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Biography: Books For Kids

This list of the best kids books about biography is sure to include a new favorite for the voracious young reader in your life! From This Little Explorer to Missing! there's something here for everyone's tastes. Do you have a favorite book about biography? Let us know!

Top 10 Books About Biography

This Little Explorer book
#1
This Little Explorer
Written by Joan Holub and illustrated by Daniel Roode
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Learn all about the most influential explorers who searched the world far and wide in this engaging and colorful board book perfect for pioneers-in-training! Little explorers discover a great big world. The follow up to This Little President, now even the youngest adventurers can learn about the greatest explorers in history with this bright and playful board book. Highlighting ten memorable pioneers, parents and young discoverers alike will love sharing this fun historical primer full of age-appropriate facts and bold illustrations.

Amelia Earhart book
#2
Amelia Earhart
Written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara and 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!

Coco Chanel book
#3
Coco Chanel
Written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara and 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!

Manjhi Moves a Mountain book
#4
Manjhi Moves a Mountain
Written by Nancy Churnin and illustrated by Danny Popovici
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Dashrath Manjhi used a hammer and chisel, grit, determination, and twenty years to carve a path through the mountain separating his poor village from the nearby village with schools, markets, and a hospital. Manjhi Moves a Mountain shows how everyone can make a difference if your heart is big enough.

I Have a Dream book
#5
I Have a Dream
Written by and 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.

Hedy Lamarr's Double Life book
#6
Hedy Lamarr's Double Life
Written by Laurie Wallmark and 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.

Martin's Big Words book
#7
Martin's Big Words
Written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Bryan Collier
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

This picture-book biography is an excellent and accessible introduction for young readers to learn about one of the world’s most influential leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Doreen Rappaport weaves the immortal words of Dr. King into a captivating narrative to tell the story of his life. With stunning art by acclaimed illustrator Bryan Collier, Martin’s Big Words is an unforgettable portrait of a man whose dream changed America—and the world—forever.

Thomas Jefferson and the Mammoth Hunt book
#8
Thomas Jefferson and the Mammoth Hunt
Written by Carrie Clickard and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In this rhyming, hilarious romp about a little-known facet of American history, Thomas Jefferson tries to disprove a French theory that those in the New World are puny and wussy by going in search of mammoth bones. In the New World called America big changes were a’brewing. Independence was declared with bold hurrahs and ballyhooing! The French feel threatened by America’s new freedom and confidence, as embodied by Count Buffon who claims that the “New World was a chilly, swampy place, filled with puny, scrawny creatures, every species, breed, and race.” Thomas Jefferson won’t stand his young country being insulted, so he sets out to prove Count Buffon wrong. He sends people across the country in search of an animal or animal bones to prove that creatures in the United States are big and strong and worthy. Hilarious, energetic, and a delight to read aloud, this book shines a light on this little-known slice of American history. Included in the back matter are an author’s note, who’s who and what’s what from American history, bibliography, and further reading.

The Quest for Z book
#9
The Quest for Z
Written and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

From an award-winning author comes a picture book biography that feels like Indiana Jones for kids! British explorer Percy Fawcett believed that hidden deep within the Amazon rainforest was an ancient city, lost for the ages. Most people didn’t even believe this city existed. But if Fawcett could find it, he would be rich and famous forever. This is the true story of one man’s thrilling, dangerous journey into the jungle, and what he found on his quest for the lost city of Z.

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré book
#10
Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré
Written by Anika Denise and illustrated by Paola Escobar
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

Books About Biography and Female Role Models

This Little Explorer book
#1
This Little Explorer
Written by Joan Holub and illustrated by Daniel Roode
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Learn all about the most influential explorers who searched the world far and wide in this engaging and colorful board book perfect for pioneers-in-training! Little explorers discover a great big world. The follow up to This Little President, now even the youngest adventurers can learn about the greatest explorers in history with this bright and playful board book. Highlighting ten memorable pioneers, parents and young discoverers alike will love sharing this fun historical primer full of age-appropriate facts and bold illustrations.

Amelia Earhart book
#2
Amelia Earhart
Written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara and 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!

Coco Chanel book
#3
Coco Chanel
Written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara and 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!

Honorable Mentions
  1. I Am Amelia Earhart - Presents the life of the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, who mysteriously disappeared in 1937 while attempting to fly around the world.

  2. Epic Athletes: Alex Morgan - 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.

  3. I Am Sonia Sotomayor - Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, is the subject of the sixteenth picture book in the New York Times bestselling series of biographies about heroes. This friendly, fun biography series focuses on the traits that made our heroes great--the traits that kids can aspire to in order to live heroically themselves. Each book tells the story of one of America's icons in a lively, conversational way that works well for the youngest nonfiction readers and that always includes the hero's childhood influences. At the back are an excellent timeline and photos. This volume features Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina Supreme Court Justice.

  4. I Am Lucille Ball - A first-person presentation of the life and career of comedian and studio head Lucille Ball.

Want to see 12 more children's books about biography and female role models?

How about children's books about female role models?

Books About Biography and Based On A True Story

The Quest for Z book
#1
The Quest for Z
Written and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

From an award-winning author comes a picture book biography that feels like Indiana Jones for kids! British explorer Percy Fawcett believed that hidden deep within the Amazon rainforest was an ancient city, lost for the ages. Most people didn’t even believe this city existed. But if Fawcett could find it, he would be rich and famous forever. This is the true story of one man’s thrilling, dangerous journey into the jungle, and what he found on his quest for the lost city of Z.

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré book
#2
Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré
Written by Anika Denise and illustrated by Paola Escobar
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

Guitar Genius book
#3
Guitar Genius
Written by Kim Tomsic and 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.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Smile: How Young Charlie Chaplin Taught the World to Laugh (and Cry) - An award-winning author and a Caldecott Medalist take a creative look at the early life of comedic genius Charlie Chaplin. Once there was a little slip of a boy who roamed the streets of London, hungry for life (and maybe a bit of bread). His dad long gone and his actress mother ailing, five-year-old Charlie found himself onstage one day taking his mum’s place, singing and drawing laughs amid a shower of coins. There were times in the poorhouse and times spent sitting in the window at home with Mum, making up funny stories about passersby. And when Charlie described a wobbly old man he saw in baggy clothes, with turned-out feet and a crooked cane, his mother found it sad, but Charlie knew that funny and sad go hand in hand. With a lyrical text and exquisite collage imagery, Gary Golio and Ed Young interpret Charlie Chaplin’s path from his childhood through his beginnings in silent film and the creation of his iconic Little Tramp. Keen-eyed readers will notice a silhouette of the Little Tramp throughout the book that becomes animated with a flip of the pages. An Afterword fills in facts about the beloved performer who became one of the most famous entertainers of all time.

  2. Harriet Tubman: Freedom Fighter - Learn about the inspiring life of Harriet Tubman in this early reader biography. Harriet Tubman was a brave woman who was born enslaved in Maryland in the 1800s. After risking everything to escape from her slave master and be free, Harriet went on to lead many people to freedom on a journey known today as the Underground Railroad. This book covers some of the amazing aspects of Tubman's life: She led 13 escapes—all successful and at great personal risk—between 1850 and 1860. This book also covers some of the lesser-known amazing aspects of her life: During the Civil War, Harriet Tubman enlisted African American men to be soldiers. She served as a spy. AND she led a battle under the command of a Union Army colonel! Beginning readers will learn about the milestones in Harriet Tubman’s life in this Level Two I Can Read biography. This biography includes a timeline and historical illustrations all about the life of this inspiring figure, as well as a rare historical photograph of her. Much mythology and conflicting lore exists about Harriet Tubman. This book was carefully vetted by noted Harriet Tubman expert Dr. Kate Larson. Harriet Tubman: Freedom Fighter is a Level Two I Can Read, geared for kids who read on their own but still need a little help.

  3. The Funniest Man in Baseball - Max Patkin was pitching in the minor leagues when he was injured and had to leave his dreams behind. He joined the Navy and eventually was able to play again while in the military . . . and this time he got to pitch against superstar Joe DiMaggio. When Joe hit one of Max’s throws out of the park, Max threw down his glove, left the mound, and chased Joe around the bases, making faces and imitating his every move. The crowd loved it! And a baseball clown was born. This inspiring and comical biography carries an important message: Life doesn’t always turn out exactly as you hope . . . but moving in a new direction can sometimes bring happy surprises.

  4. Melvin the Mouth - Meet young Melvin (the future Mel Blanc of Looney Tunes fame) as he drives everyone a little nuts with the noisy soundtrack to his day-to-day life. Melvin is an imaginative and noisy little boy who grows up to be Mel Blanc, Looney Tunes cartoon character pioneer and the voice behind Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Woody Woodpecker, the Tasmanian Devil, and so many more familiar personalities. Readers are treated to a typical day for young Melvin, when ordinary tasks like getting ready for school, riding the bus, and completing his chores are charged with sound effects and accompanied by his own personal soundtrack. His knack for making funny noises and using the versatility of his voice was like no other–much to the relief of his teachers. Penned by Blanc’s daughter-in-law, this first-person fiction-based-in-reality story is a fun romp and is sure to inspire young readers to turn trouble into triumph!

Want to see more children's books about based on a true story?

Books About Biography and History

Martin's Big Words book
#1
Martin's Big Words
Written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Bryan Collier
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

This picture-book biography is an excellent and accessible introduction for young readers to learn about one of the world’s most influential leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Doreen Rappaport weaves the immortal words of Dr. King into a captivating narrative to tell the story of his life. With stunning art by acclaimed illustrator Bryan Collier, Martin’s Big Words is an unforgettable portrait of a man whose dream changed America—and the world—forever.

Thomas Jefferson and the Mammoth Hunt book
#2
Thomas Jefferson and the Mammoth Hunt
Written by Carrie Clickard and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In this rhyming, hilarious romp about a little-known facet of American history, Thomas Jefferson tries to disprove a French theory that those in the New World are puny and wussy by going in search of mammoth bones. In the New World called America big changes were a’brewing. Independence was declared with bold hurrahs and ballyhooing! The French feel threatened by America’s new freedom and confidence, as embodied by Count Buffon who claims that the “New World was a chilly, swampy place, filled with puny, scrawny creatures, every species, breed, and race.” Thomas Jefferson won’t stand his young country being insulted, so he sets out to prove Count Buffon wrong. He sends people across the country in search of an animal or animal bones to prove that creatures in the United States are big and strong and worthy. Hilarious, energetic, and a delight to read aloud, this book shines a light on this little-known slice of American history. Included in the back matter are an author’s note, who’s who and what’s what from American history, bibliography, and further reading.

Martina & Chrissie book
#3
Martina & Chrissie
Written by Phil Bildner and illustrated by Brett Helquist
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

A fascinating dual biography of tennis greats Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert celebrates the power of equality, respect, and sportsmanship. Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert come from completely different places and play tennis in completely different ways. Chrissie is the all-American girl: practiced, poised, with perfect technique. Martina hails from Czechoslovakia, a Communist country, and her game is ruled by emotion. Everything about them is different, except one thing: they both want to be the best. But as their intense rivalry grows, something else begins to swing into place, and a friendship forms that will outlast all their tennis victories. Phil Bildner and Brett Helquist tell the engaging true story of these two masters of the court as they win title after title -- and, most importantly, the hearts of the fans.

Honorable Mentions
  1. I Am Abraham Lincoln - Follows Abraham Lincoln from his childhood to the presidency, showing how he spoke up about fairness and eventually led the country to abolish slavery.

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

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

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

Want to see more children's books about history?

Books About Biography and Science

Hedy Lamarr's Double Life book
#1
Hedy Lamarr's Double Life
Written by Laurie Wallmark and 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.

Shark Lady book
#2
Shark Lady
Written by Jess Keating and illustrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens, Jess Keating
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A beautifully illustrated biography of Eugenie Clark, a scientist as impressive as the sharks she studied At nine years old, Eugenie Clark developed an unexpected passion for sharks after a visit to the Battery Park Aquarium in New York City. At the time, sharks were seen as mindless killing machines, but Eugenie knew better and set out to prove it. Despite many obstacles in her path, including trying to break into the scientific field as a woman, Eugenie was able to study the creatures she loved so much. From her many discoveries to the shark-related myths she dispelled, Eugenie's wide scientific contributions led to the well-earned nickname "Shark Lady," as she become a fixture in the world of ocean conservation and shark research.

I Am Albert Einstein book
#3
I Am Albert Einstein
Written by Brad Meltzer and illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Presents the life of the world-renowned German scientist, describing how his life-long curiosity and ability to question accepted theories led him to develop his famous theory of relatvitiy and win the Noble Prize for Physics.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Ada Lovelace - Meet Ada Lovelace, the British mathematician and daughter of poet Lord Byron. New in the Little People, Big Dreams series, this inspiring and informative little biography follows the colourful life of Lord Byron’s daughter, from her early love of logic, to her plans for the world's first computer program. 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!

  2. Marie Curie - At a time when women weren't welcome in the world of science, Marie Curie made her mark on history. She was the first woman to become a professor of physics in the Sorbonne and even won Nobel Prizes in two different scientific fields. This fascinating biography explains how Curie and her husband discovered both polonium and radium, and why their pioneering research on radioactivity was so important.

  3. Leonardo Da Vinci - Why could Leonardo da Vinci paint the human form so accurately, in all its beauty? How was he educated and trained as an artist? What inspired his most famous work, including The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa? And what fun machine did he invent? Find out about this unique artist and the many areas, from architecture to flight, he drew on and influenced.

  4. I Am Jane Goodall - Learn all about Jane Goodall, the chimpanzee scientist.

Want to see more children's books about science?

Books About Biography and Activism

I Dissent book
#1
I Dissent
Written by Debbie Levy and illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Get to know celebrated Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—in the first picture book about her life—as she proves that disagreeing does not make you disagreeable! Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has spent a lifetime disagreeing: disagreeing with inequality, arguing against unfair treatment, and standing up for what’s right for people everywhere. This biographical picture book about the Notorious RBG, tells the justice’s story through the lens of her many famous dissents, or disagreements.

I Have a Dream book
#2
I Have a Dream
Written by and 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.

Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education book
#3
Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education
Written by Raphaele Frier and illustrated by Aurelia Fronty
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Malala Yousafzai stood up to the Taliban and fought for the right for all girls to receive an education. When she was just fifteen-years old, the Taliban attempted to kill Malala, but even this did not stop her activism. At age eighteen Malala became the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work to ensure the education of all children around the world. Malala’s courage and conviction will inspire young readers in this beautifully illustrated biography.

Honorable Mentions
  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. I Am Harriet Tubman - "A biography of Harriet Tubman, the abolitionist leader who played a key role in helping enslaved people escape via the Underground Railroad."

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

  4. Ninita's Big World - "The heart-tugging true story of how YouTube star Ninita—a deaf, orphaned pygmy marmoset (the smallest type of monkey)—found family, friendship, and a forever home! Illustrated in full color. Ninita is the only known deaf pygmy marmoset in the world, but that doesn't stop her from making friends and chasing her next adventure! Abandoned by her parents and rescued by the RSCF, this tiny, curious monkey loves exploring her habitat. And when she meets Mr. Big—another pygmy marmoset—she has finally found a friend who likes to eat, climb, and play as much as she does. A YouTube celebrity, Ninita's videos have been viewed nearly 2 million times! "

Want to see more children's books about activism?

Books About Biography and Art

Sandy's Circus book
#1
Sandy's Circus
Written by Tanya Lee Stone and illustrated by Boris Kulikov
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

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.

Frida Kahlo book
#2
Frida Kahlo
Written by Isabel Muñoz and illustrated by Jane Kent
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

Mexican artist Frida Kahlo created vibrantly hued paintings . . . and led an equally colorful life. Known for her self-portraits, she became a feminist icon whose work now sells for millions. This lively biography looks at Frida's childhood; her devotion to Mexican culture and politics; the bus accident that left her in chronic pain but also sparked her career; and her marriage to Diego Rivera.

Dancing Through Fields of Color book
#3
Dancing Through Fields of Color
Written by Elizabeth Brown and illustrated by Aimee Sicuro
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

They said only men could paint powerful pictures, but Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011) splashed her way through the modern art world. Channeling deep emotion, Helen poured paint onto her canvas and danced with the colors to make art unlike anything anyone had ever seen. She used unique tools like mops and squeegees to push the paint around, to dazzling effects. Frankenthaler became an originator of the influential "Color Field" style of abstract expressionist painting with her "soak stain" technique, and her artwork continues to electrify new generations of artists today. Dancing Through Fields of Color discusses Frankenthaler's early life, how she used colors to express emotion, and how she overcame the male-dominated art world of the 1950s.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Out of This World - A gorgeously illustrated picture book biography about the fascinating life of surrealist artist Leonora Carrington, from Michelle Markel and Amanda Hall, the acclaimed team behind The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau. Ever since she was a little girl, Leonora Carrington loved to draw on walls, in books, on paper—and she loved the fantastic tales her grandmother told that took her to worlds that shimmered beyond this one, where legends became real. Leonora’s parents wanted her to become a proper English lady, but there was only one thing she wanted, even if it was unsuitable: to be an artist. In London, she discovered a group of artists called surrealists, who were stunning the world with their mysterious creations. This was the kind of art she had to make. This was the kind of person she had to be. From life in Paris creating art alongside Max Ernst, to Mexico where she met Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, Leonora’s life became intertwined with powerful events and people that shaped the twentieth century. Out of This World is the powerful, stunningly told story of Leonora Carrington, a girl who made art out of her imagination and created some of the most enigmatic and startling works of the last eighty years.

  2. Imogen - Introduces the life and achievements of twentieth-century photographer Imogen Cunningham, describing her first darkroom experiments during childhood and the challenges she faced as a mother of three boys.

  3. The Shape of the World: A Portrait of Frank Lloyd Wright - A little boy who loves to find shapes in nature grows up to be one of America’s greatest architects in this inspiring biography of Frank Lloyd Wright. When Frank Lloyd Wright was a baby, his mother dreamed that he would become a great architect. She gave him blocks to play with and he learned that shapes are made up of many other shapes. As he grew up, he loved finding shapes in nature. Wright went on to study architecture and create buildings that were one with the natural world around them. He became known as one of the greatest American architects of all time.

Want to see more children's books about art?

Books About Biography and Music

The Life of/ La Vida De Selena book
#1
The Life of/ La Vida De Selena
Written and illustrated by Ariana Stein, Patty Rodriguez
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

A Lil' Libros Bilingual Biography Selena's career started at a young age when she became lead singer in her family's band, Selena Y Los Dinos. She went on to become an award-winning artist with albums like Amor Prohibido and Selena Live, and earned the title "Queen of Tejano Music." Your little one will learn that Selena's favorite food was pizza and that the most important people in the world to her were her familiaand fans.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart book
#2
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Written by Isabel Muñoz and illustrated by Jane Kent
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

Meet composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and learn about his life and music in this engagingly illustrated biography. Wolfgang Amadeus rose to fame as a child genius who wrote his first piece at the age of five, spent a lifetime making music for archbishops and emperors, and created countless compositions until his untimely death at only 35 years old. This engaging biography explores his amazing career, from when Mozart began his musical studies under his father's tutelage; through his time as a court composer, musician, and concertmaster; to his final work in honor of the coronation of Leopold II as King of Bohemia. Along the way, we find out about Mozart's travels and the great composers he met, his difficulties with his rich benefactors, his financial struggles, his marriage and family, and his final illness. Appealing illustrations, information on his breakthroughs and successes, and an index of major events reveal how Mozart left his mark on humanity. A timeline and simple quiz help kids test their understanding and knowledge.

The Music in George's Head book
#3
The Music in George's Head
Written by Suzanne Slade and illustrated by Stacy Innerst
picture book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

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

Honorable Mentions
  1. 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

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

  3. When Bob Met Woody - "Hey hey, Woody Guthrie, I wrote you a song..." When Bob finished, Woody's face lit up like the sun. Bob Dylan is a musical icon, an American legend, and, quite simply, a poet. But before he became Bob Dylan, he was Bob Zimmerman, a kid from rural Minnesota. This lyrical and gorgeously illustrated picture book biography follows Bob as he renames himself after his favorite poet, Dylan Thomas, and leaves his Michigan mining town to pursue his love of music in New York City. There, he meets his folk music hero and future mentor, Woody Guthrie, changing his life forever.

  4. Carlos Santana - Discover the childhood story of Carlos Santana in Gary Golio's ""Sound of the Heart, Song of the World"", featuring illustrations by Rudy Gutierrez, the internationally celebrated artist who created the iconic Santana ""Shaman"" CD cover. Carlos Santana grew up surrounded by music. His father, a beloved mariachi performer, teaches his son how to play the violin when he is only six years old. But when Carlos discovers American blues, he is captivated by the raw honesty of the music. Unable to think of anything else, he loses all interest in the violin. When Carlos finally receives his first guitar, his whole life begins to change. From his early exposure to mariachi to his successful fusing of rock, blues, jazz, and Latin influences, here is the childhood story of a legendary musician.

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Books About Biography and Historical Figures

Grandfather Gandhi book
#1
Grandfather Gandhi
Written by Bethany Hegedus, Arun Gandhi and illustrated by Evan Turk
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson tells the story of how his grandfather taught him to turn darkness into light in this uniquely personal and vibrantly illustrated tale that carries a message of peace. How could he—a Gandhi—be so easy to anger? One thick, hot day, Arun Gandhi travels with his family to Grandfather Gandhi’s village. Silence fills the air—but peace feels far away for young Arun. When an older boy pushes him on the soccer field, his anger fills him in a way that surely a true Gandhi could never imagine. Can Arun ever live up to the Mahatma? Will he ever make his grandfather proud? In this remarkable personal story, Arun Gandhi, with Bethany Hegedus, weaves a stunning portrait of the extraordinary man who taught him to live his life as light. Evan Turk brings the text to breathtaking life with his unique three-dimensional collage paintings.

I Am Jackie Robinson book
#2
I Am Jackie Robinson
Written by Brad Meltzer and illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

A Black History Month-timed entry in the best-selling series follows the heroic story of baseball star Jackie Robinson, describing, in text and comic thought bubbles, his childhood, early ambitions and barrier-breaking achievements. By the best-selling author of Heroes for My Son.

I Am Neil Armstrong book
#3
I Am Neil Armstrong
Written by Brad Meltzer and illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

"A biography of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon"--

Honorable Mentions
  1. I Am George Washington - We can all be heroes. That's the inspiring message of this New York Times Bestselling picture book biography series from historian and author Brad Meltzer. Learn all about George Washington, America's first president. George Washington was one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known. He was never afraid to be the first to try something, from exploring the woods around his childhood home to founding a brand new nation, the United States of America. With his faith in the American people and tremendous bravery, he helped win the Revolutionary War and became the country's first president. Each picture book in this series is a biography of a significant historical figure, told in a simple, conversational, vivacious way, and always focusing on a character trait that makes the person a role model for kids. The heroes are depicted as children throughout, telling their life stories in first-person present tense, which keeps the books playful and accessible to young children. And each book ends with a line of encouragement, a direct quote, photos, a timeline, and a source list.

  2. I Am Sacagawea - "A biography of Sacagawea, the Shoshone woman who served as a translator for the Lewis and Clark Expedition."

  3. An Apple for Harriet Tubman - Biography of a little slave girl whipped for eating an apple, who later grew up to become a famous "conductor" for the underground railroad.

  4. I Am Billie Jean King - Billie Jean King is one of the greatest tennis players of all time. Read about this amazing woman athlete in the seventeenth picture book in the New York Times bestselling series of biographies about heroes. This friendly, fun biography series focuses on the traits that made our heroes great--the traits that kids can aspire to in order to live heroically themselves. Each book tells the story of one of America's icons in a lively, conversational way that works well for the youngest nonfiction readers and that always includes the hero's childhood influences. At the back are an excellent timeline and photos. This volume features Billie Jean King, the world champion tennis player who fought successfully for women's rights.

Want to see 19 more children's books about biography and historical figures?

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