More Biographies to Inform and Inspire

Emma’s Poem : The Voice of the Statue of Liberty.  Linda Glaser.  Houghton Mifflin, 2010.
Emma Lazarus lead a privileged life in 1800’s New York.  Meeting poor immigrants during a visit to Ward’s Island in the 1880’s moved her to help.  She helped them learn English and get jobs.  An accomplished writer, she brought awareness of their plight to others.  She was asked, along with other writers, to write a poem to help raise money to build the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty.  She wrote the poem “The New Colossus” in 1883.  Sadly, she died at age 38 before the statue was completed.  Twenty years later a friend had her poem engraved on a plaque and placed inside the entrance to the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 3rd-6th grade

Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade.  Melissa Sweet.  Houghton Mifflin, 2011.
Sweet wonderfully tells the fascinating true story of Tony Sarg who invented the balloons for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.  They debuted in 1928 as Macy’s way of honoring immigrant employees who missed their holiday traditions of music and dancing in the streets.  The illustrations are a combination of collage and watercolors.  Picture book biography at its best.
Read-aloud 1st-4th grade

Clemente!  Willie Perdomo.  Henry Holt & Co., 2010.
Roberto Clemente was the first Latin American inducted into the Baseball Hall of fame.
In this book, a little boy named after him is proud to learn about this role model’s career and charitable work.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 3rd-4th grade
Come See the Earth Turn: The Story of Leon Foucault.  Lori Mortensen.  Tricycle Press, 2010.
Until this French physicist came along, scientists believed that the earth turned on its axis, but couldn’t prove it.  Foucault invented the pendulum that proved it.  Equally fascinating are the details of his difficult life.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 3rd-6th gradeFearless: The Story of Racing Legend Louise Smith.  Barb Rosenstock.  Dutton, 2010.
At age 7, Louise crashed the family car into the chicken coop.  Her love of driving led her to become a female pioneer in the field of auto racing.  Interestsing and exciting, this will appeal to anyone who has a dream.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 3rd-5th grade


Jim Henson: The Guy Who Played with Puppets.  Kathleen Krull.  Random House, 2011.
Whether you love the Muppets or not, this is a fabulous picture book biography.  Henson grew up in the 1930’ before television was available.  He spent his time watching nature, singing, storytelling, reading, writing poetry and drawing.  His first cartoon was published by age 13 and by 16 he was on TV working with puppets.  He lived out his goal  “to be one of the people who made a difference in this world.”  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 4th-6th grade


Queen of the Falls.  Chris Van Allsburg.  Houghton Mifflin, 2010.
Van Allsburg approaches non-fiction in much the same way as he does fiction in this captivating story of Annie Edson Taylor, who at age 62 finds herself widowed, retired from teaching charm school and worried about how she will support herself.  She decides to be the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel in the hopes of gaining fame and fortune.  A captivating story wonderfully told.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 3rd-6th grade




Red Bird Sings:  The Story of Zitkala-Sa, Native American Author, Musician, and Activist.  Gina Capaldi.  Carolrhoda Books, 2011.
At age 8, Zitkala-Sa was sent from the Yankton Sioux reservation in South Dakota to a boarding school in Indiana.  As she mourns the loss of her culture, she also learns that she has a love and talent for music, writing and public speaking.  She became an activist for Native American rights in the early 1920s.  Poignantly portrays the struggle of surviving in two very different worlds.  An exceptional picture book biography.
Read-aloud 3rd-6th grade



Sarah Emma Edmonds Was a Great Pretender: The True Story of a Civil War Spy.  Carrie Jones.  Carolrhoda, 2011.
Sarah Emma Edmonds grew up in Canada in the 1840’s.  Her abusive father wanted her to be a boy, so as a teenager she fled to the United States.  She found life easier of she disguised herself as a man.  She joined the Union Army, serving first as a male nurse and then as a spy.  A courageous young woman,  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 3rd-5th grade



Seeds of Change : Planting a Path to Peace.  Jen Cullerton Johnson.  Lee & Low Books, 2010.
This is the 4th recent picture book about Wanagari Maathai and her Green Belt Movement in Kenya which won her the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize.  Beautifully illustrated,  this one is more comprehensive than the others, so can be used with older kids.  Very inspiring.  Picture Book.  Other picture books about Maathai; Mama Miti: Wanagari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya, Wangari’s Trees of Peace, Planting the Trees of Kenya.
Read-aloud 3rd-6th grade



She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story.  Audrey Vernick.  Collins, 2010.
Effa and her husband, Abe, owned and managed the Newark Eagles, in the Negro League.  She was a tireless champion for her players and became the first woman inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  She was also a civil rights activist.  A fine tribute.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 3rd-4th grade




The Unforgettable Season: The Story of Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and the Record-Setting Summer of ’41.  Phil Bildner.  Putnam’s, 2011.
This amazing tribute will capture the attention of young readers, even if they don’t love baseball.  the records they set have never been broken.  Exciting an inspiring.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 5th-6th grade


The Watcher : Jane Goodall’s Life With the Chimps.  Schwartz & Wade Books, 2011.
This wonderful picture-book biography describes the primatologist’s childhood and her years observing chimps, and her efforts to preserve primates and their habitats.  Beautifully told.  Combine this with Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell.
Read-aloud 1st-4th grade
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2 Replies to More Biographies to Inform and Inspire

  1. Wow! I was searching for an image of Levi Strauss: A Fairly Fabricated Tale About a Pair of Pants and landed upon your blog. What a GREAT blog you have! Love it! Thanks for all your hard work. I do picture book “reviews” too, each Wednesday.

  2. What a great site you have! Love it! Thanks for all your hard work. I especially love that you put the publisher and year published in the first line. Very helpful.

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