Name of Book: Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote
Author: Tanya Lee Stone
Illustrator: Rebecca Gibbon
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Audience: Ages 4 – 10
Summary: This is the remarkable story of a remarkable woman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton. From a very young age Elizabeth felt strongly that ALL people should matter, ALL people belonged, ALL people should have rights and protections, and ALL people should have choices. This is the story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s life, loves, ambitions, and her campaign for a woman’s right to vote.
Literary Elements at Work: There are two important literary elements at work in this story: the extraordinary life and ambitions of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the artistry. Tanya Lee Stone tells the story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton in a straightforward and interesting narrative, unlike many other biographical early readers! Ms. Stone tells us that Elizabeth learns for the first time at age four that boys are treated and thought of superiorly to girls. And this injustice will set Elizabeth off on a lifelong journey to prove that girls are just as brave, just as smart, just as physical, and have just as much value as boys. The climactic moment comes when Elizabeth realizes that the only change that will prove useful for the betterment of all women is the right to vote. Interestingly, it was Elizabeth Cady Stanton that wrote the initial language that would later become the Nineteenth Amendment, giving women the right to vote. It took FORTY-FIVE years from the first time the legislation was introduced in Congress to become law! Elizabeth did not live to see women obtain the right to vote. The illustrations are bright and colorful, just as is the woman they portray! Each illustration gives context for Elizabeth’s life and the injustices she railed against during her various life stages. Rebecca Gibbon pays particular attention to historical detail, giving each illustration an authenticity to the plight of women and slaves. Ms. Gibbon uses period dress, lighting, housing, transportation, and other everyday common items consistently throughout this narrative, taking the reader/listener back to the early to late nineteenth century. Tanya Lee Stone and Rebecca Gibbon make a delightful team in telling the spirited story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
Scripture: Genesis 1:27, Isaiah 43 selected verses : “Thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine…Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.” Galatians 3:28 ; Adapted from Matthew 10: Jesus summons his twelve; gives them authority to cast out unclean spirits, cure every disease and sickness; and sends them out with these instructions: go to the lost sheep, proclaim the good news, cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. (NRSV)
Theology: God creates us, forms us, redeems us, calls us by name, honors us, and loves us. Why? Because we are precious in God’s sight. This good news seems throughout history to be relegated only to a few, sometimes whites only, sometimes males only, sometimes Germans only, sometimes heterosexuals only, sometimes Americans only, sometimes the rich only, sometimes the healthy only, etc. And…yet…the Bible tells us that God created ALL people—male, female, black, white, short, tall, rich, poor, sick, healthy, American, African, on and on in the image of God. Thus, we need a constant reminder that God creates, forms, calls, honors and loves us and EVERYONE else. We are to go and do likewise. Or, as Jesus says, we are to go to the lost sheep, proclaim the good news, cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.
Faith Talk Questions:
Sit down beside your child, let her hold the book and turn the pages. Ask her to point to Elizabeth as you read. Repeat this process on each page, considering the following: In the story, Elizabeth wants to ride horses, raft across a river, learn French, religion, math and science, earn money, and vote. What does her father tell her? What do her friends tell her? What does her husband tell her? What does her school tell her? What does her culture tell her? What does the law tell her? What does Elizabeth do? How does Elizabeth answer her father? Her husband? Her friends? Her school? Her culture? The law of her land? What if someone told you, “No; you cannot learn to read! No; you cannot ride horses! No; you cannot run fast, jump high!”? And you ask, “Why?” And the answer is, “Because you are a girl!” What do we do when the Bible tells us one thing (that we are created, formed, called, loved, honored by God and precious to God), and the world tells us something else (that we are not honored, valued, precious, loved, called)? Does that mean God does not love you? Form you? Call you? Honor you? That you are not precious to God? Wait for responses. LISTEN (without interrupting) to what your child thinks. Can you think of other people that God loves and values but the world does not? Consider African Americans, Native Americans, folk with mental illnesses, folk with physical illnesses and/or deformities, homosexuals. List others. Say, “God creates, forms, loves and calls all people all the time because you and I and they are precious in God’s sight!” Say a prayer thanking God for all those that God forms and loves and calls. Say a prayer of intercession for those who hear so often from the world, “NO; you cannot!” What did Jesus say? What did Elizabeth do? What can we do? Who does God love, form, call, honor? Who is precious in God’s sight?
I was once a little child
Three years ago,
That child who longed for other worlds.
But now I am no more a child
For I have learned to hate.
I am a grown-up person now,
I have known fear.
By Hanus Hachenburg, a teenager imprisoned at the Nazi camp, Terezin
Review prepared by Union Presbyterian Seminary student Kim Lee
Qtd. Rubin, Susan Goldman. Fireflies in the Dark: The Story of Fiedl Dicker-Brandeis and the Children of Terezin.
Holiday House: New York, 2000, p. 25.
Filed under: Biography/Memoir, Book Reviews, Books written for Grades 1 -3 (Ages 6-8), Books written for Grades 5-8 (Ages 10 -13), Faith Questions For...., Older Elementary, Picture Books, Younger Elementary | Tagged: diversity, equality, identity, justice | Leave a Comment »