J.K. Rowling turns 50 today. To honor the golden birth anniversary of the author who’s charmed billions with tales of a boy wizard named Harry, we’re spotlighting women whose careers have worked magic with children everywhere.
Here are a few imaginative influencers worth sharing alongside a bedtime story or with a roomful of grown-up dreamers.
Lizzie Magie the game-changing game maker
"I am thankful that I was taught how to think and not what to think."
~ the daughter of an Illinois newspaperman + abolitionist
~ a poet + actor who supported herself with stenography + journalism
~ an outspoken activist who designed educational games to promote progressive causes
According to the Monopoly myth, the game was invented by a man during the Great Depression. But, its roots date back decades earlier ~ when Elizabeth Magie Phillips patented The Landlord’s Game in 1904 and sold it to Parker Brothers for $500 in 1935.
The left-leaning Lizzie grew up at the turn of the century, when rapid industrialization was making many wary of emerging trusts + robber barons. She set out to design a game that would teach kids to take on the Carnegies and Rockefellers of the world by showing how the dice are stacked against everyday people.
Instead, her little landlords delighted in playing monopolists. Monopoly became the world’s most popular board game while Lizzie + her social critique were written out of the story.
The mother of Monopoly was also a vocal feminist. Discover more about Lizzie’s radical PR stunts...like placing an ad that made fun of marriage by offering to sell herself to the highest bidder...
J.K. Rowling the wizarding wordsmith
"We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better."
~ a Classics + French major raised in England
~ the self-described “worst secretary ever” who was always distracted by story-writing at work
~ a billionaire + the best-selling British author
J.K. Rowling’s magnum opus ~ Harry Potter ~ came to her in flash of inspiration. Sitting in a stalled train on its way to London’s King’s Cross, she imagined the 9 ¾ platform that would become the mythic gateway to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
It took the struggling single mom 7 years to see her vision into print. The Bloomsbury publishers who took a chance on the boy wizard put out a run of 1000 on her first novel in 1997. Today, the 7-book series has been translated into 68 languages and sold over 450 million copies. Not to mention, inspired blockbusters, online communities + a theme park!
Jo has already impacted countless kids through her literature. Today, she’s changing lives through philanthropy. Hear more about her witty + generous advocacy for single parents and underprivileged children. And, how you can join Jo in imagining a better world...
Debbie Sterling the toymaker on a mission
"Any girl you know is so much more than just a princess."
~ a New England girl whose high school math teacher convinced her to pursue a STEM career
~ one of the few girls in her class as a Stanford engineering student
~ the founder and ceo of a startup launched by a 2012 Kickstarter campaign
When Debbie Sterling was applying for colleges, she didn’t even know what it meant to be an engineer. Today, she’s making sure that other girls aren’t being enculturated out of STEM by taking on the traditional toy-store “pink aisle.”
The social entrepreneur created a company to invent the toy she wishes her kid self would’ve had ~ GoldieBlox. Besides helping to transform the demographics of a field that’s still 86% male, Debbie is innovating the toy industry.
Her early product testing proved: when you combine simple construction with story, girls care more about the things they’re building. Debbie’s designs pair books starring the adventurous kid inventor Goldie with signature building sets...to assemble a parade float, zip line or dunk tank.
Find out more about how Debbie makes problem solving fun. And, see how you can help grow GoldieBlox so that our girls literally build the future...
inspire a kid today
Share the books behind our quoteurs and watch new role models emerge!
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Ever wonder who’s behind the great content on our site?
Meet Meghan, one of the earliest members of the Quotabelle team. A trained librarian + indexer, wife of an army officer and mother of 2 young sons, she brings rigor to how we source + share quotes and stories.
Her family has long called her Jiminy Cricket...she always lets her conscience be her guide.