A nonfiction picture book telling the inspiring story of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor, by the author of Elizabeth Leads the Way.
In the 1830s, when a brave and curious girl named Elizabeth Blackwell was growing up, women were supposed to be wives and mothers. Some women could be teachers or seamstresses, but career options were few. Certainly no women were doctors.
But Elizabeth refused to accept the common beliefs that women weren't smart enough to be doctors, or that they were too weak for such hard work. And she would not take no for an answer. Although she faced much opposition, she worked hard and finallywhen she graduated from medical school and went on to have a brilliant careerproved her detractors wrong. This inspiring story of the first female doctor shows how one strong-willed woman opened the doors for all the female doctors to come.
Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors? by Tanya Lee Stone is an NPR Best Book of 2013.
This title has Common Core connections.
About the Author
Tanya Lee Stone loves to write about women pushing boundaries where no woman has before, in books like Elizabeth Leads the Way, Almost Astronauts, and now Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors? Her work has received such accolades as the ALA Robert F. Sibert Award, SCBWI Golden Kite Award, Bank Street's Flora Steiglitz Straus Award, and the Jane Addams Children's Book, Boston Globe-Horn Book, and NCTE Orbis Pictus honors.
Marjorie Priceman has twice received Caldecott Honors, one for her illustrations in Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin! and one for Hot Air: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Hot-Air Balloon Ride, which she both wrote and illustrated. She lives in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.
Reading Group Guide
Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors? The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell
Written by Tanya Lee Stone
Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
Christy Ottaviano Books,
Henry Holt and Company, an imprint of
Macmillan Children's Publishing Group
For ages 5 to 8
Today, more than 50 percent of doctors in America are women. But that was not always the case. In Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors?, author Tanya Lee Stone takes readers back to a time in the 1840s when women were mostly expected to be wives and mothers. Career options were few. There were certainly no female doctors. In this book, Stone tells the story of a brave and curious girl named Elizabeth Blackwell who refused to accept these common beliefs and would not take no for an answer. This inspiring story of the first female doctor in America shows how one strong-willed woman opened the doors for all the female doctors who followed.
1. Look at the art on the front and back cover of the book, as well as the spot art on the title and dedication pages. What do you think the book might be about, based on just the art? What do you think might be happening in the art on the back cover?
2. In what time era does the book take place? Why do you think so? Support your answer with specific examples from the book. 2
3. Think about the doctors you have met. Were any of them women? What qualities make a good doctor? (Create a list.) Do you see anything on the list that has to do with being male or female? (Read the text on the second spread that begins, "Back in the 1840s…") Imagine growing up at this time and wanting to do something that other people say you couldn't do. What might you do then?
General Discussion Questions
1. Was life better for boys when Elizabeth was young? Why or why not? Do you think any of your reasons are still true today?
2. Why might Mary Donaldson have "much preferred being examined by a woman?" Today, people often have the choice of going to a male or a female doctor. Do you think it is better to have that choice; why?
3. Mary Donaldson put the thought of being a doctor in Elizabeth's mind. Has anyone ever suggested that you try something you might not have thought of trying before?
4. How did Elizabeth earn the money to pay for medical school? Have you ever wanted something badly enough to find a way to earn the money to pay for it?
5. The author writes that Elizabeth "was as stubborn as a mule. Quite rightly!" What does the author mean by this? How many letters did Elizabeth receive telling her she did NOT get accepted to medical school? Have you ever tried to do something and did not succeed at it? What did you do? Did you keep trying?
6. The author writes: "Soon the boys wanted to know what Elizabeth thought about this or that." Why do you think the boys changed their opinions about Elizabeth?
7. Why do you think the male doctor said, about Elizabeth's graduating from medical school, "I hope, for the honor of humanity, that [she] will be the last?" Do you think other people felt that way as well, and why? How might Elizabeth's success have paved the way for other women?