Every year, kids come in the library looking for biographies so they can write a report based on the biography. And invariably, they come looking for athletes, scientists, or politicians...and the people they want to write about all have a few things in common. And those commonalities are: They are dead, they are white, and they are male.
This bores me.
So I tend to steer them away from Ronald Reagan (ugh. I mean, really? REAGAN? I want to vomit just thinking about him.), the George Bushes (don't get me started), Lincoln (who rocked, of course, but is a rather unoriginal subject for a report), and George Washington (do we need any more published material on him? No. Seriously. The guy has his own SHELF.).
I take the students over and I show them less-famous but VERY interesting people they can write papers on. Like, say, NELLIE BLY. Who was freaking made of awesome in a time when women were not so much allowed to be made of awesome. But she FOUND A WAY.
And very rarely, I am able to convince one young girl or boy to pick up one of these alternate famous people, and I consider my day to be a success. It is hard work. Especially because the biography section of your average library is filled with tomes based on the lives of...Dead. White. Men.
There is nothing wrong with biographies of dead white men. But there are boundless examples of non-white non-male folk who did fantastic things worth remembering. And they deserve biographies, too.
Today I took a look at Sarah Rees Brennan's blog, and she has written an absolutely fantastic Sleuth Thursday post on REAL lady sleuths from history, and they are all women who deserve their own shelf in the biography section. Or their own SHELVES. Seriously. So you should read Sarah's post.