Cheers to high school librarians Karen Huskey and Doréan Dow
for coming up with a brilliant way to educate young female athletes about Title IX, the 35-year-old legislation that prohibits discrimination based on gender in federally funded schools.

Bridging academics and sports, the Hillsboro, Mo. librarians asked the girls’ volleyball team to read "Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX," by Wall Street Journal writer and editor Karen Blumenthal, and to devote the last 30 minutes of four practice sessions to discussion about the book. The coaches agreed to the plan.

"It was the first time students like Amy Stinson and Missy Leonard, both 17, learned that the sports they cherish weren’t always available for girls. They listened with mouths agape as their principal, Cheryl Aylesworth, recalled how she couldn’t play basketball for her high school in the 1960s," writes Christine Byers in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Byers continues:

Huskey and Dow used money from late fees and fines to buy the books for the 11
members of the volleyball team. They dubbed the effort, "One Team, One Book."

Dow admitted she had been doubtful the topic would be compelling
enough to convince the girls to spend their spare time reading about it.

"I wondered, ‘How are we going to get them to read a book they
didn’t select and become involved enough to have a discussion?’" she
said. Asking kids to read books without the condition of being tested
or graded can be difficult given their other academic demands, she
added. "But I didn’t give them enough credit. They wowed me."

Not only did they read and discuss the book, the girls wrote their
thoughts in journals and raced through a cyber-hunt in the school
library to research Title IX.

Amy and Missy frequently discussed the book before their morning
classes — a time usually reserved to catch up on the latest teenage
gossip. Their favorite chapter chronicled the 1976 protest by the Yale
University women’s rowing team. Demanding equal facilities, the women,
sans shirts, stood before their physical education teacher with "Title
IX" scrawled across their bare backs.

"When I read that, I was like, ‘Right on!’" Amy said.

Right on, indeed.

"Let Me Play" is the winner of the 2006 Jane Addams Children’s Book
Award in the Older Children category and has received numerous other
awards and distinctions. Here’s more information about the book. Wall Street Journal subscribers can read an online excerpt.

And for more information about Title IX, including an excellent breakdown of facts and myths, visit


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