Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way)
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Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way)

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  520 ratings  ·  162 reviews
NCSS—Notable Social Studies Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies 2012

School Library Journal Best Books of 2011

Finalist YALSA Excellence in Non Fiction for YoungAdults

SLJ’s 100 Magnificent Children’s Books of 2011

Amelia Bloomer List

Take a lively look at women's history from aboard a bicycle, which granted females the freedom of mobility and helped empower women's libe...more
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published January 11th 2011 by National Geographic Children's Books
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Kathryn
Aug 24, 2011 Kathryn rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: cycling enthusiasts and those interested in an important chapter in the women's rights movement
"Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel." -- Susan B. Anthony, February 2nd, 1896.

Though Ms. Anthony was too advanced in years by the time the cycling craze came about to ride one herself, she saw in it a grand advancement for women's rights as the bicycle led them to more freedom of mind, body and spirit. This, then, is the story of how women "rode t...more
Carol
I was absolutely delighted by Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way). Of course there are other books that outline the history of the bicycle but the unique quality of Macy’s is her look at how it changed and shaped the woman’s world in the 1800’s wheeling us right into the present day.

I was surprised to see that our library is the only library that owns this book in the state of Connecticut and that’s a shame as there is a lot to be learne...more
Sesana
Brief, with plenty of illustrations, Wheels of Change ended up being a much more interesting read than I had thought it would. Macy argues that the bicycle, with its inherent freedom of movement and the freedom of clothing that successfully riding one required, was an important factor in the women's movement at the time. It makes immediate sense, of course. For most young women, this would have been their first and only taste of freedom, something that they would have been unwilling to entirely...more
Ms. McCall
An easy-to-read, colorful and heavily illustrated nonfictional read, Wheels of Change provides a fresh, new take on the history of the bicycle and how important an instrument it was in helping women break out of their gender roles as early as the mid 1800s. The book is organized chronologically, although I did tend to find when it came to national and international competitive races nearing the end that it was difficult to comprehend the time frame. Wheels of Change uses straightforward vocabul...more
Barbara
This is an incredibly informative book that is a treat to read. I've always been a history buff despite the dearth of material on women in the history books I studied in school. Had I been lucky enough to have seen this book as a middle grader, I would have snapped it up. Macy shows how the invention and subsequent popularity of the bicycle led to more freedom for women. Suddenly, women were able to move from place to place on their own, and with that mobility came a need for more freedom, often...more
Rebecca Binks
Wheels of Change was a finalist in the Excellence in Young Adult Nonfiction category for YALSA-ALA in 2011. It uses blended-narrative form to reveal the impact that the bicycle has had on the lives of women. Women today take a lot of their freedoms for granted, but the bicycle was key in terms of both increase self-reliant mobility and less restrictive clothing for women. Many would be shocked to know that the bicycle was initially considered to lead girls “into paths that lead directly to sin.”...more
Betsy
A history book for kids can do any number of things. It can concentrate on a topic that has been well-documented in adult books, synthesizing and simplifying the text so that a 10-year-old could understand what is written there. Or it can do original research, never seen before on the adult page, culling from a variety of sources and coming up with something wholly new. The former nonfiction history book is pretty common. Even bestsellers like An Inconvenient Truth and Fast Food Nation end up wi...more
Anastasia
This is such a great little book. It's billed as a kids' book, but I don't really think it is one. It's a great, short history of the intersection between women's history and the rise of the bicycle. The section on racing and long distance cycling records set by women was my favorite part. I can't believe how many miles some of those women rode (one woman did a century [100 miles] EVERY day for 20 days in a row!).
Sonya
Apr 06, 2014 Sonya added it
In Wheels of Change by Sue Macy, the author explains how bicycles helped women all around the United States to gain freedom and justice. This book takes place in the United States from 1770's to the 1920's. Throughout the book there are different important women that make differences by riding bikes or being a woman to be on the ballot for presidency. All women make a difference, according to Macy, and will want to be noticed for their contribution.

This book was not my favorite book because I wa...more
Suzette Kunz
This is a fun history of women and bicycling. Macy makes the point that bicycles offered women more freedom and tied in with other changes in women's rights. This quote was funny: "I can't see but that a wheel (bike) is just as good company as most husbands. I would as well talk to one inanimate object as another; and I'd a great deal rather talk to one that can't answer than one that won't."
Jordan Funke
First of all, it's a great theme, one that I never would have guessed. It's also beautiful. Graphics, layout, and text work together so nicely. I consider myself fairly well-educated about this period in history and I still learned a lot. The level is perfect for middle school or lower high school and is interesting enough and visually appealing enough to hold students' interest.
Jennifer
I appreciated the slightly cheeky tone, colorful design, and short, meaty chapters of this unusual history book. Teen girls will find the section where health professionals of the day were concerned that “the shape of the bicycle seat, or saddle, could damage or overstimulate the pelvis” particularly amusing:)
Becky
I read this book to find out if it could be a non-fiction companion novel for Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly. It is going to work very well. It really helps young adults understand how restrictive the social norms and dress code of the late 1890's. The students really don't quite understand just how little freedom women in the late 19th and early 20th century had. This book not only helps them understand that they also learn about the bicycle and how it allowed young people particularly wom...more
Kathy
A National Geographic Book.
It has the look of a magazine, with great vintage pictures and good writing.
Just a short history of the bicycle and the influence on women during its heyday.

I never thought of my bicycle this way before.

laura
Apr 02, 2011 laura marked it as to-read
Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel.” -Susan B. Anthony
Mark McGinty
The celebration of International Women’s Day 2011, a global day to recognize the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future, is perhaps a perfect time to look at how the bicycle changed women’s lives in the late 19th Century and helped them ride to freedom. Sue Macy and National Geographic bring us Wheels of Change, an excellent full-color book on the history of the bicycle’s impact on society and the lives of women. To men, the bicycle was a toy but to women i...more
Danielle Larca
"Let me tell you what I think about bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel." -Susan B. Anthony (1896)

Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way) documents the rise of the bicycle in American culture and the social impact it had on women. Cycling was fun, good for your health (once they fixed the design so you wouldn't take a header!),...more
Penny Johnson
This was a quick and fascinating read. As a bicyclist myself I really enjoyed learning about the history of cycling in past centuries. I once again marveled at how far we have come in regard to women's rights. I am so grateful for generations before me that fought for equality.

The illustrations were fun just by themselves: depictions of advertisements, trading cards, cigar boxes, and more all celebrating women on wheels. Bicycling even influenced women's fashions, as they found the heavy pettico...more
Lauren Stoolfire
In this book, Macy details the history of bicycles from the 1880s to 1900 in the context of women’s rights, freedom, and societal restrictions. She discusses the invention of the bicycle in its different styles leading up to what we are presently familiar with and how women became key riders in the wheel craze which opened up opportunities available to them. In relation, she also discusses how cycling began to have an effect on clothing styles for women. The bicycle presented freedom of transpor...more
David
Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way) by Sue Macy is a look at women's history regarding the bicycle, which granted females the freedom of mobility and helped empower women's liberation.

Wheels of Change transports young readers into the past to see how women used the bicycle to improve their lives. The book deftly covers early (and comical) objections, influence on fashion, and impact on social change inspired by the bicycle. The scrapbook...more
Heather
Why are the two books released in 2010 related to women and cycling both classified as children's books? This book is pretty great, and I suspect would be equally educational and otherwise valuable to most adults. The research is top-notch (I discovered something I could use in my thesis, so I know it's good material!), the writing done well, the design interesting, and the illustrations rich.

A couple of very minor complaints: some of the background illustrations are placed in such a way that ma...more
Rebecca H.
This weekend I had the pleasure of reading a book about women and cycling called Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way) by Sue Macy. It’s a wonderful book. It’s a fast read, at only 96 pages with lots of pictures and not a lot of text; it’s aimed at a young adult market, but great for anybody interested in the subject.

The pictures themselves were wonderful: pictures of cool old bicycles, of old advertisements for bikes and cycling gear, of w...more
Veronica
Do you remember the freedom you felt once you were old enough to get a two-wheeled bike and allowed to zoom around your neighborhood? Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat tires Along the Way) by Sue Macy recalls when women first got their own set of wheels and set off unescorted into the world.

And that whole unescorted thing really ticked off conservatives at the time. As Macy notes in chapter 2, The Devil's Advance Agent, in the late 1800s women and men dated...more
Ed
Macy, Sue. (2011). Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way). Washington D.C.: National Geographic. 96 pp. ISBN 978-1-4263-0761-4 (Hard Cover); $18.95.

Impeccable research, vintage archival images, and an engaging narrative flow characterize Macy’s scintillating and often humorous look at how the bicycle pumps up our view of women in our society. I especially enjoy the long list of “don’ts” for women wheelers in the Omaha Daily Bee. “Don’t carr...more
Colleen
Macy, Sue. Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (with a Few Flat Tires Along the Way). Washington, D.C: National Geographic, 2011. Print. 96 p. 9781426307621

This historical nonfiction book analyzes the way bicycles helped empower women. It describes the first bicycles (can you believe some women actually rode bicycles side saddle?!) and it details how bicycles allowed women to ditch hoop skirts for pantaloons!

What I found really interesting is that there were many female athl...more
Katie
Bicycle history and first-wave feminism are deftly woven into a five-chapter narrative tracing the impact of the "silent steed" on 19th-century America. The historical tour begins in the 1870s, when Albert Pope imported the bicycle industry from England, and then navigates the social commentary of the 1890s concerning women on bicycles. Next the book delves into the significant fashion changes wrought by this new form of transportation and the daring exploits of the first female competitive cycl...more
Amanda Wall
Pairing:
Because of the large numbers of female teenagers seeing the movie Fast and the Furious 6, I chose the nonfiction book Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (with a Few Flat Tires Along the Way). This book details how the invention of the bicycle in the 19th century allowed women a huge measure of freedom. The bicycle allowed women to travel freely and independently. Its invention even began changing women’s fashion.

Book Citation
Macy, Sue. Wheels of Change: How Women R...more
Christina
A fun look at the history of bicycles, and also at how bicycling helped give women more freedom. Illustrated with many photographs, advertisements, cartoons, and even sheet music of popular songs about bicycling (did you know there were many pop songs about bicycling *other* than "Daisy" the song about a bicycle built for two? I didn't, until I read this book!). Bikes were a big deal, from the very early "high wheel" models looking like tricycles with large front wheels, to later "safety" bikes...more
Kyle
This book is fairly lightweight and aimed at young adults but it's engaging, informative, and full of great photos and illustrations of women cyclists (mostly from the 1890s-1910s). It's a quick read but the endnotes added five or six more books and a handful of articles to my reading list.

Some parts that made an impression on me:
*The feud between endurance riders Jane Yatman and Jane Lindsay
*The rather amazing factoid that male Cambridge students hanged an effigy of a woman *on a bicycle* to p...more
Beth G.
Macy explores the history of bicycling and women's rights, and how each affected the other, in this appealing volume. Vintage photographs, newspaper blurbs, and fun facts pepper the pages in the style of a full-color scrapbook. In the first chapter, Macy covers the invention of the bicycle and its rise in popularity, then turns her focus squarely on women cyclists. From public condemnation of the "spectacle" of a woman on a bike to changes in fashion spurred by the need for more bike-friendly cl...more
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“Let me tell you what I think about bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel.' -Susan B. Anthony (1896)” 0 likes
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