#WomenReadWomen2019 Award-Winning Books Early Readers Features Genre Lifespan of a Reader Middle Grade Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Reading Themes Sisterhood and Female Bonds

[Nonfiction Wednesday] America’s First Pediatrician and the Little Mothers’ League In “Dr. Jo”

"Dr. Jo: How Sara Josephine Baker Saved The Lives Of America's Children" by Monica Kulling and Illustrated by Julianna Swaney.

Myra here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2019 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.


Dr. Jo: How Sara Josephine Baker Saved The Lives Of America’s Children

Written by Monica Kulling Illustrated by Julianna Swaney
Published by Tundra Books (2018).
ISBN: 110191789X (ISBN13: 9781101917893)
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Prior to reading this picturebook biography, I did not know who Sara Josephine Baker was. While I am familiar with Elizabeth Blackwell (see my review of Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors by Tanya Lee Stone and Marjorie Priceman here), it is the first time that I am learning of Sara Josephine Baker’s astounding contribution to the field of medicine and the children in New York, where she served as the first pediatrician.

The story begins with Jo being described as a tomboy who enjoyed doing activities that are not normally expected of young girls born in the late 1800s. She was inspired to become a doctor by the physicians who took care of her when she was a young girl, and when both her father and brother died from typhoid disease. However, her goal was perceived as unladylike by most:

In Jo’s day, most people thought that studying medicine was not for women.

“It’s too grisly!” said some.

“It’s too gruesome!” said others.

Dr. Jo continued to pursue her dream despite the prejudice and gender discrimination – and eventually became the first Director of the New York City Department of Child Hygiene. Her new position allowed her access to the poorest of the poor and make a difference in the lives of immigrants who had no means of taking care of their newborn, resulting in diseases and infant death.

Through the Little Mothers League (making this a perfect book for our current reading theme), Dr. Jo trained girls age 12 and older in basic infant care – a fact that was included in the Author’s Note found at the end of the book. This is truly another title that deserves to be added in any one’s library – what a gift to know more amazing women who charted paths where none existed previously in their attempts to not just pursue their own dream, but also to address the needs of people who live in the margins.


#WomenReadWomen2019: United States of America Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Singapore. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she serves as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads or meeting up with her book club friends, she is smashing that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life.

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