I don’t know about you, but for me, there was not a lot I could tell you about the 1920s beyond flappers and the 20th amendment. However, after reading Breaking Through: How Female Athletes Shattered Stereotypes in the Roaring Twenties by Sue Macy, I feel a lot more knowledgable!
The way that author Sue Macy has this book organized is intriguing. The chapters are organized chronologically, each chapter covering a two-year span of the decade. The vintage pictures throughout the book appear to be authentically from that time period, along with timelines, both of which will appeal to readers. Speaking of authentic: there are short inserts throughout the book that are excerpts from actual newspaper articles about different female athletes. To help make sure the readers understand the context of what life was like in general during that time, Macy also gives engrossing information about what was going on in society during the 20s, things like political information or popular fads.
When it comes to the content of the book, I learned a ton! Although there are multiple stories in this book about how women were prevented from participating in certain sports or sporting events, using excuses like female health or a fear of women appearing masculine, there are also stories that are groundbreaking or triumphant. For example, soon after the game of basketball was invented, women were playing the game just like men were. Women were participating in the Olympics in the 1920s as well, and a woman took things into her own hands and brought the sport of field hockey to the United States from Europe in the 1920s. Macy made sure to also include African-American women in this book, and took the time to highlight occasions when sports appear to be integrated, and other times when discrimination or segregation were an issue.
When I started this book, I had no idea about the progress that was made in regards to women in sports during the 1920s, or the names of many of the specific women that helped make these progress. Due to the lack of other engaging middle grade books on this topic, I think that many young readers will be in awe of what they learn from Breaking Through, just like I was.
Deana Metzke, in addition to being a wife and mother of two, spent many years as a Literacy Coach, and is now an Elementary Teacher Instructional Leader for Literacy and Social Studies for her school district. In addition to occasionally sharing her thoughts here at MG Book Village, you can read more of her thoughts about kid lit and trying to raise children who are readers at raisingreaders.site or follow her on Twitter @DMetzke. She is also a member of #bookexcursion.