How Reading Can Help Raise a Strong Woman

I was inspired by this post to write a bit about how my blog fits in to the one cause to which I am deeply committed:  the education of young women.

My blog doesn’t look like much now (and hardly anyone is looking anyway).  But I have a clear vision for this project.  Someday it will be a resource for parents and educators who are seeking resources and reading material for the young women in their lives, and hopefully even a resource for those young women themselves.  Just give me time.  Eventually I’ll write amazing posts about Greg Mortenson, Shannon Hale, and Katniss Everdeen.  I’ll write about strong heroines and where to find them.  In the meantime, here’s some of the work I’ve done so far.

Parents with daughters even younger than mine (4 yrs) need to be thinking right now and every day about the woman they are raising.  What kind of character do I want her to have?  What skills will she need in the world she’ll live in?  By my words and actions, what messages am I sending about womanhood?

Reading can help.  Reading books, articles, blogs.  Reading aloud.  Reading, and then talking about what you read.  And just so you know:  throughout my life, I’ve been surrounded by strong women, all of them readers.

Here’s a quick booklist of titles I recommend for parents with daughters.  Thorough reviews someday, but if you’ve read them before I post, we could have a better discussion 😉

Queen Bees and Wannabees by Rosalind Wiseman
Totally Wired by Anastasia Goodstien
The Primal Teen by Barbara Strauch
The Blessing of a Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogel
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
Princess Academy by Shannon Hale (a book I also recommend for tweens)

This is the article mentioned in Mitali’s blog about the pressures facing today’s teen girls, and this one discusses the advantages of single-sex education.

Educating young women does not just involve parents and teachers.  Being both means I am not a great many things.  Please share your ideas and resources.



Filed under Booklists, Reflections

3 responses to “How Reading Can Help Raise a Strong Woman

  1. Hugo Lima

    I find your blog fascinating. It is very important for me to expose my daughter to math and science because American girls are being left behind in these fields. More troubling is that there is no relief in sight. Classrooms are so disproportionately staked that there just aren’t enough women to fill future scientific, mathematical or technological positions. Think about it: how many women were in your physics class? In college there were maybe three in my class and only one female physics major the year I graduated! Why is that? A great amount of dialogue going on as to why men outnumber women in the sciences (including math and engineering), and factors may include everything from our brains being wired differently, to the intimidation factor of male dominated classrooms, to early childhood exposure (or the lack thereof). These explanations are interesting and some have merit but what is important is exposure at an early age.

    I read an article in Scientific American that explains that science should be exposed to children as early as kindergarten to thwart any negative feeling that they may have towards the subject. The article references studies that showed that kindergarten children have already formed opinions that “science is hard and not interesting” (appalling, I know). The article goes on to give suggestions as to how parents and teachers can introduce science to younger children; things like, have the child keep a science journal, like Sid the Science Kid or read nonfiction books to them about the world around them. The ideas are simple and easy, I have done some of these things with my daughter and she loves it (maybe not reading about cells but the “sink or float” experiments she really liked). The point is exposure, be it hands on or through a book–kids are naturally inquisitive so let that be the catalyst that drives the learning reaction forward.

    I suggest Danica McKellar’s book Math Doesn’t Suck: How to Survive Middle-School without Loosing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail. Now, I feel that I need to fully disclose that I never have read the book. I heard about it on NPR when the author was interviewed on Science Friday (a radio show hosted by Ira Flatow The purpose of the book is to make math accessible to middle-school aged girls. McKellar explains that she wrote the book to have the look and feel a teen magazine with personality quizzes and journal type entries to appeal to young girls. This is very smart and I would like to see more of these types of books targeted to girls.

    Another book I would recommend is Science Play by Jill Frankel Hauser. There are all sorts of simple home experiments that parents can do with their children.

    Lastly, I would recommend the GeoSafari Microscope, it’s great for PreK-3rd. It emulates a stereomicroscope and comes with a dozen prepared slides. It is interactive and has little quizzes that the child can take about the specimen she is studying.

  2. What an amazing post! I have a 3 year old daughter who starts school in September. Both of my parents were teachers and my husband is a teacher so education is very important in our household.

    But each day when I look at my daughter I’m reminded that there is a much bigger education that I need to provide for her and it’s life.

    My daughter is biracial, and looks more like one side of the family than the other. Whether we like it or not, this will be a defining factor in who she becomes.

    Reading is such a big part of our relationship. Reading has shaped who I am and I know that anything I need to help her with in her life, I can find through reading and sharing with her. I may not have first hand experience with what she is experiencing so that is where books will play such an important role. I’m so pleased that she already loves books.

    • Shannon, Thanks for stopping by & for your comments! I too am so grateful that my daughter already loves books. Reading, as a skill, grows ever more important as the volume of available reading material increases exponentially. It is important that we parents get as early a start as possible with teaching our children how to read because they need to understand more than we ever did about what they are reading and where it came from and how it fits into their understanding of themselves and their world. All the best to you & your family! Happy reading!