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21st Century: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best kids books about 21st century?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to 21st 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 21st 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 21st century, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like The Librarian of Basra to popular sellers like A Long Walk to Water to some of our favorite hidden gems like The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin.

We hope this list of kids books about 21st century can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.

Top 10 Books About 21st Century

Maya Angelou book
#1
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!

Hello, Neighbor!: The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers book
#2
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!

Cloth Lullaby book
#3
Cloth Lullaby
Written by Amy Novesky & illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

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

Maya Angelou book
#4
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.

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin book
#5
The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin
Written by Julia Finley Mosca & illustrated by Daniel Rieley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

If you’ve ever felt different, if you’ve ever been low, if you don’t quite fit in, there’s a name you should know… Meet Dr. Temple Grandin—one of the world’s quirkiest science heroes!

When young Temple was diagnosed with autism, no one expected her to talk, let alone become one of the most powerful voices in modern science. Yet, the determined visual thinker did just that. Her unique mind allowed her to connect with animals in a special way, helping her invent groundbreaking improvements for farms around the globe!

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin is the first book in a brand new educational series about the inspirational lives of amazing scientists. In addition to the illustrated rhyming tale, you’ll find a complete biography, fun facts, a colorful timeline of events, and even a note from Temple herself!

Dream Big, Little One book
#6
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.

The Book Rescuer book
#7
The Book Rescuer
Written by Sue Macy & illustrated by Stacy Innerst
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

“Stunning.”​ —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Inspired…[a] journalistic, propulsive narrative.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

From New York Times Best Illustrated Book artist Stacy Innerst and author Sue Macy comes a story of one man’s heroic effort to save the world’s Yiddish books.

Over the last forty years, Aaron Lansky has jumped into dumpsters, rummaged around musty basements, and crawled through cramped attics. He did all of this in pursuit of a particular kind of treasure, and he’s found plenty. Lansky’s treasure was any book written Yiddish, the language of generations of European Jews. When he started looking for Yiddish books, experts estimated there might be about 70,000 still in existence. Since then, the MacArthur Genius Grant recipient has collected close to 1.5 million books, and he’s finding more every day.

Told in a folkloric voice reminiscent of Patricia Polacco, this story celebrates the power of an individual to preserve history and culture, while exploring timely themes of identity and immigration.

Stephen Hawking (Little People, BIG DREAMS) book
#8
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.

Fly High, John Glenn: The Story of an American Hero book
#9
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.

Fred's Big Feelings: The Life and Legacy of Mister Rogers book
#10
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.

Table of Contents
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Books About 21st Century and Science And Technology

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin
Written by Julia Finley Mosca & illustrated by Daniel Rieley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

If you’ve ever felt different, if you’ve ever been low, if you don’t quite fit in, there’s a name you should know… Meet Dr. Temple Grandin—one of the world’s quirkiest science heroes!

When young Temple was diagnosed with autism, no one expected her to talk, let alone become one of the most powerful voices in modern science. Yet, the determined visual thinker did just that. Her unique mind allowed her to connect with animals in a special way, helping her invent groundbreaking improvements for farms around the globe!

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin is the first book in a brand new educational series about the inspirational lives of amazing scientists. In addition to the illustrated rhyming tale, you’ll find a complete biography, fun facts, a colorful timeline of events, and even a note from Temple herself!

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.

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

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

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

Honorable Mentions
  1. Work It, Girl: Mae Jemison: Blast off into space like - In this imaginatively illustrated book from the Work It, Girl series, discover how Mae Jemison became the first African American woman in space in this true story of her life. Then, learn 10 key lessons from her work you can apply to your own life. When Mae Jemison was a little girl, she loved science, dancing, and dinosaurs. She watched the Apollo moon landings and wondered why none of the astronauts were women—and she just didn’t buy the answers she was given Work It, Girl is an empowering series of biographies featuring modern women in the world of work, from designers and musicians to CEOs and scientists. Each of these vibrantly illustrated books tells the story of a remarkable woman in 10 chapters that highlight transformative moments in her life, following the ups and downs that she faced on her road to success. At the end, 10 key lessons show what you can learn from these moments, and self-reflection questions help you apply these lessons to your own life. Brightly colored photo illustrations of 3-D cut paper artwork featuring inspiring quotes from these amazing women bring their stories to vivid life. Learn how to work it as you lay the foundations for your own successful career.

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

  3. Whoosh! - A cool idea with a big splash You know the Super Soaker. It’s one of top twenty toys of all time. And it was invented entirely by accident. Trying to create a new cooling system for refrigerators and air conditioners, impressive inventor Lonnie Johnson instead created the mechanics for the iconic toy. A love for rockets, robots, inventions, and a mind for creativity began early in Lonnie Johnson’s life. Growing up in a house full of brothers and sisters, persistence and a passion for problem solving became the cornerstone for a career as an engineer and his work with NASA. But it is his invention of the Super Soaker water gun that has made his most memorable splash with kids and adults.

  4. Little Guides to Great Lives: Stephen Hawking - Stephen Hawking was one of the world’s most famous scientists. His ground-breaking research into black holes and the Big Bang has helped to explain the beginnings of our universe and his book A Brief History of Time has sold over 10 million copies. Diagnosed with a form of motor neurone disease when he was a young man, Stephen was inspired to achieve his goals as fast as possible. Through incredible determination and skill, he became a legendary scientist, a best-selling author, and the man that changed the way we think about the universe.

Books About 21st Century and Activism

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!

Hard Work, but It's Worth It: The Life of Jimmy Carter
Written by Bethany Hegedus & illustrated by Kyung Eun Han
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

The first picture book about the inspiring life of humanitarian Jimmy Carter, the thirty-ninth president of the United States and a Nobel Prize winner—from Alabama Spitfire author Bethany Hegedus.

Even before Jimmy Carter became president, he knew the value of hard work. Living on his family’s peanut farm, Jimmy saw how hard work yielded strong results.

At least it did for some people. But growing up in the segregated South, Jimmy also saw firsthand how white people and black people were not treated equally. None of it was right. None of it was fair.

So Jimmy created a list of Good Mental Habits to help him navigate life’s challenges. The list guided his thoughts and actions and helped him fight for change, whether working with civil rights leaders to end racial discrimination in his home state of Georgia, helping to negotiate peace in the Middle East, or building homes for the poor through Habitat for Humanity.

From the statehouse to the White House and beyond, Jimmy has worked to make change for all people, devoting decades to public service and becoming one of the most respected humanitarians of our time. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it.

Our House Is on Fire: Greta Thunberg's Call to Save the Planet
Written & illustrated by Jeanette Winter
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

Learn the story of TIME PERSON OF THE YEAR Greta Thunberg, the sixteen-year-old climate activist who has sparked a worldwide student movent and is demanding action from world leaders who refuse to address climate change—from acclaimed picture book creator Jeanette Winter.

I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic…I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.

When she was fifteen years old, Greta Thunberg’s teacher explained to her class that our climate is changing—the earth is getting warmer, the polar ice caps are melting, and life on earth is threatened. Greta was devastated. What could she do? If the grown-ups weren’t doing enough to save the planet, Greta would have to demand change herself.

So she went on strike, skipping school every Friday to sit outside of the Swedish Parliament building with a sign that read “School Strike for Climate.” At first, Greta was the only one. But gradually, more and more students joined her, until her lone protest had sparked a worldwide student movement for action on climate change.

Now, a year later, Greta is speaking to audiences of world leaders at important meetings like the United Nations Climate Conference and the World Economic Forum. She is leading the conversation on climate change and sparking worldwide conversation on how to save our planet. Greta is showing everyone that even the smallest person can make a big difference, and this picture book informs and inspires young readers who are beginning to learn about the world around them.

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

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

  3. Gloria Takes a Stand - Throughout Gloria Steinem’s life, she stood up for many things. In a time when most women didn’t go to college, Gloria knew the importance of education and studied at Smith College. In a time when almost all women stayed at home to raise a family, Gloria traveled to India and wrote about what she learned there. In a time when many people were fighting for equality, Gloria wanted to write about these important events. And as she heard more and more stories from women who didn’t have as many rights as men, Gloria decided to start Ms. Magazine to give women a voice. This text introduces a new generation of children to Gloria Steinem, the icon who fought for a better world for all women—and encourages all readers to “stand up and speak for equal rights for all people.”

  4. Elizabeth Warren - “This picture book biography will outline the incredible history of Elizabeth Warren, the first female senator from Massachusetts. Elizabeth came from a struggling middle-class family in Oklahoma City. After a heart attack put Elizabeth’s father out of work, Elizabeth helped out by babysitting, waitressing, and sewing dresses, all while skipping a grade and shining in her school’s debate team. Debate taught Elizabeth how to fight with her words, a skill that eventually won her a state championship and a college scholarship. As a lawyer and law professor, Elizabeth learned why it was so difficult for working-class families like her own to advance economically, and today she continues to fight (with her words) for the poor and middle-class in her role as a politician. The text focuses on the importance of being outspoken—of fighting with words both for yourself and for those that need your help. The backmatter will include an author’s note and resources list. Nevertheless, She Persisted is sure to appeal to members of the “resist-erhood” looking for stories of strong female leaders”—

Want to see books about activism?

Books About 21st Century and Performing Arts

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!

Dolly Parton: My First Dolly Parton
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3

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!

David Attenborough
Written by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara & illustrated by Mikyo Noh
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

In this book from the critically acclaimed, multimillion-copy best-selling Little People, BIG DREAMS series,discover the life of David Attenborough, the inspiring broadcaster and conservationist.

Little David grew up in Leicester on the campus of a university, where his father was a professor. As a child, he spent hours in the science library, collating his own specimens and creating a mini animal museum. When he was old enough to go to university, he studied science and zoology—but what he wanted most of all was to be close to the animals he was studying. So, he started working in television, visiting animals in their natural habitats, and telling the world the untold stories of these animals. 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 broadcaster’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!

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

  2. The 5 O'Clock Band - In this companion to the Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Award-winning Trombone Shorty, join a scrappy young musician named Shorty on a tour of his beloved New Orleans. After letting his band down by missing rehearsal, Shorty has some serious questions about what it means to be a leader. He hits the streets of New Orleans to find some answers and soak up inspiration. Along the way he’ll meet street musicians, a favorite restaurant owner, and the famous Mardi Gras Indians. Each has some NOLA-bred wisdom to share with Shorty about being an artist, a leader, and a friend. In The 5 O’Clock Band, Troy Andrews has crafted another unforgettable love letter to New Orleans illustrated by the incomparable Bryan Collier.

  3. Story of Rap - Lay down a baby beat and learn all about the history of rap! From Grandmaster Flash to Kendrick Lamar, rap has shaped generations and brought a voice to the voiceless. Bop along with the greats in this adorable baby book that introduces little ones to the rappers that started it all! Parental Advisory: May cause toddlers to develop excessive amounts of swagger.

  4. Bob Dylan - In this book from the critically acclaimed, multimillion-copy best-selling Little People, BIG DREAMS series, discover the inspiring story of this iconic singer-songwriter, poet, and artist. Bob Dylan was born in Duluth, Minnesota. As a teenager, he played in various bands and, over time, his interest in music deepened, with a particular passion for American folk music and blues. Dylan moved to New York City in 1961, where he began to perform poetry and music in clubs and cafés in Greenwich Village. There, he recorded a number of albums that made him one of the most influential musicians of history. This fascinating 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 musician’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 21st Century and Female Role Models

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

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

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.

Little Guides to Great Lives: Maya Angelou
Written by Danielle Jawando & illustrated by Noa Snir
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-11

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.

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Girl with a Mind for Math - Meet Raye Montague—the hidden mastermind who made waves in the U.S. Navy! After touring a German submarine in the early 1940s, young Raye set her sights on becoming an engineer. Little did she know sexism and racial inequality would challenge that dream every step of the way, even keeping her greatest career accomplishment a secret for decades. Through it all, the gifted mathematician persisted—finally gaining her well-deserved title in history: a pioneer who changed the course of ship design forever. The Girl With a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague is the third book in a riveting educational series about the inspiring lives of amazing scientists. In addition to the illustrated rhyming tale, you’ll find a complete biography, fun facts, a colorful timeline of events, and even a note from Montague herself!

  2. A Life Made by Hand - Ruth Asawa (1926-2013) was an influential and award-winning sculptor, a beloved figure in the Bay Area art world, and a devoted activist who advocated tirelessly for arts education. This lushly illustrated book by collage artist Andrea D’Aquino brings Asawa’s creative journey to life, detailing the influence of her childhood in a farming family, and her education at Black Mountain College where she pursued an experimental course of education with leading avant-garde artists and thinkers such as Anni and Josef Albers, Buckminster Fuller, Merce Cunningham, and Robert Rauschenberg. Delightful and substantial, this engaging title for young art lovers includes a page of teaching tools for parents and educators.

Books About 21st Century and Culture

The Book Rescuer
Written by Sue Macy & illustrated by Stacy Innerst
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

“Stunning.”​ —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Inspired…[a] journalistic, propulsive narrative.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

From New York Times Best Illustrated Book artist Stacy Innerst and author Sue Macy comes a story of one man’s heroic effort to save the world’s Yiddish books.

Over the last forty years, Aaron Lansky has jumped into dumpsters, rummaged around musty basements, and crawled through cramped attics. He did all of this in pursuit of a particular kind of treasure, and he’s found plenty. Lansky’s treasure was any book written Yiddish, the language of generations of European Jews. When he started looking for Yiddish books, experts estimated there might be about 70,000 still in existence. Since then, the MacArthur Genius Grant recipient has collected close to 1.5 million books, and he’s finding more every day.

Told in a folkloric voice reminiscent of Patricia Polacco, this story celebrates the power of an individual to preserve history and culture, while exploring timely themes of identity and immigration.

The Librarian of Basra
Written & illustrated by Jeanette Winter
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Presents the true story of how Alia Baker, the librarian of the Basra library, and her friends managed to save the books of the library before the library was burned to the ground during the 2003 Iraq War.

The Island of Lost Horses
Written by Stacy Gregg
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Two girls divided by time, united by their love for some very special horses — an epic Caribbean adventure! On a remote tropical island, twelve year-old Beatriz is about to embark on an epic journey, through hurricanes and across the high seas and back to the time of Christopher Columbus… When Beatriz stumbles across a wild mare with strange markings in the jungle she can’t believe it is real. Yet from that moment on the strongest connection grows between them, and she begins to uncover an incredible history. For centuries ago, Felipa and her horse, Cara Blanca, were running for their lives. As the fates of Beatriz, Felipa and their horses become entwined, Beatriz realises that the future of the world’s rarest horses depends on her. Based on the extraordinary true story of the Abaco Barb, a real-life mystery that has remained unsolved for over five hundred years.

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Phone Booth in Mr. Hirota's Garden - When the tsunami destroyed Makio’s village, Makio lost his father…and his voice. The entire village is silenced by grief, and the young child’s anger at the ocean grows. Then one day his neighbor, Mr. Hirota, begins a mysterious project—building a phone booth in his garden. At first Makio is puzzled; the phone isn’t connected to anything. It just sits there, unable to ring. But as more and more villagers are drawn to the phone booth, its purpose becomes clear to Makio: the disconnected phone is connecting people to their lost loved ones. Makio calls to the sea to return what it has taken from him and ultimately finds his voice and solace in a phone that carries words on the wind. Inspired by the true story of the wind phone in Otsuchi, Japan, following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

  2. Vivienne Westwood: My First Vivienne Westwood - This board book version of _Vivienne Westwood_—from the critically acclaimed Little People, BIG DREAMS series—introduces the youngest dreamers to the incredible life of this flame-haired fashion designer and impresario. When Vivienne was a young woman, she wasn’t sure how a working class girl from England could make a living in the art world. But after discovering her passion for design and jewelry making, she erupted onto the fashion scene with a bang. Vivienne’s designs became iconic, and she became famous for letting her clothes speak for themselves. Babies and toddlers will love to snuggle as you read to them the engaging story of this fascinating designer 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!

  3. In the New World - The story of Robert and Margarete and their children Johannes and Dorothea, who emigrate from Germany to the United States in 1850. After landing in New Orleans and joining a wagon train headed west to Nebraska, the family establishes a farm outside Omaha. The book ends with a switch to modern day with descendants of Robert and Margarete living on the same farm. They make the decision to investigate their roots and visit Germany, reversing the trip their ancestors made.

  4. The Duchess and Guy: A Rescue-to-Royalty Puppy Love Story - A heartwarming tale about a beagle and the Duchess who adopted him, this picture book is inspired by the true story of Meghan Markle and her rescue dog, Guy. When he was a pup, Guy was just like any dog in the shelter; he liked to bark and follow his nose, and dreamed of a forever home above all things. But when Guy met Meghan, he had no idea he was about to star in his own Cinderella story. Guy can now be spotted escorting Queen Elizabeth and frolicking in Buckingham Palace. This rags-to-riches story of how one regal beagle got a second chance at life will charm and delight.

Books About 21st Century and Historical Figures

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.

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

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

Nelson Mandela
Written & illustrated by Kadir Nelson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

One day when Nelson Mandela was nine years old, his father died and he was sent from his village to a school far away from home, to another part of South Africa. In Johannesburg, the country’s capital, Mandela saw fellow Africans who were poor and powerless. He decided then that he would work to protect them. When the government began to keep people apart based on the color of their skin, Mandela spoke out against the law and vowed to fight hard in order to make his country a place that belonged to all South Africans. Kadir Nelson tells the story of Mandela, a global icon, in poignant verse and glorious illustrations. It is the story of a young boy’s determination to change South Africa and of the struggles of a man who eventually became the president of his country by believing in equality for people of all colors. Readers will be inspired by Mandela’s triumph and his lifelong quest to create a more just world.

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

  2. Stephen Hawking (Little People, BIG DREAMS) - 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.

  3. Fred's Big Feelings: The Life and Legacy of Mister Rogers - 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.

  4. Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams - Venus and Serena Williams. Two peas in a pod. Best friends. Sisters. Six days a week they awoke before the sun came up to practice their serves and returns, to learn to run faster and hit harder. They were unstoppable. At age fourteen, Venus played her first professional match. Three years later, it was Serena’s turn. It wasn’t easy. Some tennis fans cheered for these two fresh faces, while those who were unhappy to see two black girls competing in a nearly all-white sport booed and taunted them. But they didn’t let it stop them. With vibrant mixed media art, nonfiction superstars Lesa Cline-Ransome and Coretta Scott King Honor winner James E. Ransome share the inspirational story of two tennis legends who were fierce competitors on the courts, but close sisters above all.

Books About 21st Century and Sports And Recreation

Epic Athletes: Serena Williams
Written by Dan Wetzel & illustrated by Sloane Leong
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

An inspiring middle-grade biography of the most celebrated women’s tennis player ever, Serena Williams, from acclaimed sports journalist Dan Wetzel! Serena Williams is no stranger to overcoming obstacles. From growing up in a tough neighborhood to combatting racism to weathering severe health issues, there is no challenge she can’t defeat, no hurdle that will get in the way of her unwavering desire to be the best tennis player in the world. As a little girl, Serena spent years training at her local court with her father and older sister, Venus, dreaming of one day winning Grand Slam titles and earning the number one ranking in the world. In this exciting biography, young readers will discover what it takes to become a champion. Bestselling author Dan Wetzel brings to life the story of an athlete and trailblazer who broke records and racial barriers. Publishing right between Wimbledon and the US Open, and featuring action-packed comic-style interior art, this uplifting biography of the most celebrated women’s tennis player of all time is sure to be a hit with young sports fans across the country.

Epic Athletes: Alex Morgan
Written by Dan Wetzel & illustrated by Cory Thomas
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-11

Kicking off his new series of sports biographies for young readers, journalist Dan Wetzel pens a page-turning book about the life of US Women’s Soccer star Alex Morgan! Fierce competitor. World Cup winner. Role model. U.S. Women’s Soccer star Alex Morgan has earned each of these impressive titles throughout her incredible career. As a young girl growing up in Southern California, she dreamed of being a professional soccer player, fighting to compete on the international stage against the world’s greatest athletes. Flash forward to the present and Alex Morgan has emerged as the face of U.S. Women’s soccer, famous for her clutch, late-game goals, and an inspiration to kids across the country. Just in time for the 2019 Women’s World Cup, bestselling author Dan Wetzel details the rise of an American champion in this uplifting biography for young readers, complete with dynamic comic-style illustrations.

Yogi
Written by Barb Rosenstock & illustrated by Terry Widener
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

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

Honorable Mentions
  1. Epic Athletes: Stephen Curry - Acclaimed journalist and bestselling author Dan Wetzel tells the electric story of NBA superstar Steph Curry, beginning a new series of sports biographies for young readers! When you think of Stephen Curry, one word comes to mind: greatness. From shooting three-pointers with laser precision to his clutch ability to hit buzzer-beaters time and again, he has established himself as one of the best players in the pro basketball. But greatness was never a guarantee for Steph. The son of a talented NBA player, he dreamed of one day playing professionally just like his dad. Yet Steph, who was always smaller and weaker than the competition, was told over and over that he would never be talented enough to be a college star or NBA player—let alone the MVP of the entire league. Through tenacity and hard work, he proved them all wrong and went on to dismantle the record books. With the high energy of a TV commentator, and featuring dynamic comic-style illustrations, this engaging biography tells the story of an NBA All-Star and the path he took to achieve his dreams.

  2. Titan and the Wild Boars - Don’t miss the breathtaking true story of the international rescue of the Wild Boars soccer team from a flooded cave in Thailand! One afternoon, eleven-year-old Titan, his friends from the Wild Boars soccer team, and their coach rode their bikes to explore local caves. They crawled through the narrow tunnels in the dark to reach the center of the cave. When they turned to go home, heavy rains had flooded the tunnel. They were trapped! With rising waters and monsoon season upon them, time and oxygen were running out. The world watched with bated breath as rescuers from around the globe joined forces to try to free the boys. After eighteen harrowing days, in an unprecedented effort of international teamwork, they were finally saved. Award-winning author Susan Hood and journalist Pathana Sornhiran based this picture book on Sornhiran’s first-hand reporting of the event, and Dow Phumiruk’s beautiful illustrations bring the story to life. The book also includes a timeline and back matter with additional resources.

  3. Proud (Young Readers Edition) - A Pakistani-American Muslim girl struggles to stay true to her family’s vibrant culture while simultaneously blending in at school after tragedy strikes her community in this “compassionate, timely novel” (Booklist, starred review) from the award-winning author of It’s Ramadan, Curious George and Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns. Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized. Amina’s Voice brings to life the joys and challenges of a young Pakistani-American and highlights the many ways in which one girl’s voice can help bring a diverse community together to love and support each other.

  4. Gabby Douglas - “Gabby Douglas made history at the 2012 Olympic Games in London when she became the first ever African American gymnast to win gold in the all-around competition. But the road to winning Olympic gold was not an easy one. Being the best meant Gabby had towork hard and never give up - no matter what” — Cover verso.

Books About 21st Century and African Americans

The President Sang Amazing Grace
Written by Zoe Mulford & illustrated by Jeff Scher
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

Lyrical account of the day President Obama sang with a grieving nation following the 2015 shooting in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina When nine people were killed in a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, the nation grieved as one, and when President Barack Obama sang “Amazing Grace” during his eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney, it was acknowledged as one of the most powerful moments of his presidency. Singer/songwriter Zoe Mulford was so moved that she wrote the song “The President Sang Amazing Grace,” which was then illustrated by filmmaker and painter Jeff Scher for a video that has been viewed countless times. This book presents the lyrics to the song, Scher’s paintings, excerpts from Obama’s eulogy, biographies of those who were killed, historical context, and sheet music.

Work It, Girl: Michelle Obama: Become a leader like
Written by Caroline Moss & illustrated by Sinem Erkas
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

In this imaginatively illustrated book from the Work It, Girl series, discover how Michelle became an inspirational leader, FLOTUS, lawyer, author, and role model in this true story of her life. Then, learn 10 key lessons from her work you can apply to your own life.

Michelle Obama grew up on the South Side of Chicago in a little bungalow with a close-knit family. She loved going to school, and she knew that, one day, she would use her voice to empower other young girls, just like her. Young Michelle was a brilliant student and wonderful daughter. With hard work and talent, she propelled herself into the universities of Princeton and Harvard. She qualified as a lawyer and life was going smoothly…Then she met a guy named Barack.

Work It, Girl is an empowering series of biographies featuring modern women in the world of work, from designers and musicians to CEOs and scientists. Each of these vibrantly illustrated books tells the story of a remarkable woman in 10 chapters that highlight transformative moments in her life, following the ups and downs that she faced on her road to success. At the end, 10 key lessons show what you can learn from these moments, and self-reflection questions help you apply these lessons to your own life. Brightly colored photo illustrations of 3-D cut paper artwork featuring inspiring quotes from these amazing women bring their stories to vivid life. Learn how to work it as you lay the foundations for your own successful career.

Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere
Written by Julie T. Lamana
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Armani Curtis can think about only one thing: her tenth birthday. All her friends are coming to her party, her mama is making a big cake, and she has a good feeling about a certain wrapped box. Turning ten is a big deal to Armani. It means she’s older, wiser, more responsible. But when Hurricane Katrina hits the Lower Nines of New Orleans, Armani realizes that being ten means being brave, watching loved ones die, and mustering all her strength to help her family weather the storm. A powerful story of courage and survival, Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere celebrates the miraculous power of hope and love in the face of the unthinkable.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Muhammad Ali: My First Muhammad Ali - This board book version of _Muhammad Ali_—from the critically acclaimed, multimillion-copy best-selling Little People, BIG DREAMS series—introduces the youngest dreamers to the incredible life of ”the greatest” boxer of all time. When he was little, Muhammad Ali had his bicycle stolen. He wanted to fight the thief, but a policeman told him him to learn how to box first. After training hard in the gym, Muhammad developed a strong jab and an even stronger work ethic. His smart thinking and talking earned him the greatest title in boxing: Heavyweight Champion of the World. Babies and toddlers will love to snuggle as you read to them the engaging story of this fascinating boxer and activist, and will also enjoy exploring the stylish and quirky illustrations of this sturdy board book on their own. Little People, BIG DREAMS is a best-selling series of books and educational games that explore the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream. This empowering series offers inspiring messages to children of all ages, in a range of formats. The board books are told in simple sentences, perfect for reading aloud to babies and toddlers. The hardcover versions present expanded stories for beginning readers. Boxed gift sets allow you to collect a selection of the books by theme. Paper dolls, learning cards, matching games, and other fun learning tools provide even more ways to make the lives of these role models accessible to children. Inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world with Little People, BIG DREAMS!

  2. Marvelous Cornelius - In New Orleans, there lived a man who saw the streets as his calling, and he swept them clean. He danced up one avenue and down another and everyone danced along. The old ladies whistled and whirled. The old men hooted and hollered. The barbers, bead twirlers, and beignet bakers bounded behind that one-man parade. But then came the rising Mississippi—and a storm greater than anyone had seen before. In this heartwarming book about a real garbage man, Phil Bildner and John Parra tell the inspiring story of a humble man and the heroic difference he made in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

  3. Look Up with Me: Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Life Among the Stars - A 2020 Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students K-12! **With an introduction from Neil DeGrasse Tyson about the importance of kid-like curiosity, this lyrical picture book biography on the beloved astrophysicist and host of Cosmos is the perfect gift for young astronomers and fans of all ages.** Neil deGrasse Tyson was born curious. And the secrets of a billion galaxies lay there—waiting for him to explore its cosmic mysteries. He just had to look up. Up beyond the city lights, up at the shining stars, up through the Milky Way, and past the veil of the night sky. Follow young Neil’s journey as he discovers the wonders of space, the thrill of science, and the joy in sharing the beauty of our amazing universe. Read his favorite mind-blowing facts and learn what mysteries are left to solve. From On a Beam of Light author Jennifer Berne and debut paper illustrator Lorraine Nam comes the inspiring true tale of Neil’s life and how he became a world-famous astrophysicist. The future of discovery lays with you. Look up with Neil and begin your own journey into the cosmos.

Books About 21st Century and Africa

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Wangari Maathai Plants a Forest
Written by Rebel Girls & illustrated by Eugenia Mello
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

From the world of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls comes a historical novel based on the life of Dr. Wangari Maathai, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning activist and environmentalist from Kenya.

Wangari lives in the lush, green, land of rural Kenya where the soil is perfect for planting, the trees tower into the sky, and the streams are full of mysterious creatures. All day, she plays beneath her favorite fig tree, and at night she gathers around the fire with her family to listen to her mother’s stories.

Then Wangari grows up and goes away to school, and things start changing at home. Farmers chop down the trees. Landslides bury the stream. The soil becomes overworked and dry, and nothing will grow. People go hungry. After all her studies, Dr. Wangari Maathai realizes there is a simple solution to these problems: plant a forest full of trees.

Honorable Mentions
  1. September Roses - A tribute to the memory of September 11 On September 11, 2001, two sisters from South Africa are flying to New York City with 2,400 roses to be displayed at a flower show. As their plane approaches the airport, a cloud of black smoke billows over the Manhattan skyline. When they land, they learn of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. All flights are canceled; the sisters cannot go home, and they are stranded with boxes and boxes of roses. In the days that followed September 11, Jeanette Winter was drawn to Union Square and saw, among the hundreds of memorial offerings, twin towers made of roses. In the pages of this small and vibrant book, she tells a moving story.

  2. Gervelie's Journey: A Refugee Diary - Gervelie was born in the Republic of the Congo in 1995. This is the true story of her flight from her home in Africa to seek refuge in the United Kingdom and is told in her words. It is the honest and heartrending story of a family torn apart by war and their courageous decision to seek a life of peace in the West. Other titles in the series: Hamzat’s Journey, Mohammed’s Journey, Meltem’s Journey This is the first book in an accalaimed series highlighting the true stories of refugee children. Chosen as a Scholastic Book of the Year and as an Outstanding International Book by USBBY. CLICK HERE

Want to see books about Africa?

Books About 21st Century and Politics

Elizabeth Warren's Big, Bold Plans
Written by Laurie Ann Thompson & illustrated by Susanna Chapman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

Discover the inspiring story of Senator Elizabeth Warren and her lifelong commitment to working hard and advocating for equality in this compelling and accessible picture book biography.

Elizabeth Warren always has a plan. As a child, she wanted to help others by becoming a teacher. When discrimination forced her to surrender that dream, she found another path: She became a lawyer. Then life changed again, and Elizabeth became a professor of law—and she didn’t stop there. No matter her job title, Senator Elizabeth Warren has always worked to ensure that people with more power help those with less. She leads by example, inspiring young people across the nation to pursue their dreams despite obstacles like prejudice and inequality. Known for her dedication and willingness to adapt, Elizabeth Warren has persisted and become a voice for fairness and positive change.

Now a presidential candidate, Senator Warren is a role model for the young people who will one day assume the mantle of leadership. And this gorgeously written, beautifully stylized picture book provides a pitch-perfect look at all they can accomplish.

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

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

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

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

Mayor Pete
Written by Rob Sanders & illustrated by Levi Hastings
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Get to know Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a first-of-his-kind candidate running for a one-of-a-kind office, in Rob Sanders’ inspiring picture book biography, featuring illustrations by Levi Hastings.

When Pete Buttigieg announced he was running for president, he became the first openly gay candidate to run for the Democratic party’s presidential nomination and the first millennial ever to pursue the office. But before the nation knew him as “Mayor Pete,” he was a boy growing up in a Rust Belt town, a kid who dreamed of being an astronaut, and a high schooler who wondered about a life of public service. Without a doubt, no one could have imagined who Peter Paul Montgomery Buttigieg, the boy who lived in a two-story house on College Street, would become.

Through victories and defeats, and the changes that the seasons bring, the young boy from South Bend grew into a man devoted to helping others. Mayor Pete: The Story of Pete Buttigieg celebrates the life of an American who dared to be the first and who imagined a better world for everyone.

A Who Did It First? Book

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

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

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

Books About 21st Century and Family

Sisters
Written & illustrated by Jeanette Winter
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

Celebrated picture book biographer Jeanette Winter shares the story of champion tennis players—and sisters—Venus and Serena Williams. Before they were famous tennis stars, Venus and Serena Williams were sisters with big dreams growing up in Compton, California. In the early mornings, they head to the tennis courts, clean up debris, and practice. They compete in their first tournament and they both win. From there, the girls’ trophy collection grows and grows. Despite adversity and health challenges, the sisters become two of the greatest tennis players of all time. This inspiring story of sisterhood, hard work, and determination is perfect for budding athletes or any young reader with a big dream.

A Long Walk to Water
Written & illustrated by Linda Sue Park
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-12

The New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two eleven-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the “lost boys” of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way.

Grandad Mandela
Written & illustrated by Zindzi Mandela, Ziwelene Mandela, and Zazi Mandela
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Two great-grandchildren ask their grandmother 15 questions about the man they remember as Grandad, and the world remembers as Nelson Mandela, the global icon of peace and forgiveness who spent 27 years in prison. They learn that he was a freedom fighter who put down his weapons for the sake of peace, and who then became the President of South Africa and a Nobel Peace Prize-winner, and realise that they can continue his legacy in the world today. Seen through a child’s perspective, and authored jointly by his great-grandchildren and daughter, this amazing story is told as never before to celebrate what would have been Nelson’s Mandela 100th birthday.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Inside Out and Back Again - Through a series of poems, a young girl chronicles the life-changing year of 1975, when she, her mother, and her brothers leave Vietnam and resettle in Alabama.

  2. My Family Divided - Guerrero, the star of “Orange Is the New Black” and “Jane the Virgin, “ presents her personal story in this middle-grade memoir about her parents’ deportation and the nightmarish struggles of undocumented immigrants and their American children. Photos.

  3. The Most Beautiful Village in the World - A young boy, Yamo, lives in the Afghan village of Paghman. The peaceful village is surrounded by the bounty of nature. Fruit trees burst into bloom in the spring, and in the summer, Yamo’s whole family joins in harvesting apricots, plums, and cherries—breaking into song as they pick. This year, for the first time, Yamo goes to the market in town to sell their harvest with his father. He is filling in for his older brother, who is off fighting in the war. After they have sold their fruit, his father uses the income to buy a white baby lamb. Readers will feel experience the deep love of the family, enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the landscape, and vivid activities at the town market. Then on the final page, readers will be stunned to learn: “This winter, my village was destroyed by the war, and now it’s all gone.” This book, the first of three in the Yamo’s Village series, leads the young reader to think in real terms about the meaning of war and its impact. And they understand that there used to be many beautiful villages in Afghanistan.

  4. Nya's Long Walk: A Step at a Time - In this picture book companion to the bestseller A Long Walk to Water, a young South Sudanese girl goes on a journey that requires determination, persistence, and compassion. Young Nya takes little sister Akeer along on the two-hour walk to fetch water for the family. But Akeer becomes too ill to walk, and Nya faces the impossible: her sister and the full water vessel together are too heavy to carry. As she struggles, she discovers that if she manages to take one step, then another, she can reach home and Mama’s care. Bold, impressionistic paintings by Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Honor winner Brian Pinkney evoke the dry, barren landscape and the tenderness between the two sisters. An afterword discusses the process of providing clean water in South Sudan, reducing waterborne illness.

Want to see books about family?

Books About 21st Century and Friendship

Ninth Ward
Written & illustrated by Jewell Parker Rhodes
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-12

In New Orleans’ Ninth Ward, twelve-year-old Lanesha, who can see spirits, and her adopted grandmother have no choice but to stay and weather the storm as Hurricane Katrina bears down upon them.

The Places We Sleep
Written & illustrated by Caroline DuBois
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A family divided, a country going to war, and a girl desperate to feel at home converge in this stunning novel in verse.

It’s early September 2001, and twelve-year-old Abbey is the new kid at school. Again.

I worry about people speaking to me / and worry just the same / when they don’t.

Tennessee is her family’s latest stop in a series of moves due to her dad’s work in the Army, but this one might be different. Her school is far from Base, and for the first time, Abbey has found a real friend: loyal, courageous, athletic Camille.

And then it’s September 11. The country is under attack, and Abbey’s “home” looks like it might fall apart. America has changed overnight.

How are we supposed / to keep this up / with the world / crumbling / around us?

Abbey’s body changes, too, while her classmates argue and her family falters. Like everyone around her, she tries to make sense of her own experience as a part of the country’s collective pain. With her mother grieving and her father prepping for active duty, Abbey must learn to cope on her own.

Written in gorgeous narrative verse, Abbey’s coming-of-age story accessibly portrays the military family experience during a tumultuous period in our history. At once personal and universal, it’s a perfect read for fans of sensitive, tender-hearted books like The Thing About Jellyfish.

Real Friends
Written by Shannon Hale & illustrated by LeUyen Pham
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Newbery Honor author Shannon Hale and New York Times bestselling illustrator LeUyen Pham join forces in this graphic memoir about how hard it is to find your real friends—and why it’s worth the journey. When best friends are not forever . . . Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen’s #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top . . . even if it means bullying others. Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group—or out?

Honorable Mentions
  1. Mars' First Friends: Come on Over, Rovers! - From the creators of New York Times bestseller Moon’s First Friends comes a new, heartwarming story about the little red planet who just wants a pet! In a solar system full of planets, Mars feels all alone. No one has time to play with him. Will he ever get a playmate? Mars’ First Friends is a universal story about man’s―and Mars’―best friends―our beloved pets. In this sweet solar system book, Mars is lonely and just wants someone to play with, but the planets are all too busy. That is until Earth sends her little brother Mars his first friends: the rovers Spirit and Opportunity! With its darling prose and charming illustrations, this book offers a new take on the Mars rovers stories, and also includes educational back matter with an abundance of information about the solar system, Mars, and his real-life pets―NASA’s rovers!

  2. Another Kind of Hurricane - The world, itself, seems to bring together Henry, whose best friend died near their home in the mountains of Vermont, and Zavion, who lost his home in Hurricane Katrina, so that the boys can help each other heal.

Want to see books about friendship?

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