Created by: Maggie Chavez
Catching the Moon: The Story of a Young Girl's Baseball Dream
by Crystal Hubbard
Catching the Moon, written by Crystal Hubbard and illustrated by Randy DuBurke, is based on the real life of Marcenia Lyle Stone, aka Toni Stone, who was one of the first women to play professional baseball in the Men’s Negro League in the early 1950’s. Catching the Moon isn’t strictly written as a biography, but it does highlight this aspect of Black women's history.
Catching the Moon is a picture book appropriate for elementary grades that tells the story of a young girl named Marcenia. The book takes us through her journey to becoming a baseball player against all odds. One day when a baseball manager goes to their field, Marcenia plays her heart out in the hopes to be invited to his camp. The manager acknowledges her strong ability but does not allow her to play because she is a girl, even when the boys on the baseball team say she is the best player. Against all odds Marcenia gives the manager a reason to reconsider his decision and also convinces her father that girls can grow up to play sports, and not just homemakers.
This book does a great job at showcasing how strong determination and courage can lead to amazing and sometimes unexpected outcomes. It is crucial that young women of color see opportunity, even when they have to blaze the trail themselves. Since I grew up loving baseball, I had heard of Toni Stone, but I know many people probably have not because her story and the stories of many other women like her are often overshadowed by other Black male sports figures like Jackie Robinson. I really enjoyed this book because I am a Hispanic woman and also grew up as a tomboy who played on baseball teams with boys. Growing up playing baseball led to a lifelong love of the sport and being active outdoors.
The Review of this book was done with the Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards in mind. These standards function as lenses through which we can create anti-bias learning experiences. The four anchors of these standards are Identity, Diversity, Justice, and Action, and there are differing grade level objectives for grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. For this book, we are focusing on standards for grades 6-8.
This book is available for purchase locally at: https://www.powells.com/book/-9781600605727
The audio version of this book is available for free at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgwBvQEe2hQ
Compare & Contrast
Can you think of a time when you set your sights on a goal and achieved it against the odds?
Is there something you have not done or not tried to do because it is not “normal” for your gender or another identity that you hold?
Has anyone ever treated you unfairly or not given you a chance at something because of your gender or race? Have you seen this done to someone you know?
Do you think you would have stood up for Marcenia when the manager said she could not be on the team because she was a girl?
Have you ever heard of Toni Stone before? If you have not, why do you think that is?
Relevant Identity & Diversity Standards for Grades 6-8:
Identity 5: I know there are similarities and differences between my home culture and the other environments and cultures I encounter, and I can be myself in a diversity of settings.
Diversity 9: I know I am connected to other people and can relate to them, even when we are different or when we disagree.
Justice 13: I am aware that biased words and behaviors and unjust practices, laws and institutions limit the rights and freedoms of people based on their identity groups.
Action 17: I know how to stand up for myself and for others when faced with exclusion, prejudice, and injustice.
Action 19: I will speak up or take action when I see unfairness, even if those around me do not, and I will not let others convince me to go along with injustice.
Extending the learning for parents and educators:
Here is a short list of resources for parents and educators to go with this reading. These links will provide a framework for parents and educators who are committed to teaching and practicing gender equity. Links have also been provided for learning about the woman who inspired this book and the many other trailblazing black women in sports.
Tips To Promote Gender Equality In Your Classroom: This article gives 12 tips on how teachers can set up a more gender neutral classroom. By doing this, teachers “are at the forefront of breaking down social norms that promote gender inequality and gender-based violence”.
Classroom activities on gender stereotypes and equality: I would be mindful of the binary presentation of gender in these activities but they are a good stepping stone for raising awareness of gender stereotypes.
How to Discuss Gender Equality with Kids: This article gives good guidance for parents who want to challenge gender stereotypes and learn effective strategies to discuss gender equality with children.
Strong women from our past:
This woman shattered the gender barrier in pro baseball: This article gives a brief overview of the hurdles Marcenia “Toni” Lyle Stone surpassed to become the first woman in professional baseball.
Black Women in Sports: Take some time to look at the history of strong African American female athletes who have emerged as trailblazers in their particular sports over the years, from track and field and tennis, to figure skating and basketball.