Mar 4, 2014
06:00 AMMK Memo
Women's History Month
We all know that kids love a good story. Parents and grandparents can play a significant role in building future strong and active citizens by choosing stories that inspire, teach and encourage children to find their own voice. Throughout the month of March, the National Constitution Center is highlighting the stories of women who paved new ground for equality and freedom in honor of National Women’s History Month, powerful women like Mary Goddard, the printer of the Declaration of Independence.
Celebrate with one of the great books we suggest through our Civics in LIteracy iniatitive: a classic called Ruby’s Wish. This is a story of a little girl from China who wishes to be more in life than societal expectations dictate and her family who supports her hard work and strength. It’s a great read, and we have highlighted a few activities you can do with your kids after you read the story.
One of my personal favorite stories about an inspirational woman — and a great one to tell kids who are on the adventurous side — is the story of Deborah Sampson. Hers is a story of great strength and determination in times of war. Deborah was born in 1760. At the age of 23, she enlisted in the Continental Army to fight in the Revolutionary War. Wait . . . does something sound strange here? How could she fight if girls were not allowed to enlist in those days? Deborah was determined to stand up for her country, so she made men’s clothing for herself, cut her hair and wrapped up her body to disguise herself as a boy. On May 20, 1782, she signed up for duty under the name Robert Shurtlieff. You can still see her signature as Robert Shurtlieff in the Massachusetts state records! She fought in a few battles and even took two musket balls to her leg. Deborah’s story can help inspire your child to stand up for what they believe in, even if it goes against others’ expectations.
The story of Alice Paul is a great one for the rebel in your family — she was an avid suffragist who clashed with President Woodrow Wilson. On the day before his inauguration in 1913, she launched the largest protest Washington, DC had ever seen. Wilson called her actions “unladylike,” but Alice was just getting started!
Don’t forget to tell a few stories of your own at home, drawing inspiration from the wonderful and empowering women in your own lives — a grandmother, an aunt, a neighbor, a teacher. Moms – don’t forget to share your own story. Kids are fascinated by the thought of their mom as a little girl.
Kerry Sautner is the Vice President of Education and Visitor Experience at The National Constitution Center. Click here to find out more about the Constitution Center’s civic holiday celebrations, including Women’s History Month.