Books are amazing and serve many purposes. One of those purposes is to inspire the world. They show readers that they be anything they want, or do anything they’ve dreamed of. What helps even more is when the book is about a real person and the story is one where young readers can see themselves reflected in the pages. We have put together a great list of inspiring stories from the real world, perfect for your young reader.
by Mona Golabek
by Lee Cohen
Adapted by Emil Sher
Illustrated by Sonia Possentini
A true story of courage, survival, determination and one girl's escape from the Holocaust to become a concert pianist against all odds. Discover this compelling tribute to a gifted young girl.
In pre-World War II Vienna, Lisa Jura was a musical prodigy who dreamed of becoming a concert pianist. But when enemy forces threatened the city—particularly the Jewish people that lived there—Lisa's parents were forced to make a difficult decision. They chose to send Lisa to London for safety through the Kindertransport—a rescue effort that relocated Jewish children. As Lisa yearned to be reunited with her family while living in a home for refugee children on Willesden Lane, her music became a beacon of hope for those around her.
Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
Sometimes we think we know legends by the things that made them legendary, but we don’t think about the things along the way that helped inspire the legend. Sometimes the before is just as important!
Before Bessie Coleman blazed a high trail with her plane . . . Before she performed in death-defying flying shows that would earn her fame as “Queen Bess” . . . Before she traveled the country speaking out against discrimination, Bessie was a little girl with a big imagination that took her to the sky, through the clouds, and past the birds.
Knocking down barriers one by one, Bessie endured racism and grueling training to become the first black female pilot and an inspiration to Mae Jemison, Josephine Baker, and many more influential people of color for years to come.
Illustrated by Theodora Richards
An inspiring, picture book about family and music that details the electric moment when Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones first picked up a guitar. And what makes it ever cooler is that the book is illustrated by his daughter, Theodora Richards. How awesome this that?
Long before there was a band, there was a boy: a young Keith Richards, who was introduced to the joy of music through his beloved granddad, Theodore Augustus Dupree, affectionately known as “Gus,” who was in a jazz big band and is the namesake of Keith’s daughter, Theodora Dupree Richards. Gus & Me offers a rare and intimate look into the childhood of the legendary Keith Richards through this poignant and inspiring story that is lovingly illustrated with Theodora Richards’s exquisite pen-and-ink collages. This unique autobiographical picture book honors the special bond between a grandfather and grandson and celebrates the artistic talents of the Richards family through the generations. It also includes selected photographs from the Richards family collection.
by Adah Nuchi
Illustrated by Rob Polivka
An inspiring story of an immigrant and the gift he gave his new home. A song that lived on forever becoming one of America’s most celebrated, patriotic songs.
Persecuted as Jews, Izzy Baline and his family emigrated from Russia to New York, where he fell in love with his new country. He heard music everywhere and was full to bursting with his own. Izzy’s thump-two-three, ting-a-ling, whee tunes soon brought him acclaim as the sought-after songwriter Irving Berlin. He ignited the imaginations of fellow countrymen and women with his Broadway and Hollywood numbers, crafting tunes that have become classics we still sing today.
But when darker times came and the nation went to war, it was time for Irving to compose a new kind of song:
A boom-rah-rah song.
A big brass belter.
A loud heart-melter.
A song for America.
And so “God Bless America” was born, the heart swelling standard that Americans have returned to again and again after its 1918 composition.
Illustrated by Don Tate
Get inspired by the true story of the high-flying Harlem Globetrotters—the team that changed basketball forever. The energetic illustrations bring their amazing moves to life on the page!
In this book you will find one-finger ball-spinning, rapid-fire mini-dribbling, and a ricochet head shot! You will find skilled athletes, expert players, and electrifying performers — all rolled into one!
You will find nonstop, give-it-all-you’ve-got, out-to-win-it, sky’s-the-limit BASKETBALL!
You will find The Harlem Globetrotters, who played the most groundbreaking, breathtaking ball the world had ever seen. With rhythmic writing and dynamic illustrations, Swish! is a celebration of the greatness, goodness, and grit of this remarkable team.
Illustrated by Edel Rodriguez
Muhammad Ali was the actual GOAT! He won his titles and medals, had them removed, then proved once again why he was the world’s greatest. This compelling portrait will have readers cheering once again for the late American icon.
Muhammad Ali is considered by many to have been the finest athlete of the twentieth century. Here is a compelling testimony to his courage, resilience in the face of controversy, and boxing prowess by Obie Award-winning author Ntozake Shange. In her own words, Shange shows us Ali and his life, from his childhood in the segregated South, to his meteoric rise in boxing to become the Heavyweight Champion of the World. Edel Rodriguez’s stunning artwork combines pastels, monoprint woodblock ink linework and spray paint on colored papers to capture Ali’s power, spontaneity, and energy. A timeline and list of additional resources in the backmatter help make this a standout picture book biography of the man known around the world as “The Greatest.”
Illustrated by Kerascoet
You know Malala as the Nobel Peace Prize winner bestselling author, but did you know that she wrote a picture book inspired by her own childhood? This beautifully illustrated picture book will inspire young readers everywhere to find the magic all around them.
As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil. She would use it to make everyone happy, to erase the smell of garbage from her city, to sleep an extra hour in the morning. But as she grew older, Malala saw that there were more important things to wish for. She saw a world that needed fixing. And even if she never found a magic pencil, Malala realized that she could still work hard every day to make her wishes come true.