacifist bull, Ferdinand, was not appreciated by Hitler and was one of the many books his Nazi regime banned.

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin (Amazing Scientists)

I have an autistic sister, so The Girl Who Thought in Pictures was a highly relatable book for both my son and me. We enjoyed learning about the very determined Dr. Temple Grandin and how she set out to make animal lives better by designing more humane agricultural equipment for farms around the world.

I hope you might have found a new book to enjoy with your kids today. There are so many wonderful books out there if you dare to look.

Happy reading!

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