by Jen Fitzgerald, youth services librarian at SCLSNJ’s North Plainfield Memorial Library branch.
Women’s History Month in March is a great opportunity to introduce young children to stories about influential women throughout history. For example, “Pocket Full of Colors” is a delightful picture book telling the story of Mary Blair, an innovative artist who was one of the first women to work at Walt Disney Studios and was responsible for Disneyland’s iconic “It’s a Small World” ride. The book focuses on Mary’s lifelong love of bright, vibrant colors and how she brought that to her artistic vision. Oftentimes, she came across barriers as other people did not appreciate her love of colors and her imaginative look at the world. Nevertheless, she persisted in finding ways to express her creative spirit.
The text is presented in a straightforward manner yet is pleasingly poetic, possessing a lyrical sound even with a lack of rhymes. Meanwhile, the artwork is understandably bright; images brilliantly pop off the pages with a variety of hues and shades. A wispy cloud of colors follows Mary almost everywhere she goes, with new ones being added as her life experiences expand her palette. An authors’ note goes into a little more detail about Blair’s work at Disney and elsewhere.
Perfect for children of elementary school age, this book could be a useful resource in the classroom when discussing creativity or perseverance. As aforementioned, it can also be a helpful title during Women’s History Month, particularly if children are asked to write book reports on pioneering women. In the home, parents and children can read this book together and discuss shared memories of visiting Disneyland and their favorite rides there, or of watching Disney movies together and which ones they enjoyed the most. They might even want to re-watch some classic Disney films to try and spot Mary’s influence!
(Documented in Picture Books)
Want even more books about inspirational women? The following are some based-on-a-true-story titles to commemorate Women’s History Month with even the youngest of readers.
- “Coretta Scott” by Ntozake Shange, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
- “Different Like Coco” by Elizabeth Matthews
- “Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos” by Monica Brown, illustrated by John Parra
- “Just Being Audrey” by Margaret Cardillo, illustrated by Julia Denos
- “Molly Bannaky” by Alice McGill, illustrated by Chris K. Soentpiet
- “Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequality” by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Stacy Innerst
- “Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx/La juez que crecio en el Bronx” by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Edel Rodriguez
- “The Taxing Case of the Cows: A True Story About Suffrage” by Iris Van Rynbach and Pegi Deitz Shea, illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully
- “When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson” by Pam Muñoz Ryan, illustrated by Brian Selznick
- “A Woman for President: The Story of Victoria Woodhull” by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by by Jane Dyer