April 4, 2016

Four years ago, Rightfully Ours was just ready for publication. This month I'm taking a look back at my first post about this middle grade history of women's suffrage in the United States. 

When Mary Kay, Brandon, and I launched this blog last summer, we took the advice of digital  media guru Jane Friedman, who writes Electric Speed (http://janefriedman.com) and tried to make it useful. Hence a book blog that offers you, our readers, activities to print and share. 

Which leads to my new book, Rightfully Ours: How Women Won the Vote with 21 Activities.   Reviews are out, and it’s been gratifying to see that a year of hard work -- and planning and writing up 21 themed, hands-on activities -- has gotten positive reviews.  Here’s one:

Activities, which make the suffragist years come alive, are educational and fun and related to chapter materials. Included are detailed instructions for making soap and an oil lamp, making and wearing a corset, china painting, and designing suffragist postcards and signs.

And another: 

The only downside is the activities, which range from slightly silly (dress up like an ancient Greek for suffrage!) to simply wrong (cake mix does not taste as good as a cake made from scratch).

The second review left me scratching my head. Yup, I rely on cake mix in an activity in Rightfully Ours. It’s “Bake a Cake for Suffrage” iced with a recipe from the Woman Suffrage Cook Book (1890). After all, today’s parents have little time to ferret out some of these 19th century recipes, so I figured making icing from scratch on the stove was good enough. But it was the reviewer’s take on the dress-up activity that made me wonder whether s/he had read the whole book. 

Suffragists did indeed dress up like Greek goddesses when they staged a “tableau” on the Treasury Department steps.  And I assure you that the little girl who served as my student helper thought it was pretty cool -- she was all excited about making the laurel wreath.

From time to time all of us have been chided for our activities -- that they’re too easy, too esoteric, too “silly” (that from Kirkus), require adult supervision (often an editorial must) -- but be assured that we take them seriously.  Teachers tell us that lots of middle grade kids, especially boys, have no clue how to enlarge patterns, score a piece of cardboard, or even cut a circle with a pair of scissors.  

Besides, when you look back on your days in school, which do you remember most: all those hours of desk work, or the special projects you made at home or built in school?
Bake a cake, ice it with homemade frosting, and dress up for suffrage!

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