International Women’s Day #BreakTheBias

International Women’s Day (IWD) March 8 is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.

IWD has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group, or organization specific. The theme of International Women’s Day 2022 is #BreakTheBias. To achieve this, we ask you to imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. For more information on IWD please visit their website.

Together we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias. We believe books, information and libraries are a great place to start, so to mark #IWD2022 we have selected some books for younger readers on the theme of inspirational women and highlights from the Women’s Fiction Prize 2022 longlist.

Books for younger readers:

The Extraordinary Life of Greta Thunberg
Devika Jina & Petra Braun

From taking part in school strikes and owning that her Asperger syndrome is her superpower, to crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a powerful stand against carbon emissions, this is the incredible story of a schoolgirl who is changing the world.

Little People, Big Dreams: Josephine Baker
Ma Isobel Sanchez Vegara

Discover the incredible life of Josephine Baker, the world-famous entertainer, activist and French Resistance agent in this true story of her life. She fought against segregation her whole life and kept going with style, whatever was thrown in her way.

Little People, Big Dreams: Jane Goodall
Ma Isobel Sanchez Vegara

When Jane was little, her father gave her a toy chimpanzee named Jubilee which inspired her lifelong love of animals. Jane went to study them in the wild, living with chimpanzees in their natural habitat and becoming famous for her pioneering approach to research.

Little People, Big Dreams: Marie Curie
Ma Isobel Sanchez Vegara

When Marie was young, she was unable to go to college because she was a woman. But when she was older, her discoveries of radium and polonium dramatically helped in the fight against cancer, and she went on to win the Nobel Prize for Physics. This moving book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the scientist’s life.

Little People, Big Dreams: Maya Angelou
Lisbeth Kaiser

Maya Angelou spent most of her childhood in Stamps, Arkansas. After a traumatic event at age eight, she stopped speaking for five years. However, Maya rediscovered her voice through books, and went on to become one of the world’s most beloved writers and speakers. This inspiring story of her life features a facts and photos section at the back.

Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022

The Women’s Prize Trust is a registered charity championing women writers on a global stage. Their goal is to empower all women to raise their voice and own their story, by shining a spotlight on outstanding and ambitious fiction by women from anywhere in the world, regardless of their age, race, nationality, or background through the annual literary award.

This year the panel of judges; Anita Sethi, Dorothy Koomson, Lorraine Candy, Pandora Sykes and Chair, Mary Ann Sieghart; chose a longlist of sixteen books, featuring both debut and acclaimed writers; which span the globe in their settings, from Trinidad, Cyprus and a dystopian England, to Cape Cod, Buchenwald, and Vietnam. We’ve selected some titles which are already available to borrow as a book, eBook or eAudiobook.

Flamingo
Rachel Elliott

Flamingo is a novel about the power of love, welcome and acceptance. It’s a celebration of kindness, of tenderness. Set in 2018 and the 80s, it’s a song for the broken-hearted and the big-hearted, and is, ultimately, a novel grown from gratitude, and a book full of wild hope.

Great Circle
Maggie Shipstead

The life of Marian Graves was always been marked by a lust for freedom and danger. In 1950, she embarks on her life’s dream – to fly a Great Circle around the globe, pole to pole. But after a crash landing, she isstranded on the Antarctic ice without enough fuel and writes one last entry in her logbook. Half a century later, Hadley Baxter, a brilliant, troubled Hollywood starlet is irresistibly drawn to play Marian Graves, a role that will lead her to probe the deepest mysteries of the vanished pilot’s life.

Remote Sympathy
Catherine Chidgey

Frau Hahn’s husband, SS Sturmbannführer Dietrich Hahn, has taken up a powerful new position as camp administrator at Buchenwald, but her stubborn obliviousness to their new circumstances is challenged when she is forced into an unlikely alliance with one of Buchenwald’s prisoners, Dr Lenard Weber, the inventor of a machine that he believed could cure cancer.

Sorrow and Bliss
Meg Mason

Everyone tells Martha Friel she is clever and beautiful, a brilliant writer who has been loved every day of her adult life by one man, her husband Patrick. A gift – her mother once said – not everybody gets. So why is everything broken? Why is Martha – on the edge of 40 – friendless, practically jobless and so often sad? And why did Patrick decide to leave? Forced to return to her childhood home to live with her dysfunctional, bohemian parents, Martha has one last chance to find out whether by starting over, she will get to write a better ending for herself.

The Book of Form and Emptiness
Ruth Ozeki

One year after the death of his beloved musician father, thirteen-year-old Benny Oh begins to hear voices. The voices belong to the things in his house – a sneaker, a broken Christmas ornament, a piece of wilted lettuce. Although Benny doesn’t understand what these things are saying, he can sense their emotional tone; when his mother develops a hoarding problem, the voices grow more clamorous.

At first Benny tries to ignore them, but soon the voices follow him outside the house driving him at last to seek refuge in the silence of a large public library, where he meets his very own Book – a talking thing – who narrates Benny’s life and teaches him to listen to the things that truly matter.

The Exhibitionist
Charlotte Mendelson

The Hanrahan family are gathering for a momentous weekend as famous artist and notorious egoist Ray Hanrahan prepares for the first exhibition of his art – one he is sure will burnish his reputation for good. But what of Lucia, Ray’s steadfast and selfless wife? She is an artist who has always had to put her roles as wife and mother first. What will happen if she decides to change? For Lucia is hiding secrets of her own, and as the weekend unfolds and the exhibition approaches, she must finally make a choice.

This One Sky Day  
Leone Ross

Dawn breaks across the archipelago of Popisho. The world is stirring awake again, each resident with their own list of things to do. A wedding feast to conjure and cook. An infidelity to investigate. A lost soul to set free. As the sun rises two star-crossed lovers try to find their way back to one another across this single day. When night falls, all have been given a gift, and many are no longer the same. The sky is pink, and some wonder if it will ever be blue again.

The Paper Palace
Miranda Cowley Heller

On a perfect August morning, Elle Bishop heads out for a swim in the pond below ‘The Paper Palace’ – her family’s holiday home in Cape Cod. As she dives beneath the water, she relives the passionate encounter she had the night before, against the side of the house that knows all her darkest secrets, while her husband and mother chatted to their guests inside… So begins a story that unfolds over twenty-four hours and fifty years, as Elle’s shocking betrayal leads her to a life-changing decision – and an ending you won’t be able to stop thinking about.

The Island of Missing Trees
Elif Shafak

1974, on the island of Cyprus. Two teenagers, from opposite sides of a divided land, meet at a tavern in the city they both call home. The tavern is the only place that Kostas, who is Greek and Christian, and Defne, who is Turkish and Muslim, can meet, in secret. This tavern provides the best food in town, the best music, the best wine, but there is something else to the place: it makes one forget, even if for just a few hours, the world outside and its immoderate sorrows.

Body Image

Sometimes children are uncomfortable with the way they look, or the way other people see them, and as a result lose confidence. Sharing stories about children with similar feelings can put a child’s mind at ease and make the experience easier to cope with.


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Cinderella’s Bum – Nicholas Allan

This very funny book finds uses for every size and shape of bottom. Although written in a humorous style it has a serious message about being content with your body, whatever its size or shape.
Age: 6+


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Willy the Wimp – Anthony Browne

In this charming book Willy is bullied because of the way he looks. It stresses that your appearance does not necessarily reflect the person you are.
Age: 5+


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I’m a Girl! – Yasmeen Ismail

The girl in this book is spontaneous, fast, strong and loud and is forever getting mistaken for a boy.  Who says pink is for girls and blue is for boys?
Age: 3+


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Jungle Grumble – Julia Jarman and Lynne Chapman Parr

The animals in the jungle all have bits of their bodies they don’t like, so Lion sets up a Swap Shop.  The animals rush to change the way they look, but it doesn’t make them happy.
Age: 4+


Giraffe Problems – John Jory

A giraffe and a tortoise who both wish their body shape was different. This is great fun as they come to terms with what they have.
Age 6+


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The Yoga Ogre – Peter Bently and Simon Rickerty

An amusing picture book which encourages children to look after their bodies and find a sport that suits them.
Age: 4+


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I Want To Be Tall – Tony Ross

A good fun story about getting frustrated because you are too small … until baby cousin comes to visit, who is even smaller!
Age: 3+


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You’re Not Ugly, Duckling! – Steve Smallman and Neil Price

Tufty doesn’t look like the other ducklings and everyone makes fun of him.
Age: 3+


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Slug Needs a Hug! – Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross

Slug is worried because his mummy doesn’t give him hugs.  He thinks he needs to make himself look more attractive.  He asks other animals to suggest ways he could improve his appearance.  Eventually he finds out the real reason mummy doesn’t give hugs and that she is very good at giving kisses.
Age: 4+

Body Image

Sometimes children are uncomfortable with or worry about the way they look, or the way other people see them, and as a result lose confidence. Sharing stories about children with similar feelings can put a child’s mind at ease and make the experience easier to cope with.


Tall
by Jez Alborough

Everyone is taller than Bobo so he climbs onto other animals in an effort to be the tallest.  When he slips and falls he decides he happy to be small after all.
Age: 2+


Cinderella’s Bum
by Nicholas Allan

This very funny book finds uses for every size and shape of bottom. Although written in a humorous style it has a serious message about being content with your body, whatever its size or shape.
Age: 6+


Willy the Wimp
by Anthony Browne

In this charming book Willy is bullied because of the way he looks. It stresses that your appearance does not necessarily reflect the person you are.
Age: 5+


Image result for I'm a girl!

I’m a Girl!
by Yasmeen Ismail

The girl in this book is spontaneous, fast, strong and loud and is forever getting mistaken for a boy.  Who says pink is for girls and blue is for boys?
Age: 3+


Jungle Grumble
by Julia Jarman and Lynne Chapman Parr

The animals in the jungle all have bits of their bodies they don’t like, so Lion sets up a Swap Shop.  The animals rush to change the way they look, but it doesn’t make them happy.
Age: 4+


Giraffe Problems
by John Jory

A giraffe and a tortoise who both wish their body shape was different. This is great fun as they come to terms with what they have.
Age 6+


Image result for The yoga ogre

The Yoga Ogre
by Peter Bently and Simon Rickerty

An amusing picture book which encourages children to look after their bodies and find a sport that suits them.
Age: 4+


Tall Tilly
by Jillian Powell and Tim Archbold

Tilly is very tall.  She’s too tall for her bed and taller than all her friends.  She wishes she was smaller, but then her teacher has an idea.
Age: 5+


I Want To Be Tall
by Tony Ross

A good fun story about getting frustrated because you are too small … until baby cousin comes to visit, who is even smaller!
Age: 3+


Image result for You're not ugly, duckling!

You’re Not Ugly, Duckling!
by Steve Smallman and Neil Price

Tufty doesn’t look like the other ducklings and everyone makes fun of him.
Age: 3+


Image result for Slug needs a hug!

Slug Needs a Hug!
by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross

Slug is worried because his mummy doesn’t give him hugs.  He thinks he needs to make himself look more attractive.  He asks other animals to suggest ways he could improve his appearance.  Eventually he finds out the real reason mummy doesn’t give hugs and that she is very good at giving kisses.
Age: 4+


Tinysaurus
by Sheryl Webster and Jan Fearnley

Tinysaurus is desperate to be bigger.  He wants to do all the things his big sister can do.  He especially wants to be big enough to look after the eggs that mum has laid.  When a hungry Nastysaurus tries to steal the eggs, Tinysaurus discovers that being small can be a good thing.
Age: 3+


Useful Organisations

Mental Health Foundation:
Giving support, information and help about mental health for children.

Action for Children:
Help and information to spot signs and behaviours that could point to needing more support in regards to mental health.

Annabel by Kathleen Winter

About the book

In 1968, in a remote part of Canada, a mysterious child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor girl, but both at once. Only three people share the secret – the baby’s parents and a trusted neighbour. Together the adults make a difficult decision: to go through surgery and raise the child as a boy named Wayne.  But as Wayne grows up within the hyper-male hunting culture of his father, his shadow-self – a girl he thinks of as ‘Annabel’ – is never entirely extinguished, and indeed is secretly nurtured by the women in his life. As Wayne approaches adulthood, and its emotional and physical demands, the woman inside him begins to cry out. The changes that follow are momentous not just for him, but for the three adults that have guarded his secret.

 

Reviewed by Wallington Village

A beautiful book. Sad and tender – couldn’t put it down. The author must have known someone who had been through a similar situation. Sensitive handling of the subject matter. A great setting”

star rating – none provided

 

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The Black Sheep by Susan Hill

About the book

 

Brother and sister, Ted and Rose Howker, grew up in Mount of Zeal, a mining village blackened by coal. They know nothing of the outside world, though both of them yearn for escape. For Rose this comes in the form of love, while Ted seizes the chance of a job away from the pit. But neither can truly break free and their decisions bring with them brutal consequences…

 

Reviewed by Itchen

“The story is set in a North Yorkshire mining community and is the tragedy of one family. It is a well written, short book but the author tells her story well. There are several issues to be explored by a book group which include family, community, gender inequality and the struggle to survive. If the test of the book is to tell about the human condition, this one certainly does”

star rating ****

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Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins by Rupert Everett

About the book

An element of drama has always attended Rupert Everett, even before he swept to fame with his outstanding performance in ‘Another Country’. He has spent his life surrounded by extraordinary people, and witnessed extraordinary events. He was in Moscow during the fall of communism; in Berlin the night the wall came down; and in downtown Manhattan on September 11th. By the age of 17 he was friends with Andy Warhol and Bianca Jagger, and since then he has been up close and personal with some of the most famous women in the world: Julia Roberts, Madonna, Sharon Stone and Donatella Versace. Whether sweeping the floor for the Royal Shakespeare Company or co-starring with Faye Dunaway and an orang-utan in ‘Dunstan Checks In’ (they both took ages to get ready), Rupert Everett always brings as much energy and talent to his life as he does to his career. A superb raconteur and a keen observer of human folly (especially his own), Rupert Everett turns his life into a captivating story of love, fame, glamour, gossip and drama.

Reviewed by Itchen

“This autobiography had a mixed reception. Most felt that it was an ego trip by an actor who needed the support and approval of others but, at the same time, risked disapproval as a result of his lifestyle. His career, although successful, was fuelled by drink, drugs and promiscuity. There was, however considerable sympathy for him, largely because he had been sent away to boarding school at an early age without any preparation, and where he felt himself to be an outsider. An interesting point made by one member was that over the last two decades society has come a long way in accepting gay people. This book brought out much discussion in our group of mainly retired older people. ”

star rating ***

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