Thinking about being a witch for Halloween? Consider forgoing the warts and pointy hat for a more historically accurate costume—like dressing up as Joan of Arc and Anne Boleyn.
Throughout the ages, women who transgressed societal norms have been named witches and faced punishments like imprisonment and death. Author and artist Lisa Graves tells their misunderstood stories in History’s Witches, a engaging 32-page book for kids released by Xist Publishing last month. The book uses an engaging, illustrated infographic style to draw readers in. Graves also runs site History Witch, which updates frequently with the tales of both famous and little-known witches in history, complete with their own illustrations.
History's Witches pairs very simple biographies of women who were persecuted for their decisions with the eye-popping illustrations, challenging the idea of what it means to be a witch that kids pick up from from pop culture. Here's an excerpt from the page on Joan of Arc:
As the book lays out, the name “witch” has historically been used a means of controlling women. Catherine de Medici was called a witch for placing her sons into powerful positions in the court. Oftentimes, elderly, poor, or mentally ill women were labeled witches and driven out of towns. Some, such as Agnes Bernauer, were called witches and killed simply for trying to cross class lines; in other cases, calling a woman a witch was the easiest way to get her money or land.
History’s Witches lends voice to these women who fell outside society’s boundaries, and gives the reader a historical context to the ideas of marginalization and bullying. I recommend checking it out for the young person in your life, just in time for a Halloween discussion.