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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 From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler to popular sellers like Number the Stars to some of our favorite hidden gems like Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.

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!

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Top 10 Books About 20th Century

#1
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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.

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#2
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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.

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#3
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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!

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#4
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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.

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#5
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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.

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#6
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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!

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#7
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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.

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#8
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All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom
Written by Angela Johnson & illustrated by E.B. Lewis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

Experience the joy of Juneteenth in this celebration of freedom from the award-winning team of Angela Johnson and E.B. Lewis.

Through the eyes of one little girl, All Different Now tells the story of the first Juneteenth, the day freedom finally came to the last of the slaves in the South. Since then, the observance of June 19 as African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond. This stunning picture book includes notes from the author and illustrator, a timeline of important dates, and a glossary of relevant terms.

Told in Angela Johnson’s signature melodic style and brought to life by E.B. Lewis’s striking paintings, All Different Now is a joyous portrait of the dawn breaking on the darkest time in our nation’s history.

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#9
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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!

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#10
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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.

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Table of Contents
Scroll to books about 20th Century and...

Books About 20th Century and Performing Arts

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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.

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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!

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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.

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  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. A Dance Like Starlight - 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

Books About 20th Century and 1960's

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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.

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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.

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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.

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  1. A Ride to Remember: A Civil Rights Story - 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.

  2. Brown Girl Dreaming - 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.

  3. Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 - 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.

  4. 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.

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Books About 20th Century and Multigenerational

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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.

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Big Papa and the Time Machine
Written by Daniel Bernstrom & illustrated by Shane W. Evans
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.”*

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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.

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  1. Sea Glass Summer - Author Michelle Houts and illustrator Bagram Ibatoulline explore the magic of one of the seaside’s greatest wonders and the bonds that link us through time. One summer, a boy named Thomas visits his grandmother at her seaside cottage. She gives him a magnifying glass that once belonged to his grandfather, and with it Thomas explores the beach, turning grains of sand into rocks and dark clamshells into swirling mazes of black, gray, and white. When his grandmother shows him a piece of sea glass, Thomas is transfixed. That night he dreams of an old shipyard and the breaking of a bottle. Could the very piece of sea glass on his nightstand have come from that bottle? For the rest of the summer, he searches for more sea glass and hopes to have dreams that will reveal more of the sea’s secrets. A stunning ode to stories and the seaside, this picture book invites readers to imagine the ocean of possibility that lives in every small or forgotten treasure.

  2. The Gardener - By the author-and-illustrator team of the bestselling The Library Lydia Grace Finch brings a suitcase full of seeds to the big gray city, where she goes to stay with her Uncle Jim, a cantankerous baker. There she initiates a gradual transformation, bit by bit brightening the shop and bringing smiles to customers' faces with the flowers she grows. But it is in a secret place that Lydia Grace works on her masterpiece -- an ambitious rooftop garden -- which she hopes will make even Uncle Jim smile. Sarah Stewart introduces readers to an engaging and determined young heroine, whose story is told through letters written home, while David Small's illustrations beautifully evoke the Depression-era setting. The Gardener is a 1997 New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Book of the Year and a 1998 Caldecott Honor Book.

  3. Indian No More - When Regina's Umpqua tribe is legally terminated and her family must relocate from Oregon to Los Angeles, she goes on a quest to understand her identity as an Indian despite being so far from home.

  4. Rebound - New York Times

Books About 20th Century and Artists

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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.

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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!

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If Picasso Painted a Snowman
Written by Amy Newbold & illustrated by Greg Newbold
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-11

-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….-

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  1. Cloth Lullaby - 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.

  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.

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Books About 20th Century and 1850-1899

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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.

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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.

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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.

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  1. Saving the Countryside: The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit - “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.

  2. History Smashers: Women's Right to Vote - Myths! Lies! Secrets! Smash the stories behind famous moments in history and expose the hidden truth. Perfect for fans of I Survived and Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales.

  3. Evelyn the Adventurous Entomologist: The True Story of a World-Traveling Bug Hunter - Back in 1881, when Evelyn Cheesman was born, English girls were expected to be clean and dressed in frilly dresses. But Evelyn crawled in dirt and collected glow worms in jars. When girls grew up they were expected to marry and look after children. But Evelyn took charge of the London Zoo insect house, filling it with crawling and fluttering specimens and breathing life back into the dusty exhibits. In the early 1920s, women were expected to stay home, but Evelyn embarked on eight solo expeditions to distant islands. She collected over 70,000 insect specimens, discovered new species, had tangles with sticky spider webs, and tumbled from a cliff. Inspire children to believe in their dreams and blaze their own trail with the story of Evelyn’s amazing life!

  4. 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.

Books About 20th Century and Race Relations

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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!

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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.

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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.

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  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. Freedom Summer - John Henry swims better than anyone I know.
    He crawls like a catfish,
    blows bubbles like a swamp monster,
    but he doesn't swim in the town pool with me.
    He's not allowed.

  3. 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.

  4. Ruby Bridges Goes to School: My True Story - The extraordinary true story of Ruby Bridges, the first African-American child to integrate a New Orleans school–now with simple text for young readers! <p/>In 1960, six-year-old Ruby Bridges walked through an angry crowd and into a school where she changed history. <p/>This is the true story of an extraordinary little girl who helped shape our country when she became the first African-American to attend an all-white school in New Orleans. With simple text and historical photographs, this easy reader explores an amazing moment in history and the courage of a young girl who stayed strong in the face of racism.

Books About 20th Century and New York

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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

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Here Comes the Garbage Barge!
Written by Jonah Winter & illustrated by Red Nose Studio
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

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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.

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  1. Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey - The John J. Harvey fireboat was the largest, fastest, shiniest fireboatof its time, but by 1995, the city didn’t need old fireboats anymore. So the Harvey retired, until a group of friends decided to save it from the scrap heap. Then, one sunny September day in 2001, something so horrible happened that the whole world shook. And a call came from the fire department, asking if the Harvey could battle the roaring flames. In this inspiring true story, Maira Kalman brings a New York City icon to life and proves that old heroes never die.

  2. 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.

  3. The Story Seeker - 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.

  4. Jenny and the Cat Club - In Greenwich Village an orphaned black cat lives happily with her master, a sea captain. Still, the gentle Jenny Linsky would like nothing more than to join the local Cat Club, whose members include Madame Butterfly, an elegant Persian, the high-stepping Macaroni, and stately, plump Mr. President. But can she overcome her fears and prove that she, too, has a special gift? Join Jenny and her friends, including fearless Pickles the Fire Cat, on their spirited downtown adventures and discover why The Atlantic Monthly called Jenny a personality ranking not far below such giants as Peter Rabbit.

Books About 20th Century and Authors

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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!

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Maya Angelou
Written by Lisbeth Kaiser & illustrated by Leire Salaberria
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

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Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks
Written by Suzanne Slade & illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

A picture-book biography of celebrated poet Gwendolyn Brooks, the first Black person to win the Pulitzer Prize

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917–2000) is known for her poems about “real life.” She wrote about love, loneliness, family, and poverty—showing readers how just about anything could become a beautiful poem. Exquisite follows Gwendolyn from early girlhood into her adult life, showcasing her desire to write poetry from a very young age. This picture-book biography explores the intersections of race, gender, and the ubiquitous poverty of the Great Depression—all with a lyrical touch worthy of the subject. Gwendolyn Brooks was the first Black person to win the Pulitzer Prize, receiving the award for poetry in 1950. And in 1958, she was named the poet laureate of Illinois. A bold artist who from a very young age dared to dream, Brooks will inspire young readers to create poetry from their own lives.

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  1. Little Guides to Great Lives: Maya Angelou - Maya Angelou was an African-American author, poet, playwright, and civil rights activist. She wrote seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and a long list of plays, movies, and television shows. Never taking ‘No’ for an answer, Maya used her voice and her art to overcome prejudice and difficulty and to become an inspiration to those around her and to future generations.

  2. Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White - 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.

  3. Rise!: From Caged Bird to Poet of the People, Maya Angelou - In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the publication of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, this beautiful biography of Maya Angelou describes how she rose above a childhood of trauma and emotional pain to become one of the most inspiring voices of our lifetime.

  4. Astrid Lindgren - In this book from the critically acclaimed, mulitmillion-copy best-selling Little People, BIG DREAMS series, discover how Astrid Lindgren grew up to become one of the world’s best-loved authors, and the creator of the irresistible Pippi Longstocking. Little Astrid grew up on an old farm in Sweden. Her childhood was very happy, so happy that she never wanted to grow up. When she was four, her friend Edit read Astrid her first story. Suddenly, the entire place was filled with giants, witches, and fairies. They all came out from a magic object call a book. Astrid did her best to learn how to read, and once she started, she couldn’t stop! Soon, there were no books left to borrow from the library and her friends. Learn how Astrid turned her love of books and telling stories into a career as a world-renowned author. 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 inspiring writer’s life. 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!

Books About 20th Century and Science

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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.

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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.

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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.

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  1. Me . . . Jane - 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.

  2. 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.

  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. 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.

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Books About 20th Century and Technology

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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.

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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.

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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.

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  1. The Boy Who Thought Outside the Box: The Story of Video Game Inventor Ralph Baer - 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.”

  2. Always Looking Up - 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.

  3. Counting the Stars - 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.

  4. Reaching for the Moon: The Autobiography of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson - A Kirkus Reviews Best Middle Grade Book of 2019

Books About 20th Century and Martin Luther King, Jr.

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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!

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A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr
Written by David A. Adler & illustrated by Robert Casilla
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

A brief biography of Baptist minister and civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.

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A Sweet Smell of Roses
Written by Angela Johnson & illustrated by Eric Velasquez
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Minnie and her sister hear about a freedom march and leave their home to go to their city’s downtown area where they listen to Dr. Martin Luther King and join the march, all the while smelling roses.

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  1. I Am Martin Luther King, Jr - “A biography of Martin Luther King Jr. that tells the story of how he used nonviolence to lead the civil rights movement”–

  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. Martin Luther King, Jr. - Introduces the life and legacy of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  4. Who was Martin Luther King, Jr.? - An introduction to the life Martin Luther King, Jr. Including how he organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott and African American people across the country in support of the right to vote, desegregation, and other basic civil rights.

Books About 20th Century and 1930's

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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.

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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.

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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.

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  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. 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.

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Books About 20th Century and Musicians

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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!

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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.

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Guitar Genius
Written by Kim Tomsic & illustrated by Brett Helquist
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

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.

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  1. Ben's Trumpet - 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.

  2. When Paul Met Artie - 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

  3. 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.

  4. Respect: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul - From a New York Times bestselling author and an acclaimed illustrator comes this vibrant portrait of Aretha Franklin that pays her the R-E-S-P-E-C-T this Queen of Soul deserves.

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Books About 20th Century and War

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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.

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Raid of No Return: A World War II Tale
Written & illustrated by Nathan Hale
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Nathan Hale tackles a topic fans have been asking about for years: World War II. On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, officially bringing the United States into World War II. A new generation of pilots were recruited to fly bombing missions for the United States, and from that group, volunteers were requested for a dangerous secret assignment. For the first time in American history, Army bombers would be launched from an aircraft carrier. Once at sea, they were told their mission was a retaliation strike against targets in Tokyo. But on the day of the raid, a Japanese patrol boat spotted them and they had to launch early, with barely enough fuel to get them past their target. After the bombing, some pilots crashed, some were captured, and many ended up in mainland China and were carried to safety by Chinese villagers, being hunted by Japanese forces all the while. With tales of high-flying action and bravery, Raid of No Return is a story of heartbreak and survival during wartime.

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Making Bombs for Hitler
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

For readers who were enthralled by Alan Gratz’s <i>Prisoner B-3087</i> comes a gripping novel about a lesser-known part of WWII.<br></br>Lida thought she was safe. Her neighbors wearing the yellow star were all taken away, but Lida is not Jewish. She will be fine, won’t she? <p/>But she cannot escape the horrors of World War II. <p/>Lida’s parents are ripped away from her and she is separated from her beloved sister, Larissa. The Nazis take Lida to a brutal work camp, where she and other Ukrainian children are forced into backbreaking labor. Starving and terrified, Lida bonds with her fellow prisoners, but none of them know if they’ll live to see tomorrow. <p/>When Lida and her friends are assigned to make bombs for the German army, Lida cannot stand the thought of helping the enemy. Then she has an idea. What if she sabotaged the bombs… and the Nazis? Can she do so without getting caught? <p/>And if she’s freed, will she ever find her sister again? <p/>This pulse-pounding novel of survival, courage, and hope shows us a lesser-known piece of history – and is sure to keep readers captivated until the last page.

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  1. Allies - A New York Times bestseller! Alan Gratz, bestselling author of Refugee, weaves a stunning array of voices and stories into an epic tale of teamwork in the face of tyranny -- and how just one day can change the world.

  2. Sergeant Billy: The True Story of the Goat Who Went to War - A delightful tale inspired by the true story of a brave goat war hero. Perfect for fans of Finding Winnie and Rescue and Jessica. During World War I, a goat named Billy was adopted by a platoon of soldiers and made his way across the ocean to be part of the war effort. Billy . . . • Trained with the soldiers • Was smuggled across the ocean • Got snuck into the frontlines in a box of oranges • Ate some secret documents and was arrested for treason • Got trench foot • Head-butted soldiers into a trench and saved them from a shell • Came back home a decorated war hero This charming true story follows Sergeant Billy from his small prairie town to the trenches of World War I and back, through harrowing moments, sad moments, moments of camaraderie and moments of celebration. This unforgettable goat and the platoon that loved him will capture your heart!

  3. A Scarf for Keiko - It's 1942. Sam's class is knitting socks for soldiers and Sam is a terrible knitter. Keiko is a good knitter, but some kids at school don't want anything to do with her because the Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor and her family is Japanese American. When Keiko's family is forced to move to a camp for Japanese Americans, can Sam find a way to demonstrate his friendship?

  4. Who Were the Tuskegee Airmen? - It's up, up, and away with the Tuskegee Airmen, a heroic group of African American military pilots who helped the United States win World War II

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Books About 20th Century and Heroes

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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.

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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.

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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.

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  1. Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History - 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.

  2. "Smelly" Kelly and His Super Senses: How James Kelly's Nose Saved the New York City Subway - James "Smelly" Kelly used his super-senses and intelligence to make sure that the New York City subway in the 1930s ran safely throughout his lifetime and beyond.

  3. 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.

  4. Soldier for Equality: José de la Luz Sáenz and the Great War - 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.

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Books About 20th Century and Friendship

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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.

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Portrait in Poems: The Storied Life of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas
Written by Evie Robillard & illustrated by Rachel Katstaller
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Here’s an insider’s tour of the fascinating lives of Gertrude Stein and her partner, Alice B. Toklas, amusingly addressed directly to the reader (“The next time you go to Paris …”). It explores the couple’s art collection, their famous writer and artist friends and even their dog, Basket. It also describes how Gertrude’s book The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas was not about Alice, but was more about Gertrude herself! A celebration of creativity and the creative process, this original and very readable picture book biography champions two women who dared to live unconventional lives.

In playful free verse, author Evie Robillard offers a unique introduction to one of the most influential figures of twentieth-century art and literature. It includes twelve child-friendly quotations from Stein’s work, such as: “It takes a lot of time to be a genius, you have to sit around so much doing nothing, really doing nothing.” Illustrator Rachel Katstaller’s fun yet detailed art delightfully evokes the time and place of the text. Touching on literature, history, writing and the visual arts, this biography offers loads of direct curriculum applications. Back matter includes a time line, “snapshots,” sources and an author’s note with further background.

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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.

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  1. Across The Alley - 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.

  2. The Life of / la Vida de Celia - 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!

Books About 20th Century and Places And Regions

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Fish for Jimmy
Written & illustrated by Katie Yamasaki
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

For two boys in a Japanese American family, everything changed when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States went to war. With the family forced to leave their home and go to an internment camp, Jimmy loses his appetite. Older brother Taro takes matters into his own hands and, night after night, sneaks out of the camp and catches fresh fish for Jimmy to help make him strong again. This affecting tale of courage and love is an adaptation of the author’s true family story, and includes a letter to readers with more information about the historical background and inspiration.

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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.

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Junko Tabei Masters the Mountains
Written by Rebel Girls & illustrated by Montse Galbany
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

From the world of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls comes the historical novel based on the life of Junko Tabei, the first female climber to summit Mount Everest.

Junko is bad at athletics. Really bad. Other students laugh because they think she is small and weak. Then her teacher takes the class on a trip to a mountain. It’s bigger than any Junko’s ever seen, but she is determined to make it to the top. Ganbatte, her teacher tells her. Do your best

After that first trip, Junko becomes a mountaineer in body and spirit. She climbs snowy mountains, rocky mountains, and even faraway mountains outside of her home country of Japan. She joins clubs and befriends fellow climbers who love the mountains as much as she does. Then, Junko does something that’s never been done before… she becomes the first woman to climb the tallest mountain in the world.

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  1. It Began with a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way - * 4 Starred Reviews *

  2. Big Bad Ironclad!: A Civil War Tale - Uncover the story of the Civil War's ironclad warships with the New York Times bestselling graphic novel series!

  3. Write to Me - “Dear Miss Breed . . .” A touching story about Japanese American children who corresponded with their beloved librarian while they were imprisoned in World War II internment camps. When Executive Order 9066 is enacted after the attack at Pearl Harbor, children’s librarian Clara Breed’s young Japanese American patrons are to be sent to prison camp. Before they are moved, Breed asks the children to write her letters and gives them books to take with them. Through the three years of their internment, the children correspond with Miss Breed, sharing their stories, providing feedback on books, and creating a record of their experiences. Using excerpts from children’s letters held at the Japanese American National Museum, author Cynthia Grady presents a difficult subject with honesty and hope.

  4. On the Horizon - From two-time Newbery medalist and living legend Lois Lowry comes a moving account of the lives lost in two of WWII's most infamous events: Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. With evocative black-and-white illustrations by SCBWI Golden Kite Award winner Kenard Pak.

Books About 20th Century and Siblings

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Rachel's Roses
Written by Ferida Wolff & illustrated by Margeaux Lucas
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

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.

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We Dream of Space
Written & illustrated by Erin Entrada Kelly
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
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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.

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  1. Al Capone Throws Me a Curve - Moose has his hands full during the summer of 1936 watching his autistic sister, Natalie, and the warden’s daughter, Piper, and trying to get on a baseball team by proving he knows Al Capone.

  2. I Survived the Nazi Invasion, 1944 (I Survived #9) - One of the darkest periods in history...

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Books About 20th Century and Coretta Scott King Award Winners

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Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Written by Doreen Rappaport & illustrated by Bryan Collier
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

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

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The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem's Greatest Bookstore
Written by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson & illustrated by R Gregory Christie
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

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.

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Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement
Written by Carole Boston Weatherford & illustrated by Ekua Holmes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

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

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  1. Finding Langston - 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!

  2. 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 Military And Wars

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History Smashers: Pearl Harbor
Written by Kate Messner
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Myths! Lies! Secrets! Uncover the hidden truth behind the infamous Pearl Harbor attack with beloved educator/author Kate Messner. The fun mix of sidebars, illustrations, photos, and graphic panels make this perfect for fans of I Survived! and Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales.
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Sergeant Reckless: The True Story of the Little Horse Who Became a Hero
Written by Patricia McCormick & illustrated by Iacopo Bruno
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

The inspiring true story of Reckless, the brave little horse who became a Marine.

When a group of US Marines fighting in the Korean War found a bedraggled mare, they wondered if she could be trained to as a packhorse. They had no idea that the skinny, underfed horse had one of the biggest and bravest hearts they’d ever known. And one of the biggest appetites!

Soon Reckless showed herself more than willing to carry ammunition too heavy for the soldiers to haul. As cannons thundered and shells flew through the air, she marched into battle—again and again—becoming the only animal ever to officially hold military rank—becoming Sgt. Reckless—and receive two Purple Hearts.

This is the first picture book from award-winning novelist Patricia McCormick, sumptuously illustrated by acclaimed artist Iacopo Bruno.

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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.

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  1. Rags: Hero Dog of WWI: A True Story - During World War I, while stationed overseas in France with the United States Army, Private James Donovan literally stumbles upon a small dog cowering on the streets of Paris. Named Rags for his disheveled appearance, the little stray quickly finds a home with Donovan and a place in his heart. Although the Army did not have an official canine division, Rags accompanies Donovan to the battlefield, making himself a useful companion delivering messages and providing a much-appreciated morale boost to the soldiers. News about Rags spreads and soon the little dog’s battlefield exploits become the stuff of legend. But during a fierce battle near the end of the war, both Rags and Donovan are wounded. Severely injured, Donovan is sent back to the United States. And the little dog with the big heart refuses to leave his best friend’s side.

  2. 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.

Books About 20th Century and Family Life

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Home in the Woods
Written & illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
This stunningly beautiful picture book from New York Times bestselling author-illustrator Eliza Wheeler is based on her grandmother's childhood and pays homage to a family's fortitude as they discover the meaning of home.
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Pixie Pushes On
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14
A young girl learns bittersweet life lessons on the family farm after her sister gets polio, in this poignant and funny novel set in the heartland in the 1940s.
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Echo Mountain
Written by Lauren Wolk
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-
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  1. Ghost Boys - A heartbreaking and powerful story about a black boy killed by a police officer, drawing connections through history, from award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes.

  2. Loretta Little Looks Back: Three Voices Go Tell It - From a bestselling and award-winning husband and wife team comes an innovative, beautifully illustrated novel that delivers a front-row seat to the groundbreaking moments in history that led to African Americans earning the right to vote.

  3. Echo - 2016 Newbery Honor Book
    New York Times Bestseller
    An impassioned, uplifting, and virtuosic tour de force from a treasured storyteller! Lost and alone in a forbidden forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and suddenly finds himself entwined in a puzzling quest involving a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica. Decades later, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California each, in turn, become interwoven when the very same harmonica lands in their lives. All the children face daunting challenges: rescuing a father, protecting a brother, holding a family together. And ultimately, pulled by the invisible thread of destiny, their suspenseful solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo. Richly imagined and masterfully crafted, Echo pushes the boundaries of genre, form, and storytelling innovation to create a wholly original novel that will resound in your heart long after the last note has been struck.

  4. Night Divided - A Night Divided

Books About 20th Century and Social Themes

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Lily and the Great Quake: A San Francisco Earthquake Survival Story
Written by & illustrated by Alessia Trunfio
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Lily is a twelve-year-old Chinese American girl living in San Francisco’s Chinatown when an earthquake destroys her home and sets her neighborhood on fire. Separated from her parents, Lily must help her younger brother and neighbor escape San Francisco. As the city burns, Lily struggles to keep her group close as they face peril and racism. Will Lily be reunited with her parents and make it across the bay to the safety of Oakland? Readers can learn the real story of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake from the nonfiction backmatter in this Girls Survive story. A glossary, discussion questions, and writing prompts are also provided.

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Goin' Someplace Special
Written by Patricia C. McKissack & illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Through moving prose and beautiful watercolors, award-winning author-illustrator duo collaborate to tell the poignant tale of a spirited young girl who comes face to face with segregation in her southern town.
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Orphan Train Girl
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

This young readers' edition of Christina Baker Kline's #1 New York Times bestselling novel Orphan Train follows a twelve-year-old foster girl who forms an unlikely bond with a ninety-one-year old woman.

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  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.

Epilogue

10 books that are just too good to leave off of our 20th century list.
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  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.

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  1. 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.

  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. Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot - A True Story of the Berlin Airlift and the Candy that Dropped from the Sky.<P>Life was grim in 1948 West Berlin, Germany. Josef Stalin blockaded all ground routes coming in and out of Berlin to cut off West Berliners from all food and essential supplies. Without outside help, over 2.2 million people would die. <P>Thus began the Berlin Airlift, a humanitarian rescue mission that utilized British and American airplanes and pilots to fly in needed supplies. As one of the American pilots participating in the Airlift mission, Lt. Gail S. Halvorsen helped to provide not only nourishment to the children but also gave them a reason to hope for a better world. From one thoughtful, generous act came a lifelong relationship between Lt. Gail and the children of Berlin. <P>This is the true story of a seven-year-old girl named Mercedes who lived in West Berlin during the Airlift and of the American who came to be known as the Chocolate Pilot. <P>Artist Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen’s evocative paintings illuminate Margot Theis Raven’s powerful story of hope, friendship and remembrance. <P>About the Author: Margot Theis Raven has been a professional writer working in the fields of radio, television, magazines, newspapers, and children’s books for thirty years. She has won five national awards, including an IRA Teacher’s Choice award. Ms. Raven earned her degree in English from Rosemont College and attended Villanova University for theater study, and Kent State University for German language. Ms. Raven splits her time living in Concord, MA, Charleston, SC and West Chesterfield, NH. <P>About the Illustrator: Born in the Netherlands, Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen studied at the Royal Academy of Arts inHolland. He immigrated to the United States in 1976, and years later he became a children’s book illustrator. “Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot” is Nick’s ninth children’s book with Sleeping Bear Press.

  4. A Bowl Full of Peace: A True Story - In this deeply moving nonfiction picture book, award-winning author Caren Stelson brings Sachiko Yasui’s story of surviving the atomic bombing of Nagasaki and her message of peace to a young audience. Sachiko’s family home was about half a mile from where the atomic bomb fell on August 9, 1945. Her family experienced devastating loss. When they returned to the rubble where their home once stood, her father miraculously found their serving bowl fully intact. This delicate, green, leaf-shaped bowl–which once held their daily meals–now holds memories of the past and serves as a vessel of hope, peace, and new traditions for Sachiko and the surviving members of her family.

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  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. 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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