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“Nevertheless, She Persisted” A Take 5 List, plus 1

IMG_4145Last night, Senator Elizabeth Warren was warned, then given an explanation, but neverthelessshe persisted in reading the words of another woman who was warned, given an explanation, and persisted: Coretta Scott King. In honor and in recognition of these and other women who, despite warning and explanation, persist in their efforts, we offer you this list of persistent young women.




Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

Book cover: against the backdrop of a cloudy sky with planes overhead, a young woman in pilot garb faces forward with her eyes looking skyward

Ida Mae Jones dreams of flight. Her daddy was a pilot and being black didn’t stop him from fulfilling his dreams. But her daddy’s gone now, and being a woman, and being black, are two strikes against her.

When America enters the war with Germany and Japan, the Army creates the WASP, the Women Airforce Service Pilots – and Ida suddenly sees a way to fly as well as do something significant to help her brother stationed in the Pacific. But even the WASP won’t accept her as a black woman, forcing Ida Mae to make a difficult choice of “passing,” of pretending to be white to be accepted into the program. Hiding one’s racial heritage, denying one’s family, denying one’s self is a heavy burden. And while Ida Mae chases her dream, she must also decide who it is she really wants to be. (Publisher description)

Dime by E.R. Frank

Book cover: black bricks in the shape of a D over a red background reveal the profile of a young girl looking resolutely aheadLost in Newark, New Jersey’s foster care system, Dime is persuaded into sexual slavery by a sweet talking older man. The family-like dynamic of their home is appealing for a time, and the services she is forced to perform seem the understandable price to pay for such safety and security. But her eyes are opened to the grave reality of her situation when Lollipop, a new, younger girl is brought in and the incomprehensibly awful truth of her situation is revealed. Dime takes solace and strength in the written word and stops at nothing to seek safety and justice for Lollipop, even as she understands that there might not be a way out for herself.



Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande

Book cover: spiral bound notebook paper shows the book title in loopy scriptSpeaking up is hard. It’s even harder when speaking up for what you know is right loses you friends, family, and your church. Mena starts school as a pariah after standing up to the minister of her church in defense of a gay peer. She knows she did the right thing, but everyone around her is telling her it’s wrong.

Ten Days a Madwoman by Deborah Noyes

Book cover: a photograph of Nellie Bly wearing a high necked lace collar and looking forward, stylized in a deep teal

Young Nellie Bly had ambitious goals, especially for a woman at the end of the nineteenth century, when the few female journalists were relegated to writing columns about cleaning or fashion. But fresh off a train from Pittsburgh, Nellie knew she was destined for more and pulled a major journalistic stunt that skyrocketed her to fame: feigning insanity, being committed to the notorious asylum on Blackwell’s Island, and writing a shocking exposé of the clinic’s horrific treatment of its patients.

Nellie Bly became a household name as the world followed her enthralling career in “stunt” journalism that raised awareness of political corruption, poverty, and abuses of human rights. (Publisher’s description)

I Am Malala
Book cover: Malala Yousafzai wears a magenta hijab and looks at the camera with an expression that is peaceful and resolute

Do we even need to explain this one?


And because we just can’t get enough women who persist…

Rad Women Worldwide

Book cover: Black and white illustrations in front of bold swaths of red, teal, and orange, depict a soccer player with a ponytail, Malala Yousafzai, and Frida Kahlo

From the authors of the New York Times bestselling book Rad American Women A-Z, comes a bold new collection of 40 biographical profiles, each accompanied by a striking illustrated portrait, showcasing extraordinary women from around the world.

In Rad Women Worldwide, writer Kate Schatz and artist Miriam Klein Stahl tell fresh, engaging, and inspiring tales of perseverance and radical success by pairing well researched and riveting biographies with powerful and expressive cut-paper portraits. Featuring an array of diverse figures from Hatshepsut (the great female king who ruled Egypt peacefully for two decades) and Malala Yousafzi (the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize) to Poly Styrene (legendary teenage punk and lead singer of X-Ray Spex) and Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft (polar explorers and the first women to cross Antarctica), this progressive and visually arresting book is a compelling addition to women’s history.


  1. Do you have only a left leaning bias? Your commentary seems to lean fairly heavily…and is seldom unbiased.

    • Heather Booth Heather Booth says:

      This post is part of our #SJYALIT series that highlights social justice issues in teen lit and in the world today. We at Teen Librarian Toolbox are biased in favor of helping the diverse groups of teens we collectively work with grow in their awareness, find connection, and become empowered to make positive changes in their own sphere of influence and beyond.
      If you are looking for librarianship posts unrelated to current events, try searching our TPiB – Teen Program in a Box, Middle Grade Monday, Book Mail, and many of our Things I Never Learned in Library School for a wide range of book reviews and professional development topics.

      • Anonymous says:

        Except I don’t think you’re being honest about your vision of social justice. You will support diverse groups, but only if they espouse the kind of left-wing politics you favor. What is your outreach to the 35% of Latinos whose parents voted for Trump? The 50% of girls whose moms did the same? And the 10% of African-Americans who did the same? The conservative GLBTQIA community, which is real but not big? The Mormon kids? You are leftists wrapping yourself in diversity, not diversity advocates taking diverse groups as they come.

        • Heather Booth Heather Booth says:

          Anonymous, are you suggesting that persistence is a “leftist” quality and that the types of teens you mention would find the characters in the books on this list (in order: a devoted wartime patriot, a tenacious victim of the foster care system, an Evangelical teen struggling with her faith, a groundbreaking journalist, and a child seeking an education in defiance of the Taliban) distasteful, not relatable, or offensive? Are you referring to this post specifically, to me, Heather, the author of this post, or is this a general complaint about the blog?

        • Karen Jensen, TLT Karen Jensen, TLT says:

          Hello Anonymous,
          I am wondering what you mean when you say conservative. Do you mean religiously conservative? Do you mean fiscally responsible conservative? Do you mean small government conservative? We have consistently throughout our tenure here at TLT supported GLBTQA+, Latino, African-American, Muslim, Mormon and female teens. They are our teens. We work with and serve them daily in our libraries, in our communities and in our homes. We have, for example, discussed the harmful stereotypes about both Muslims and Mormons as part of our Faith and Spirituality in YA Lit discussion. In the course of that series we also discussed many harmful portrayals and stereotypes of Christians as well. In fact, there are 4 full-time bloggers and 2 part-time bloggers here at TLT and more than 50% of us identify as Christian and are active in our churches. I don’t think outside of civil and human rights issues that affect our teens, that we have personally discussed our politics here, though I could be wrong because there are literally thousands of posts at this point. But I will unashamedly stand up for my teens every time – and my teens include poor, rural, white conservative teens which I have talked about frequently both here and on other social media platforms. We share their stories, we share their hopes and their dreams and their fears and their failures here because we care passionately about them.

  2. I love the current topic. Thanks for the five book highlight to get us delving back into our bookshelves to find these gems again.

  3. I am honored you chose one of my books for this list. Thank you, Heather! PERSIST!

  4. Jo beth Roberts says:

    Front Line byMichael Grant

  5. May I use your “nevertheless she persisted” header graphic? I love it.

  6. Hi Heather,
    I would love to use Karen’s header graphic for a women’s history month display. May I use it for that?

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