BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries Who Shaped Our History . . . and Our Future! by Kate Schatz, illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl

Rad American Women A-Z

Rad American Women A-Z is the first-ever kids’ title in 60 years of “storied history” from San Francisco’s iconic bookseller/publisher City Lights. What a way to grab attention … and hopefully never let go: please keep younger readers’ titles of this caliber coming and often!

Author Kate Schatz and artist Miriam Klein Stahl’s first collaborative title is a revelation – intellectually and aesthetically both. Stahl’s stark, formidable representations are as outstanding as the eponymous ‘rebels, trailblazers, and visionaries’ whom Schatz introduces in concise, enlightening words.

Given that A-Z in the title, you might think you’ve got 26 women here to meet, but the dynamic duo is ready with a clever lesson on debunking assumptions – as rad women are wont to do. Yes, 24 of the letters reveal stupendous women, including C for Carol Burnett, “[w]ho showed us that funny women can make it big,” E for Ella Baker, “[w]ho shaped the Civil Rights movement from behind the scenes,” J for Jovita Ida, “[w]ho believed in free and equal education for all children,” M for Maya Lin, “[w]ho makes big ideas into beautiful art, T for Temple Grandin, “[w]ho shows us the power of a brilliant mind,” Y for Yuri Kochiyama, “[w]ho fought for the rights of all people,” and everyone else in between.

But then there’s G for the Grimke Sisters – two of them – “[w]ho devoted their lives to the pursuit of freedom and equality for all.” That’s already 26. And you still have “X is for the women whose names we don’t know” which brings us up to something like infinity, including “the women whose stories weren’t heard … the radical histories that didn’t get recorded … for all we don’t know about the past, but X is also for the future.” No limits in sight!

Supplementing the A-Z of real, rad women, you’ll also find at book’s end an A-Z list of “26 thing that you can do to be rad!” Additional resources abound in the final pages to get your rad journey off to an accessible start. In that mix of endnotes, I might have appreciated a bit more data on the heroes, especially when she was born, and (for some) when she died; historical context is always illuminating. But that’s why we have Google, right?

Parents of daughters: regardless of age, do her a favor and buy this book, then go to the book’s website and download a few of the Rad American Women (yes, this is surely for educational purposes) and tack those gorgeous profiles up on doors, refrigerators, mirrors, all over your home. This is portable, accessible inspiration at its best.

In spite of our 21st-century espousals of equity and equality, women in the United States “on average are paid only 78 cents for every dollar a man earns,” as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor. “For women of color, that pay gap is even wider.” Of course, salaries aren’t the end-all marker for individual accomplishments, but that gap is an in-your-face indicator for necessary change.

Surround your daughters with these Rad American Women of every background, color, cause, challenge, and more. They’ve come this far … let them galvanize the next rad generation to go even further.

Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2015


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