She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History Book Poster Image
Inspiring tales of great women who followed their dreams.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Bios of 13 highly accomplished and inspiring females, with specific information about their cultures; e.g., in Brazil it was against the law for girls to play soccer, and parts of Canada had segregation similar to that in the Southern U.S. Marie Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. New Zealand was the first country to grant all women the right to vote. The art includes visual information; e.g., modes of dress in different countries and eras.

Positive Messages

Though "it's not always easy being a girl" and "all over the world, girls are more likely to be told to be quiet, to sit down, to have smaller dreams," the women profiled in the book persisted, "and so should you." Don't listen to the voices that would silence you. Women can pursue and be accomplished in the fields of science, the arts, law, advocacy, sports, and more. Young girls can be inspired by and follow in the footsteps of pioneering women who broke barriers. We can celebrate the accomplishments of women of all races and from all parts of the world.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The book highlights 13 stellar role models, all women who challenged the status quo and low expectations for females, who went on to have major accomplishments in their fields. The women include various races and nationalities. One woman doctor from India used a wheelchair.

Violence & Scariness

Brief mention of Malala Yousafzai getting shot: "When Malala was fifteen, a man boarded her school bus and shot her."

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History, by Chelsea Clinton and illustrator Alexandra Boiger, is a follow-up to their best-selling She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World. The first book profiled American women, while this one broadens the focus to women internationally. A few of the women profiled might be familiar, including Malala Yousafzai, Marie Curie, and Joanne (J.K.) Rowling, but most are fresh names, and the book includes not only Eurocentric stories, but also ones from Mexico, India, Egypt, Kenya, Brazil, Liberia, China, and Pakistan. One woman, Mary Verhese, used a wheelchair. With the women making significant contributions in fields including astrology, chemistry, medicine, law, women's suffrage, civil rights, dance, literature, soccer, and education, the message of empowerment is clear.

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What's the story?

SHE PERSISTED AROUND THE WORLD: 13 WOMEN WHO CHANGED HISTORY opens with art picturing young girls of various races doing research in a library. The text says, "It's not always easy being a girl -- anywhere in the world. It’s especially challenging in some places," and encourages girls not to listen to voices that tell them to "be quiet" or "have smaller dreams." Each of the following spreads profiles a woman who's "persisted," with a paragraph about an inspiring, accomplished female, her illustrated portrait, and an inspirational quote. The fields the women excelled in represent various sciences, the arts, sports, and advocacy for women's rights. Women are from Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, South Asia, Europe, and North America (Canada). It ends, as the first book did, with the message, "They persisted, and so should you."

Is it any good?

This book features short bios of 13 inspiring and impressively accomplished women from across the globe, many refreshingly new to American readers. The women in She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History are diverse, representing different races and countries. One used a wheelchair, as does a young girl pictured. The formula for each is that the woman has a dream, others stand in her way, but she persists. Each person is covered in one paragraph, which doesn't always feel long enough to introduce new figures from cultures that may be unfamiliar, and readers may latch onto small human details to help the stories stick to the ribs. In the first bio, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz of Mexico wanted to disguise herself as a boy so she could go to university. And soccer star Sisleide "Sissi" Lima do Amor grew up in Brazil when it was against the law for girls to play soccer.

The art by Alexandra Boiger contributes significant warmth and charm. Boiger sometimes pairs her portraits with illustrations of the women when they were young, helping to humanize them. The opening pages show girls at what appears to be a library where the bookshelves are crammed with books by and about the women, including ones from the first book. The message is trumpeted clearly: "They persisted, and so should you."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the accomplished women in She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History. Had you heard of any of the women before? Which ones? Which stories are new to you?

  • Which stories are most inspiring to you? Why? Did any of the women have dreams or interests that are similar to yours?

  • Do you ever feel that people are telling you to give up your dreams? What are some of the ways you've reacted? How can you persist?

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