Newsela Staff Picks: Women's History Month
The Classroom

Newsela Staff Picks: Women's History Month

Elena, Kibby, Steph, Tanu, and Kelsey
Mar 1, 2023

Ever walk into a bookstore or a library, unsure of what you’re looking for but craving a really good read? Our first stop is usually the staff picks section. After all, who knows the contents of a bookstore better than the folks who spend all day filling the shelves? 

We know there’s a lot of content on Newsela (over 15,000 texts!), that’s why for Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating with some of our staff’s favorite Newsela articles written by or about women. Check them out and read about how you can incorporate them into your classroom! 

Women Who Tell Our Stories

Elena’s Pick: Black female cartoonist brings her perspective to The New Yorker

Why I chose it: I’m a multimedia editor at Newsela, and I loved this article, and Elizabeth Montague’s story, because it highlights the impact of visual storytelling. When Elizabeth noticed a lack of diversity in the cartoons that were published, and the cartoonists behind them at The New Yorker, she wrote to the magazine and advocated for herself and other Black artists to be included. Now she’s the first Black female cartoonist at the magazine. It makes me hopeful that stories like hers will inspire students to follow their dreams and break barriers.

How to use it in the classroom: When students see themselves in the content they’re learning about, they are more engaged and interested in what they’re reading. Pairing stories like Elizabeth’s, with other trailblazers in history, can provide relevant background knowledge for topics like women’s rights, equality, and Black women’s experiences in the workplace and in the arts. You can also have students mirror Elizabeth’s work and create their own cartoons that help tell their stories and reflect their experiences. 

Kibby’s Pick: Journalist Ida B. Wells wrote articles to help African Americans, women

Why I chose it: As a news editor and reporter, I remain inspired by Ida B. Wells’ determination to write about what were seen as controversial events. She noticed the intentional gap in the news coverage hurting Americans’ knowledge of what was happening in the country, particularly in the South, and focused on it. Every day, journalists find stories that will inform the public. If some news stories are ignored, as Wells recognized, then we are not receiving the full picture of our world. 

How to use it in the classroom: Ida B. Wells’ story shows students that if they have the passion to act on injustices, then they can develop the skills needed to get their messages to their audiences. The “Princess of the Press” said she wasn’t the most literary person, but her journalism is now remembered for its honesty, accuracy and fairness. As students are learning skills, this article can be used to reinforce the importance of skill-building and perseverance. 

Steph’s Pick: Fierce, feared and female: The World War II pilots known as the 'Night Witches'

Why I chose it: I love this piece so much because I love a non-dominant narrative and especially one that really challenges the way we think of an event. This piece is about women who are incredibly brave, facing down death by literally standing on top of moving airplanes in order to fight Nazis. It’s so engaging and it’s a story I wouldn’t have learned about without Newsela.

How to use it in the classroom: Obviously this is about WWII but it’s also such a great way to weave women into stories of war in a way that’s not just portraying them keeping up the home or doing work domestically. These ladies were actively fighting and Russia was the only country in WWII to officially incorporate women. You can use this text set and article to help students answer compelling questions like “How did World War II affect your communities, and communities across the world?”

Tanu’s Pick: Trash has long been treasure for poet Naomi Shihab Nye

Why I chose it: This article about a poetry collection written by author Naomi Shihab Nye brings me joy. Nye’s book “Castaway” is a series of poems that chronicle the many years she has spent collecting trash on her walks out in the world. She writes about pizza boxes, plastic tops, and soggy report cards to name just a few items. Overall, the article explores the work of a poet who has remained deeply connected and dedicated to the world around her. As a former Young People’s Poet Laureate, Nye is a steward of sustainability, kindness and empathy. I hope students will read an article like this and realize that creative inspiration can be found where you least expect it. 

How to use it in the classroom: This article explores the creative process of a particular writer which can be inspiring to students. It also raises questions about trash in our environment and how there are small things we can all do to make the world a better place. A longtime teacher, Nye also offers three different creative writing tips students can try out like making observations, asking questions, and thinking about a moment in the past. 

Kelsey’s Pick: Poet Amanda Gorman, 22, will read at Biden inaugural

Why I chose it: When considering women who inspire me, admittedly many come to mind, but Amanda Gorman stands out. This article details Amanda’s accomplishments, including being the first Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles and the youngest inaugural poet in memory, and her hopes for the future, including running for president! I hope students read this text and feel inspired by the courage, confidence, and determination of this incredible woman.

How to use it in the classroom: Being part of Newsela’s Curriculum and Instruction team, I’m always thinking about how texts can be used in the classroom. This text explores ways Gorman follows her dreams and uses her voice to help elicit positive social change. After reading, teachers can prompt students to write their own poems about a social issue they feel passionate about.

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