Jeannette Rankin: First Lady of Congress
Illustrated by Dan Andreasen
Ages 8 to 12
Simon and Schuster, 2006, 0-689-86290-3
Jeanette Rankin came from Montana. Living on a farm with her family she had to work hard and there was always a great deal to do. Men and women, boys and girls worked alongside one another and they all benefited from the fruits of their labors. Though it was sometimes a hard life, it was a good, healthy and fair one for everyone. It was only when Jeanette saw the slums in Boston as a young woman that she came to see how many women were powerless to improve their lives and the lives of their children. No matter what these women did they were ground down by poverty. Jeanette began to think that what these women needed was the vote. Perhaps if they were given a vote, they could do something to improve their lives.
Thus it was that Jeanette began a career in social work, trying to reach as many women and children in need as she could. She was often frustrated because she was trying to work in a world where women and children had very few laws to protect their rights. Clearly what needed to be done was to change these laws but how could Jeanette do this?
What Jeanette did was to learn about laws and the law-making process. She then began to work in the suffrage movement and her energy and determination carried her onwards until the day when women were finally given the vote in her home state of Montana. Now Jeanette was more determined than ever to give women a voice and she decided that she wanted to be one of the voices who spoke for them in Congress.
This is a superb account of the life of a woman whose achievements are often not mentioned in the history books. With great sympathy and understanding the author describes Jeannette struggles and the sacrifices she made to improve the lives of women and children all over America. Dan Andreasen has created beautiful artwork to accompany the text which captures the atmosphere of the women’s rights movement in the early 1900’s.
This is an excellent chapter book which will help readers see that the achievements of people living long ago have indeed had a profound effect on the lives of people living today.
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