With Courage and Cloth: Winning the Fight for a Woman's Right to Vote

Bausum, Ann. With Courage and Cloth: Winning the Fight for a Woman's Right to Vote. 2004. 111pp. Lexile 1080.

In a time when many don’t exercise their right to vote, this book will open the eyes of readers the era when half of the adult population was denied that right.  Bausum does an excellent job of recapping the struggle of women’s suffrage, with a focus on 1906 to 1920.  These last fourteen years were the most radical as American women adopted techniques of the British, spending more time in jail, conducting hunger strikes, and picketing the White House.  Often they were arrested just for silently holding a banner.  The dedication and courage of these suffragists drew public sympathy for their cause, and the story concludes with the slow but exciting process, as first the House, then the Senate, and finally the states ratified the 19th amendment.  Excellent historical photographs and an elegant design help convey the inspiring story.

Fiction/poetry tie-in:  In Helen Frost's Crossing Stones, set in 1917, two sets of older teenage siblings live near each other on Michigan farms.  The two boys head off to fight in World War I; one comes back missing an arm.  Muriel, strong-minded and uneasy with traditional female roles, goes to Washington D.C. when her aunt goes on a hunger strike for women's rights.  A world opens up for Muriel when she meets kindred spirits and joins the suffragists' protests.  The two girls and one of the boys tell their stories in poetry: Muriel's free verse alternates with tightly-formatted poems from the viewpoint of the other two in this outstanding verse novel.