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Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell

4.20  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,047 Ratings  ·  206 Reviews
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 ha
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published February 19th 2013 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
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The Boy Who Loved Math by Deborah HeiligmanOn a Beam of Light by Jennifer  BerneA Splash of Red by Jennifer Fisher BryantLocomotive by Brian FlocaWho Says Women Can't Be Doctors? by Tanya Lee Stone
Childrens NonFiction 2013
5th out of 119 books — 40 voters
The Tree Lady by H. Joseph HopkinsJosephine by Patricia Hruby PowellThe Librarian of Basra by Jeanette WinterMe...Jane by Patrick McDonnellLife in the Ocean by Claire A. Nivola
Picture Books About Outstanding Women
12th out of 293 books — 42 voters

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Community Reviews

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Paul  Hankins
Tanya Lee Stone returns to the picture book format to bring us the story of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman doctor in America. The title alone presents a subtle kind of challenge like the one Elizabeth Blackwell received from Mary Donaldson.

Tanya presents Elizabeth as an "every girl" kind of character, the kind of girl who might not have even envisioned herself in such a role. But the suggestion of a respected friend stuck with Elizabeth, a suggestion that became a kind of gnawing that saw
Jun 16, 2014 Maureen rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
1. Twin Text: Bad Astrid by Eileen Brennan (2013)

2. Rationale: Elizabeth Blackwell went to medical school despite all of the male students that attended Geneva Medical School in upstate New York and community members that surrounded it. She was very determined and a bit stubborn. She was not going to let their opinion affect her attending school. Little Astrid was very stubborn in her own ways but ultimately just wanted a friend once she moved to this new town. I would discuss with students that
Feb 25, 2013 Tasha rated it really liked it
Back in the 1830s, there were no women doctors, only men could have that career. But also growing up in the 1830s was a young girl who would end up changing that. Elizabeth Blackwell was not particularly well behaved: she was always exploring, working to toughen herself up, and even carried her brother over her head until he backed down. Elizabeth had not dreamed of becoming a doctor, but she was inspired when an friend mentioned how much nicer it would have been to be examined by a woman. When ...more
Elizabeth Blackwell defied all odds when she decided she wanted to be a doctor in the 1830s. I loved the snippets about her determination and strong will - she once carried her brother over her head until he backed down from their fight, and she tried sleeping onthe hard floor just to toughen herself up. I thought it was interesting she hadn't always wanted to be a doctor, but when a friend suggested she consider it, there was a seed planted that started to grow. Despite rejection after rejectio ...more
Jul 09, 2013 Michelle rated it really liked it
Audience: Primary
Genre: Biography
Pre-Reading Strategy: Anticipation Guide
An anticipation guide is a comprehension strategy used to activate students' prior knowledge and create curiosity about the book.
I would create an anticipation guide with the following 4 statements.
* There have always been women doctors.
* Elizabeth Blackwell was first encouraged by her brother to become a doctor.
* Elizabeth Blackwell had troubles getting accepted to medical school.
* The students at medical school wanted Eli
Brittany Clark
Oct 15, 2014 Brittany Clark rated it really liked it
This book is a Children's Biography of Elizabeth Blackwell- one of America's first female doctors. The story begins when Elizabeth is an adventurous child with a lot of chutzpah for a girl at that time. As she grows older, a friend of Elizabeth's mentioned that it might be nice to be seen by a female doctor for once, and that inspires Elizabeth to want to become one herself! She applies to many, many schools and is rejected, but finally one school accepts her and she is able to attain her goal o ...more
Apr 02, 2014 Dolly rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
I wanted to read some books about inspirational women with our girls in honor of Women's History month. We just missed getting to read this book in March, but I was still thrilled to discover this book about the life of Elizabeth Blackwell.

We first learned about the first female doctor in America from reading Judy Moody. The main character frequently mentions Ms. Blackwell as her personal hero, so I was excited to find a picture book biography about her.

The narrative is short and entertaining
Feb 19, 2013 Heidi rated it it was amazing
There are more and more great picture book biographies being published about ordinary people who did extraordinary things. I love it. This is another great one to add to the list. Elizabeth Blackwell was clearly a strong-willed person from the time she was little. I loved the examples the author shares illustrating this, for example carrying her brother over her head until he gave in on whatever it was they fought about, and sleeping on a hard floor to 'toughen' herself up. I also really liked t ...more
Feb 13, 2014 Z rated it really liked it
This inspirational picture book biography tells the true story of the first woman doctor in America. A spunky, determined brave and curious girl who never walked away from a challenge grew into an adventurous strong-willed pioneering woman who graduated with the top grades in her all-male class. The richly colored, whimsical, swirly, vivid gouache-and–India ink drawings delight & highlight the short and lively, easy to read text, which is jam-packed with information about both Blackwell and ...more
Sarah Adamson
This is a really great picture book exploring the story of Elizabeth Blackwell, the girl who went onto become the first woman doctor in the U.S. Beautiful illustrations and provided lots of background information to help explore the problem, the boundaries, and how she overcame it all.
May 05, 2013 Ann rated it it was ok
I wonder who this book is for. It is filed under juvenile biography at my library. But the cute, clever (clichéd) text--"Elizabeth Blackwell, that's who. A tiny wisp of a girl who wanted to explore around every corner and who never walked away from a challenge"--is more suited to an easy book. All the really interesting facts about Blackwell are in the two-page author's note at the back; so it's not a good resource for a school assignment. My grandmother who was born in Turkey in 1900 became a p ...more
Jul 13, 2015 Karen rated it really liked it
Shelves: jacob, ellie, mom
Interesting book. Shows determination. Mom rates 4 stars and kids 3 stars. They liked it but wouldn't read it again.
Cheryl Dickemper
I love the fun and conversational style of Tanya Lee Stone's narration, the inspirational story, and Marjorie Priceman's playful illustrations! This is a great and obvious choice for women's history, but the sassy narrative style and the story about overcoming obstacles has universal appeal. Any kid who's ever been told he (or she) "can't" grow up to be something will identify with young Elizabeth and find something to appreciate here. The bright illustrations call to mind both Raschka and Bemel ...more
Katie Nelson
Fountas, I. C., & Pinnell, G. S. (2006). Understanding the demands of nonfiction texts. Teaching for
comprehending and fluency: Thinking, talking, and writing about reading, K-8 (185 - 187).
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Hapka, C., Farley, R., Brantz, L., & Scotton, R. (2014). Splat the cat goes to the doctor.
Camp, D. (2000). It takes two: Teaching with twin texts of fact and fiction. Reading Teacher, 53(5),

I chose Splat the Cat Goes to the Doctor to pair with this nonfiction tex
Karissa Kelly
Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors? Is based on the story of Elizabeth Blackwell. She never expected to become a doctor, but once a friend mentioned the idea to Elizabeth, she couldn't get the idea out of her head. Therefore, she applied to many colleges, but they all turned her down. Until, Geneva Medical School in upstate New York, said yes. They wanted to play a practical joke on her, but the joke was on them because Elizabeth was determined to be a doctor. She eventually graduated at the top of ...more
Mishaela Littlefield
Apr 21, 2016 Mishaela Littlefield rated it really liked it
As Elizabeth Blackwell grew up in the 1830's, people firmly believed that women were solely born to be wives and mothers. If they wanted to work, they had two options: to be a schoolteacher or to become a seamstress. They weren't allowed to be dentists or doctors, in fact, those jobs were set firmly for men. No one dared to try and defy the rules until Blackwell's friend, Mary Donaldson, urged her to become a doctor. Donaldson said she would be much more comfortable being examined by a woman whe ...more
Jan 28, 2016 Safina rated it it was amazing

Appropriate for grades 3-4

Summary: It is hard to believe today that there was at time when there were no women doctors. When and how did that change? It started with the birth of Elizabeth Blackwell, almost two hundred years ago. She was an adventurous, daring girl who never took 1CNo 1D for an answer, persevering until she got a 1CYes 1D. So when her friend Mary Donaldson is very sick and tells her how she would so much like to have had a female doctor, the idea that she could be that doctor he
Nov 12, 2015 Alyssa rated it it was amazing
Tanya Lee Stone writes the biography, "Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors?" The biography is about a young girl in the 1830s, named Elizabeth Blackwell. When she was growing up woman were suppose to be wives and mothers. Career choices for woman were limited but they definitely were not doctors.
Elizabeth went against her generation and refused to accept that woman aren't smart enough to be doctors or are unable to handle the hard work that comes with being a doctor. She never gave up and was full
Jane LoBosco
May 04, 2015 Jane LoBosco rated it it was amazing
I absolute love this book because it shows that women truly have no limitations in life. This book is the story of Elizabeth Blackwell, a woman growing up in the 1800s, who was told she could only have a job that was suitable for girls. Women were really supposed to be wives and mothers, and not take on a career, but that was not going to work for Elizabeth Blackwell. I love the message that this book teaches to children, no matter if they are boys or girls. It is so important to teach children ...more
Apr 26, 2015 Taylor rated it really liked it
• The book, Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell, is the story of the first woman doctor. After applying to many schools and being rejected by twenty-eight, Elizabeth was finally accepted to the Geneva Medical School, and shocked the people that once laughed at her idea of becoming a physician. She graduated with the highest grades from her class and proved that women can do anything that men can do. Elizabeth’s hard work and determination opened the doors and was th ...more
Mar 26, 2015 Rachel rated it it was amazing
At one time the thought of a female doctor was ridiculed, now it is not, this is the tale of one of those pioneering women that took the first step. Elizabeth Blackwell was considered an eccentric girl for the 1800's, she was curious, bold, and unafraid to tussle with the boys. When she decided to become a doctor many laughed. She sent out letter after letter, persevering after each rejection until a college in New York accepted her. Even there she was persecuted for being a woman, but she overc ...more
Ziwei Cheng
Dec 02, 2014 Ziwei Cheng rated it it was amazing
This book is talking about the world first female doctor. Elizabeth Blackwell was the first doctor in the world. Before she became a doctor she was really afraid of blood. Nobody believed that she could become a doctor. Before 1830 girls were abandoned doing a lot of things. Elizabeth wanted to challenge herself. Actually, she always did not have some advantages for the career of becoming a doctor. But she not always wanted to be a doctor. She was scared of sick people and the real eye balls. S ...more
Rachael Mack
Dec 01, 2014 Rachael Mack rated it really liked it
Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? Is a children’s book about the first woman doctor, Elizabeth Blackwell. The story tells the story of how Elizabeth began life not wanting to be a doctor at all. It was not until a friend fell ill and mentioned to Elizabeth how she would feel more comfortable having a woman for a doctor. This really inspired Elizabeth and she began her journey to become a doctor. Although the journey presented many challenges and not a lot of people took her seriously, Elizabeth p ...more
Nov 28, 2014 Jake rated it really liked it
Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors?, written by Tanya Lee Stone, is an interesting biography about Elizabeth Blackwell's inspiring journey to become the first women doctor. After years of being declined from getting into college, she finally gets accepted. Although it seems that everything will work out perfect, her fellow students make sure to let her know that women should not be doctors.

The illustrations in this story are very colorful and cartoonish. This creates a more relaxed vibe instead of
Nov 26, 2014 Kaitlin rated it really liked it
Elizabeth Blackwell was a woman who was ahead of her time. She was outgoing but didn’t like to be fussed over as a child. In fact, Elizabeth never even thought of becoming a doctor because it was only acceptable for woman to be seamstresses or teachers. Yet, her whole perspective radically changed when Elizabeth’s friend, Mary, becomes sick and muses out loud that she wishes she had a female doctor to look after her. This is the beginning of Elizabeth Blackwell’s realization that you can be what ...more
Nov 23, 2014 Amy rated it really liked it
In the 1830s, it was very rare for women to be doctors. They were known to be housewives and such, maybe occasionally one could find a teacher or such, but most women stayed at home while their husbands worked the professional jobs. This book took chasing your dreams to whole new level. They gave off a great message of how one should never give up on a dream they have, or a challenge they have chosen to accept. The illustrations were very well done and had a sort of “sloppy” look to them, making ...more
Katie Hanrahan
Nov 18, 2014 Katie Hanrahan rated it really liked it
Look into the history of female roles in medicine in Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors? by Tanya Lee Stone. Elizabeth Blackwell paved the bumpy road for females becoming doctors in the United States. Read through her trials in this kid-friendly biography. Without Dr. Blackwell, the medical field might still be dominated by men.

This book provides sufficient information about the life of Elizabeth Blackwell and her determination. It also brings up some of the issues surrounding her time period, such
Victoria Hawkins
Nov 18, 2014 Victoria Hawkins rated it it was amazing
Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? By Tanya Lee Stone expresses how a women became the first women doctor. During the 1800s all doctors were males, until a young women named Elizabeth Blackwell became the first women doctor. During Blackwell’s childhood women were only supposed to be housewife, teachers, mothers, and seamstresses. The town’s people said that women were not smart enough to be doctors but Elizabeth did not let that stop her. Once Elizabeth was old enough to go off to medical school ...more
Alexis Adelman
Nov 18, 2014 Alexis Adelman rated it it was amazing
This book is a book all about Elizabeth Blackwell. She was the first woman to be a doctor. The only problem was that in her day and age, women were supposed to stay home and be housewives. They weren't supposed to work, only men worked. Elizabeth didn't start out wanting to be doctor, she actually really disliked many things that came with being a doctor like blood. But one day her friend that was very ill told her she should be a doctor. Elizabeth thought about it for a while and decided she wo ...more
Oksanna Scheidt
Back in the day, it was believed that women should grow up to be housewives and mothers but along comes a girl named Elizabeth Blackwell who questioned this belief. She took it upon herself to try out being a doctor. At first, she was disgusted by the thought of working with blood and other bodily fluids but soon enough, she came to realize that that is what she wanted to do. She applied to colleges and took it the whole 9 yards but got rejection letter after rejection letter. Elizabeth was dete ...more
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Tanya Lee Stone is an award-winning author of books for kids and teens. Her work, which includes YA fiction (A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl), picture books (Elizabeth Leads the Way and Sandy's Circus), and nonfiction (Almost Astronauts and The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie) has won national awards such as the ALA's Sibert Medal, SCBWI's Golden Kite Award, YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction, Jane Add ...more
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