Mary Wears What She Wants by Keith Negley
A young girl, Mary, courageously challenges the gender norms in the 1830s. She hates wearing the “heavy-and-hot-and-hard-to-breathe-in dresses” females are expected to wear. One day she wears trousers because she believes don’t always have to be the way they have always been. The townsfolk react with disapproval and shock. As she walks through the town wearing pants, they throw things at her and shout that she should not dress in boys’ clothes.
Mary sits with her father to discuss whether she should follow the people advice and stop wearing trousers. While he doesn’t tell her what to do, he tells her that people can fear what they don’t understand. Mary follows her own rules and says, “I’m wearing my clothes!” She is thrilled when she becomes at trendsetter as other girls decide to wear pants too.
The character of Mary is loosely based on the trailblazing surgeon Mary Edwards Walker who served during the Civil War.
Teaching Resources: Mary Wears What She Wants
These resources relate to the book, author and illustrator. The number of resources varies book to book. Please check they are appropriate for your specific needs before using them with children. If you have any suggestions please get in touch!
- Harper Collins: Mary Wears What She Wants Teaching Guide
- Matthew Winner Website: Mary Wears What She Wants – Interview with Keith Negley
- Keith Negley Official Website
- The Memory Palace Podcast: Episode 76: Mary Walker Would Wear What She Wanted
- Reading Expressions: Discussion Questions
- Take a look inside Mary Wears What She Wants
Books by Keith Negley
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