Book Review Wednesday: Women of the Golden State


Did you know that at the same time women were meeting for women’s rights in Seneca Falls, New York, Charlotte “Charlie” Parker drove a stage coach around Goldrush California dressed as a man? California here I come and what better book to be reading than Women of the Golden State. This children’s book is a collection of nonfiction articles by wonderful writers including Linda Crotta Brennen, Joyce Ray, and others.


The book begins with a 1776-2006 overarching timeline that places each woman in history. The individual articles are short, well organized and readable. Each author has done a wonderful job finding the child friendly entry point to profile these women. Extra interesting tidbits are available in well-designed sidebars and back matter for each article includes an individual timeline, a glossary, and books and websites that encourage further study.


Many of the women in the book made California their home later in life. Some suffered on long journeys to the west. Bridget “Biddy” Mason was a slave who won her freedom in an 1856 California court case. She walked 2,000 miles behind her master’s wagons and livestock.


Others such as Jessie Anne Frémont, Charlotta S. Bass, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Janice Mirikitani found the pen mightier than the sword in efforts to support their own family, fight discrimination, convey the immigrant experience and remember the poor treatment of Japanese-Americans during the second World War.


Modern women profiled in the book include organizer, Dolores Huerta; environmentalist, Dian Fossey; politican, Nancy Pelosi; athlete, Billie Jean King; muralist, Judith Baca; astronaut, Sally Ride; and Olympic rower, Anita L. DeFrantz.


The book is full of historic firsts, activists, and philanthropists. By exposing children to the leadership and accomplishments of the women profiled in the book, the authors also depict a history of social justice. I highly recommended it for home schooling families or any family hoping to enrich their child’s access to alternative historic resources. It makes a great back-to-school gift for the teacher with no book budget. Women of the Golden State is part of the larger America’s Notable Women Series  all perfect for the school and library market.



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