Youth Book Corner: Women in Peacekeeping

The theme of this year’s International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers (May 29) is “Women in Peacekeeping,” which honours the ongoing work done by women peacekeepers around the world and especially now, during the pandemic. The books recommended by our Outreach Coordinator Leena Desai this week celebrate this invaluable work done by peacekeepers, activists and aid-workers alike.

A Good Trade
Written by Alma Fullerton, illustrated by Karen Patkau

Powerful messages about gratitude and peace are conveyed through deceptively simple and few words and bright, cheery illustrations in this picture book. In a small Ugandan village, ravaged by civil war and drought, a young boy named Kato walks miles barefoot to the pump to fill the day’s supply of water in heavy jerry cans, which he carries back home without any complaint. There is little respite, but still a cause for celebration when an aid worker comes to the village and gifts Kato a pair of shoes. Targeted towards a very young audience, just embarking on their school life, A Good Trade serves to teach children lessons on gratitude, hard work and selfless giving. Grades Preschool and 1

The Water Walker
Written and illustrated by Joanne Robertson

The Water Walker tells the true story of Anishinaabe activist Josephine Mandamin who walked 25,000 miles to raise awareness about the need to protect water. Alarmed at the water pollution she saw in the lakes and rivers across Turtle Island, Mandamin started the water walk movement in 2003 and was soon joined by other women, men and youth. Together they walked around the shorelines of all the Great Lakes, and other waterways of North America, carrying a bucket of water. Joanne Robertson, the author of this book, and Shirley Williams, the translator, are water activists themselves. With its bright illustrations and a glossary of Ojibwe words, this book can serve as the first lesson students will learn about the importance of conserving an irreplaceable resource like water. Grades 1-3

How Women Won the Vote
Written by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, illustrated by Ziyue Chen

Women young and old enjoy a range of privileges today that were unthinkable a century ago. One such privilege is the right to vote, which this book delves into in time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in America. The book revolves around two suffragettes Alice Paul and Lucy Burns and their fight for the vote, which culminated in the DC Women’s March of 1913. Ziyue Chen’s stunning and detailed illustrations and the abundance of back matter and archival images bring this extremely important story to life and make this book an engrossing read. Grades 3-7

We Are Makers: Real Women and Girls Shaping Our World
Written by Amy Richards

This information-packed book celebrates the can-do attitude of many real-life women that made them trailblazers and path-breakers. Never ones to take “you can’t do that because you’re a girl” for an answer, these women—from breakdancer Ana “Rokafella” Garcia to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—took the first courageous steps in male-dominated professions and didn’t look back. We Are Makers is based on an award-winning video collection of women’s stories and aims to bring to this book the same conviction and authenticity that brought critical acclaim for the videos. Young girls will find plenty to inspire them in the pages of this book. Grades 3-7

 I Am a Feminist: Claiming the F-Word in Turbulent Times
Written by Monique Polak

Author Monique Polak uses the word “turbulent” in the title of this book because now more than ever the word feminist finds itself in a quagmire of misinterpretation and abuse. This book aims to reclaim that word by delving into the history of the feminist movement, by talking about issues such as female genital mutilation and war by showing the role media plays in objectifying women and by toughing upon issues such as wage inequality, consent and the #MeToo movement. The goal is not to pontificate but to show that feminism is an ongoing movement, with each new generation having to chart their own course towards gender equality. Grades 8 and 12


Leena Desai