There were rigid expectations and limited opportunities for women in Jane Austen’s time. Female education centered on teaching domestic skills and training girls to be marriageable -- a stark contrast to the rigorous academic curriculum offered to their male counterparts. Social status and economic security was achieved through marriage, and women had very few opportunities to be financially independent. Jane Austen didn’t marry and aspired to earn money by writing, an intellectual endeavor that was not considered “ladylike”. These children’s biographies give young readers a glimpse of the woman who quietly rebelled against the limitations for women in Georgian England.
Ages 4-7 (Ages 0-3 for board book version)
Publication Date: June 6, 2019
Austen becomes part of the critically acclaimed Little People, Big Dreams series. Books in this series are written with simple sentences and the inspiring message that no one is too small to follow their dreams. Austen’s book in this series is no exception. Young readers learn about Jane Austen’s childhood in the English countryside and the social expectations of her time period. This biography also touches on how Austen wrote about determined young women who, like her, made their own decisions in a restricted society. With gorgeous, quirky illustrations this biography is the perfect introduction to Austen’s inspirational life. There is also a board book version to be read aloud to babies and toddlers, proving one is never too young to be introduced to Jane Austen!
Publication Date: January 23, 2018
This charming biography is both accessible and extensive, providing young readers with a comprehensive view of Austen that is easy for them to understand. Qin Leng’s softly colored illustrations are delightful for kids and adults alike. Details from Austen’s family life such as the time spent playing games makes her story relatable to kids today. A major focus of this book is Austen’s ability to keenly observe the world and people around her, encouraging young readers to think about their own surroundings. The title highlights both Austen’s talent for writing about ordinary people and events in an extraordinary way and that an ordinary woman had the talent to write such extraordinary novels. This delightful biography also includes a timeline of Jane Austen’s life, brief descriptions of each novel, and a list of internet sources for learning more about Jane Austen.
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Illustrator Jen Corace’s ingenious use of shapes, colors, and textures makes this book a feast for the eyes. Pliscou effortlessly weaves the historical context of and expectations for girls and women in Georgian England into the book. This gives children the background to understand how Austen was brave and rebellious for writing novels and never marrying. This wonderful biography also includes quotes from Austen’s letters and novels, a list of additional sources for kids to learn more about Jane Austen, and quotes from famous admirers of Austen’s work such as Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling who described Austen as “the pinnacle to which all other authors aspire”.
4. Who Was Jane Austen? (Who Was …? series) by Sarah Fabini
Ages 8- 12
Publication Date: December 5, 2017
Part of the popular ‘Who Was…?’ series, this amazing biography for young readers provides extensive information about Austen without being overwhelming. The book is divided into manageable chapters with text boxes that provide additional information about Jane Austen and Georgian England. There are nicely drawn sketches of Austen’s life events, historical figures, and sequences from her film adaptations. A major focus of this biography is Jane Austen’s cultural influence and the connection people today feel with her characters. Any doubts as to why Jane Austen is still an important literary figure will be gone by the end of this engaging biography!
Registration for the 2023 Jane Austen Summer Program, June 15-18, is open now!