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Women’s History Month: Emily Dickinson

emily-dickinson-001In thinking about Women’s History Month, I have been contemplating some of the great women writers–selfishly focusing on the ones who are most meaningful to me.  Because I have been in a fever of reading adult poetry, I’ve been thinking about adult authors in the Children’s Room.

Particularly Emily Dickinson. She’s a great poet to contemplate because her poetry is astonishing, she was an interesting and strange person, and she has a particularly wide ranging presence in the Children’s collection.

The strange facts of Emily’s life (she was virtually unpublished during her life but hugely prolific and she was quite introverted and ultimately remained entirely indoors) and the intensity and luminosity (can you tell I’m a fan?) of her poems, together make her a compelling subject for any author or reader.

The Mill Valley Public Library’s children’s collection has several kinds of books about Emily–all interesting and all offering a different perspective on her life and work, a different way in to meeting her.

There are two of picture books about her . . .

My Uncle Emily by the prolific, thoughtful and feminist author Jane Yolen (check out her great book on women pirates!), focuses on the relationship between Emily and her nephew Gilbert.yolen my uncle emily

Emily by Michael Bedard also presents Emily through the eyes of a child. (I like Uncle Emily much better.)

There are traditional biographies of her like Emily Dickinson by Bonita E. Thayer, and more fanciful biographies like Emily Dickinson’s Letters to the World by Jeanette Winter (who has written several excellent biographies of influential and inspiring women) and I am Nobody! Who are You?: The Story of Emily Dickinson by Edna Barth (unfortunately this book was lost by a patron, so it is no longer available).

There are books that put her in context as an important woman like Herstory: Women Who Changed the World (an amazing book that all girls and young women should read–boys too, but girls most of all) and Sisters in Strength: American Women Who Made a Difference and Liberty for All?, a book about pre-Civil War America.

There is even a J novel with a fictionalized version of her as the main character–A Voice of her Own: Becoming Emily Dickinson by Barbara Dana.

And finally, of course, there are the poems . . . .

Classic Poetry: An Illustrated Collection

And, interestingly, National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry: 200 Poems with Photographs that Squeak, Soar and Roar!.

Looking outside the Children’s Room, I recommend going to the adult 811 call number and looking under Dickinson. Dip in, read some aloud, get ready to shiver and swoon.

-Erin

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