The 19th Amendment for Kids
By Jennifer Bergen, Program and Children’s Manager
The 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, was ratified 100 years ago in August of 1920. Our unofficial history librarian in the Children’s Room, Ms. Rachel, has explored some great new titles for young readers on the topic. Here are some highlights from new publications this year.
“History Smashers: Women’s Right to Vote” by Kate Messner is a history of the fight for the 19th Amendment. It includes short comics and insets to give additional information and talks about the early fight for women’s rights leading up to the 19th Amendment, and how things changed (or didn’t) after it was ratified. Messner writes, “In the end, the story of women’s fight for the right to vote is a much messier one than history books like to share.” There’s a lot of information, but it’s a fast-paced book that will keep readers tuned in.
“Give Us the Vote! Over 200 Years of Fighting for the Ballot” by Susan Goldman Rubin is a more complete history of voting in the United States, from the earliest days of white male property owners through the fight for women to be allowed to vote, denial of citizenship (and voting rights) to Native Americans and Chinese People, up to recent voter suppression controversies. There is a lot of information crammed in to 120 fascinating pages.
“Lifting As We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box” by Evette Dionne covers women who are often overlooked in the popular understand of the suffrage movement. However, there were many Black women involved in those early days, fighting for both suffrage and abolition, and they continued to fight for civil rights after their white sisters had retired. Hopefully, through this book, many more fascinating women will receive the same attention as Susan B. Anthony.
“Equality’s Call: The Story of Voting Rights in America” by Deborah Diesen is a picture book that walks children through the progression of voting rights in a short poem. While the text of the main portion of the book is brief, intended to inspire readers to find out more, in the back of the book is an extensive list of important people in the movement and a summary of all the voting-related amendments and legislation in America’s history. This list is fascinating for all age readers, reminding us that Native Americans weren’t granted citizenship until 1924, and some states still restricted their right to vote. Another interesting fact: Mabel Ping-Hua Lee campaigned for the 19th Amendment even though Asian-Americans were restricted from citizenship until 1952.
These books and more are featured on a board in the library’s Children’s Room, which is now open for browsing by appointment. Just call the library to set up a time to visit, or stop by and we will do our best to fit you in. The library is also the Ward 1 Precinct 1 polling site, and we will accommodate voting this November using our Storytime Room and direct outdoor entrance to keep the process as safe as possible. You can find your polling site by visiting rileycoks.gov or other county government websites. Find out if you are registered to vote at ksvotes.org, and get non-partisan candidate info at vote411.org, powered by The League of Women Voters Education Fund. However you choose to do it, we hope you will vote!
The epilogue from Lifting As We Climb leaves readers, young or old, with powerful words to consider:
“The battle for voting rights will—and should—continue long after all the celebrations of the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment. It is one of the most pressing issues of our time. Continuing to lift as we climb—by registering to vote, encouraging friends to register to vote, contacting congressional and state representatives to demand they take steps to protect voting rights, and keeping the universal suffrage conversation going—is essential. Voting is a hallmark of being an American citizen, and preserving the right to vote still matters—forever and always.” – Evette Dionne