#WomenReadWomen2019 Award-Winning Books Early Readers Features Genre Lifespan of a Reader Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Picture Books Reading Themes Reinventing Womanity, Redefining Womanhood

[Nonfiction Wednesday] When Women Were Not Expected To Run

"Girl Running: Bobbi Gibb And The Boston Marathon" by Annette Bay Pimentel and Micha Archer.

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.


Girl Running: Bobbi Gibb And The Boston Marathon

Written by Annette Bay Pimentel Illustrated by Micha Archer
Published by Nancy Paulsen Books (2018).
ISBN: 1101996684 (ISBN13: 9781101996683)
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Buy Girl Running: Bobbi Gibb And The Boston Marathon on Amazon | Book Depository

I learned about Bobbi Gibb through another picturebook biography that I reviewed last year (see here):

Girl Running was published a year later and provided me with a few other interesting tidbits that I did not know about previously. Whereas the first book gave more information about the family’s reaction to Bobbi’s intention to join the Boston Marathon Race, Pimentel and Archer’s version focused more on Bobbi and her single-minded pursuit to join a race that she was initially barred from entering – by virtue of her gender.

The image above shows just how women were perceived in the early 50s and 60s: the stringent societal expectations as regards how women should appear and behave – strictures that now seem arbitrary and utterly confining. The fact that Bobbi Gibb was able to reinvent herself and change the course of sports history is a clear testament that this is a perfect book to feature given our current reading theme.

The reason provided by the officials of the Boston Marathon demonstrates an ignorance of women’s physiological make-up, and worse, a refusal to investigate empirically whether or not what they are officially writing down as a reason is grounded on research evidence of female anatomy and physical capability.

While I am perfectly aware how this story ends – my heart was racing as I flipped through the pages, the sense of injustice acute. I cheered internally for Bobbi as she refuses to accept this decision grounded on sexism, as she simply ran and ran and ran, her feet bleeding with her new pair of running shoes; and the other men in the race rooting for her and encouraging her to remove her jacket that helped camouflage the fact that she is a girl running.

This is a remarkable story that clearly demonstrates persistence, grit, and a not-receiving-no-for-an-answer attitude that most girls should definitely possess – especially in a world that continues to say no to them again and again, simply because they are a girl.


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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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