Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Marching with Aunt Susan: Susan B. Anthony and the Fight for Women's Suffrage

Marching with Aunt Susan: Susan B. Anthony and the Fight for Women's Suffrage

Claire Rudolf Murphy
Illustrator:  Stacey Schuett 
Historical Fiction Picture Book
For ages 7 to 10
Peachtree Publishers, 2011   ISBN: 978-1561455935

Bessie is very annoyed because her father and brothers won’t take her hiking with them. They think that girls belong at home, and that “strenuous exercise is not for girls,” which is nonsense of course.  After all, she can ride her bicycle faster than everyone who lives on her block, including her brothers. It is very irritating to be thus excluded because of her sex, and Bessie complains to her mother.

Bessie’s mother invites Bessie to help her get the house ready for Susan B. Anthony’s visit that afternoon. Bessie looks at Susan B. Anthony’s photo in the newspaper and thinks that she looks like a “crabby old lady.” Bessie soon finds out that the old lady in question is a force to be reckoned with, but she is also a willing to listen to Bessie’s problems

The next day, Bessie goes to hear Susan B. Anthony speak at the Golden Gate Auditorium, and she begins to understand that getting votes for women is important for many reasons. Bessie and her friend Rita decide to help with the cause. They learn that there are children all over the country who have to work instead of being able to go to school. Perhaps, if women could vote, laws would be put in place that would help “adults and children.”

This book is based on the real story about Bessie Keith Pond and the 1896 suffrage campaign in California. Just like the Bessie described in the story, the real Bessie’s family members were strong supporters of the suffrage movement, and Bessie was close friends with Susan B. Anthony.

As they read this book, young readers will come to realize why gaining the vote mattered so much to so many. Through Bessie’s eyes they will see how women and girls were discriminated against, and what they had to put up with as they fought for the right to vote.

At the back of the book, the author provides her readers with further information about Bessie Keith Pond, the California suffrage campaign, Susan B. Anthony, and the history of the American suffrage movement with a timeline.