Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Women on the Wing

When I first met my husband he was in the process of getting his private pilot license. So I can appreciate the work that goes into learning to fly. I can also appreciate the feeling of freedom that comes with taking off from the ground in a little plane and climbing up into a big sky full of possibilities. Where do you want to go? It's in the joy of flight that I can relate to two great American aviators. But in their drive and determination to push themselves to their limits they are both way, way out of my league. They are Amelia Earhart and Bessie Coleman. Both of these pilots of the female persuasion are the subject of lots of books at my local library. From these titles I recommend the following.

Who Was Amelia Earhart? by Kate Boehm Jerome, is a well organized account of Amelia's life. It's a little book that is generously illustrated with friendly pen and ink drawings and just the right amount of text. An occasional page acts as a fact filled sidebar about other events occurring during Amelia's life: The World’s Fair, The Wright Brothers, the Women's Suffrage Movement and The Great Depression. And, as if that isn't enough, the book ends with an information packed timeline. It's a quick but thorough account of Amelia's life, perfect for book reports or for just getting to know Amelia.

Ages 9-12

I was already familiar with Amelia so I really loved getting to know Bessie Coleman in Fly, Bessie, Fly. She is the epitome of what I tell my children, “Don't say you can't, say ‘how can I?’” She was born five years before Amelia into a hard Texas life of Jim Crow and cotton picking and a fatherless home. But she was always determined to be somebody. In her twenties she moved to Chicago and it was there that she decided to become a pilot, only to discover that no one in this country would teach a colored man or woman to fly. Instead of giving up, she found out she could get her license in France and commenced to saving money and learning to speak French. When she returned from France in 1921, the only black woman in the world licensed to fly, she was a star.

This book has a nice pace and crisp, full page, watercolor illustrations. It's a story definitely worth sharing.

Ages 4-8

Activity: Draw your own bi-plane with these step by step directions.

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