August 11, 2016

March of the Suffragettes

With the advent of the Common Core State Standards there has been a heavier emphasis on nonfiction literature in the classroom. Examining the ELA cadre of standards finds a complete section devoted to informational literature alone. As a result, I have been on the lookout for engaging nonfiction titles to use with my middle school students.

The March of the Suffragettes: Rosalie Gardiner Jones and the March for Voting Rights by Zachary Michael Jack, set for publication on September 27, 2016, by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group caught my attention due to its timely content (US Presidential election).
March of the Suffragettes tells the forgotten, real-life story of “General” Rosalie Gardiner Jones, who in the waning days of 1912 mustered and marched an all-women army nearly 175 miles to help win support for votes for women. General Jones, along with her good friends and accomplices “Colonel” Ida Craft, “Surgeon General” Lavinia Dock, and “War Correspondent” Jessie Hardy Stubbs, led marchers across New York state for their pilgrims’ cause, encountering not just wind, fog, sleet, snow, mud, and ice along their unpaved way, but also hecklers, escaped convicts, scandal-plagued industrialists on the lam, and jealous boyfriends and overprotective mothers hoping to convince the suffragettes to abandon their dangerous project. By night Rosalie’s army met and mingled with the rich and famous, attending glamorous balls in beautiful dresses to deliver fiery speeches; by day they fought blisters and bone-chilling cold, debated bitter Anti-suffragists, and dodged wayward bullets and pyrotechnics meant to intimidate them. They composed and sang their own marching songs for sisterhood and solidarity on their route, even as differences among them threatened to tear them apart. 
March of the Suffragettes chronicles the journey of four friends across dangerous terrain in support of a timeless cause, and it offers a hopeful reminder that social change is achieved one difficult, dauntless, daring step at a

Normally, I do not LIKE to read nonfiction. With March of the Suffragettes I had to change my mind. Surprisingly, I did like reading this nonfiction selection!

First there is just the right mix of narrative and informational text. This book reads more like a story than expository material. Second March of the Suffragettes introduced a new character to my knowledge of the struggle to gain the right for women to vote, Rosalie Gardiner Jones. Lesser known than Elizabeth Stanton or Susan B. Anthony, she is nonetheless just as instrumental in gaining the passage of the 19th amendment. Third, the book includes more than just material about suffrage. Tidbits about fashion, music, and food as well as other noteworthy historical events (the sinking of the Titanic) are included that makes the action and era come alive for the reader, especially for young female readers, an audience that often eschews nonfiction.

Finally, I judge a book by it usefulness in my classroom. March of the Suffragettes could be a great nonfiction read aloud, appealing to both boys and girls; it could be implemented as part of a reading club or literature circle, by virtue of its challenging content; or it could be studied as a class text in both language arts or social studies. Because of its textual content and genre it meets many of the Common Core Standards for teaching Informational Text, among them analyzing text to determine structure and comparing narrative with expository material.

All of these qualities leads to a perfect text to use in a middle grades classroom as well as a great read!

To order your copy, click HERE.

I'm linking up with This Literacy Life for her Book Talk Thursday linky. Hop on over to check out great titles for use in your classroom.

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