PPBF: Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?

TITLE:  Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?

AUTHOR: Tanya Lee Stone

ILLUSTRATOR: Marjorie Priceman

PUBLICATION INFO: Henry Holt/Christy Ottaviano, 2013

ISBN: 9780805090482

SOURCE: library

INTENDED AUDIENCE: ages 4 and up

GENRE: nonfiction picture book


“I’ll bet you’ve met plenty of doctors in your life. And I’ll bet lots of them were women. Well, you might find this hard to believe, but there once was a time when girls weren’t allowed to be doctors.”

From the publisher:

“In the 1830s, when a brave and curious girl named Elizabeth Blackwell was growing up, women were supposed to be wives and mothers. Some women could be teachers or seamstresses, but career options were few. Certainly no women were doctors.

But Elizabeth refused to accept the common beliefs that women weren’t smart enough to be doctors, or that they were too weak for such hard work. And she would not take no for an answer. Although she faced much opposition, she worked hard and finally—when she graduated from medical school and went on to have a brilliant career—proved her detractors wrong. This inspiring story of the first female doctor shows how one strong-willed woman opened the doors for all the female doctors to come.”

THEMES/TOPICS: science, biography

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: Tanya Lee Stone’s voice is pitch perfect in this book. She writes in a zippy, irreverent tone that’s a perfect match for Elizabeth’s personality and Priceman’s illustrations. Stone proves that picture book biographies don’t have to be stuffy, even if the protagonist hails from the 1800s.


  • What child doesn’t like to pretend to be a doctor? Fisher-Price offers this classic.
  • A readers’ guide and alignment to Common Core State Standards guide is available through Stone’s Web site.
  • ReadWriteThink offers an Elizabeth Blackwell classroom activity.

You’ll find way more cool books at Susanna Leonard Hill’s “Perfect Picture Books.” Every Friday folks review a host of new books. Join us!

21 thoughts on “PPBF: Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?”

  1. Oh, I love this book. I remember growing up rarely seeing female doctors. This is an important story to share — reminds me of TV show Medicine Women with Jane Seymore. I love historical fiction that introduces “the first woman…” as it allows kids to realize that yes they can be whatever they want!

  2. Love the cover! My son continually finds it hard to believe how the world has changed in the past 200 years. But just recently, we were talking about the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and I explained that women still were not included in the language, so we really still don’t have equal rights under the law. He was astounded. He said, “Mom, that’s just stupid. Without women, none of us would be here.” Gotta love my son! Thanks for pointing out this book. It looks like a winner!

  3. I follow Tanya on FB – just yesterday she posted a poignant, handwritten letter she received from a young fan who was passionate that Elizabeth Blackwell deserved more recognition! The book definitely resonates.

  4. I can’t wait to read this. Was up at Geneva admiring the statue of Elizabeth Blackwell a couple years ago, thinking… we need a good PB bio of her. Glad Tanya wrote one – she is an amazing writer.

  5. I like this one. I just returned it to the library. (I wanted to thank you for mentioning The Boy Who Loved Math by Deborah Heiligman and On a Beam of Light by Jennifer Berne in a FB group. They have helped me with a story I am trying to focus.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s