No, I’m not talkin’ fictional Powerpuff Girls, those bubble-eyed, oval-faced Cartoon Network kindergarteners (who by now must be middle-aged). I’m talking about real young women from American history, young women who displayed exceptional courage and character under circumstances that would challenge even the strongest among us. These girls stand as positive examples for your students—even your boys.
Let’s start with Sybil Ludington. She’s known as the “female Paul Revere.” Although her story is less well known, her feat during the American Revolution may have been even more impressive. The play was first published in Storyworks (and then Scope) under the title “Girl. Fighter. Hero.”–the theme of this post!
“The Secret Soldier” is the story of Robert Shurtliff…er, Deborah Samson. Deborah disguised herself as a man (Robert) so that she could fight for independence during the American Revolution. She’s considered by many to be America’s first female member of the military.
And who can forget Claudette Colvin? Well, history did for nearly fifty years. Claudette was just fifteen when she was dragged off a Montgomery city bus for refusing to surrender her seat. Unlike Rosa Parks a year later, Claudette was convicted and then ostracized by her peers, by Civil Rights leaders, and by history. Her story has resurfaced thanks to Philip Hoose’s book, Twice Toward Justice.
Ruby Bridges and Sheyann Webb also demonstrated a ton of girl power. They were still elementary-aged kids when they made their courageous contributions to American history, but they’re stories are equally compelling. Ruby, of course, was that six-year-old-girl who integrated New Orleans public schools, while Sheyann was know as Dr. King’s “smallest civil rights crusader.” She, of her own volition, participated in the “Bloody Sunday” events in Selma, making her story a perfect fit for your MLK Day celebrations.
You can also find a bit of girl power in my historical-fiction plays, “Freedom for the First Time” and “MLK’s Freedom March.” Both have female leads and would be great for Black History Month this February.
Many of these plays are available on TpT, with a few only on Etsy. Because they’ve been previously-published in Scholastic classroom magazines, they’ve all been professionally vetted and edited, so you can count on them being of the highest quality. They usually include a Common Core-aligned comprehension activity, too, both in PDF and Google Forms.
So, if you’d like to empower your students with a bit of real girl power from American history, download some ReadAloudPlays today!