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Start them young - "Girls Who Build" aimed at youngsters

Mike Matejka
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Gracie is a glazier, Olive an operator and Adeline an apprentice in a delightful new book aimed at younger readers, Girls Who Build, by Painters District Council 30’s Marisa L. Richards.

With two young girls, Marisa was searching the bookstore aisle and on-line sites – where was the book that could introduce her daughters to the trades?  Her search was fruitless, so she decided to write her own book.

Girls Who Build is an easily accessible, brightly illustrated volume that shows diverse girls on the job, from an apprentice to all the various trades, hard at work with an inviting smile while they practice their crafts.

Marisa said that she serves on multiple committees and the discussion is always on how to expand the construction trades’ diversity. “Why don’t we start the conversation earlier?” she noted.  “We can show girls that they have agency and teach girls about construction.  The need was so unmet in this space.”

Marisa is a University of Illinois graduate in Creative Writing with a minor in Gender and Women’s Studies. Since 2011 she has served as the Outreach and Engagement Program Manager for Painters District Council 30 in Aurora.

In her position she has worked on improving policies and also implementing sexual harassment  training to ensure all are welcome and supported at the worksite.  Outreach efforts are centered toward high school and middle school students but Marisa saw value in exposing younger girls.  Chicago Women In the Trades is an organization she has worked with and they helped lead the sexual harassment training for the Council. She said that this active group “is an example for the nation.”

As the book reaches young readers, Marisa hopes that “at the very minimum this story can inspire one girl just to see the possibilities that she is capable of.  I had many strong females in my life and there were many strong females in the stories I was reading when I was young.  This book might have the ability to impact one girl like books impacted me. I wanted to show young girls what the construction trades were and help them see themselves in those careers.”

Just as a building trades worker is proud when a project is completed, Marisa is enjoying the whirlwind with her book’s completion and the many positive comments.

If you have young girls in the preschool, first to second grade age, this would be a most appropriate book to share.  They will enjoy the bright colors, all the girls’ names that match with their trade and the upbeat, positive attitude.  Even if you don’t have young girls in your life, this would be a wonderful book for a local union or individuals to purchase for area kindergartens, grade schools and day care centers.

Books can be ordered at, $22 for a hard cover edition, plus shipping.