09 March 2015

Women's History Month in the Library

March is Women's History Month and we started it all off with a lesson about female athletes. Last week, students in K-2 read a book called Players in Pigtails by Shana Corey. It tells the fictional story of Katie Casey and the true story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. It also has the lyrics to the song Take Me Out to the Ball Game and I realized that I've never heard the full song before. The song is all about a girl named Katie Casey, who tells her beau that she'd much prefer going to a ball game than a show. Several students were familiar with the chorus, but it was a nice tie-in to the protagonist in our book.

Players in Pigtails provides a great opportunity to talk about how society has tried to box women in throughout history. Katie's parents try to talk her out of baseball. The boys in her town try to talk her out of baseball. Even after she makes it to the league, she's forced to attend classes on good manners and posture, and to wear a skirt. We talked about how silly all that is and how it all has nothing to do with baseball. And I made it a point to emphasize that girls, just like boys, can do whatever they please. Many students were surprised to learn that there are girl football players and no one seemed to know that there was once an all female professional baseball league. At one point, a character in the book makes the claim that girls don't like sports. We talked about that, too. Lots of girls like sports and some don't. The same is true for boys, some like sports and some don't. 

After reading the book, we listened to the full song of Take Me Out to the Ball Game and watched a video of an interview with a real-life AAGPBL player, Wilma Briggs. 

Next week, I want to do a lesson on stereotypes. I'm still forming it in my mind, but I want to talk to the students about "girl things" and "boy things." Our discussion from last week laid a good foundation. Our talk about girls not liking sports is exactly the kind of thing I want to talk more about next week. If you have ideas on how to talk about stereotypes with students in grades K-2, please share. And do you have any suggestions for other good picture books for Women's History Month? Leave a comment or tweet to me @stroudlibrary

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