Posted in picture books

Women to Know: Sarah Gerhardt, Surfer

Sarah and the Big Wave, by Bonnie Tsui/Illustrated by Sophie Diao, (May 2021, Henry Holt & Co), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250239488

Ages 4-8

Sarah Gerhardt, one of the first female big-wave surfers and the first female to surf Mavericks, an infamous big-wave surf break in California, has her moment in this picture book biography. Sarah’s story begins in Hawaii, where she began surfing small waves as a young girl, working her way up to larger waves and finessing her technique. The story touches on the sexism she encountered, and the joy of finding a group of friends to surf with. Working her way from Hawaii to California, Sarah is ready for the next challenge: The Mavericks, also called “Mount Everest meets Niagara Falls”. An inspiring story for young women about meeting challenges, readers will enjoy meeting Sarah Gerhardt. Talk about mindful practices she uses, like breathing and counting, to help readers understand the need to put oneself in a calm frame of mind when up against hurdles in life. Back matter includes a timeline in the history of women and surfing, going back to the 17th century and famed Hawaiian princess Kaneamuna! Illustrations are simply beautiful, with deep blues and greens inviting readers to embrace the ocean, and action shots of Sarah Gerhardt are dynamic.

There are some good resources on Sarah Gerhardt for more discussion. Keep some of these articles handy for anyone interested in learning more: “Sarah Gerhardt on Big-Wave Surfing in a Man’s World” (Outside magazine, 2018);  “Women in the Wild: Sarah Gerhardt” (The Outdoor Project, 2019); “Titans of Mavericks: Sarah Gerhardt” (Titans of Mavericks), and “Sarah Gerhardt: Girl Meets Mavericks (Visit California, 2021).

Posted in professional development

Women’s History Month: Women to Know

March is Women’s History Month, and as I’ve looked through my books, I realize I have quite a few on women in history: women like Codebreaker Elizebeth Friedman, and astronomer Vera Rubin are two real-life figures in history who are finally seeing their stories told; books like My Day with the Panye praise Haitian women for their strength, and fictional characters like Dominguita Melendez and Ruth Keller shine a spotlight on young women taking charge.

For the next couple of weeks, as we finish March, I’ll be spotlighting women to now in my review posts. Some you may know, others may be new to you. And that’s okay: it means their stories are finally being told. Now, go out and tell others about them.

In the meantime, some links to keep the Women’s History Month momentum going:

National Women’s History Museum

National Women’s History Alliance


And some activities:

Women’s History Month trading cards (Counting on Words, Teachers Pay Teachers)

Women’s History Month coloring poster and writing activity (The Constant Kindergartener, Teachers Pay Teachers)

Women’s History Month poster set (Create-Abilities, Teachers Pay Teachers) List of Women’s History Month resources