History is full of trailblazers who carved a path for the rest of us to follow. In National Geographic’s new book, Girls Can!: Smash Stereotypes, Defy Expectations, and Make History!, the female trailblazers throughout time are celebrated along with some modern day sheroes and the lessons readers can learn from them. While the book might be aimed at girls specifically, I think it would be good for boys to read as well.
Unlike your typical history book, all of the profiled characters in Girls Can! are women. The book consists of five chapters, each with a different theme. As the front cover exclaims, the book also features interviews with powerful women today, each of whom answer the same questions with their own views on their strengths, biggest hurdles women will face in the future, and advice to readers of this book. Profiled interviewees include celebrities, politicians, business leaders, and inventors.
The first chapter is called “Leadership,” which includes famous rulers like Cleopatra and Joan of Arc in addition to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, giving girls historical and modern day leaders to draw inspiration from. Each profiled individual has a list of lessons girls can take away from each of their stories. In the case of Cleopatra, for example, it’s about listening to everyone’s opinions and not letting bullies intimidate you.
“Sports and Adventure” and “Literature & the Arts” are the next two chapters, which feature most of the celebrities in the book. Oprah Winfrey, Frida Kahlo, Ellen DeGeneres, Serena Williams, and Bessie Coleman are all featured between these two chapters. The sports section, in particular, smashes a lot of stereotypes about women’s bodies as they relate to sports and also looks at the history of ridiculous claims that kept women from playing for centuries.
The last two chapters, “Science & Math” and “Changing the World” are the ones that girls will likely find the most inspiring because they both feature kids who have done extraordinary work. Gitanjali Rao is a young scientist who invented a nanobot that could detect lead in water, which helped the people of Flint, Michigan, and Malala Yousafzai was vocal against the Taliban for preventing girls from becoming educated and survived a cruel attack, using her voice to raise awareness on a global scale. There are other historically significant women in both chapters, like Katherine Johnson and Susan B. Anthony, but the two role models close in age to the target audience will probably inspire the most amount of food for thought.
Whether you’re a parent or an educator or both during these strange times, Girls Can!: Smash Stereotypes, Defy Expectations, and Make History! is a great resource for kids to learn about some of the extraordinary women who have made a big impact on the world. It comes to you from National Geographic, so you know it’s well researched and even comes with suggestions for expanded learning when you’re done.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.