As an English and history double major, storytelling is a major part of my life and the inspiration behind a lot of my writing. I also love incorporating these stories into my teaching whenever possible, and more than ever, our students need hope and strength.
Looking to incorporate women’s stories that encourage students into your curriculum? These three stories can be used to inspire students across all secondary classrooms just in time for Women’s History Month in March and beyond.
Sophie Scholl and the white rose
For a story about standing up for what is right, no matter the cost, tell the story of Sophie Scholl and The White Rose. The White Rose was an underground resistance movement whose mission was to spread information about the heinous truths of Nazi Germany through informational leaflets. Each leaflet called fellow Germans to do what was moral and just. Unfortunately, all members were caught and executed for their peaceful resistance, but their words still inspire activists and people across the globe.
Several books and films have been released about the story, including one by Sophie’s sister Inge Scholl. Plough Publishing House recently released a graphic novel version called Freiheit! The White Rose Graphic Novel by Andrea Grosso Ciponte, so it can be the perfect addition to your classroom library.
Hidden Figures and the “Human Computers”
From 1943 to 1970, the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in Hampton, Virginia inspired women to pursue careers in STEM and were pioneers of NASA’s early projects. Dubbed as “human computers”, the most recognizable names are Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden. Their story, told by Margot Lee Shetterly’s 2016 book Hidden Figures, inspired many Black girls and women to pursue STEM careers.
While the movie is also a wonderful teaching tool, the young adult adapted version of the book gives another accessible way to learn the story of the four women. Students may also look into Shetterly’s Human Computer Project dedicated to recording the histories of the women who made space exploration possible.
MAlala Yousafzai’s Fight for Girl’s Education
Malala Yousafzai stunned the world when she was attacked by the Taliban and lived. But her fight for a girl’s right to an education is living women’s history. Not only is she the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, she has written several bestselling books about her story that continue to inspire girls and women everywhere.
Whether you want to do a book study on I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World or read her children’s book Malala’s Magic Pencil to your class, there are many ways to introduce Malala’s mission to children of all ages.
While there are many more examples of exceptional stories of women in history, these are a great place to start!