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

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  721 Ratings  ·  195 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
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published January 11th 2011 by National Geographic Children's Books
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Jenni Frencham This looks like a question from a homework assignment. I recommend reading the chapter and finding examples where women did well in bicycle racing…moreThis looks like a question from a homework assignment. I recommend reading the chapter and finding examples where women did well in bicycle racing even though some people didn't think they should do it. (less)

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Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Wow. I had no idea that bicycles had such a profound effect upon American society. This book opened my eyes. Bicycles were cheaper than horses, so more people had transportation, especially women. Because of bicycles, a movement began to pave roads for smoother and less hazardous rides. (And here I thought the automobile started that.) Because of bicycles, women began to adopt more comfortable styles of dress, such as bloomers and shorter skirts. (And here I thought these were just styles adopte ...more
Aug 24, 2011 Kathryn rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 16, 2011 Carol rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Jan 16, 2014 Sesana rated it really liked it
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
Apr 22, 2016 Caitlin rated it really liked it
Wheels of Change is a relatively short, fun look at the history of cycling in the United States and how the bicycling craze contributed to the movement for women's independence.

There are only a few chapters and they deal with the history of the bicycle including the move to mass manufacture them via Alexander Pope and the Columbia Bicycling company, the ways in which women became involved in riding bicycles and the freedom that this added mobility gave them, some of the challenges faced by wome
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
Nov 30, 2011 Barbara rated it really liked it
Shelves: ncbla, strong-women
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
May 12, 2012 Rebecca Binks rated it really liked it
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
May 03, 2011 Betsy rated it really liked it
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
Feb 17, 2014 Anastasia rated it it was amazing
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!).
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
Samantha Stock
Mar 03, 2015 Samantha Stock rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-lit
Nonfiction/Twin Text Entry #1

How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom is a great book published by National Geographic about everything having to do with the invention of the bicycle and how it pertains to women. There is really excellent inclusion of photographs, graphics, quotes, and stories that all flow really nicely together. In the book there is everything from what women were wearing at the time of the invention of the bicycle to songs they sang when they were riding to stories of individual
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
Mar 02, 2012 Jordan Funke rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
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.
Wendy Nelson
Dec 01, 2014 Wendy Nelson rated it it was amazing
Junior Books

Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom
Macy, S., Emmett, J., Hiscott, J., Epstein, L., Ittner, M., Olesin, K., Hill, G., & Bassford, L. R. (2011). Wheels of change: how women rode the bicycle to freedom (with a few flat tires along the way). Washington, D.C.: National Geographic.

YALSA Finalist, SLJ Best Book of 2011

One of the most interesting ways to study history is to view it through a particular lens or device--in this case, the invention and evolution of the b
Dec 08, 2011 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teen-nonfiction
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:)
Jul 08, 2014 Becky rated it really liked it
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
Oct 24, 2014 Kathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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.

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
Edward Sullivan
Fascinating history that links the rising popularity of bicycles with women's struggle for equality.
Jan 07, 2015 Alicia rated it liked it
A slim nonfiction about the collision of women and the bicycle in they 1880s and 90s which does a superb job of capturing the popularity and dissent of the bicycle.

While the books does focus on "how women rode the bicycle to freedom" it wasn't beating you over the head, rather it's a fairly evenly presented narrative nonfiction about the bicycle in the U.S.-- I dare say it spent more time discussing the health, exercise, and competitions of the bike rather than about how women changed and were
Sep 23, 2014 Samantha rated it really liked it
Wow, a lot of information given to the reader with great illustrations and photography. This book merges the history of the bicycle with the path of women's history in the last 1800's and early 1900's. So interesting the way this is set up and the information that is available. Even just the pictures are great, there are paintings, illustrations, photos, and a lot of great older advertisements, such as cigar boxes, sardine cans labels, circus posters, movie posters, playing cards, etc. They all ...more
When I requested this through the inter-library loan I somehow had the impression that this was a photography book. Actually, it was a children's nonfiction book. I still learned a lot, but it was written in a very simple writing style, though if you already know about the early history of bicycles it might not be for you. Me, I'm totally ignorant of two-wheeled propulsion. The book focuses on how bicycles contributed to women's rights by allowing a greater freedom of movement, which I thought w ...more
Mark McGinty
Feb 26, 2011 Mark McGinty rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 20, 2011 Danielle Larca rated it really liked it
"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!),
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
Lauren Stoolfire
Mar 11, 2013 Lauren Stoolfire rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 18, 2011 David rated it really liked it
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
Feb 11, 2012 Heather rated it it was amazing
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
Rebecca H.
Mar 27, 2011 Rebecca H. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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
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