Thursday, June 23, 2022

Happy Title IX Day!

On June 23, 1972, Title IX was signed into law. I was going into second grade. The effects of this law cannot be underestimated. Even though my high school didn't have a girls' cross country team until 1981, the women with whom I graduated high school didn't hesitate from pursuing a wide range of career options, because so many more opportunities were available. 

Middle grade readers have no concept of how different life was for girls and women before their lifetimes. They don't understand why I usually wear skirts and dresses; until the 2000s, that was just what we wore! One of my very favorite books to share with young readers is Karen Blumenthals' 2005 Let Me Play. I've probably bought four copies of it, since it tends to get lost or worn out. (Once, a teacher dropped it in the bathtub because she couldn't stop reading it!)

I am very sad that author Karen Blumenthal passed away very suddenly in 2020. She was going into 7th grade when Title IX passed. She was a fantastic author of Middle Grade nonfiction. 

Blumenthal, Karen. Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX: The Law That Changed the Future of Girls in America
August 30th 2022 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

This updated edition of the 2005 book is fairly similar; I wasn't able to grab that edition to compare to the E ARC. It still has the story of Donna de Varona at the beginning; this made a big impression on my. To win an Olympic gold medal and be unable to get a college scholarship because there were no women's swim teams? My young readers are appalled. The chapters are titled with a mixture of sports game references, but the deeper implications of what Title IX meant for education is not neglected. My favorite part of the book is the charts that show how the enrollment in athletic and academic programs changed as the years went on after Title IX was enacted. Now, I think, there are MORE women than men who go into law fields! 

The other thing I enjoyed were the short biographies of a wide range of women who fought for the passage of this legislation. Sidebars featuring well known feminist figures like Patsy Mink and Sally Ride are there, along with more obscure figures such as Myra Bradwell, America's first female Lawyer, and Representative Martha Wright Griffiths. There are also side bars with definitions of things like "libbers and bra burners" and explanations of key historic occurences like the Equal Pay Act and female cadets at U.S. military academies. The inclusion of political cartoons and comic strips like Tank McNamara give a humorous look at events of the 1960s and 70s through the lens of primary sources.

New chapters, including "Expanding the Field", which addresses issues of transgender players, "Crossing Boundaries", which delves into Title IX's role in dealing with sexual harassment, and "Extra Innings", which gives powerful examples of the effects of Title IX on women in athletics since the first edition was published all update the first book and show the continuing success of this important legislation. 

If your middle grade and high school libraries don't have this book,  buy two copies if funds allow. It will be well used for history projects, and should be required reading for any girls who are very fond of sports. I do wish that the original photographic cover had been kept. First and Second Wave Feminism often comes underr attack for its lack of intersectionality,  but I love that the faces of girls from the 1970s when they were the same age as the tween readersappear on the cover. 

No comments:

Post a Comment