Title: Equality’s call, The Story of Voting Rights in America
Author: Deborah Diesen
Illustrator: Magdalena Mora
Publisher: Beach Lane Books, 2020
Themes: equality, voting rights, women, African Americans, Native Americans, poor, voting, elections, voting rights history
Our founders declared
When our country began
That consent of the governed
Was part of the plan.
The founders of the United States declared that consent of the governed was a key part of their plan for the new nation. But for many years, only white men of means were allowed to vote. This unflinching and inspiring history of voting rights looks back at the activists who answered equality’s call, working tirelessly to secure the right for all to vote, and it also looks forward to the future and the work that still needs to be done.
Why I like this book:
I love the simplicity, refrain and clear message in this book about the FIGHT for equal voting rights and what a journey it has been. It shares the story of how although voting was written into the constitution it took a long time for voting for all citizens to be realized. The lyrical text and warm illustrations are filled with energy and a powerful history of perseverance. It is pitched so even very young listeners are going to catch on to the feisty and weighty message. The meter is excellent and the stanzas slip easily off the tongue. A book that calls attention to voting in America seems incredibly relevant right now. The wonderful refrain reminds us this privilege should never be taken for granted and we should fight to uphold this equal right.
This is a great picture book to share aloud in November with children in classrooms and libraries.
Love the call to action at the end.
The journey’s not over.
The work hasn’t ended.
Must be constantly tended.
I am FB friends with the author and she gave me permission to copy a recent post she made about the evolution of this book.
Writing the book was an interesting learning journey for me. The idea for the book began several years ago, when my younger son and I were talking about the upcoming centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. As we talked, I began to think that I might like to try writing about a few of the well-known women who fought for its passage.
As I began to work on the book, though, I realized that I couldn’t write what I had initially set out to.
One issue that changed my approach was that in learning more about the women’s suffrage movement, I learned that in addition to being an inspiring movement led by courageous and visionary women, it was also a movement that was often racist and exclusionary toward non-white women. I also learned that the voting rights gained with the 19th Amendment were primarily gained only by white women.
A second issue that changed my approach was that in learning more about women’s suffrage, I realized that it’s hard to understand any specific aspect of U.S. voting rights expansion or contraction without seeing the change in the context of the overall development of U.S. voting rights, as well as in the context of issues like slavery and racism and other forms of oppression which are woven into every aspect of our nation’s history. Each change in voting rights is connected to all that, and also cannot be understood without understanding the myriad ways that voting rights can be denied – not just by outright denial but also by limiting who can be a citizen and by creating barriers that suppress voting.
And the third issue that changed my initial direction for the book was my growing awareness that the history of people standing up for voting rights is not a thing of the past. That history is still being written. Barriers to voting, and activism to address those barriers, are ongoing.
And so it was that my initial idea to write a children’s book about a few of the well-known women of the women’s suffrage movement evolved into a different kind of book, one that provides an accessible entry point to the whole history of U.S. voting rights, from founding to present. The main text is a brief 400 words, in rhyme, with a recurring refrain. Additional backmatter provides further information about amendments and legislation, as well as micro-bios of about 60 voting rights activists.
The rhyming story can be shared and enjoyed by kids as young as preschool, but the book can also be read by older students or used in a classroom setting to begin to discuss and learn more about voting rights issues, past and present.
I hope you will consider taking a look at the book. The illustrations by Magdalena Mora are outstanding, and the subject matter is important for all of us to engage with (if not through this book, then through others).
You can find Equality’s Call at your local library or your favorite bookstore. On its last page, after the activists’ bios, you’ll find a question, one that the work of activists past, present, and future asks of us all:
How will YOU answer equality’s call?
Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.