Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909

Author: Michelle Markel
Illustrator: Melissa Sweet
Publisher: Balzer & Bray (January 22, 2013)
Source: Bought
Audience: Grades 2 to 5
Nonfiction * Women's History * Strikes * Clothing Makers
Melissa Sweet's website | Michelle Markel's website

Description from GoodReads:
When Clara Lemlich arrived in America, she couldn't speak English. She didn't know that young women had to go to work, that they traded an education for long hours of labor, that she was expected to grow up fast.

But that did not stop Clara.

She went to night school, spent hours studying English, and helped support her family by sewing in a factory.

Clara never quit. And she never accepted that girls should be treated poorly and paid little.

So Clara fought back. Fed up with the mistreatment of her fellow laborers, Clara led the largest walkout of women workers in the country's history.

Clara had learned a lot from her short time in America. She learned that everyone deserved a fair chance. That you had to stand together and fight for what you wanted. And, most importantly, that you could do anything you put your mind to.

My thoughts on this book:
To close out National Women's History Month, I am featuring Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel and Melissa Sweet.  It's books like this that can ignite an interest in children to research and look into historical events which they may not have otherwise had an opportunity to learn about.  Markel's story focuses on one particular women, a young immigrant named Clara Lemlich who played a significant role in launching one of the most significant strikes in United States history, the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909.

In Brave Girl, Markel provides young readers with enough background history for them to understand some of the conditions faced by factory workers in the late 19th century and early 20th century.  By sharing Clara's story, readers have a face and a name in which to identify with the cause including the significant risks that workers took when striking against factory owners.

Melissa Sweet's mixed media illustrations beautifully compliment this story and there is a link below where you can browse through the book on the HarperCollins website.  At the end, more information is provided on the history of the Garment Industry along with some additional resources.  Below, I have included a link to a discussion guide also provided by the publisher. 

If you can't tell already, I am very excited about this book.  Pick up a copy of it for your classroom or school library.  And remember to shop Indie whenever possible.

If you are wondering, what is a Shirtwaist? Check out this article.
A video of Shirtwaist Makers' & The Strike of 1909:

Remembering the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911, check out video below:

Browse inside the book, click here. HarperCollins has put together a discussion guide, click here.

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