[Nonfiction Wednesday] Pushing Boundaries: The Inspiring Story of Jane Addams in “The House That Jane Built”

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Fats here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2016 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year.

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The House That Jane Built: A Story About Jane Addams

Words by: Tanya Lee Stone
Illustrations by: Kathryn Brown
Published by: Henry Holt and Co (2015)
ISBN-10: 0805090495
ISBN-13: 978-0805090499

I came across this marvelous picture book biography a few months ago when we had our theme on Fearless Females, Courageous Women. I know little about American history so I’m really glad that I was able to learn about the life of Jane Addams. This picture book format could not have been more delightful!

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Postcard design by Kathryn Brown.

The House That Jane Built is written by Tanya Lee Stone, who received the Orbis Pictus Honor Book award for her work entitled, Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? (Review by Myra can be accessed here.) Set in 1889, this book tells the story of a young woman named Jane Addams who, at the tender age of six, vowed that one day she would find a way to fix the world.

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Jane Addams was born into a wealthy family. She was fierce and smart. She studied at Rockford Female Seminary and graduated at the top of her class. Jane Addams was also well-traveled and it was through her visit to London that she became aware of the living condition of the poor. It was also in London when Jane Addams first discovered (and lived in) a settlement house.

At Tonybee Hall, the idea was to have rich and poor people live together in the same community and learn from each other. Instead of simply serving soup, for example, people could take cooking classes. Other skills were taught as well.

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My favorite spread from the book.

Jane Addams not only built a house for the less fortunate, but she also provided jobs for adults and taught classes to children whose parents had to work long hours to make a living. If you look up a photo of Jane Addams on the Internet, you’ll see how she embodied a motherly figure. This picture book collaboration by Tanya Lee Stone and Kathryn Brown is perfect for teaching kids about altruism, social responsibility, and breaking boundaries.

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“What after all has maintained the human race on this old Globe despite all the calamities of nature and all the tragic failings of mankind, if not faith in new possibilities and courage to advocate them.”
— Jane Addams, Peace and Bread in Time of War

  1. Such an inspiring story about an incredible, trail-blazing woman. Thank you for sharing this one! And I’m not just saying that because we’re both named Jane…. 🙂

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  2. Love historical fiction, especially with strong women!

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  3. She sounds like an amazing person! Nice review!

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