As Sally Ride and Marian Wright Edelman both powerfully said, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” When Sally Ride said that, she meant that it was hard to dream of being an astronaut, like she was, or a doctor or an athlete or anything at all if you didn’t see someone like you who already had lived that dream. She especially was talking about seeing women in jobs that historically were held by men.
I wrote the first She Persisted
and the books that came after it because I wanted young girls—and children of all genders—to see women who worked hard to live their dreams. And I wanted all of us to see examples of persistence in the face of different challenges to help inspire us in our own lives.
I’m so thrilled now to partner with a sisterhood of writers to bring longer, more in-depth versions of these stories of women’s persistence and achievement to readers. I hope you enjoy these chapter books as much as I do and find them inspiring and empowering.
And remember: If anyone ever tells you no, if anyone ever says your voice isn’t important or your dreams are too big, remember these women. They persisted and so should you.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter 1: Baby Helen
Chapter 2: Changes
Chapter 3: The Most Important Teacher
Chapter 4: Life Lessons
Chapter 5: Dream It, Do It
Chapter 6: Helen's Legacy
How You Can Persist
By the time Helen Keller was ten years old, people all around the world knew her story—the little girl from Tuscumbia, Alabama, who was blind and deaf, and who had learned to write and speak. Helen would later use those skills to go to college, write bestselling books, and give speeches around the world. She inspired millions of people to not let their challenges hold them back.
But before all that, Helen was an ordinary baby.
Of course, Helen’s parents didn’t think she was ordinary. To them, she was precious and extraordinary.
Helen Keller was born on a summer day in 1880. She was a baby who started talking befor she was even a year old. Here are some of the first things she said:Tea tea teaHow d’ye
(an informal way of saying “How do you do?”)Wah-wah
(Helen’s way of saying “water”)
Helen was curious and active, too. She loved the sounds of the birds and the colors of the fields and trees on her family’s farm. By her first birthday, she’d started to walk. Her parents marveled at all the things she could do. It was a very happy time.
Then something terrible happened. When Helen was just a year and a half old, she became sick. So sick that doctors told her parents she could die. Her body was hot with high fevers. Helen’s mother stayed beside her and tried to soothe away all the bad feelings.
Eventually, Helen's fever broke. Her parents were grateful to know that their little girl would live. But they began to notice her life would be different.
Copyright © 2021 by Courtney Sheinmel with introduction by Chelsea Clinton; illustrated by Alexandra Boiger and Gillian Flint. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.