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20th Century: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best kids books about 20th century?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to 20th century. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about 20th century.

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid, and you can also use our table of contents to jump to particular topics you think your kid will enjoy.

When it comes to children’s stories about 20th century, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life to popular sellers like Number the Stars to some of our favorite hidden gems like From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

We hope this list of kids books about 20th century can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.

Top 10 Books About 20th Century

Diana’s White House Garden book
#1
Diana’s White House Garden
Written by Elisa Carbone & illustrated by Jen Hill
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Diana Hopkins lived in a white house. THE White House.

World War II is in full force across the seas. It’s 1943, President Roosevelt is in office, and Diana’s father, Harry Hopkins, is his chief advisor. And Diana wants to be part of the war effort. After some well-intentioned missteps (her quarantine sign on her father’s office door was not well-received), the President requests her help with his newest plan for the country’s survival: Victory Gardens! From award-winning author Elisa Carbone comes the true story of how Diana Hopkins started her own Victory Garden on the White House lawn under the tutelage of Eleanor Roosevelt. With dedication and patience, she showed the nation that the war effort started first on the homefront.

The Crayon Man book
#2
The Crayon Man
Written by Natascha Biebow & illustrated by Steven Salerno
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Celebrating the inventor of the Crayola crayon! This gloriously illustrated picture book biography tells the inspiring story of Edwin Binney, the inventor of one of the world’s most beloved toys. A perfect fit among favorites like The Day the Crayons Quit and Balloons Over Broadway. purple mountains’ majesty, mauvelous, jungle green, razzmatazz… What child doesn’t love to hold a crayon in their hands? But children didn’t always have such magical boxes of crayons. Before Edwin Binney set out to change things, children couldn’t really even draw in color. Here’s the true story of an inventor who so loved nature’s vibrant colors that he found a way to bring the outside world to children – in a bright green box for only a nickel! With experimentation, and a special knack for listening, Edwin Binney and his dynamic team at Crayola created one of the world’s most enduring, best-loved childhood toys – empowering children to dream in COLOR!

Elizabeth Leads the Way book
#3
Elizabeth Leads the Way
Written by Tanya Lee Stone & illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

Elizabeth Cady Stanton stood up and fought for what she believed in. From an early age, she knew that women were not given rights equal to men. But rather than accept her lesser status, Elizabeth went to college and later gathered other like-minded women to challenge the right to vote. Here is the inspiring story of an extraordinary woman who changed America forever because she wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.

Elizabeth Leads the Way is a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children’s Book of the Year.

Audrey Hepburn book
#4
Audrey Hepburn
Written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara & illustrated by Amaia Arrazola
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

This board book version of Audrey Hepburn—an international bestseller from the beloved Little People, BIG DREAMS series—introduces the youngest dreamers to this iconic Hollywood movie star.

Audrey Hepburn grew up in Arnhem in the Netherlands. After living through the hardships of World War Two, she moved to study ballet in London. She went on to star in plays and films, eventually becoming one of the most iconic actresses of all time. Babies and toddlers will love to snuggle as you read to them the engaging story of this fascinating star, and will also enjoy exploring the stylish and quirky illustrations of this sturdy board book on their own.

Maya Angelou book
#5
Maya Angelou
Written by Lisbeth Kaiser & illustrated by Leire Salaberria
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

Meet Maya Angelou, the world’s most beloved writer and speaker! Now available as a board book in the Little People, Big Dreams series, this inspiring and informative little biography follows the life of Maya Angelou, from her early traumatic childhood to her time as a singer, actress, civil rights campaigner and, eventually, one of America’s most beloved writers of poetry, memoirs, and essays. With stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, this empowering series celebrates the important life stories of wonderful women of the world. From designers and artists to scientists, all of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. These books make the lives of these role models accessible for children, providing a powerful message to inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world!

What Is Given from the Heart book
#6
What Is Given from the Heart
Written by Patricia C. McKissack & illustrated by April Harrison
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

This final, magnificent picture book from three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner and Newbery Honor author Patricia McKissack is a poignant and uplifting celebration of the joy of giving.

“Misery loves company,” Mama says to James Otis. It’s been a rough couple of months for them, but Mama says as long as they have their health and strength, they’re blessed. One Sunday before Valentine’s Day, Reverend Dennis makes an announcement during the service— the Temples have lost everything in a fire, and the church is collecting anything that might be useful to them. James thinks hard about what he can add to the Temple’s “love box,” but what does he have worth giving? With her extraordinary gift for storytelling, McKissack—with stunning illustrations by Harrison—delivers a touching, powerful tale of compassion and reminds us all that what is given from the heart, reaches the heart.

Hello, Neighbor!: The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers book
#7
Hello, Neighbor!: The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers
Written by Matthew Cordell
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

The only authorized picture book biography of Mister Rogers, written and illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Matthew Cordell.

How was Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood created, and who was the man that started it all? This moving and informative picture book explores the history of this acclaimed television show and its inspiring creator in an accessible way for children.

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was groundbreaking in its own quiet, generous way. It introduced art, professions, food and even highlighted difficult subjects, like losing a loved one and divorce. This information was delivered both by live performers, like Fred Rogers himself and through a lively cast of puppets who lived in the land of make believe.

Backmatter includes a short biography of Fred Rogers as well as exclusively published archival photos provided by Fred Rogers Productions, and an essay from the author.

Available shortly after the release of the Mister Rogers’ biopic, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood starring Tom Hanks, this is the perfect picture book for all who appreciate the power and beauty of Fred’s mission.

Thoroughly illustrated with lively and captivating drawings, by Caldecott-winning author and illustrator Matthew Cordell, Hello, Neighbor! captures the spirit of the beloved television show.

A Junior Library Guild Selection!

Amelia Earhart book
#8
Amelia Earhart
Written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara & illustrated by Mariadiamantes
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Meet Amelia, the fearless female flier! Now available as a board book in the Little People, Big Dreams series, this inspiring and informative little biography follows the life of Amelia Earhart, from her childhood as a tomboy to becoming the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean to her eventual disappearance. With stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, this empowering series celebrates the important life stories of wonderful women of the world. From designers and artists to scientists, all of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. These books make the lives of these role models accessible for children, providing a powerful message to inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world!

The House That Jane Built book
#9
The House That Jane Built
Written by Tanya Lee Stone & illustrated by Kathryn Brown
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

This is the story of Jane Addams, the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, who transformed a poor neighborhood in Chicago by opening up her house as a community center.

The Matchbox Diary book
#10
The Matchbox Diary
Written by Paul Fleischman & illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

Follows a girl’s perusal of her great-grandfather’s collection of matchboxes and small curios that document his poignant immigration journey from Italy to a new country.

Table of Contents
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Books About 20th Century and Performing Arts

Audrey Hepburn
Written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara & illustrated by Amaia Arrazola
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

This board book version of Audrey Hepburn—an international bestseller from the beloved Little People, BIG DREAMS series—introduces the youngest dreamers to this iconic Hollywood movie star.

Audrey Hepburn grew up in Arnhem in the Netherlands. After living through the hardships of World War Two, she moved to study ballet in London. She went on to star in plays and films, eventually becoming one of the most iconic actresses of all time. Babies and toddlers will love to snuggle as you read to them the engaging story of this fascinating star, and will also enjoy exploring the stylish and quirky illustrations of this sturdy board book on their own.

Hello, Neighbor!: The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers
Written by Matthew Cordell
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

The only authorized picture book biography of Mister Rogers, written and illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Matthew Cordell.

How was Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood created, and who was the man that started it all? This moving and informative picture book explores the history of this acclaimed television show and its inspiring creator in an accessible way for children.

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was groundbreaking in its own quiet, generous way. It introduced art, professions, food and even highlighted difficult subjects, like losing a loved one and divorce. This information was delivered both by live performers, like Fred Rogers himself and through a lively cast of puppets who lived in the land of make believe.

Backmatter includes a short biography of Fred Rogers as well as exclusively published archival photos provided by Fred Rogers Productions, and an essay from the author.

Available shortly after the release of the Mister Rogers’ biopic, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood starring Tom Hanks, this is the perfect picture book for all who appreciate the power and beauty of Fred’s mission.

Thoroughly illustrated with lively and captivating drawings, by Caldecott-winning author and illustrator Matthew Cordell, Hello, Neighbor! captures the spirit of the beloved television show.

A Junior Library Guild Selection!

Fred's Big Feelings: The Life and Legacy of Mister Rogers
Written by Laura Renauld & illustrated by Brigette Barrager
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

An inspiring picture book biography about the inimitable Fred Rogers, beloved creator and star of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

Fred Rogers was a quiet boy with big feelings. Sometimes, he felt scared or lonely; at other times, he was playful and joyous. But when Fred’s feelings felt too big, his Grandfather McFeely knew exactly what to say to make him feel better: I like you just the way you are.

Fred grew up and created Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, the television program that would go on to warm the hearts and homes of millions of Americans. But one day, the government threatened to cut funding for public television, including Fred’s show. So, Fred stepped off the set and into a hearing on Capitol Hill to make his feelings known.

In a portrait full of warmth and feeling, Laura Renauld and award-winning illustrator Brigette Barrager tell the story of Mister Rogers: a quiet, compassionate hero whose essential message—that it is okay to have and to express feelings—still resonates today.

This book is not associated with or authorized by Fred Rogers Productions.

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Legendary Miss Lena Horne - Celebrate the life of Lena Horne, the pioneering African American actress and civil rights activist, with this inspiring and powerful picture book from award-winning author Carole Boston Weatherford. You have to be taught to be second class; you’re not born that way. Lena Horne was born into the freedom struggle, to a family of teachers and activists. Her mother dreamed of being an actress, so Lena followed in her footsteps as she chased small parts in vaudeville, living out of a suitcase until MGM offered Lena something more—the first ever studio contract for a black actress. But the roles she was considered for were maids and mammies, stereotypes that Lena refused to play. Still, she never gave up. “Stormy Weather” became her theme song, and when she sang “This Little Light of Mine” at a civil rights rally, she found not only her voice, but her calling.

  2. You Are My Friend: The Story of Mister Rogers and His Neighborhood - A heartwarming picture book that celebrates the work of Mister Rogers and carries on his legacy of kindness Mister Rogers is one of the most beloved television personalities, but before he was the man who brought us Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, he was just little Freddie Rogers. Though he was often sick and had trouble making friends as a child, his mom and grandfather encouraged him to ask for help and explore the world. With their support, he learned how to better say what he was feeling and see the beauty around him. As he grew up, he realized he could spread the message of compassion, equality, and kindness through television. You Are My Friend is a gentle homage to Fred Rogers and shows how his simple message still resonates with us today: “There’s no person in the world like you and I like you just the way you are.” The book includes a short biography of Fred’s life and a bibliography.

  3. Dolly Parton: My First Dolly Parton - This board book version of _Dolly Parton_—from the critically acclaimed, multimillion-copy best-selling Little People, BIG DREAMS series—introduces the youngest dreamers to the incredible life of this singer-songwriter and businesswoman. Little Dolly grew up in Tennessee in a family “as poor as dirt.” She started performing at an early age, singing on local radio and television. After graduating high school, she moved to Nashville to pursue her singing dreams. Her managers wanted her to sing pop, but she followed her heart to sing and write country songs. Her heart was right—Dolly became a musical superstar, but she never forgot where she came from. She now uses her wealth to give back to people, children, and animals in need. Babies and toddlers will love to snuggle as you read to them the engaging story of this fascinating musician and will also enjoy exploring the stylish and quirky illustrations of this sturdy board book on their own. Little People, BIG DREAMS is a best-selling series of books and educational games that explore the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream. This empowering series offers inspiring messages to children of all ages, in a range of formats. The board books are told in simple sentences, perfect for reading aloud to babies and toddlers. The hardcover versions present expanded stories for beginning readers. Boxed gift sets allow you to collect a selection of the books by theme. Paper dolls, learning cards, matching games, and other fun learning tools provide even more ways to make the lives of these role models accessible to children. Inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world with Little People, BIG DREAMS!

  4. Jose! Born to Dance - José was a boy with a song in his heart and a dance in his step. Born in Mexico in 1908, he came into the world kicking like a steer, and grew up to love to draw, play the piano, and dream. José’s dreaming took him to faraway places. He dreamed of bullfighters and the sounds of the cancan dancers that he saw with his father. Dance lit a fire in José’s soul. With his heart to guide him, José left his family and went to New York to dance. He learned to flow and float and fly through space with steps like a Mexican breeze. When José danced, his spirit soared. From New York to lands afar, José Limón became known as the man who gave the world his own kind of dance. ¡OLÉ! ¡OLÉ! ¡OLÉ! Susanna Reich’s lyrical text and Raúl Colón’s shimmering artwork tell the story of a boy who was determined to make a difference in the world, and did. José! Born to Dance will inspire picture book readers to follow their hearts and live their dreams.

Books About 20th Century and Artists

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Written by E.L. Konigsburg
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

2017 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the beloved classic From the Mixed-up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

In this winner of the Newbery Medal from E.L. Konigsburg, when suburban Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, she knows she doesn’t just want to run from somewhere, she wants to run to somewhere—to a place that is comfortable, beautiful, and, preferably, elegant.

Coco Chanel
Written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara & illustrated by Ana Albero
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Meet Coco Chanel, the world famous fashion designer! Now available as a board book in the Little People, Big Dreams series, this inspiring and informative little biography follows the life of the iconic first lady of fashion, from her early life in an orphanage – where she is a genius with needle and thread – to her time as a cabaret singer, hat maker and, eventually, international fashion designer. With stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, this empowering series celebrates the important life stories of wonderful women of the world. From designers and artists to scientists, all of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. These books make the lives of these role models accessible for children, providing a powerful message to inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world!

Cloth Lullaby
Written by Amy Novesky & illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010) was a world-renowned modern artist noted for her sculptures made of wood, steel, stone, and cast rubber. Her most famous spider sculpture, Maman, stands more than 30 feet high. Just as spiders spin and repair their webs, Louise’s own mother was a weaver of tapestries. Louise spent her childhood in France as an apprentice to her mother before she became a tapestry artist herself. She worked with fabric throughout her career, and this biographical picture book shows how Bourgeois’s childhood experiences weaving with her loving, nurturing mother provided the inspiration for her most famous works. With a beautifully nuanced and poetic story, this book stunningly captures the relationship between mother and daughter and illuminates how memories are woven into us all.

Honorable Mentions
  1. If Picasso Painted a Snowman - -If someone asked you to paint a snowman, you would probably start with three white circles stacked one upon another. Then you would add black dots for eyes, an orange triangle for a nose, and a black dotted smile. But if Picasso painted a snowman….-

  2. A Poem for Peter - A celebration of the extraordinary life of Ezra Jack Keats, creator of The Snowy Day. The story of The Snowy Day begins more than one hundred years ago, when Ezra Jack Keats was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. The family were struggling Polish immigrants, and despite Keats’s obvious talent, his father worried that Ezra’s dream of being an artist was an unrealistic one. But Ezra was determined. By high school he was winning prizes and scholarships. Later, jobs followed with the WPA and Marvel comics. But it was many years before Keats’s greatest dream was realized and he had the opportunity to write and illustrate his own book. For more than two decades, Ezra had kept pinned to his wall a series of photographs of an adorable African American child. In Keats’s hands, the boy morphed into Peter, a boy in a red snowsuit, out enjoying the pristine snow; the book became The Snowy Day, winner of the Caldecott Medal, the first mainstream book to feature an African American child. It was also the first of many books featuring Peter and the children of his — and Keats’s — neighborhood. Andrea Davis Pinkney’s lyrical narrative tells the inspiring story of a boy who pursued a dream, and who, in turn, inspired generations of other dreamers.

  3. Henri's Scissors - An introduction to the life and paper-cutout art of Henri Matisse describes his early sketching hobby, famous paintings and the illness that confined him to a wheelchair and inspired his sophisticated paper-cutout masterworks.

  4. Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing - Iconic pop artist Keith Haring comes to life for young readers in this picture book biography lovingly written by his sister This one-of-a-kind book explores the life and art of Keith Haring from his childhood through his meteoric rise to fame. It sheds light on this important artist’s great humanity, his concern for children, and his disregard for the establishment art world. Reproductions of Keith’s signature artwork appear in scenes boldly rendered by Robert Neubecker. This is a story to inspire, and a book for Keith Haring fans of all ages to treasure.

Want to see books about artists?

Books About 20th Century and Coretta Scott King Award Winners

Let the Children March
Written by Monica Clark-Robinson & illustrated by Frank Morrison
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Under the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, children and teenagers march against segregation in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963.

I Have a Dream
Written by & illustrated by Kadir Nelson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Presents the text of the famous speech given on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. by Martin Luther King, Jr., complemented by paintings illustrating the ideals the civil rights leader described.

Brown Girl Dreaming
Written by Jacqueline Woodson
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-16

In vivid poems that reflect the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, an award-winning author shares what it was like to grow up in the 1960s and 1970s in both the North and the South.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - This picture book biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. brings his life and the profound nature of his message to young children through his own words. Martin Luther King, Jr., was one of the most influential and gifted speakers of all time. Doreen Rappaport uses quotes from some of his most beloved speeches to tell the story of his life and his work in a simple, direct way. Bryan Collier’s stunning collage art combines remarkable watercolor pain

  2. The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem's Greatest Bookstore - In the 1930s, Lewis’s dad, Lewis Michaux Sr., had an itch he needed to scratch―a book itch. How to scratch it? He started a bookstore in Harlem and named it the National Memorial African Bookstore. And as far as Lewis Michaux Jr. could tell, his father’s bookstore was one of a kind. People from all over came to visit the store, even famous people―Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, and Langston Hughes, to name a few. In his father’s bookstore people bought and read books, and they also learned from each other. People swapped and traded ideas and talked about how things could change. They came together here all because of his father’s book itch. Read the story of how Lewis Michaux Sr. and his bookstore fostered new ideas and helped people stand up for what they believed in.

  3. Voice of Freedom - A collage-illustrated collection of poems and spirituals inspired by the life and work of civil rights advocate Fannie Lou Hamer.

  4. Radiant Child - A visually stunning picture book biography about modern art phenomenon Jean-Michel Basquiat, written and illustrated by Coretta Scott King Award winner Javaka Steptoe. Jean-Michael Basquiat and his unique, collage-style paintings rocked to fame in the 1980s as a cultural phenomenon unlike anything the art work 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 and art doesn’t always have to be neat or clean—and definitely not inside the lines—to be beautiful.

Books About 20th Century and 1850-1899

The House That Jane Built
Written by Tanya Lee Stone & illustrated by Kathryn Brown
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

This is the story of Jane Addams, the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, who transformed a poor neighborhood in Chicago by opening up her house as a community center.

Hi, I’m Norman: The Story of American Illustrator Norman Rockwell
Written by Robert Burleigh & illustrated by Wendell Minor
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

“An inviting and admiring introduction to an important American artist.” —Kirkus Reviews

From award-winning author Robert Burleigh comes a striking, intimate picture book biography about an American icon—beloved artist Norman Rockwell.

Norman Rockwell is best known for capturing the American spirit as a painter and illustrator in the late twentieth century. This beautifully illustrated, first-person narrative explores Rockwell’s life in episodes based on important moments in American history. Norman Rockwell is not only a great American artist, but he also successfully chronicled two generations of American life, making him one of the most beloved and well-known American artists of all time.

For Spacious Skies: Katharine Lee Bates and the Inspiration for "America the Beautiful"
Written by Nancy Churnin & illustrated by Olga Baumert
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-9

Katharine Lee Bates first wrote the lines to “America the Beautiful” after a stirring visit to Pikes Peak in 1893. But the story behind the song begins with Katharine herself, who pushed beyond conventional expectations of women to become an acclaimed writer, scholar, suffragist, and reformer. Katharine believed in the power of words to make a difference, and in “America the Beautiful,” her vision of the nation as a great family, united from sea to shining sea, continues to uplift and inspire us all.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Barnum's Bones - Documents the work of an early 20th-century paleontologist, named after the famous circus icon by his ambitious parents, who grew up to work for the American Museum of Natural History and discovered the first documented skeletons of the Tyrannosaurus Rex and other noteworthy species. By the author of Pippo the Fool.

  2. Sandy's Circus - Alexander Calder, or Sandy to those who knew him, was a joyous, playful man who did not call himself an artist. But, oh what an artist he was! His gigantic, colorful metal sculptures and his amazing mobiles can be seen in public places all over the world. One of his first creations was a wonderful, whimsical that made out of found materials such as wire, cork, and paper. Imagine a big bear of a man down on his hands and knees, making his clever creations leap, run, and dance to the delight of everyone who watched. This is the story of Sandy’s magical, moveable circus.

  3. Who Was Albert Einstein? - Everyone has heard of Albert Einstein-but what exactly did he do? How much do kids really know about Albert Einstein besides the funny hair and genius label? For instance, do they know that he was expelled from school as a kid? Finally, here’s the story of Albert Einstein’s life, told in a fun, engaging way that clearly explores the world he lived in and changed.

  4. On the Way Home: The Diary of a Trip from South Dakota to Mansfield, Missouri, in 1894 - A detailed diary from the author of the beloved Little House series, chronicling her journey with her family from South Dakota to Missouri. In 1894, Laura Ingalls Wilder, her husband, Almanzo, and their daughter, Rose, packed their belongings into their covered wagon and set out on a journey from De Smet, South Dakota, to Mansfield, Missouri. They heard that the soil there was rich and the crops were bountiful—it was even called “the Land of the Big Red Apple.” With hopes of beginning a new life, the Wilders made their way to the Ozarks of Missouri. During their journey, Laura kept a detailed diary of events: the cities they passed through, the travelers they encountered on the way, the changing countryside and the trials of an often difficult voyage. Laura’s words, preserved in this book, are a fascinating account of life and travel at the turn of the twentieth century, and reveal Laura’s inner thoughts as she traveled with her family in search of a new home in Mansfield, where Laura would write her Little House books.

Books About 20th Century and New York

Balloons Over Broadway
Written & illustrated by Melissa Sweet
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Presents a tribute to the creator of the giant balloons that fill the sky during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, tracing the work of artist Tony Sarg, whose innovative “upside-down puppet” creations have become the parade’s trademark.

When Jackie Saved Grand Central
Written by Natasha Wing & illustrated by Alexandra Boiger
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Before she was an iconic First Lady of the United States, Jackie Kennedy was a born-and-raised New Yorker. She loved everything about her city, from the natural beauty of the parks to the architectural history of the buildings. So when the owners of Grand Central wanted to build a skyscraper on top of the famous train station, Jackie knew they had to be stopped. She helped inspire thousands of people to come together and fight to protect the historic landmark. From letter-writing campaigns all the way to the Supreme Court, this little-known story celebrates winning in the face of immeasurable odds and how one person can make a big difference.

Overground Railroad
Written by Lesa Cline-Ransome & illustrated by James E. Ransome
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

**A window into a child’s experience of the Great Migration from the award-winning creators of Before She Was Harriet and Finding Langston**.**

As she climbs aboard the New York bound Silver Meteor train, Ruth Ellen embarks upon a journey toward a new life up North— one she can’t begin to imagine. Stop by stop, the perceptive young narrator tells her journey in poems, leaving behind the cotton fields and distant Blue Ridge mountains.

Each leg of the trip brings new revelations as scenes out the window of folks working in fields give way to the Delaware River, the curtain that separates the colored car is removed, and glimpses of the freedom and opportunity the family hopes to find come into view. As they travel, Ruth Ellen reads from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, reflecting on how her journey mirrors her own— until finally the train arrives at its last stop, New York’s Penn Station, and the family heads out into a night filled with bright lights, glimmering stars, and new possiblity.

James Ransome’s mixed-media illustrations are full of bold color and texture, bringing Ruth Ellen’s journey to life, from sprawling cotton fields to cramped train cars, the wary glances of other passengers and the dark forest through which Frederick Douglass traveled towards freedom. Overground Railroad is, as Lesa notes, a story “of people who were running from and running to at the same time,” and it’s a story that will stay with readers long after the final pages.

A Junior Library Guild Selection

Praise for Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome’s Before She Was Harriet**, a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and winner of the Christopher Award**

* “Ransome’s lavishly detailed and expansive double-page spreads situate young readers in each time and place as the text takes them further into the past.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

* “a powerful reminder of how all children carry within them the potential for greatness.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Honorable Mentions
  1. Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré - An inspiring picture book biography of storyteller, puppeteer, and New York City’s first Puerto Rican librarian, who championed bilingual literature. When she came to America in 1921, Pura Belpré carried the cuentos folklóricos of her Puerto Rican homeland. Finding a new home at the New York Public Library as a bilingual assistant, she turned her popular retellings into libros and spread story seeds across the land. Today, these seeds have grown into a lush landscape as generations of children and storytellers continue to share her tales and celebrate Pura’s legacy. Brought to colorful life by Paola Escobar’s elegant and exuberant illustrations and Anika Aldamuy Denise’s lyrical text, this gorgeous book is perfect for the pioneers in your life. Informative backmatter and suggested further reading included.

  2. Rachel's Roses - Rachel Berger needs twenty-five cents to make her dream come true. But for Rachel, twenty-five cents is a fortune—and she’s running out of time. Third-grader Rachel Berger longs to be different. At the very least, she’d like to be set apart from her copycat little sister, Hannah. The second Rachel spots the glass rose buttons at Mr. Solomon’s button shop, her heart stops. They’ll be the perfect, unique touch on the skirt her mother is making her for Rosh Hashanah. There’s just one problem: Rachel can’t afford them. With her focus set on earning enough to buy them before the holiday, will Rachel lose sight of what’s really important? Themes of sisterhood, sibling rivalry, and strong family values are organically woven in to this charmingly illustrated chapter book set on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the early twentieth century.

  3. Before the Devil Breaks You - The Diviners are back in this thrilling and eerie third installment by #1 New York Times bestselling author Libba Bray. New York City.1927.Lights are bright.Jazz is king.Parties are wild.And the dead are coming… After battling a supernatural sleeping sickness that early claimed two of their own, the Diviners have had enough of lies. They’re more determined than ever to uncover the mystery behind their extraordinary powers, even as they face off against an all-new terror. Out on Ward’s Island, far from the city’s bustle, sits a mental hospital haunted by the lost souls of people long forgotten—ghosts who have unusual and dangerous ties to the man in the stovepipe hat, also known as the King of Crows. With terrible accounts of murder and possession flooding in from all over, and New York City on the verge of panic, the Diviners must band together and brave the sinister ghosts invading the asylum, a fight that will bring them fact-to-face with the King of Crows. But as the explosive secrets of the past come to light, loyalties and friendships will be tested, love will hang in the balance, and the Diviners will question all that they’ve ever known. All the while, malevolent forces gather from every corner in a battle for the very soul of a nation—a fight that could claim the Diviners themselves. Heart-pounding action and terrifying moments will leave you breathless in the third book of the four-book Diviners series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Libba Bray.

  4. All-of-a-kind Family - Portrays the joys and troubles of five high-spirited Jewish sisters as they grow up in New York City.

Books About 20th Century and Race Relations

Rosa Parks
Written by Lisbeth Kaiser & illustrated by Marta Antelo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

New in the Little People, Big Dreams series, discover the incredible life of Rosa Parks, ‘ The Mother of the Freedom Movement’, in this inspiring story. In this true story of an inspiring civil rights activist, Rosa Parks grew up during segregation in Alabama, but she was taught to respect herself and stand up for her rights. In 1955, Rosa refused to give up her seat to a white man on a segregated bus, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Her decision had a huge impact on civil rights, eventually leading to the end of segregation on public transport. With stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, this empowering series celebrates the important life stories of wonderful women of the world. From designers and artists to scientists, all of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. These books make the lives of these role models accessible for children, providing a powerful message to inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world!

I Am Rosa Parks
Written by Brad Meltzer & illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Recounts Rosa Parks’ daring effort to stand up for herself and other African Americans by helping to end segregation on public transportation.

The Youngest Marcher
Written by Cynthia Levinson & illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

Meet the youngest known child to be arrested for a civil rights protest in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963, in this moving picture book that proves you’re never too little to make a difference. Nine-year-old Audrey Faye Hendricks intended to go places and do things like anybody else. So when she heard grown-ups talk about wiping out Birmingham’s segregation laws, she spoke up. As she listened to the preacher’s words, smooth as glass, she sat up tall. And when she heard the plan—picket those white stores! March to protest those unfair laws! Fill the jails!—she stepped right up and said, I’ll do it! She was going to j-a-a-il! Audrey Faye Hendricks was confident and bold and brave as can be, and hers is the remarkable and inspiring story of one child’s role in the Civil Rights Movement.

Honorable Mentions
  1. This Promise of Change: One Girl's Story in the Fight for School Equality - In 1956, one year before federal troops escorted the Little Rock 9 into Central High School, fourteen year old Jo Ann Allen was one of twelve African-American students who broke the color barrier and integrated Clinton High School in Tennessee. At first things went smoothly for the Clinton 12, but then outside agitators interfered, pitting the townspeople against one another. Uneasiness turned into anger, and even the Clinton Twelve themselves wondered if the easier thing to do would be to go back to their old school. Jo Ann—clear-eyed, practical, tolerant, and popular among both black and white students—-found herself called on as the spokesperson of the group. But what about just being a regular teen? This is the heartbreaking and relatable story of her four months thrust into the national spotlight and as a trailblazer in history. Based on original research and interviews and featuring backmatter with archival materials and notes from the authors on the co-writing process.

  2. As Good As Anybody - A Baptist preacher from Atlanta. A rabbi born in Poland. Their names came to stand for the struggle for justice and equality. Martin Luther King Jr. grew up in a loving family in the American South, at a time when many of this country’s doors were closed to African Americans. He aimed to open those doors. He became a minister like his daddy, and he preached and marched for his cause. Abraham Joshua Heschel grew up in a loving family in a Europe that did not welcome Jews. He found a new home in America, where he was a rabbi like his father, carrying a message of peace and acceptance. Martin put out a call for others to join him. Abraham knew he must answer Martin’s call. Here is the story of how two men formed a remarkable friendship and turned their personal experiences of discrimination into a message of love and equality for all.

  3. Someday is Now - Someday Is Now tells the inspirational story of the celebrated civil rights leader, Clara Luper, who led one of the first lunch-counter sit-ins in America. How will you stand against something you know is wrong? One way is to follow the lessons of bravery taught by civil rights pioneers like Clara Luper. As a child, Clara saw how segregation affected her life. Her journey famously led her to Oklahoma, where she and her students desegregated stores and restaurants that were closed to African-Americans. With courage and conviction, Clara Luper led young people to “do what had to be done.” This moving title includes additional information on Clara Luper’s extraordinary life, her lessons of nonviolent resistance, and a glossary of key civil rights people and terms.

  4. National Geographic Readers: Rosa Parks - Find out about the life of Rosa Parks and how her actions in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955 helped end racial segregation in America. This book follows the same standards as other National Geographic Readers with the same careful text, brilliant photographs, and fun approach that kids love. The life story of Rosa Parks has enduring lessons to teach us and this biography should appeal to kids, parents, and teachers.

Books About 20th Century and 1950 - 1999

Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott
Written by Dee Romito & illustrated by Laura Freeman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

This stunning picture book looks into the life of Georgia Gilmore, a hidden figure of history who played a critical role in the civil rights movement and used her passion for baking to help the Montgomery Bus Boycott achieve its goal. Georgia decided to help the best way she knew how. She worked together with a group of women and together they purchased the supplies they needed-bread, lettuce, and chickens. And off they went to cook. The women brought food to the mass meetings that followed at the church. They sold sandwiches. They sold dinners in their neighborhoods. As the boycotters walked and walked, Georgia cooked and cooked. Georgia Gilmore was a cook at the National Lunch Company in Montgomery, Alabama. When the bus boycotts broke out in Montgomery after Rosa Parks was arrested, Georgia knew just what to do. She organized a group of women who cooked and baked to fund-raise for gas and cars to help sustain the boycott. Called the Club from Nowhere, Georgia was the only person who knew who baked and bought the food, and she said the money came from “nowhere” to anyone who asked. When Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested for his role in the boycott, Georgia testified on his behalf, and her home became a meeting place for civil rights leaders. This picture book highlights a hidden figure of the civil rights movement who fueled the bus boycotts and demonstrated that one person can make a real change in her community and beyond. It also includes one of her delicious recipes for kids to try with the help of their parents!

Grandmama's Pride
Written by Becky Birtha & illustrated by Colin Bootman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

While on a trip in 1956 to visit her grandmother in the South, six-year-old Sarah Marie experiences segregation for the first time, but discovers that things have changed by the time she returns the following year.

A Dance Like Starlight
Written by Kristy Dempsey & illustrated by Floyd Cooper
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Little ballerinas have big dreams. Dreams of pirouettes and grande jetes, dreams of attending the best ballet schools and of dancing starring roles on stage. But in Harlem in the 1950s, dreams don’t always come true—they take a lot of work and a lot of hope. And sometimes hope is hard to come by.

But the first African-American prima ballerina, Janet Collins, did make her dreams come true. And those dreams inspired ballerinas everywhere, showing them that the color of their skin couldn’t stop them from becoming a star.

In a lyrical tale as beautiful as a dance en pointe, Kristy Dempsey and Floyd Cooper tell the story of one little ballerina who was inspired by Janet Collins to make her own dreams come true.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Rosa Parks: My First Rosa Parks - This board book version of Rosa Parks—an international bestseller from the highly acclaimed Little People, BIG DREAMS series—introduces the youngest dreamers to the “Mother of the Freedom Movement.” Rosa Parks grew up in Alabama, where she learned to stand up for herself at an early age. Rosa went on to become a civil rights activist. In 1955, she refused to give up her seat to a white man on a segregated bus, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Her courageous decision had a huge impact on civil rights, eventually leading to the end of segregation on public transport. She never stopped working for equal rights. Babies and toddlers will love to snuggle as you read to them the engaging story of this fascinating icon, and will also enjoy exploring the stylish and quirky illustrations of this sturdy board book on their own. Little People, BIG DREAMS is a best-selling series of books and educational games that explore the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream. This empowering series offers inspiring messages to children of all ages, in a range of formats. The board books are told in simple sentences, perfect for reading aloud to babies and toddlers. The hardcover versions present expanded stories for beginning readers. Boxed gift sets allow you to collect a selection of the books by theme. Paper dolls, learning cards, matching games, and other fun learning tools provide even more ways to make the lives of these role models accessible to children. Inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world with Little People, BIG DREAMS!

  2. The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain - “I was born at the beginning of it all, on the Red side―the Communist side―of the Iron Curtain.” Through annotated illustrations, journals, maps, and dreamscapes, Peter Sís shows what life was like for a child who loved to draw, proudly wore the red scarf of a Young Pioneer, stood guard at the giant statue of Stalin, and believed whatever he was told to believe. But adolescence brought questions. Cracks began to appear in the Iron Curtain, and news from the West slowly filtered into the country. Sís learned about beat poetry, rock ‘n’ roll, blue jeans, and Coca-Cola. He let his hair grow long, secretly read banned books, and joined a rock band. Then came the Prague Spring of 1968, and for a teenager who wanted to see the world and meet the Beatles, this was a magical time. It was short-lived, however, brought to a sudden and brutal end by the Soviet-led invasion. But this brief flowering had provided a glimpse of new possibilities―creativity could be discouraged but not easily killed. By joining memory and history, Sís takes us on his extraordinary journey: from infant with paintbrush in hand to young man borne aloft by the wings of his art. This title has Common Core connections. The Wall is a 2007 New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year, a 2008 Caldecott Honor Book, a 2008 Bank Street - Best Children’s Book of the Year, the winner of the 2008 Boston Globe - Horn Book Award for Nonfiction, and a nominee for the 2008 Eisner Award for Best Publication for Kids.

Books About 20th Century and 1960's

Ride to Remember: A Civil Rights Story
Written by Amy Nathan and Sharon Langley & illustrated by Floyd Cooper
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

The true story of how a ride on a carousel made a powerful Civil Rights statement
 
_A Ride to Remember_ tells how a community came together—both black and white—to make a change. When Sharon Langley was born in the early 1960s, many amusement parks were segregated, and African-American families were not allowed entry. This book reveals how in the summer of 1963, due to demonstrations and public protests, the Gwynn Oak Amusement Park in Maryland became desegregated and opened to all for the first time. Co-author Sharon Langley was the first African-American child to ride the carousel. This was on the same day of Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Langley’s ride to remember demonstrated the possibilities of King’s dream. This book includes photos of Sharon on the carousel, authors’ notes, a timeline, and a bibliography.

Go for the Moon
Written & illustrated by Chris Gall
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

For the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, a step-by-step explanation of how the Apollo 11 spacecraft worked as told by a young enthusiast.The Apollo 11 astronauts have prepared carefully for their attempt to be the first men to land on the moon. The young narrator of this book has prepared carefully, too: he explains the design of the spacecraft, the flight from the earth to the moon, and the drama of touching down - while shadowing the astronaut’s voyage with one of his own. Go for the Moon! captures the fascinating detail and inspiring adventure of the moon landing. It is a captivating celebration of one of humankind’s greatest technical achievements and most extraordinary feats of exploration.

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11
Written & illustrated by Brian Floca
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-10

Here is the story of the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon — a story of leaving and returning during the summer of 1969, and a story of home, seen whole, from far away by steady astronauts in their great machines.

Honorable Mentions
  1. A Place to Land - Much has been written about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the 1963 March on Washington. But there’s little on his legendary speech and how he came to write it. Find out more in this gripping book with illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Jerry Pinkney. Martin Luther King, Jr. was once asked if the hardest part of preaching was knowing where to begin. No, he said. The hardest part is knowing where to end. “It’s terrible to be circling up there without a place to land.” Finding this place to land was what Martin Luther King, Jr. struggled with, alongside advisors and fellow speech writers, in the Willard Hotel the night before the March on Washington, where he gave his historic “I Have a Dream” speech. But those famous words were never intended to be heard on that day, not even written down for that day, not even once. Barry Wittenstein teams up with legendary illustrator Jerry Pinkney to tell the story of how, against all odds, Martin found his place to land.

  2. Through My Eyes - Ruby Bridges recounts the story of her involvement, as a six-year-old, in the integration of her school in New Orleans in 1960.

  3. Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968 - This historical fiction picture book presents the story of nine-year-old Lorraine Jackson, who in 1968 witnessed the Memphis sanitation strike—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s final stand for justice before his assassination—when her father, a sanitation worker, participated in the protest. In February 1968, two African American sanitation workers were killed by unsafe equipment in Memphis, Tennessee. Outraged at the city’s refusal to recognize a labor union that would fight for higher pay and safer working conditions, sanitation workers went on strike. The strike lasted two months, during which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was called to help with the protests. While his presence was greatly inspiring to the community, this unfortunately would be his last stand for justice. He was assassinated in his Memphis hotel the day after delivering his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” sermon in Mason Temple Church. Inspired by the memories of a teacher who participated in the strike as a child, author Alice Faye Duncan reveals the story of the Memphis sanitation strike from the perspective of a young girl with a riveting combination of poetry and prose.

  4. Night on Fire - Thirteen-year-old Billie Simms doesn’t think her hometown of Anniston, Alabama, should be segregated, but few of the town’s residents share her opinion. As equality spreads across the country and the Civil Rights Movement gathers momentum, Billie can’t help but feel stuck—and helpless—in a stubborn town too set in its ways to realize that the world is passing it by. So when Billie learns that the Freedom Riders, a group of peace activists riding interstate buses to protest segregation, will be traveling through Anniston on their way to Montgomery, she thinks that maybe change is finally coming and her quiet little town will shed itself of its antiquated views. But what starts as a series of angry grumbles soon turns to brutality as Anniston residents show just how deep their racism runs. The Freedom Riders will resume their ride to Montgomery, and Billie is now faced with a choice: stand idly by in silence or take a stand for what she believes in. Through her own decisions and actions and a few unlikely friendships, Billie is about to come to grips with the deep-seated prejudice of those she once thought she knew, and with her own inherent racism that she didn’t even know she had.

Want to see books about 1960's?

Books About 20th Century and 1940s

Diana’s White House Garden
Written by Elisa Carbone & illustrated by Jen Hill
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Diana Hopkins lived in a white house. THE White House.

World War II is in full force across the seas. It’s 1943, President Roosevelt is in office, and Diana’s father, Harry Hopkins, is his chief advisor. And Diana wants to be part of the war effort. After some well-intentioned missteps (her quarantine sign on her father’s office door was not well-received), the President requests her help with his newest plan for the country’s survival: Victory Gardens! From award-winning author Elisa Carbone comes the true story of how Diana Hopkins started her own Victory Garden on the White House lawn under the tutelage of Eleanor Roosevelt. With dedication and patience, she showed the nation that the war effort started first on the homefront.

Navajo Code Talkers
Written by Blake Hoena
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-14

During World War II U.S. forces had to keep battle plans and other top secret information out of the enemy’s hands. Coded messages were often used, but secret codes could be broken. To solve this problem, the U.S. military turned to an unexpected source to create an unbreakable code. The Navajo people spoke a complex language that few outsiders knew how to speak. Several Navajo soldiers were recruited to develop a code based on the Navajo language. The result was a complex code that could not be solved by the enemy. Learn all about the brave Navajo Code Talkers and how their unbreakable code helped defeat the enemy and win the war.

Infinite Hope: A Black Artist's Journey from World War II to Peace
Written & illustrated by Ashley Bryan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 10-13

In May of 1942, at the age of eighteen, Ashley Bryan was drafted to fight in World War II. For the next three years, he would face the horrors of war as a black soldier in a segregated army. He endured the terrible lies white officers told about the black soldiers to isolate them from anyone who showed kindness—including each other. He received worse treatment than even Nazi POWs. He was assigned the grimmest, most horrific tasks, like burying fallen soldiers…but was told to remove the black soldiers first because the media didn’t want them in their newsreels. And he waited and wanted so desperately to go home, watching every white soldier get safe passage back to the United States before black soldiers were even a thought. For the next forty years, Ashley would keep his time in the war a secret. But now, he tells his story. The story of the kind people who supported him. The story of the bright moments that guided him through the dark. And the story of his passion for art that would save him time and time again. Filled with never-before-seen artwork and handwritten letters and diary entries, this illuminating and moving memoir by Newbery Honor–winning illustrator Ashley Bryan is both a lesson in history and a testament to hope.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Chester Nez and the Unbreakable Code - As a young Navajo boy, Chester Nez had to leave the reservation and attend boarding school, where he was taught that his native language and culture were useless. But Chester refused to give up his heritage. Years later, during World War II, Chester—and other Navajo men like him—was recruited by the US Marines to use the Navajo language to create an unbreakable military code. Suddenly the language he had been told to forget was needed to fight a war. This powerful picture book biography contains backmatter including a timeline and a portion of the Navajo code, and also depicts the life of an original Navajo code talker while capturing the importance of heritage.

  2. Touch the Sky - A biography of the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal, from her childhood in segregated Albany, Georgia, in the 1930s, through her recognition at the 1996 Olympics as one of the hundred best athletes in Olympic history. Includes bibliographical references.

Want to see books about 1940s?

Books About 20th Century and Inventions

Hedy Lamarr's Double Life
Written by Laurie Wallmark & illustrated by Katy Wu
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

To her adoring public, Hedy Lamarr was a glamorous movie star. But in private, she was something more: a brilliant inventor. Now Laurie Wallmark and Katy Wu, who collaborated on Sterling’s critically acclaimed picture-book biography Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code, tell the inspiring story of how, during World War Two, Lamarr developed a groundbreaking communications system that still remains essential to the security of today’s technology.

Just Like Rube Goldberg
Written by Sarah Aronson & illustrated by Robert Neubecker
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

Discover how Rube Goldberg followed his dreams to become an award-winning cartoonist, inventor, and even an adjective in the dictionary in this inspiring and funny biographical picture book.

Want to become an award-winning cartoonist and inventor? Follow your dreams, just like Rube Goldberg! From a young age, Rube Goldberg had a talent for art. But his father, a German immigrant, wanted Rube to have a secure job. So, Rube went to college and became an engineer.

But Rube didn’t want to spend his life mapping sewer pipes. He wanted to follow his passion, so Rube got a low-level job at a newspaper, and from there, he worked his way up, creating cartoons that made people laugh and tickled the imagination. He became known for his fantastic Rube Goldberg machines—complicated contraptions with many parts that performed a simple task in an elaborate and farfetched way. Eventually, his cartoons earned him a Pulitzer Prize and his own adjective in the dictionary. This moving biography is sure to encourage young artists and inventors to pursue their passions.

The Boy Who Thought Outside the Box: The Story of Video Game Inventor Ralph Baer (People Who Shaped Our World)
Written by Marcie Wessels & illustrated by Beatriz Castro
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

Crazy about Wii, Nintendo, X-Box, and PlayStation? Meet the inventor whose work made them all possible: Ralph Baer, creator of the first home video game system!

Today, the video game industry keeps growing, with ever more platforms available to fans. But how did the very first system come about? This picture-book biography of Ralph Baer, whose family fled Nazi Germany for the US, introduces kids to a great inventor AND the birth of the first home console. Using wartime technology, Baer thought outside the box and transformed the television into a vehicle for gaming; Baer’s invention, the Odyssey, is a precursor to the Atari gaming system. Today, interactive systems like Wii and PlayStation are descendants of Ralph’s innovative “Brown Box,” making this award-winning inventor the true “Father of Video Games.”

Honorable Mentions
  1. Manfish - Poetic text and full color paintings combine to create a portrait of the internationally known oceanographer as a curious little boy whose love of the ocean inspired him to grow up to become a champion of the seas.

  2. Guitar Genius - This is the story of how Les Paul created the world’s first solid- body electric guitar, countless other inventions that changed modern music, and one truly epic career in rock and roll. How to make a microphone? A broomstick, a cinderblock, a telephone, a radio. How to make an electric guitar? A record player’s arm, a speaker, some tape. How to make a legendary inventor? A few tools, a lot of curiosity, and an endless faith in what is possible. Featuring richly detailed, dynamic illustrations by Brett Helquist, this unforgettable biography will resonate with inventive readers young and old.

  3. Patricia's Vision: The Doctor Who Saved Sight - The inspiring story of Dr. Patricia Bath, a groundbreaking ophthalmologist who pioneered laser surgery—and gave her patients the gift of sight. Born in the 1940s, Patricia Bath dreamed of being an ophthalmologist at a time when becoming a doctor wasn’t a career option for most women—especially African-American women. This empowering biography follows Dr. Bath in her quest to save and restore sight to the blind, and her decision to “choose miracles” when everyone else had given up hope. Along the way, she cofounded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness, invented a specialized laser for removing cataracts, and became the first African-American woman doctor to receive a medical patent.

  4. Crossing on Time - David Macaulay, creator of the international bestseller The Way Things Work, brings his signature curiosity and detailing to the story of the steamship in this meticulously researched and stunningly illustrated book. Prior to the 1800s, ships crossing the Atlantic Ocean relied on the wind in their sails to make their journeys. But invention of steam power ushered in a new era of transportation that would change ocean travel forever: the steamship. Award-winning author-illustrator David Macaulay guides readers through the fascinating history that culminated in the building of the most advanced—and last—of these steamships: the SS United States. This book artfully explores the design and construction of the ship and the life of its designer and engineer, William Francis Gibbs. Framed around the author’s own experience steaming across the Atlantic on the very same SS United States, Crossing on Time is a tour de force of the art of explanation and a touching and surprising childhood story.

Want to see books about inventions?

Books About 20th Century and Science

On a Beam of Light
Written by Jennifer Berne & illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Follows the life of the famous physicist, from his early ideas to his groundbreaking theories.

Stephen Hawking (Little People, BIG DREAMS)
Written by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara & illustrated by Matt Hunt
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

When Stephen Hawking was a little boy, he used to stare up at the stars and wonder about the universe. Although he was never top of the class, his curiosity took him to the best universities in England: Oxford and Cambridge. It also led him to make one of the biggest scientific discoveries of the 20th century: Hawking radiation. This moving book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the brilliant physicist’s life.

Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom
Written by Teresa Robeson & illustrated by Rebecca Huang
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

When Wu Chien Shiung was born in China 100 years ago, most girls did not attend school; no one considered them as smart as boys. But her parents felt differently. Giving her a name meaning “Courageous Hero,” they encouraged her love of learning and science. This engaging biography follows Wu Chien Shiung as she battles sexism and racism to become what Newsweek magazine called the “Queen of Physics” for her work on beta decay. Along the way, she earned the admiration of famous scientists like Enrico Fermi and Robert Oppenheimer and became the first woman hired as an instructor by Princeton University, the first woman elected President of the American Physical Society, the first scientist to have an asteroid named after her when she was still alive, and many other honors.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea - Filled with gorgeous illustrations by acclaimed artist Raúl Colón, this illustrated biography shares the story of female scientist, Marie Tharp, a pioneering woman scientist and the first person to ever successfully map the ocean floor. Marie Tharp was always fascinated by the ocean. Taught to think big by her father who was a mapmaker, Marie wanted to do something no one had ever done before: map the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Was it even possible? Not sure if she would succeed, Marie decided to give it a try. Throughout history, others had tried and failed to measure the depths of the oceans. Sailors lowered weighted ropes to take measurements. Even today, scientists are trying to measure the depth by using echo sounder machines to track how long it would take a sound wave sent from a ship to the sea floor to come back. But for Marie, it was like piecing together an immense jigsaw puzzle. Despite past failures and challenges—sometimes Marie would be turned away from a ship because having a woman on board was “bad luck”—Marie was determined to succeed. And she did, becoming the first person to chart the ocean floor, helping us better understand the planet we call home.

  2. Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 - The bold story of an African-American mathematician who worked for NASA during the space race and was depicted in the film “Hidden Figures, “ and how she made sure that the crew of Apollo 13 returned home. Full color.

  3. Stephen Hawking: My First Stephen Hawking - This board book version of _Stephen Hawking_—from the critically acclaimed, multimillion-copy best-selling Little People, BIG DREAMS series—introduces the youngest dreamers to the incredible life of this genius physicist and author. When Stephen Hawking was a little boy, he used to stare up at the stars and wonder about the universe. Although he was never top of the class, his curiosity took him to the best universities in England: Oxford and Cambridge. It also led him to make one of the biggest scientific discoveries of the 20th century: Hawking radiation. Babies and toddlers will love to snuggle as you read to them the engaging story of this fascinating scientist, and will also enjoy exploring the stylish and quirky illustrations of this sturdy board book on their own. Little People, BIG DREAMS is a best-selling series of books and educational games that explore the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream. This empowering series offers inspiring messages to children of all ages, in a range of formats. The board books are told in simple sentences, perfect for reading aloud to babies and toddlers. The hardcover versions present expanded stories for beginning readers. Boxed gift sets allow you to collect a selection of the books by theme. Paper dolls, learning cards, matching games, and other fun learning tools provide even more ways to make the lives of these role models accessible to children. Inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world with Little People, BIG DREAMS!

  4. Spring After Spring - From the creator of “Star Stuff”comes a picture book biography of Rachel Carson, tracing her journey as scientist and writer, courageously speaking truth to an often hostile world through her book, and ultimately paving the way for the modern environmental movement. Full color.

Books About 20th Century and 1930's

Out of the Dust
Written by Karen Hesse
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 11-14

Out of the Dust joins the Scholastic Gold line, which features award-winning and beloved novels. Includes exclusive bonus content!

“Dust piles up like snow across the prairie. . . .”

A terrible accident has transformed Billie Jo’s life, scarring her inside and out. Her mother is gone. Her father can’t talk about it. And the one thing that might make her feel better — playing the piano — is impossible with her wounded hands.

To make matters worse, dust storms are devastating the family farm and all the farms nearby. While others flee from the dust bowl, Billie Jo is left to find peace in the bleak landscape of Oklahoma — and in the surprising landscape of her own heart.

Sweet Land of Liberty
Written by Deborah Hopkinson & illustrated by Leonard Jenkins
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

This inspiring story of little-known civil rights champion Oscar Chapman reminds readers that one person can truly make a difference. On Easter Sunday 1939, Marian Anderson performed at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial for a crowd of over 75,000 people. The person largely responsible for putting her there was a white man, Oscar Chapman. When Chapman learned that Marian Anderson was not allowed to sing at Constitution Hall because of the color of her skin, Chapman helped produce a landmark concert that?for at least one evening?bridged the color divide to bring a city and much of the nation together. Award-winning author Deborah Hopkinson tells the inspirational story of Oscar Chapman’s lifelong commitment to ending bigotry. Illustrator Leonard Jenkins’s remarkable illustrations recreate a bygone era and pay tribute to remarkable real-life people and a magical moment in modern history. An author’s note provides additional historical context.

A Picture Book of Jesse Owens
Written by David A. Adler & illustrated by Robert Casilla
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A comprehensive look at the life of the man who has often been called the World’s Fastest Human. Jesse Owens was born on a farm to a large family with many siblings. His grandparents had been slaves, and his sharecropper parents were poor. But against all odds, Jesse went on to become one of the greatest athletes in history. He learned to run with such grace that people said he was a “floating wonder.” After setting multiple world records as a college athlete, Jesse competed in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Adolf Hitler intended for the games to display Aryan superiority, but Jesse disrupted that plan. He became the first American track-and-field athlete to receive four gold medals, and established his legacy as a hero in the face of prejudice. This child friendly entry in David A. Adler’s well-known series contains an accessible mix of biography, facts, and history supported with lifelike illustrations. Back matter includes an author’s note and a timeline.

Honorable Mentions
  1. That Book Woman - Offers the story of the Pack Horse Librarian who traveled to remote regions throughout the United States during the Depression to deliver books and a stubborn boy who refused to give reading a try. 50,000 first printing.

  2. Ice Breaker - In the 1930s, only white figure skaters were allowed in public ice rinks and to compete for gold medals, but Mabel Fairbanks wouldn’t let that stop her. With skates two sizes too big and a heart full of dreams, Mabel beat the odds and broke down color barriers through sheer determination and athletic skill. After skating in ice shows across the nation and helping coach and develop the talents of several Olympic champions, Mabel became the first African-American woman to be inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame.

  3. Gandhi - Mohandas Gandhi’s 24-day March to the Sea, from March 12 to April 5, 1930, was a pivotal moment in India’s quest to become an independent country no longer ruled by Great Britain. With over 70 marchers, Gandhi walked from his hometown near Ahmedabab to the sea coast by the village of Dandi. The march was a non-violent means to protest the taxes that Great Britain had imposed on salt — not the salt that the Indians could get from the sea, but the salt that Great Britain forced them to buy. Gandhi believed that peaceful protests were an effective way to challenge British law, and his peaceful but ultimately successful movement became known as Satyagraha.

  4. Al Capone Does My Homework - Alcatraz Island in the 1930s isn’t the most normal place to grow up, but it’s home for Moose Flanagan, his autistic sister, Natalie, and all the families of the guards. When Moose’s dad gets promoted to Associate Warden, despite being an unlikely candidate, it’s a big deal. But the cons have a point system for targeting prison employees, and his dad is now in serious danger. After a fire starts in the Flanagan’s apartment, Natalie is blamed, and Moose bands with the other kids to track down the possible arsonist. Then Moose gets a cryptic note from the notorious Al Capone himself. Is Capone trying to protect Moose’s dad too? If Moose can’t figure out what Capone’s note means, it may be too late.

Want to see books about 1930's?

Books About 20th Century and Social Themes

The Matchbox Diary
Written by Paul Fleischman & illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

Follows a girl’s perusal of her great-grandfather’s collection of matchboxes and small curios that document his poignant immigration journey from Italy to a new country.

We Dream of Space
Written & illustrated by Erin Entrada Kelly
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Finding Langston
Written & illustrated by Lesa Cline-Ransome
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year, with 5 Starred Reviews, and a School Library Journal Best Book of 2018 When eleven-year-old Langston’s father moves them from their home in Alabama to Chicago’s Bronzeville district, it feels like he’s giving up everything he loves. It’s 1946. Langston’s mother has just died, and now they’re leaving the rest of his family and friends. He misses everything— Grandma’s Sunday suppers, the red dirt roads, and the magnolia trees his mother loved. In the city, they live in a small apartment surrounded by noise and chaos. It doesn’t feel like a new start, or a better life. At home he’s lonely, his father always busy at work; at school he’s bullied for being a country boy. But Langston’s new home has one fantastic thing. Unlike the whites-only library in Alabama, the Chicago Public Library welcomes everyone. There, hiding out after school, Langston discovers another Langston—a poet whom he learns inspired his mother enough to name her only son after him. Lesa Cline-Ransome, author of the Coretta Scott King Honor picture book Before She Was Harriet, has crafted a lyrical debut novel about one boy’s experiences during the Great Migration. Includes an author’s note about the historical context and her research. Winner of the 2019 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction A Junior Library Guild selection!

Honorable Mentions
  1. Gittel's Journey - Gittel and her mother were supposed to immigrate to America together, but when her mother is stopped by the health inspector, Gittel must make the journey alone. Her mother writes her cousin’s address in New York on a piece of paper. However, when Gittel arrives at Ellis Island, she discovers the ink has run and the address is illegible! How will she find her family? Both a heart-wrenching and heartwarming story, Gittel’s Journey offers a fresh perspective on the immigration journey to Ellis Island. The book includes an author’s note explaining how Gittel’s story is based on the journey to America taken by Lesléa Newman’s grandmother and family friend.

  2. Ode to an Onion - Sad about the subject of a poem he is writing, Pablo Neruda visits his friend Matilde who shows him, through a simple onion, that happiness can be found even through tears. Includes facts about Pablo and Matilde, and Neruda’s Ode to the Onion in Spanish and English.

  3. Dreamland Burning - A compelling dual-narrated novel that asks, how far have we really come with race relations in the last 100 years? Now in paperback. When seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton on her family’s property, she has no idea that investigating the brutal, century-old murder will lead to a summer of painful discoveries about the past… and the present. Nearly 100 years earlier, a misguided violent encounter propels seventeen-year-old Will Tillman into a racial firestorm. In a country rife with violence against African Americans and a hometown segregated by Jim Crow, Will must make hard choices and face his inner demons in order to do what’s right the night Tulsa burns. Through intricately interwoven alternating perspectives, this “unflinching, superbly written story” (Kirkus) brings the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 to blazing life, raising important questions about the complex state of U.S. race relations.

  4. The Rhino in Right Field - A boy who loves baseball must get past his hard-working immigrant parents—and the rhino in the outfield—to become a batboy in this laugh-out-loud middle-grade novel in the tradition of The Sandlot.

Books About 20th Century and Heroes

Dream Big, Little One
Written & illustrated by Vashti Harrison
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

This beautifully illustrated book showcases women who changed the world. Featuring 18 trailblazing black women in American history, Dream Big, Little Leader is the irresistible board book adaptation of Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History. Among these women, you’ll find heroes, role models, and everyday women who did extraordinary things - bold women whose actions and beliefs contributed to making the world better for generations of girls and women to come. Whether they were putting pen to paper, soaring through the air or speaking up for the rights of others, the women profiled in these pages were all taking a stand against a world that didn’t always accept them. The leaders in this book may be little, but they all did something bigand amazing, inspiring generations to come.

Wangari's Trees of Peace
Written & illustrated by Jeanette Winter
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

A paperback picture book based on the true story of Wangari Maathai, an environmental and political activist in Kenya and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. As a young girl growing up in Kenya, Wangari was surrounded by trees. But years later when she returns home, she is shocked to see whole forests being cut down, and she knows that soon all the trees will be destroyed. So Wangari decides to do something—and starts by planting nine seedlings in her own backyard. And as they grow, so do her plans . . . This true story of Wangari Maathai, environmentalist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is a shining example of how one woman’s passion, vision, and determination inspired great change. Includes an author’s note.

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History
Written by Vashti Harrison
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-11

A NEW YORK TIMES INSTANT BESTSELLER!A USA TODAY BESTSELLER! This beautifully illustrated book introduces readers of all ages to 40 women who changed the world. Featuring forty trailblazing black women in American history, Little Leaders educates and inspires as it relates true stories of breaking boundaries and achieving beyond expectations. Illuminating text paired with irresistible illustrations bring to life both iconic and lesser-known female figures of Black history such as abolitionist Sojourner Truth, pilot Bessie Coleman, chemist Alice Ball, politician Shirley Chisholm, mathematician Katherine Johnson, poet Maya Angelou, and filmmaker Julie Dash. Among these biographies, readers will find heroes, role models, and everyday women who did extraordinary things - bold women whose actions and beliefs contributed to making the world better for generations of girls and women to come. Whether they were putting pen to paper, soaring through the air or speaking up for the rights of others, the women profiled in these pages were all taking a stand against a world that didn’t always accept them. The leaders in this book may be little, but they all did something big and amazing, inspiring generations to come.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Nonsense! The Curious Story of Edward Gorey - A beautifully illustrated and lyrical picture-book biography of eccentric and beloved writer and artist Edward Gorey In this lyrical biography of one of literature’s most creepily creative authors and illustrators, kids will learn about the inspiration behind a generation of creators, from Lemony Snicket to Tim Burton. Known for, among other things, wearing a large fur coat wherever he went, storyteller Edward Gorey was respected for both his brilliance and his eccentricity. As a child, he taught himself to read and skipped several grades before landing at Harvard (after a brief stint in the army). Then he built a name for himself as a popular book illustrator. After that, he went on to publish well over one hundred of his own books, stories that mingled sweetness and innocence, danger and darkness, all mixed with his own brand of silliness. Illustrated with Gorey-like humor and inspiration by Chloe Bristol, this stunning picture book biography about this beloved creator is the first for children.

  2. Soldier for Equality - Award-winning author Duncan Tonatiuh brings to life the story of a Mexican-American war hero Jos. de la Luz S.enz (1888-1953)—or Luz—believed in fighting for what was right. Although he was born in the United States, he and his family experienced prejudice because of their Mexican heritage. When World War I broke out, Luz volunteered to join the fight. Because of his ability to quickly learn languages, he became part of the Intelligence Office in Europe. However, despite his hard work and intellect, Luz often didn’t receive credit for his contributions. Upon his return to the US, he joined other Mexican-Americans whom he had met in the army to fight for equality. His contribution, along with others, ultimately led to the creation of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), which is the oldest Latino civil rights organization. Soldier for Equality is based in part on Luz’s diary during the war. It includes a biography of Luz’s later years, an author’s note, a timeline, a bibliography, and an index.

Want to see books about heroes?

Books About 20th Century and Aeronautics, Astronautics And Space Science

Fly High, John Glenn: The Story of an American Hero
Written by Kathleen Krull & illustrated by Maurizio A.C. Quarello
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

The inspiring, deeply patriotic true story of John Glenn, a true hero who not only changed America’s contribution to space exploration but also spent his life proudly serving his country in many ways.

This is a gorgeous picture book to introduce younger readers to John Glenn, from award-winning author Kathleen Krull and illustrator Maurizio A. C. Quarello.

John Glenn wasn’t just the first American to orbit Earth. He was a family man, a soldier, a United States senator, and a national hero. He laid the groundwork for future star voyagers—and dreamers—everywhere.

From the time he was a child, John Glenn loved flying. Later he did so by flying airplanes for the U.S. military, and then when space travel became a possibility, he trained for years to become an astronaut. John had to push his mind and body to the brink.

But he loved his country more than anything and wanted to serve—including flying into the great unknown.

Always Looking Up
Written by Laura Gehl & illustrated by Louise Pigott
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

This empowering picture book biography tells the story of Nancy Grace Roman, the astronomer who overcame obstacles like weak eyesight and teachers who discouraged women from pursuing astronomy to lead the NASA team that built the Hubble Space Telescope. A testament to women in scientific careers and a record of an important NASA milestone.

Counting the Stars
Written by Lesa Cline-Ransome & illustrated by Raúl Colón
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Before John Glenn orbited the Earth or astronauts walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used their knowledge, pencils, adding machines, and writing paper to calculate the orbital mechanics needed to launch spacecraft. Katherine Johnson was one of these mathematicians who used trajectories and complex equations to chart the space program. Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws were in place in the early 1950s, Katherine worked analyzing data at the NACA (later NASA) Langley laboratory. In 1962, as NASA prepared for the orbital mission of John Glenn, Katherine Johnson was called upon and John Glenn said “get the girl” (Katherine Johnson) to run the numbers by hand to chart the complexity of the orbital flight. He knew that his flight couldn’t work without her unique skills. President Barack Obama awarded Katherine Johnson the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 and her incredible life inspired the Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures. Get to know this incredible and inspirational woman with this beautifully illustrated picture book from an award-winning duo.

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Race to Space: Countdown to Liftoff - In this second installment of the Epic Fails series, explore the many failures that made up the Space Race, paving the way for humanity’s eventual success at reaching the stars. Today, everyone is familiar with Neil Armstrong’s famous words as he first set foot on the moon: “one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.” He made it look easy, but America’s journey to the moon was anything but simple. In 1957, when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the world’s first satellite, into orbit, America had barely crossed the starting line of the great Space Race. Later that year, our first attempt was such a failure that the media nicknamed it “Kaputnik.” Still, we didn’t give up. With each failure, we gleaned valuable information about what went wrong, and how to avoid it in the future. So we tried again. And again. And each time we failed, we failed a little bit better. The Epic Fails series by Erik Slader and Ben Thompson explores the humorous backstories behind a variety of historical discoveries, voyages, experiments, and innovations that didn’t go as expected but succeeded nonetheless, showing that many of mankind’s biggest success stories are the result of some pretty epic failures indeed.

  2. A Computer Called Katherine - The inspiring true story of mathematician Katherine Johnson—made famous by the award-winning film Hidden Figures—who counted and computed her way to NASA and helped put a man on the moon! Katherine knew it was wrong that African Americans didn’t have the same rights as others—as wrong as 5+5=12. She knew it was wrong that people thought women could only be teachers or nurses—as wrong as 10-5=3. And she proved everyone wrong by zooming ahead of her classmates, starting college at fifteen, and eventually joining NASA, where her calculations helped pioneer America’s first manned flight into space, its first manned orbit of Earth, and the world’s first trip to the moon! Award-winning author Suzanne Slade and debut artist Veronica Miller Jamison tell the story of a NASA “computer” in this smartly written, charmingly illustrated biography.

Books About 20th Century and Musicians

Ella Fitzgerald
Written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara & illustrated by Bàrbara Alca
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Meet Ella Fitzgerald, one of the most influential jazz singers of all time! New in the Little People, Big Dreams series, this inspiring and informative little biography follows the inspirational life of the First Lady of Song, from her early singing days on the streets of Harlem, to her success as a jazz legend, with the message: ‘It’s not where you come from, but where you’re going that counts.’ With stylish and quirky illustrations and a facts and photo section at the back, this empowering series celebrates the important life stories of wonderful women of the world. From designers and artists to scientists, all of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. These books make the lives of these role models accessible for children, providing a powerful message to inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world!

Ben's Trumpet
Written & illustrated by Rachel Isadora
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

The story of Ben is fiction, but it could be the story of more than one jazz musician who grew up in the twenties. Using the art-deco style of the period, Rachel Isadora not only captures the poignancy and yearning of a youthful talent, but in page after page of striking art seems to convey the very sound of music.

When Paul Met Artie
Written by Greg Neri & illustrated by David Litchfield
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Long before they became one of the most beloved and successful duos of all time, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were just two kids growing up in Queens, New York—best friends who met in a sixthgrade production of Alice in Wonderland and bonded over girls, baseball, and rock ’n’ roll. As teens, they practiced singing into a tape recorder, building harmonies that blended their now-famous voices until they sounded just right. They wrote songs together, pursued big-time music producers, and dreamed of becoming stars, never imagining how far their music would take them. Against a backdrop of street-corner doowop gangs, the electrifying beginnings of rock ’n’ roll, and the rise of the counterculture folk music scene, G. Neri and David Litchfield chronicle the path that led two young boys from Queens to teenage stardom and back to obscurity, before finding their own true voices and captivating the world with their talent. Back matter includes an afterword, a discography, a bibliography, and a fascinating list of song influences

Honorable Mentions
  1. Irving Berlin - Irving Berlin came to the United States as a refugee from Tsarist Russia, escaping a pogrom that destroyed his village. Growing up on the streets of the lower East Side, the rhythms of jazz and blues inspired his own song-writing career. Starting with his first big hit, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Berlin created the soundtrack for American life with his catchy tunes and irresistible lyrics. With “God Bless America,” he sang his thanks to the country which had given him a home and a chance to express his creative vision.

  2. Charlie Parker Played Be Bop - Introduces the famous saxophonist and his style of jazz known as bebop.

  3. Strange Fruit - The audience was completely silent the first time Billie Holiday performed a song called “”Strange Fruit.”” In the 1930s, Billie was known as a performer of jazz and blues music, but this song wasn’t either of those things. It was a song about injustice, and it would change her life forever. Discover how two outsiders—Billie Holiday, a young black woman raised in poverty, and Abel Meeropol, the son of Jewish immigrants—combined their talents to create a song that challenged racism and paved the way for the Civil Rights movement.””The audience was completely silent the first time Billie Holiday performed a song called “”Strange Fruit.”” In the 1930s, Billie was known as a performer of jazz and blues music, but this song wasn’t either of those things. It was a song about injustice, and it would change her life forever. Discover how two outsiders—Billie Holiday, a young black woman raised in poverty, and Abel Meeropol, the son of Jewish immigrants—combined their talents to create a song that challenged racism and paved the way for the Civil Rights movement.

  4. Ella Fitzgerald: My First Ella Fitzgerald - This board book version of Ella Fitzgerald—an international bestseller in the beloved Little People, BIG DREAMS series—introduces the youngest dreamers to the First Lady of Song, from her early singing days on the streets of Harlem to her success as a jazz legend. Ella Fitzgerald grew up near Harlem, in New York, where she was surrounded by music and dance. After winning first prize in a talent competition at the Apollo Theater, she went on to tour the world with her pioneering voice. Babies and toddlers will love to snuggle as you read to them the engaging story of this fascinating icon, and will also enjoy exploring the stylish and quirky illustrations of this sturdy board book on their own. Little People, BIG DREAMS is a best-selling series of books and educational games that explore the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream. This empowering series offers inspiring messages to children of all ages, in a range of formats. The board books are told in simple sentences, perfect for reading aloud to babies and toddlers. The hardcover versions present expanded stories for beginning readers. Boxed gift sets allow you to collect a selection of the books by theme. Paper dolls, learning cards, matching games, and other fun learning tools provide even more ways to make the lives of these role models accessible to children. Inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world with Little People, BIG DREAMS!

Want to see books about musicians?

Books About 20th Century and Writing

The Story Seeker
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Viviani Fedeler, proud resident of the New York Public Library, has set her sights on becoming a star reporter. She’s thrilled when Miss Hutch announces a story contest where the winner gets their essay printed in The New York Times!

But when it’s time to write, Viviani is out of stories. As she struggles to find inspiration, the library is struck with a string of mysterious disappearances. Rare medical texts keep vanishing off the shelves, nowhere to be found! Will Viviani be able to return the books to their rightful shelves and find the perfect story to impress the Times?

The Story Seeker delivers an unforgettable mystery adventure set in the iconic New York Public Library during the Roaring Twenties.

Saving the Countryside: The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit
Written by Linda Marshall & illustrated by Ilaria Urbinati and Linda Marshall
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

“An exceptionally accurate portrait of Beatrix Potter told with humor and surprise. Beautifully done.” Linda Lear, author of Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature

Through she’s universally known as the creator of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter did so much more. This is the true story about how she helped save the English countryside!

Growing up in London, Beatrix Potter felt the restraints of Victorian times. Girls didn’t go to school and weren’t expected to work. But she longed to do something important, something that truly mattered. As Beatrix spent her summers in the country and found inspiration in nature, it was through this passion that her creativity flourished.

There, she crafted The Tale of Peter Rabbit. She would eventually move to the countryside full-time, but developers sought to change the land. To save it, Beatrix used the money from the success of her books and bought acres and acres of land and farms to prevent the development of the countryside that both she and Peter Rabbit so cherished. Because of her efforts, it’s been preserved just as she left it.

This beautiful picture book shines a light on Beatrix Potter’s lesser-known history and her desire to do something for the greater good.

Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White
Written by Melissa Sweet
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

6 Starred Reviews! New York Times Bestseller! A People Magazine Best Children’s Book! A Washington Post Best Book! A Publishers Weekly Best Book! Boston Globe-Horn Book Nonfiction Award Honor recipient Caldecott Honor winner Sweet mixes White’s personal letters, photos, and family ephemera with her own exquisite artwork to tell the story of this American literary icon. Readers young and old will be fascinated and inspired by the journalist, New Yorker contributor, and children’s book author who loved words his whole life. This authorized tribute, a New York Times bestseller, includes an afterword by Martha White, his granddaughter.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Little House Sampler - For everyone who loves the Little House books-a reissue of a charming collection of early stories and reminiscences by Laura Ingalls Wilder, along with essays and writings from her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, who was an award-winning writer. This charming collection of early stories contains many never before published newspaper pieces, stories and essays by Laura Ingalls and Rose Wilder. Inspiring the popular series, these works are a vivid and personal testament to American life and history as seen by two remarkable pioneers.

  2. I Love You, Michael Collins - A funny and heartwarming middle-grade historical fiction novel about a girl who writes letters to her favorite astronaut as America prepares for the moon landing. It’s 1969 and the country is gearing up for what looks to be the most exciting moment in U.S. history: men landing on the moon. Ten-year-old Mamie’s class is given an assignment to write letters to the astronauts. All the girls write to Neil Armstrong (“So cute!”) and all the boys write to Buzz Aldrin (“So cool!”). Only Mamie writes to Michael Collins, the astronaut who will come so close but never achieve everyone else’s dream of walking on the moon, because he is the one who must stay out in space with the ship. After school ends, Mamie keeps writing to Michael Collins, taking comfort in telling someone about what’s going on with her family as, one by one, they leave the house thinking that someone else is taking care of her—until she is all alone except for her cat and her best friend, Buster. And as the date of the launch nears, Mamie can’t help but wonder: Does no one stay with the ship anymore? With I Love You, Michael Collins, Lauren Baratz-Logsted has created a heartwarming story about family and being true to yourself. A Margaret Ferguson Book “Baratz-Logsted weaves in just enough history to root Mamie’s story in her time, a moment when a nation came together and felt proud of human possibilities. . . . Readers will be charmed by Mamie’s story of hope in a difficult moment in American history.” —Kirkus Reviews

  3. Our Story Begins - From award-winning author Elissa Brent Weissman comes a collection of quirky, smart, and vulnerable childhood works by some of today’s foremost children’s authors and illustrators—revealing young talent, the storytellers they would one day become, and the creativity they inspire today.Everyone’s story begins somewhere…For Linda Sue Park, it was a trip to the ocean, a brand-new typewriter, and a little creative license. For Jarrett J. Krosoczka, it was a third grade writing assignment that ignited a creative fire in a kid who liked to draw. For Kwame Alexander, it was a loving poem composed for Mother’s Day—and perfected through draft after discarded draft. For others, it was a teacher, a parent, a beloved book, a word of encouragement. It was trying, and failing, and trying again. It was a love of words, and pictures, and stories.Your story is beginning, too. Where will it go?

  4. Wonderful, Wicked, and Whizzpopping - An interactive introduction and fresh new look at Roald Dahl’s world and characters! A brilliant extension to Dahl’s wonderful stories, this book gives fascinating insights into the characters and events from Roald Dahl’s writing in a humorous, exciting and downright gloriumptious way. For the very first time, the stories behind the stories–like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG, Matilda, and more–are brought to life in this brand new title. Inside, Quentin Blake’s iconic illustrations are combined with imagined letters, artifacts and news clippings, and editing notes from Dahl himself, to bring all of Roald Dahl’s characters alive. Whether you have read all of Roald Dahl’s stories, or are just beginning to enjoy them, this is a great companion book that will help you delve even deeper into Roald Dahl’s worlds!

Want to see books about writing?

Books About 20th Century and Action And Adventure

The Language of Spells
Written by Garret Weyr & illustrated by Katie Harnett
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

Grisha is a dragon in a world that’s forgotten how to see him. Maggie is a unusual child who thinks she’s perfectly ordinary. They’re an unlikely duo—but magic, like friendship, is funny. Sometimes it chooses those who might not look so likely. And magic has chosen Grisha and Maggie to solve the darkest mystery in Vienna. Decades ago, when World War II broke out, someone decided that there were too many dragons for all of them to be free. As they investigate, Grisha and Maggie ask the question everyone’s forgotten: Where have the missing dragons gone? And is there a way to save them? At once richly magical and tragically historical, The Language of Spells is a novel full of adventure about remembering old stories, forging new ones, and the transformative power of friendship.

The Unabomber
Written by Bryan Denson
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A new true-crime series that follows FBI agents behind the scenes as they work to keep Americans safe.

A case of homegrown terrorism: the Unabomber. Agent Kathleen Puckett was a successful linguist and a highly trained psychologist before she was recruited for the UNABOMB investigation. The Unabomber had evaded capture for 17 years, carried out 13 bombings, and killed three men. Agent Puckett was a catalyst in understanding the psychology behind the Unabomber crimes. She led the team to make the arrest of Theodore Kaczynski on April 4, 1996, bringing down one of the most notorious domestic terrorists in American history.

The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan
Written by Patricia Bailey
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Life in a Nevada mining town in 1905 is not easy for 13-year-old Kit Donovan, who is trying to do right by her deceased mother and become a proper lady. When Kit discovers Papa’s boss at the gold mine is profiting from unsafe working conditions, she realizes being a lady is tougher than it looks. With a man’s hat and a printing press, Kit puts her big mouth and all the life skills she’s learned from reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to work, defying threats of violence and finding that justice doesn’t always look like she imagined it would.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Theodosia and the Last Pharaoh - In this fourth book in the series, Theodosia sets off to Egypt to return the Emerald Tablet—embedded with the knowledge of some of the ancient world’s most guarded secrets. Accompanied by her cat, Isis (smuggled along in a basket), Theo plans to return the artifact, then explore the mysteries surrounding her own birth and oh, yes— help her mother dig up treasures on her archeological expedition. But nothing ever works out as planned, especially when a precious treasure appears suddenly, and then just as suddenly disappears . . . When the Serpents of Chaos get involved, Theo finds she’s digging up a lot more than she expected!

  2. Daring Dozen - Fifty years ago, on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the Moon. That was the Apollo 11 mission. Since that moment, six more Apollo missions were launched, five successfully reached the moon, and eleven more men walked on its surface. In simple, poetic verse, Suzanne Slade takes readers on a trip to the Moon aboard all the Apollo missions from 1969 through 1972. Suzanne was able to work closely with astronaut Alan Bean, the lunar module pilot of the Apollo 12 landing. Backmatter includes a note from Alan Bean, information about the rockets and vehicles used, highlights from the missions, and more.

Books About 20th Century and Childhood

Me . . . Jane
Written & illustrated by Patrick McDonnell
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

In his characteristic heartwarming style, Patrick McDonnell tells the story of the young Jane Goodall and her special childhood toy chimpanzee named Jubilee. As the young Jane observes the natural world around her with wonder, she dreams of “a life living with and helping all animals,” until one day she finds that her dream has come true. One of the world’s most inspiring women, Dr. Jane Goodall is a renowned humanitarian, conservationist, animal activist, environmentalist, and United Nations Messenger of Peace. In 1977 she founded the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), a global nonprofit organization that empowers people to make a difference for all living things. With anecdotes taken directly from Jane Goodall’s autobiography, McDonnell makes this very true story accessible for the very young—and young at heart.

Marshfield Memories: More Stories About Growing Up
Written & illustrated by Ralph Fletcher
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

As the oldest of ten kids, Ralph was often cast as another parent to his siblings rather than an older brother. Teetering between these two conflicting roles, Ralph longed to be home alone on a sick day, but hated the emptiness of feeling left behind. He loved to play marbles with the neighborhood boys but resented the skillful victories of his little brother Jimmy. Thrust into the expectations of impending adolescence, Ralph was curious about girls, but repelled by the improper kissing advances of his first cousin. This satisfying memoir offers a snapshot of the pivotal moments between boyhood and adolescence, all while further tracing the roots of Ralph Fletcher’s acclaimed storytelling.

A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams
Written by Jen Bryant & illustrated by Melissa Sweet
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-18

2009 Caldecott Honor Book An ALA Notable Book A New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book A Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book NCTE Notable Children’s Book

When he wrote poems, he felt as free as the Passaic River as it rushed to the falls. Willie’s notebooks filled up, one after another. Willie’s words gave him freedom and peace, but he also knew he needed to earn a living. So he went off to medical school and became a doctor — one of the busiest men in town! Yet he never stopped writing poetry. In this picture book biography of William Carlos Williams, Jen Bryant’s engaging prose and Melissa Sweet’s stunning mixed-media illustrations celebrate the amazing man who found a way to earn a living and to honor his calling to be a poet.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Boy - Find out where the bestselling author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The BFG got all his wonderful story ideas in this autobiographical account of his childhood! From his own life, of course! As full of excitement and the unexpected as his world-famous, best-selling books, Roald Dahl’s tales of his own childhood are completely fascinating and fiendishly funny. Did you know that Roald Dahl nearly lost his nose in a car accident? Or that he was once a chocolate candy tester for Cadbury’s? Have you heard about his involvement in the Great Mouse Plot of 1924? If not, you don’t yet know all there is to know about Roald Dahl. Sure to captivate and delight you, the boyhood antics of this master storyteller are not to be missed!

  2. Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life - A repackaged edition of the revered author’s spiritual memoir, in which he recounts the story of his divine journey and eventual conversion to Christianity. C. S. Lewis—the great British writer, scholar, lay theologian, broadcaster, Christian apologist, and bestselling author of Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, The Chronicles of Narnia, and many other beloved classics—takes readers on a spiritual journey through his early life and eventual embrace of the Christian faith. Lewis begins with his childhood in Belfast, surveys his boarding school years and his youthful atheism in England, reflects on his experience in World War I, and ends at Oxford, where he became “the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.” As he recounts his lifelong search for joy, Lewis demonstrates its role in guiding him to find God.

Want to see books about childhood?

Books About 20th Century and Music

The Music in George's Head
Written by Suzanne Slade & illustrated by Stacy Innerst
picture book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

George Gershwin heard music all the time—at home, at school, even on New York City’s busy streets. Classical, ragtime, blues, and jazz—George’s head was filled with a whole lot of razzmatazz! With rhythmic swirls of words and pictures, author Suzanne Slade and illustrator Stacy Innerst beautifully reveal just how brilliantly Gershwin combined various kinds of music to create his masterpiece, Rhapsody in Blue, a surprising and whirlwind composition of notes, sounds, and one long wail of a clarinet. Includes author’s note, timeline, and bibliography.

A Voice Named Aretha
Written & illustrated by Katheryn Russell-Brown
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A beautiful picture book biography about the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, and how she fought for equal rights throughout her life.

Aretha Louise Franklin grew up in a house of music. The shy daughter of a famous Detroit preacher and civil rights activist, Aretha’s big voice surprised those around her, and everyone agreed: her powerful singing would someday make her a star.

After relocating to New York City and signing a record deal, Aretha relentlessly pursued her dream of stardom. But it took many years of tireless touring and recording until her hit record “Respect” finally brought her the acclaim she deserved. Along the way, Aretha used her talents to fight for respect and equal rights along the way by refusing to perform for “whites only” audiences. With six decades of hits, countless memorable performances, and millions of lives touched, Aretha’s legacy of resilience and respect will inspire for generations to come.

The Life of / la Vida de Celia
Written by Ariana Stein and Patty Rodriguez & illustrated by Citlali Reyes
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Born in 1924 in Havana, Cuba, Celia Cruz has become one of the most popular singers in the world. Her career started at a young age, when she began began entering singing contests and winning pastelitos for her efforts! Celia and her husband later moved to New York, where they became friends with other performers such as Tito Puente. As her popularity soared, Celia became known as the ?Queen of Salsa’. To this day, her magnificent music continues to be sugar to our ears!

Honorable Mentions
  1. David Bowie: My First David Bowie - This board book version of _David Bowie_—from the critically acclaimed, multimillion-copy best-selling Little People, BIG DREAMS series—introduces the youngest dreamers to the incredible life of this starman who dazzled audiences with his music. As a child, young David had a head full of songs and ideas. He was inspired by the pop and mod scenes in Britain to pick up the saxophone. After earning his stripes in some of the coolest bands in London, David splashed onto the solo scene. His songwriting talent and musical skill made him one of rock and roll’s all-time greatest artists. Babies and toddlers will love to snuggle as you read to them the engaging story of this fascinating star, and will also enjoy exploring the stylish and quirky illustrations of this sturdy board book on their own. Little People, BIG DREAMS is a best-selling series of books and educational games that explore the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream. This empowering series offers inspiring messages to children of all ages, in a range of formats. The board books are told in simple sentences, perfect for reading aloud to babies and toddlers. The hardcover versions present expanded stories for beginning readers. Boxed gift sets allow you to collect a selection of the books by theme. Paper dolls, learning cards, matching games, and other fun learning tools provide even more ways to make the lives of these role models accessible to children. Inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world with Little People, BIG DREAMS!

  2. Hello, I'm Johnny Cash - There’s never been anyone like music legend Johnny Cash. His deep voice is instantly recognizable, and his heartfelt songs resonate with listeners of all ages and backgrounds. G. Neri captures Johnny’s story in beautiful free verse, portraying an ordinary boy with an extraordinary talent who grew up in extreme poverty, faced incredible challenges, and ultimately found his calling by always being true to the gift of his voice. A. G. Ford’s luscious paintings of the dramatic southern landscape of Johnny Cash’s childhood illuminate this portrait of a legend, taking us from his humble beginnings to his enormous success on the world stage.

  3. The Orphan Band of Springdale - With the United States on the verge of World War II, eleven-year-old Gusta is sent from New York City to Maine, where she discovers small-town prejudices — and a huge family secret. It’s 1941, and tensions are rising in the United States as the Second World War rages in Europe. Eleven-year-old Gusta’s life, like the world around her, is about to change. Her father, a foreign-born labor organizer, has had to flee the country, and Gusta has been sent to live in an orphanage run by her grandmother. Nearsighted, snaggletoothed Gusta arrives in Springdale, Maine, lugging her one precious possession: a beloved old French horn, her sole memento of her father. But in a family that’s long on troubles and short on money, how can a girl hang on to something so valuable and yet so useless when Gusta’s mill-worker uncle needs surgery to fix his mangled hand, with no union to help him pay? Inspired by her mother’s fanciful stories, Gusta secretly hopes to find the coin-like “Wish” that her sea-captain grandfather supposedly left hidden somewhere. Meanwhile, even as Gusta gets to know the rambunctious orphans at the home, she feels like an outsider at her new school — and finds herself facing patriotism turned to prejudice, alien registration drives, and a family secret likely to turn the small town upside down.

Books About 20th Century and Baseball

Bats at the Ballgame
Written & illustrated by Brian Lies
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

On deck and ready for the spring lineup, New York Times bestselling author-illustrator Brian Lies’s ode to “batty” baseball fans. Hurry up! Come one—come all! We’re off to watch the bats play ball! You think humans are the only ones who enjoy America’s national pastime? Grab your bat—the other kind—and your mitt, because it’s a whole new ballgame when evening falls and bats come fluttering from the rafters to watch their all-stars compete. Get set to be transported to the right-side-up and upside-down world of bats at play, as imagined and illustrated by best-selling author-illustrator Brian Lies.

Across The Alley
Written by Richard Michelson & illustrated by E.B. Lewis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Abe and Willie are next door neighbors. During the day they don’t play together, because Abe is Jewish and Willie is black. But at night, when nobody is watching, they’re best friends.

All summer long, Abe and Willie open their windows across the alley to play catch. Abe lends Willie his violin and Willie show Abe how to throw a real big-league slider. Then one night, Abe’s grandfather catches them–will Abe and Willie have the courage to cross the alley and bring their friendship out in the open?

Set against a backdrop of old-time Brooklyn, Michelson’s stirring prose captures both the fun and danger of having a secret best friend.

Charlie Takes His Shot
Written by Nancy Churnin & illustrated by John Joven
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Charlie Sifford loved golf, but in the 1930’s only white people were allowed to play in the Professional Golf Association. Sifford had won plenty of black tournaments, but he was determined to break the color barrier in the PGA. In 1960 he did, only to face discrimination from hotels that wouldn’t rent him rooms and clubs that wouldn’t let him use the same locker as the white players. But Sifford kept playing, becoming the first black golfer to win a PGA tournament and eventually ranking among the greats in golf.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Goodbye, Mr. Spalding - Set in Philadelphia during the Great Depression, this middle-grade historical novel tells the story of a twelve-year-old boy and his best friend as they attempt to stop a wall from being built at Shibe Park, home of the Philadelphia Athletics, that would block the view of the baseball field from their rooftops. In 1930s Philadelphia, twelve-year-old Jimmy Frank and his best friend Lola live across the street from Shibe Park, home of the Philadelphia Athletics baseball team. Their families and others on the street make extra money by selling tickets to bleachers on their flat rooftops, which have a perfect view of the field. However, falling ticket sales at the park prompt the manager and park owner to decide to build a wall that will block the view. Jimmy and Lola come up with a variety of ways to prevent the wall from being built, knowing that not only will they miss the view, but their families will be impacted from the loss of income. As Jimmy becomes more and more desperate to save their view, his dubious plans create a rift between him and Lola, and he must work to repair their friendship.

  2. Yogi - The life and famous words, such as “it ain’t over till it’s over,” of Major League Baseball player and New York Yankee Lawrence “Yogi” Berra are celebrated in this nonfiction picture book. Yogi Berra loved his family, his neighborhood, his friends, and, most of all, baseball. He was crazy for it, ever since he was a young kid playing with friends in an abandoned dump. But baseball didn’t love him back—at least not at first. Yogi was different. He didn’t have the right look. When he finally made it to the major leagues, Yogi faced pranks and harassment from players, sportswriters, and fans. Their words hurt, but they made Yogi determined to show all that he could do. Author Barb Rosenstock’s dynamic text and illustrator Terry Widener’s powerful artwork reveal the talents, loves, and inspirational words of this celebrated New York Yankee and American icon, who earned a World Series ring for each finger and made baseball love him back.

  3. Marshfield Dreams - The colorful boyhood of a popular author comes to life in this personal account Imagine learning from a nosy classmate that your mother is having yet another baby. To Ralph’s classmates, news of one more Fletcher baby is just “scuttlebutt.” But for Ralph, the oldest of nine, being part of a large family means more kids to join in the fun—from making tripods in the woods and “snicking” up the rug to raising chicks and even discovering a meteor (well, maybe). It doesn’t feel like there’s life beyond Marshfield, Massachusetts. Then one day Dad’s new job moves the family to Chicago, and there’s so much Ralph has to leave behind. In this humorous and captivating memoir, Ralph Fletcher traces the roots of his storytelling.

  4. Barbed Wire Baseball - Traces the childhood dream of Japanese-American baseball pioneer Kenichi Zenimura of playing professionally and his family’s struggles in a World War II internment camp where he introduces baseball to raise hope.

Want to see books about baseball?

Books About 20th Century and Politics

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Written by Jonah Winter & illustrated by Stacy Innerst
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

To become the first female Jewish Supreme Court Justice, the unsinkable Ruth Bader Ginsburg had to overcome countless injustices. Growing up in Brooklyn in the 1930s and ‘40s, Ginsburg was discouraged from working by her father, who thought a woman’s place was in the home. Regardless, she went to Cornell University, where men outnumbered women four to one. There, she met her husband, Martin Ginsburg, and found her calling as a lawyer. Despite discrimination against Jews, females, and working mothers, Ginsburg went on to become Columbia Law School’s first tenured female professor, a judge for the US Court of Appeals, and finally, a Supreme Court Justice. Structured as a court case in which the reader is presented with evidence of the injustice that Ginsburg faced, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the true story of how one of America’s most “notorious” women bravely persevered to become the remarkable symbol of justice she is today.

Little Guides to Great Lives: Nelson Mandela
Written by Isabel Thomas & illustrated by Hannah Warren
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-11

Anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician, and philanthropist, Nelson Mandela’s journey from political prisoner to president of South Africa is an incredible tale of triumph in the face of adversity. 2018 marks a hundred years since his birth.

From artists to aviators and scientists to revolutionaries, Little Guides to Great Lives is a brand new series of small-format guides introducing children to the most inspirational figures from history in a fun, accessible way. Launching with Leonardo da Vinci, Marie Curie, Nelson Mandela, and Amelia Earhart, Little Guides to Great Lives tells the stories of the most amazing people from all over the world and across history, with full-color illustrations and fresh design to bring their incredible stories to life.

Notorious RBG Young Readers' Edition: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Written by Shana Knizhnik and Irin Carmon
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The New York Times bestselling biography Notorious RBG—whose concept originated with a Tumblr page of the same name—is now available in a vibrant, full-color young readers’ edition.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has become an icon to millions. Her tireless fight for equality and women’s rights has inspired not only great strides in the workforce but has impacted the law of the land. And now, perfect for a younger generation, comes an accessible biography of this fierce woman, detailing her searing dissents and powerful jurisprudence.

This entertaining and insightful young readers’ edition mixes pop culture, humor, and expert analysis for a remarkable account of the indomitable Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Heroine. Trailblazer. Pioneer.

Honorable Mentions
  1. No Truth Without Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg - From award-winning author Kathleen Krull comes an empowering picture book biography—with dazzling illustrations from artist Nancy Zhang—about the second female justice of the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Ruth Bader Ginsburg may be one of the most respected women in the United States, but her recognition is nothing short of hard-won. For years before becoming a justice of the Supreme Court, Ruth had to fight the notion that being female meant that she was less smart, less qualified, and less worthy of attention than her male counterparts. Throughout college, law school, and her work life, she faced discrimination—because she was a woman. But it was in her fight for equality as a lawyer that she made an imprint on American history, by changing the way the law dealt with women’s rights and by showing people that unfairness to women wasn’t just a female problem—that it negatively affected men and children, too. In this inspiring picture book from award-winning author Kathleen Krull and artist Nancy Zhang, readers will learn about Ruthless Ruthie—a warrior for equality, defender of justice, and a trailblazer for girls everywhere.

  2. No Truth Without Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg - From award-winning author Kathleen Krull comes an empowering picture book biography—with dazzling illustrations from artist Nancy Zhang—about the second female justice of the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Ruth Bader Ginsburg may be one of the most respected women in the United States, but her recognition is nothing short of hard-won. For years before becoming a justice of the Supreme Court, Ruth had to fight the notion that being female meant that she was less smart, less qualified, and less worthy of attention than her male counterparts. Throughout college, law school, and her work life, she faced discrimination—because she was a woman. But it was in her fight for equality as a lawyer that she made an imprint on American history, by changing the way the law dealt with women’s rights and by showing people that unfairness to women wasn’t just a female problem—that it negatively affected men and children, too. In this inspiring picture book from award-winning author Kathleen Krull and artist Nancy Zhang, readers will learn about Ruthless Ruthie—a warrior for equality, defender of justice, and a trailblazer for girls everywhere.

  3. Who Was Nelson Mandela? - Describes the life of the South African president and revolutionary, from his childhood and his work as a peaceful protestor to his twenty-seven-year imprisonment, his election as president, and his work to end apartheid in South Africa.

  4. Ruth Bader Ginsburg (You Should Meet) - Get to know Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the inspiring Supreme Court justice, in this fascinating nonfiction Level 3 Ready-to-Read, part of a series of biographies about people “you should meet!” Meet Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Also known as the notorious RBG, Ginsberg is only the second female Supreme Court justice in America’s history. She has spent her entire life fighting for equal rights for all, especially women. RBG is a true superhero and young readers are sure to love getting to know her. A special section at the back of the book includes extras like the history of the Supreme Court and how to become a lawyer. With the You Should Meet series, learning about amazing people has never been so much fun!

Want to see books about politics?

Epilogue

11 books that are just too good to leave off of our 20th century list.
  1. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry - Winner of the Newbery Medal, this remarkably moving novel has impressed the hearts and minds of millions of readers. Set in Mississippi at the height of the Depression, this is the story of one family’s struggle to maintain their integrity, pride, and independence in the face of racism and social injustice. And it is also Cassie’s story—Cassie Logan, an independent girl who discovers over the course of an important year why having land of their own is so crucial to the Logan family, even as she learns to draw strength from her own sense of dignity and self-respect.

    • “[A] vivid story…. Entirely through its own internal development, the novel shows the rich inner rewards of black pride, love, and independence.”—Booklist, starred review

  2. Wilma Unlimited - A biography of the African-American woman who overcame crippling polio as a child to become the first woman to win three gold medals in track in a single Olympics.

  3. Marie Curie - Meet Marie, the Nobel Prize winning scientist! New in board book format in the Little People, Big Dreams series, this inspiring and informative little biography follows the life of Marie Curie, from her childhood in Poland to conducting pioneering research on radioactivity and going on to become the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. With stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, this empowering series celebrates the important life stories of wonderful women of the world. From designers and artists to scientists, all of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. These books make the lives of these role models accessible for children, providing a powerful message to inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world!

  4. Number the Stars - As the German troops begin their campaign to “relocate” all the Jews of Denmark, Annemarie Johansen’s family takes in Annemarie’s best friend, Ellen Rosen, and conceals her as part of the family. Through the eyes of ten-year-old Annemarie, we watch as the Danish Resistance smuggles almost the entire Jewish population of Denmark, nearly seven thousand people, across the sea to Sweden. The heroism of an entire nation reminds us that there was pride and human decency in the world even during a time of terror and war.

  1. Big Papa and the Time Machine - Discover the true meaning of being brave in this tender and whimsical picture book from Daniel Bernstrom (One Day in the Eucalytus, Eucalyptus Tree) and Shane Evans (Chocolate Me!) that follows a grandfather and grandson who travel through time in a beloved 1952 Ford. A little boy who lives with his grandpa isn’t reprimanded for being afraid to go to school one day. Instead, Big Papa takes him away in his time machine—a 1952 Ford—back to all of the times when he, himself, was scared of something life was handing him. Full of heartfelt moments and thrilling magical realism, Big Papa and the Time Machine speaks to the African American experience in a touching dialogue between two family members from different generations, and emerges as a voice that shares history and asks questions about one family’s experience in 20th-century black America. *“Wasn’t you scared?” “Oh, I was scared,” Big Papa said. “Sometimes you gotta walk with giants if you ever gonna know what you made of. That’s called being brave.”*

  2. 16 Words: William Carlos Williams and "The Red Wheelbarrow" - This simple nonfiction picture book about the beloved American poet William Carlos Williams is also about how being mindful can result in the creation of a great poem like “The Red Wheelbarrow”—which is only sixteen words long. “Look out the window. What do you see? If you are Dr. William Carlos Williams, you see a wheelbarrow. A drizzle of rain. Chickens scratching in the damp earth.” The wheelbarrow belongs to Thaddeus Marshall, a street vendor, who every day goes to work selling vegetables on the streets of Rutherford, New Jersey. That simple action inspires poet and doctor Williams to pick up some of his own tools—a pen and paper—and write his most famous poem. In this lovely picture book, young listeners will see how paying attention to the simplest everyday things can inspire the greatest art, as they learn about a great American poet.

  3. Here Comes the Garbage Barge! - When a little town on Long Island is inundated with garbage, its citizens become more environmentally aware, while a garbage barge travels the North American coast in search of a dumping location.

  4. Maya Angelou - In the Little People, Big Dreams series, discover the lives of outstanding people from designers and artists to scientists. All of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. The book follows Maya Angelou, from her early traumatic childhood to her time as a singer, actress, civil rights campaigner and, eventually, one of America’s most beloved writers. This inspiring and informative little biography comes with extra facts about Maya’s life at the back.

  1. Before She Was Harriet - A lush and lyrical biography of Harriet Tubman, written in verse. An evocative poem and opulent watercolors come together to honor a woman of humble origins whose courage and compassion make her larger than life.

  2. Mary Wears What She Wants - Once upon a time (but not too long ago), girls only wore dresses. And only boys wore pants. Until one day, a young girl named Mary had a bold idea: She would wear whatever she wanted. And she wanted to wear pants! Inspired by the true story of Mary Edwards Walker, a trailblazing doctor who was arrested many times for wearing pants, this fresh, charming picture book encourages readers to think for themselves while gently challenging gender and societal norms.

  3. Lumber Jills - In World War II, Great Britain needed lumber to make planes, ships, and even newspapers—but there weren’t enough men to cut down the trees. Enter the fearless Lumber Jills! These young women may not have had much woodcutting experience, but they each had two hands willing to work and one stout heart, and they came together to do their part. Discover this lyrical story of home front heroism and female friendship.

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