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February 1, 2016 BOOKLIST
Find more Great Reads
When I was growing up, if you wanted to read about women aviators (and you probably didn’t, because who thought about women aviators?), and if you looked, you might find a lone library book about Amelia Earhart. Happily, things are different today: there’s a whole shelf of biographies about women fliers, from local barnstormers to those who soared into the stratosphere. Girls of all ages who have their own aeronautic aspirations don’t have to look far for role models.
Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream, by Tanya Lee Stone.
The media mocked them. Male astronauts didn’t want them. If women were allowed to join the space program, who knew what other minorities would want to join up next? Nearly 20 years before the U.S. officially admitted women into the astronaut program, 13 women, known as the Mercury 13, fought for the right to fly into space. This dramatic photo essay tells their stories.
Amelia Earhart: The Legend of the Lost Aviator, by Shelley Tanka.
One of the best biographies of Earhart, this is especially informative—and, with its many paintings and photos, very attractive, too. Earhart caught the flying bug as a nurse’s aide during WWI. By the 1920s, she was airborne and soon began setting her own flight records. Tanaka writes with the grace of an airplane climbing the sky. While updates about Earhart’s final resting place continue to be written, this does a fine job of introducing the famed aviatrix and gives valuable information about flying.
Daredevil: The Daring Life of Betty Skelton, by Meghan McCarthy.
As a child in the 1930s, Betty Skelton played with toy airplanes and longed to become a pilot. She took her first solo flight at 12 and earned her license at 16—but with no opportunities to fly for either a commerical airline or the U.S. Navy, she became a stunt pilot instead.
Flying Higher: The Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II, by Wanda Langley.
During WWII, there were plenty of jobs the male military pilots didn’t want to do: test new planes, check out the old ones, or transport materials within the U.S. So the government relied on the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPS)—trained civilians led by famed aviator Jacqueline Cochran—to keep things moving. This story explores the discrimination they faced and the dangerous jobs they did.
Tomboy of the Air: Pilot Blanche Stuart Scott, by Julie Cummins.
Blanche Stuart Scott liked speed. After she broke her bike at age 13, she started driving a Cadillac. By 1910, she was flying planes, the first woman to do so. An accomplished stunt flier, she performed aerial acrobatics until her retirement four years later. Black-and-white photos will make the events more real for readers who will find much to admire and like about this trailblazer.
Talkin’ about Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman, by Nikki Grimes.
In a volume that looks like a picture book and reads like a series of closely related poems, Grimes offers a many-sided portrait of the first African-American aviatrix, Bessie Coleman. A full range of color pictures help bring her joy of flying to life.
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