Kentucky Girls Books

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Our books look back hoping to inspire the future.

All of our books -- those we have already written and those still to come -- feature brave, resourceful Kentucky girls in historically accurate and realistic settings. In this respect, they're very similar to the well-loved American Girls books, except our books are all set in Kentucky, not other locations across the United States.

We did this because of our experiences with our own daughters. They grew up in Kentucky and, as they progressed through the Kentucky school system, we saw how weak the state's history curriculum was, especially when it came to addressing women’s issues. "Wouldn't it be great," we mused, "if there were American girls' books about Kentucky." -- That's when we decided to create some.

They tell stories of Kentucky girls who succeeded to encourage others who want to succeed.

By presenting thoughtful and dynamic girls from all parts of Kentucky's past we hope to encourage today’s Kentucky girls to be aware of women’s history, to appreciate women’s issues, and to be pro-active in securing their own rightful places in today’s world.

We especially want readers between the ages of 7 and 12 to identify with the heroines of our stories and realize that other girls -- including those from different cultural backgrounds, from different parts of the state, and from different time periods -- all face problems similar to their own. We hope this will encourage them to draw on their own strengths and resourcefulness to tackle whatever challenges come their way.

It's bittersweet to realize that our own daughters have grown up and are no longer young enough to fully enjoy and benefit from our Kentucky Girls Books, but, perhaps, their daughters will. We also hope that you and the young girls in your life will too.

Our dream is to have our books become a popular educational resource that can be used in schools and libraries. We would love to have our Kentucky Girls Books included in the official curriculum for teaching Kentucky history in elementary schools. But, don't think our books were written to be textbooks. They weren't. Neither were they written to be tour guides or history books. They're adventure stories about young girls, written specifically for young girls. They do offer insights into the lives of girls who lived in different times, places and situations, but they are first and foremost meant to be fun to read.

Shaker Village was a great place to start.

Our first three books are set in the 1830s in the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill near Lexington. We wrote about it because it was such a unique and successful institution for its time and place. Today, it's a living history museum.

The Shakers were a religious community and were very progressive in their thinking. They were also highly innovative in finding ways to work more efficiently. These traits helped them be financially successful. They were also socially and politically progressive. They treated everyone equally and even freed any slaves who were brought to the village by their masters.

They also educated girls which many places did not do. This alone made Shaker communities one of the best possible places for women and girls to live as 10-year old Betsy, the hero of our first three books, learned after her parents died.

The Mammoth Cave region came next.

In the 1920s during what were called "the cave wars," automobiles were just becoming popular and were changing American ideas about travel and vacations. And, people in Kentucky who owned caves were turning them into tourist attractions.

The hero of our two cave books is 12-year old Torry, a girl who is as much at home in the twisting, dark passages of caves as she is on sun-dappled paths above ground. She wants to learn the gimmicks and gotcha's of attracting tourists to help her family compete with other cave-owners and make money from the new travel boom.

Then music called us to Renfro Valley.

Music has always been a part of life in Kentucky, whether it was called mountain music, old-time music, traditional music, or country music. In the 1930s, a new-fangled invention called radio came along and helped make Renfro Valley the "musical capital" of Kentucky.

Country barn dances had been occurring in rural areas almost forever, but putting them on the radio made them a craze everywhere. Crowds would line up to attend them in person, and thousands more would listen to them on the radio. Eager to cash in on this, some clever folks in Refro Valley decided to host big barn dances with some of the best-known musicians and set up their own radio station. When they did, musicians flocked to Renfro Valley hoping to perform in concert or on the radio. This included lots of young girls who thought they had good voices and wanted to break into show business. Our book tells a story of one of them.

And in coming years . . .

Future books will introduce other fictional girls and explore Kentucky’s other culturally rich and historically diverse times and places.

We may explore coal camps in Eastern Kentucky, horse farms in the Bluegrass region, riverboats on the Ohio River, the mountain culture of Appalachia, or any number of other places and people living in any time from the 1770s up to today.

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