The Great Big Picture Book Biographies Roundup
History was one of my absolute favorite subjects in school. What is more exciting than learning about incredible events and people who have shaped the world we know today? From clever inventors and scientists, to brilliant musicians and artists, to courageous heroes standing up for their beliefs—it’s impossible to run out of groundbreaking people to discover. So, mini (and grown-up) history buffs, it’s time to get busy reading these vibrant and engaging picture book biographies!
I Am an American
by Martha Brockenbrough
by Grace Lin
Illustrated by Julia Kuo
An ALA Notable Book for Children
Winner of the Woodson Award
He challenged the Supreme Court on his right to be called citizen—and won
When American-born Wong Kim Ark returns home to San Francisco after a visit to China, he’s stopped and told he cannot enter: he isn’t American. What happens next would forever change the national conversation on who is and isn’t American. After being imprisoned on a ship for months, Wong Kim Ark takes his case to the Supreme Court and argues any person born in America is an American citizen.
I am an American: The Wong Kim Ark Story is an important picture book that introduces young readers to the young man who challenged the Supreme Court for his right to be an American citizen and won, confirming birthright citizenship for all Americans.
Saving the Day
by Karyn Parsons
Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
From Karyn Parson's critically acclaimed Sweet Blackberry video series comes the little known story of Garrett Morgan, an African American inventor who created the traffic signal.
Before Garrett Morgan became a successful inventor and saved countless lives with his creations, he was a little boy with a head full of ideas on how to make life better for everyone.
At a tumultuous time filled with racism and discrimination, Garrett became a prominent business man and skilled inventor who produced the traffic signal, a gas mask, and others objects still used today.
This second book from the award-winning children's film series founded by Karyn Parsons, Sweet Blackberry, comes a little-known story about a man whose talent would be a gift to the world.
Her Name Was Mary Katharine
by Ella Schwartz
Illustrated by Dow Phumiruk
A rousing picture book biography of the only woman whose name is printed on the Declaration of Independence.
Born in 1738, Mary Katharine Goddard came of age in colonial Connecticut as the burgeoning nation prepared for the American Revolution. As a businesswoman and a newspaper publisher, Goddard paved the way for influential Revolutionary media. Her remarkable accomplishments as a woman defied societal norms and set the stage for a free and open press. When the Continental Congress decreed that the Declaration of Independence be widely distributed, one person rose to the occasion and printed the document—boldly inserting her name at the bottom with a printing credit: Mary Katharine Goddard.
Here is an important biography of a groundbreaking woman who had the courage to write herself into the history she helped create.
Hold On to Your Music
by Mona Golabek
by Lee Cohen
Adapted by Emil Sher
Illustrated by Sonia Possentini
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.
A true story of courage, survival, and determination, this compelling tribute to a gifted young girl has already touched the lives of many around the world. Originally published in 2017 for older readers, The Children of Willesden Lane has sold hundreds of thousands of copies globally; now this picture book retelling will inspire a new generation.
by Suzanne Slade
Illustrated by Don Tate
The true story of the high-flying Harlem Globetrotters -- the team that changed basketball forever.
In this book you will find one-finger ball-spinning, rapid-fire mini-dribbling, and a ricochet head shot!
Perkin's Perfect Purple
by Tami Lewis Brown
by Debbie Loren Dunn
Illustrated by Francesca Sanna
Leave It to Abigail!
by Barb Rosenstock
Illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley
Everyone knew Abigail was different.
Instead of keeping quiet, she blurted out questions. Instead of settling down with a wealthy minister, she married a poor country lawyer named John Adams. Instead of running from the Revolutionary War, she managed a farm and fed hungry soldiers. Instead of leaving the governing to men, she insisted they "Remember the Ladies." Instead of fearing Europe's kings and queens, she boldly crossed the sea to represent her new country. And when John become President of the United States, Abigail became First Lady, and a powerful advisor.
Leave it to Abigail--an extraordinary woman who surprised the world.
Featuring the true stories of 35 women creators, ranging from writers to inventors, artists to scientists, Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World inspires as it educates. Readers will meet trailblazing women like Mary Blair, an American modernist painter who had a major influence on how color was used in early animated films, actor/inventor Hedy Lamarr, environmental activist Wangari Maathai, architect Zaha Hadid, filmmaker Maya Deren, and physicist Chien-Shiung Wu. Some names are known, some are not, but all of the women had a lasting effect on the fields they worked in.
The charming, information-filled full-color spreads show the Dreamers as both accessible and aspirational so readers know they, too, can grow up to do something amazing.
The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee
by Julie Leung
Illustrated by Julie Kwon
Discover an inspiring picture book biography about Hazel Ying Lee, the first Chinese American woman to fly for the US military.
Hazel Ying Lee was born fearless—she was not afraid of anything, and the moment she took her first airplane ride, she knew where she belonged. When people scoffed at her dreams of becoming a pilot, Hazel wouldn't take no for an answer. She joined the Women Airforce Service Pilots during World War II. It was a dangerous job, but Hazel flew with joy and boldness.
This moving, true story about a groundbreaking figure will inspire young readers to challenge barriers and reach for the sky.
Winner of the Randolph Caldecott Medal and the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award
Jean-Michel Basquiat and his unique, collage-style paintings rocketed to fame in the 1980s as a cultural phenomenon unlike anything the art world had ever seen. But before that, he was a little boy who saw art everywhere: in poetry books and museums, in games and in the words that we speak, and in the pulsing energy of New York City. Now, award-winning illustrator Javaka Steptoe's vivid text and bold artwork echoing Basquiat's own introduce young readers to the powerful message that art doesn't always have to be neat or clean--and definitely not inside the lines--to be beautiful.