Fantastic Individuals

Known or unknown, all of these individuals made the world a better place.  Your students will be amazed and inspired!

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Annie and Helen.  Deborah Hopkinson.  Schwartz & Wade, 2012.
This beautifully written biography focuses on Annie Sullivan’s amazing journey as Helen Keller’s teacher, beginning when Helen was age 7.  It includes excerpts of letters Annie wrote to her former teacher describing her frustrations and belief in Helen’s intelligence. A captivating true story that will leave kids wanting to find out more about this dynamic duo.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 2nd-5th grade

Barnum’s Bones: How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous Dinosaur in the World.  Tracey Fern.  Farrar Straus Giroux, 2012.
Naming him after P.T. Barnum, Brown’s parents hoped that he would do something extraordinary.  As a toddler, he followed behind his father’s plow and picked up fossils.  His passion led him to become the paleontologist who first discovered a T. Rex skeleton.  His skills also enabled him to be a spy in both world wars, gathering geographic and geological information fro the U.S.  This lively and fascinatingly told story gets my vote as the best picture book biography of 2012.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 3rd-6th grade

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.  William Kamkwamba.  Dial, 2012.
William had to drop out of school in Malawi at age 14 because of drought and famine.  He spent a lot of time in the library where he learned about windmills.  He built his first windmill with scavenged items.  Several years later he built one that could provide irrigation to his village.  Inspiring!  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 3rd-4th grade


The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau.  Michelle Markel.  Eerdmans, 2012.
Henri Rousseau started painting in his 40’s.  His self-taught style faced much criticism in the art world, yet he believed in his art and persevered. Well written and beautifully illustrated.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud K-4th grade

Hanging Off Jefferson’s Nose: Growing Up on Mount Rushmore.  Tina Nichols Coury.  Dial, 2012.
Gutzon Borglum did not live to complete the monument he designed on Mount Rushmore.  His son, Lincoln, stepped in to complete the job.  This is a fascinating look at how huge challenges were overcome as these great carvings were created.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 3rd-6th grade

I, Galileo.  Connie Christensen.  Alfred K. Knopf, 2012.
In this beautiful picture book, the “father of modern science” looks back at his own life when he was blind and condemned to prison in his own home, and not allowed to discuss science with anyone.  It is impossible not to be awed by his hunger for knowledge and many, many monumental accomplishments.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 3rd-6th grade

It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw.  Lee & Low Books, 2012.
Traylor was a former slave who began drawing at age 83.  All his life, Bill  saved memories and kept them “deep inside.”  When he became homeless in his 80’s, he began drawing from these memories on pieces of cardboard and selling them on the streets of Montgomery.  A moving and inspiring story.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 3rd-6th grade

Rachel Carson and Her Book that Changed the World.  Laurie Lawlor.  Holiday House, 2012.
Rachel Carson’s lonely childhood led her to observe and develop a love and respect for all of nature.  She attended college on a scholarship and became a biologist and environmentalist, which were fields not generally open to women at the time.  This biography is a great way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the publication Silent Spring, showed the dangerous effects of chemicals on the world.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 2nd-4th grade
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