A month or so ago, a bookseller and book-reader extraordinaire gave me an early copy of Rad American Women A-Z, written by Kate Schatz and illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl.

rad american women a-zFrom Angela Davis to Zora Neale Hurston, the stories are enlightening, surprising, and moving, and the voice that tells them is sharp. The list spans from artists to abolitionists, scientists to suffragettes, J is for Jovita Idar, P is for Patti Smith, each rendered in high-contrast illustrations that seem to update them, bring them into our time.

The book is self-described as one for “children–and their parents, teachers, and cool, grown-up friends,” and I think that’s just right. Not only did I learn things I didn’t know (about Nellie Bly, about Maya Lin, about Kate Bornstein, so many others), but I also reveled in the introduction’s explanation of what it means to be ‘rad’ and radical. Included in the book is a resource guide of places you can go to learn more and things you can do to be radder yourself. It’s a history and a how-to that reminds us how much our foremothers did for us and how much still needs be done.

Thank you to the women who brought this to us. If you’ve got children, nieces, grandchildren, students, neighbors, cousins, what a great gift to give.