A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Itâ€™s the birth date of Clement C. Moore (1779-1863) The Night Before Christmas, and Walter Edmonds (1903-1998), Drums Along the Mohawk.
- The artist Rembrandt (1606-1669) was also born on this day. Read What Makes a Rembrandt a Rembrandt? by Richard MĂĽhlberger.
- In 1922, the first duck-billed platypus is publicly exhibited in the United States, at the New York Zoo. Read Platypus by Chris Riddell, Platypus! By Ginjer L. Clarke, illustrated by Paul Mirocha, and A Platypus, Probably by Sneed B. Collard III, illustrated by Andrew Plant.
- Itâ€™s National Rabbit Week (July 15â€“21). Read Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson; Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by Maurice Sendak; Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd; and the Max and Ruby series by Rosemary Wells.
- Itâ€™s I Love Horses Day. Read The Black Stallion by Walter Farley and National Velvet by Enid Bagnold.
- Itâ€™s Cow Appreciation Day. Read Cow by Jules Older, illustrated by Lyn Severance; Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin; Amazing Cows: Udder Absurdity for Children by Sandra Boynton; and Meow Said the Cow by Emma Dodd.
On July 15, 1868, an author who had been known for worthy adult writingâ€”a novel called Moods and a Civil War memoir Hospital Sketchesâ€”finished the first half of a book that would secure her literary immortality. This was not an adult book but a girls’ story. Louisa May Alcott had actually bristled when her editor suggested she write such a manuscript; she had no interest in creating books for girls at all. In her diary she mentions that besides her three sisters she knew very little, if anything, about young women. In the end, however, every person has the authority to write for children because each of us has once been a child.
Always in desperate need of money to support her family, Alcott decided that she and her three sisters might, indeed, provide some intriguing subject matter for a childrenâ€™s book. Beginning in May of 1868, she turned out the first half of Little Women in a mere ten weeks. In it she related the story of the four March girlsâ€”determined Jo, beautiful Meg, saintly Beth, and artistic Amyâ€”who struggle with the Civil War, its aftermath, and their poverty. With a modest printing of two thousand copies, the first half of Little Women, which appeared in the fall of that year, became an immediate sensation. Alcott finished the rest of the manuscript a few months later, and it was published in March of 1869. The book we know today contains both volumes.
By the time she wrote the rest of the book, Alcott had already heard from enough of her readers to know they universally wantedâ€”much as they often do todayâ€”Jo March to marry the wealthy Laurie, her best friend who loves her. But Alcott, who always claimed that she wanted to paddle her own canoe, had no patience for pat solutions for her beloved female character. Jo would take another, more unconventional, path.
Because of this artistic decision, Jo March may have inspired more women over the yearsâ€”including Hilary Clinton and French philosopher Simone de Beauviorâ€”than any other character in a childrenâ€™s book. As actress Julianne Moore says in Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Childrenâ€™s Book, â€śFrom Jo I learned that a woman could chooseâ€¦that she has a choice about her career.â€ť
Thank you, Louisa May Alcott for deciding to write that girlsâ€™ story. It is the longest in print American classic for children and has encouraged readers to think outside the box for over 140 years.
Hereâ€™s a passage from Little Women:
â€śWhat in the world are you going to do now, Jo?â€ť asked Meg, one snowy afternoon as her sister came tramping down the hall, in rubber boots, old sack and hood, with a broom in one hand and a shovel in the other.
â€śGoing out for exercise,â€ť answered Jo, with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes.
â€śI should think two long walks this morning would have been enough! Itâ€™s cold and dull out; and I advise you to stay warm and dry, by the fire, as I do,â€ť said Meg, with a shiver.
â€śNever take advice! Canâ€™t keep still all day, and, not being a pussy-cat, I donâ€™t like to doze by the fire. I like adventures, and Iâ€™m going to find some.â€ť
Originally posted July 15, 2011. Updated for .