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Why Kids Need to Know More About Female Christian Role Models

 
Laura Caputo-Wickham | April 20th 2021

Whenever I was given the opportunity to dress up, as a child, my options were often limited to Princess or Fairy (except for the year my mother decided to dress me up as a clown, turning me into the laughing-stock of my preschool).

Fast forward several years… 

Keep going… 

It’s the 2020s and my social media feeds burst with pictures of my friends’ little girls, proudly wearing the purple and green sashes of suffragettes, or sporting the trademark eyebrows and colourful costumes of Frida Kahlo. My own 7-year-old once asked me to help put a Marie Curie costume together and my heart soared as I tied ribbons around her fake Nobel medals as if she’d just won them herself.

But, how has this fantastic step forward been possible? 

Many things contributed, of course, but one particular trend that I’m sure has had a huge effect is the increase in children’s biographies.

For far too long, the word ‘Biography’ was associated with the image of dusty tomes, stacked on the bookshelves of stuffy professors’ studies. But all this changed the moment these were made accessible and available to young children. Stories of great men and women of the past have been re-told through bold images and simple language.  

"I too jumped onto the 'kids’ biography bandwagon' but I soon started wondering about the stories of another group of people, who are perhaps less known. Stories where success is not measured by medals or fame, but by humble hearts and Godly service.”

Children get to be inspired by the success of women such as Amelia Earhart, Florence Nightingale, Ada Lovelace and more. Just like them, they feel encouraged to pursue their own dreams, no matter what. 

As a mum of two girls, I too jumped onto the “biography bandwagon” and enthusiastically added these books to our bedtime stories selection. But I soon started wondering about the stories of another group of people, who are perhaps less known. Stories where success is not measured by medals or fame, but by humble hearts and Godly service. Stories of women who followed God’s will, often against all odds, and who got to experience first-hand His protection, provision, power.

There is no shortage of examples of devoted faith and selfless love in the lives of many women from all periods of history and walks of life. Their stories need to be told, as they can have a huge impact in our children’s lives.

Here are, I believe, some of the lessons we can learn from them.

They teach us about God

Reading about Corrie ten Boom, an inspiring Dutch woman, who risked her life to rescue hundreds of Jewish men and women during World War Two, even to the point of being locked in a concentration camp, we learn so much about God. It was His love for His people that inspired Corrie to help her neighbours and friends. It was His power that protected her. His strength that kept her going. His forgiveness that she mirrored when, years after the war, she faced the men and women that put her through such pain. God was at work in her and her life is a testimony of that.

Corrie ten Boom

Corrie ten Boom

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Inspiring children's biography of Corrie ten Boom, who saved hundreds of Jewish people during World War 2.

They can comfort us when things look bleak

Betsey Stockton was a woman born enslaved in nineteenth century America, who travelled across the Pacific Ocean to share the good news of the Gospel with the people of Hawaii. During her 5-month journey she faced challenges, moments when the Pacific was more the Terrific. Times of loneliness and desolation stuck on a stinking whaling ship in bad weather. But Betsey found comfort in God’s word. Whether we’re navigating the ocean or the choppy waters of a challenging friendship, we too can be strengthened by God’s promises.

Betsey Stockton

Betsey Stockton

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Inspiring children's biography of Betsey Stockton, who, despite being born enslaved, followed her dream of being a missionary.

They’re relatable

The main characters of these extraordinary stories are no fairies nor princesses, but ordinary women. 

Missionary Gladys Aylward, for example, came from a working-class family in London. Rejected by missionary school for her academic performance and with no money to buy a train ticket, Gladys had to work extra hard to achieve her dream of serving the people of China.

Gladys Aylward

Gladys Aylward

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Inspiring children's Christian biography of Gladys Aylward, who endured lots of scary adventures to be a missionary in China.

Betty Greene grew up in a Christian family during the Great Depression and was the only girl of four siblings. It only took one flying lesson to ignite her passion for flying and inspire her ministry of serving God in the most remote parts of the world.

Betty Greene

Betty Greene

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Inspiring children's Christian biography of Betty Greene, whose dream to fly and to be a missionary came true.

And finally, they inspire us

I remember sitting at the edge of my seat whenever my Sunday school teacher read a missionary story to us. I loved journeying across China with Gladys Aylward, crossing predators-infested waters with Mary Slessor, and walking the bustling streets of India with Amy Carmichael. These stories are inspiring and create little sparks in the hearts of little children everywhere, helping them to realise that they too can do great things for God.

Discover children’s biographies of great Christians in our Do Great Things For God series. 

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