Real People Making a Real Difference

These picture book biographies are perfect choices to support Common Core goals in Literary Nonfiction, as well as Science and Social Studies curriculum.

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Colorful Dreamer: The Story of Henri Matisse.  Marjorie Blain Parker.  Dial, 2012.
The clever contrast of black and white drawings through the parts of Henri’s life that he struggled with and didn’t enjoy, with the vivid colors of his dreams and his artwork as it evolved make this picture book biography of the renowned artist a good starting place to learn about his accomplishments as an artist.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 2nd-5th grade


Helen’s Big World : The Life of Helen Keller.  Doreen Rappaport.  Hyperion, 2012.
Beautifully designed, visually appealing this gem focuses on Keller’s extraordinary education provided by Annie Sullivan.  What sets this book apart is the way it incorporates quotes from Keller’s own writing.  Supports Common Core narrative informational text.  Picture Book
Read-aloud 2nd-4th grade



Noah Webster & His Words.  Jeri Chase Ferris.  Houghton Mifflin, 2012.
Noah Webster had many accomplishments.  He standardized spellings and usage of American words in our first schoolbooks, but it wasn’t until age 70 that he published his American Dictionary of the English Language.  What most people don’t know is that he played a significant role as a founding father.  Much of the story is told in “dictionary” format with the right touch of humor.  Supports Common Core narrative informational text.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 3rd-6th grade

Mama Miti : Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya.  Donna Jo Napoli.  Simon & Schuster, 2010.
This is the inspirational story of Kenya’s Wangari Matthai and how she taught the women of Kenya to plant native trees.  This helped to solve problems including hunger and clean water.  She Received the Nobel PeacePrize.  Supports Common Core narrative informational text.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 3rd-6th grade



The Planet Hunter: The Story Behind What Happened to Pluto.  Elizabeth Rysch.  Rising Moon, 2007.
This picture book biography reads like a story as it entertainingly tells of Michael E. Brown’s interest in outer space from the time he was a young child through his research which led him to redefine “planet.”  Fact boxes help to show the scientific process.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 2nd-5th grade
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