Macy, Sue. Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (with a Few Flat Tires Along the Way). 2011. 96pp. Lexile: 1280.
The historic photographs alone would make this an outstanding book but it also conveys fascinating information about the important effect of bicycles on the lives of women. When bikes became popular in the late nineteenth century, due to heavy promotion by manufacturers, women gained unexpected independence. Macy briefs readers on the history of bicycles—including one ridden “side saddle”—and discusses their social significance. While some viewed them as a moral threat, many girls and women seized the opportunity to gain exercise, escape chaperones, start racing, and generally increase independence. Macy touches on famous women who biked and the role of biking in introducing less constricting clothing. Excellent examples of ads, songs, and other popular culture add to the visual information. For a related title, see Macy’s equally eye-opening book, Winning Ways: A Photohistory of American Women in Sports (1996).
Reading Std #8: Delineate and evaluate argument and specific claims in a text, assessing reasoning & evidence. Shorter than many texts at this level and heavily illustrated, this would be a good choice for less proficient students to analyze Macy’s contention about how bicycles changed women’s lives.