In the history books that most of us read women have been excluded or only briefly mentioned. It became evident that for women to even consider any social or political changes, they would need to acquire a deeper understanding of their past. It was not until the last two decades that any substantial writings have been available on the study of women in our history. Fortunately, there has been an increased curiosity on the part of historians to research the role of women through history. Most of the evidence of women and their roles is documented in their diaries and letter writing. As it turns out the role that women have played in the development of our nation had a greater impact than previously recognized.
There are currently found in many bookstores and libraries today three very popular historical fiction series about young girls growing up and living during the beginning of our country’s history. These have just become popular in the past decade. Before that most historical fiction available dealt with the tales of brave and courageous young men and boys. Young girls today are proving that they are interested in the roles and feelings of young girls of the past as well as young boys, as evidenced by the popularity of these books.
In the curriculum unit
All American Girl
I would like to use these historical novels to enhance the Social Studies curriculum for fourth and fifth graders by providing information on the roles that women had during three areas in history. The areas in history that the unit will be focusing on will be the colonial, revolutionary, and Civil War times. The unit will provide students with a history of women through literature. The three that I have chosen are The American Girls Collection published by Pleasant Company, Dear America published by Scholastic Inc., and, lastly, American Diaries published by Simon and Schuster Children’s Division. Each content area will give a brief history of that time period and the roles that women played. At the end of each unit there will be two books to read from the corresponding historical series. They will be compared, contrasted, and critiqued. The books will be evaluated for accuracy , authenticity and interest to the reader. Each content area will also include a suggested reading list, women of interest for further research, and lessons that will enhance the curriculum. An emphasis will also be placed on what we can learn from these women, and what challenges girls are faced with in today’s society.