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Famous People: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best kids books about famous people?

Get to know some of the icons and famous figures throughout history through these top books about famous people! Your little ones will learn about some of the world’s popular movie stars, musicians, activists, and creators. With this wide variety of people who have led prominent lives, your kids will learn to dream big and follow their hearts!

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Top 10 Books About Famous People

#1
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Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls
Written by Elena Favilli & illustrated by Francesca Cavallo
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book! It is a bit more expensive than others, but in my opinion, it's completely worth it to have in my library. I think everyone should read this book and learn about the amazing women who have stood up for their rights and changed the world! With each women highlighted, there's a stunning illustration of the woman along with a short story about her, who she is/was, and what she accomplished. This book is so inspiring and I learned about so many women I hadn't heard of before that have been so influential. I seriously cannot say enough good things about this book, it is one of my absolute favorites.
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

A children’s book that reinvents fairy tales, inspiring girls with the stories of 100 great women from Elizabeth I to Serena Williams.

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#2
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This Little Trailblazer: A Girl Power Primer
Written by Joan Holub & illustrated by Daniel Roode
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-5

Learn all about influential women who changed history in this engaging and colorful board book perfect for trailblazers-in-training!

Paving the way to a future that’s bright. Helping the world with their skills, smarts, and might.

Little trailblazers cause great big changes.

In this follow up to This Little President and This Little Explorer, now even the youngest readers can learn all about great and empowering female trailblazers in history! Highlighting ten memorable women leaders who paved the way, parents and little ones alike will love this girl power primer full of fun, age-appropriate facts and bold illustrations.

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#3
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She Persisted
Written by Chelsea Clinton & illustrated by Alexandra Boiger
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
I love reading this book to my daughters for its history and the overarching message--that they can achieve great things by being persistent in following their dreams. I also love that we have found so many different ways to read it. Sometimes, we start at the beginning and read it straight through. Usually, though, we just pick one or two individual stories, or we read just the names and quotes on each page. My pre-schooler who is learning to read likes to sound out the names (in all capital letters) on each page. I like that each page gives us a concise introduction to a historical figure, so it's not too lengthy to read in one sitting, but it is a great starting point for learning more.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Chelsea Clinton introduces tiny feminists, mini activists and little kids who are ready to take on the world to thirteen inspirational women who never took no for an answer, and who always, inevitably and without fail, persisted.

Throughout American history, there have always been women who have spoken out for what’s right, even when they have to fight to be heard. In early 2017, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s refusal to be silenced in the Senate inspired a spontaneous celebration of women who persevered in the face of adversity. In this book, Chelsea Clinton celebrates thirteen American women who helped shape our country through their tenacity, sometimes through speaking out, sometimes by staying seated, sometimes by captivating an audience. They all certainly persisted.

She Persisted is for everyone who has ever wanted to speak up but has been told to quiet down, for everyone who has ever tried to reach for the stars but was told to sit down, and for everyone who has ever been made to feel unworthy or unimportant or small.

With vivid, compelling art by Alexandra Boiger, this book shows readers that no matter what obstacles may be in their paths, they shouldn’t give up on their dreams. Persistence is power.

This book features: Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Clara Lemlich, Nellie Bly, Virginia Apgar, Maria Tallchief, Claudette Colvin, Ruby Bridges, Margaret Chase Smith, Sally Ride, Florence Griffith Joyner, Oprah Winfrey, Sonia Sotomayor—and one special cameo.

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#4
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The Story of Ruby Bridges
Written by Robert Coles & illustrated by George Ford
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

For months six-year-old Ruby Bridges must confront the hostility of white parents when she becomes the first African American girl to integrate William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans in 1960.

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#5
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Twenty-one Elephants and Still Standing
Written by April Jones Prince & illustrated by Francois Roca
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

After fourteen years of construction, the Brooklyn Bridge was completed, much to the delight of the sister cities it connected: Brooklyn and New York City.

Fireworks and top hats filled the air in celebration when the magnificent bridge opened in 1883. But some wondered just how much weight the new bridge could hold. Was it truly safe?

One man seized the opportunity to show people in Brooklyn, New York and the world that the Brooklyn Bridge was in fact strong enough to hold even the heaviest of passengers. P. T. Barnum, creator of “The Greatest Show on Earth,” would present a show too big for the Big Top and too wondrous to forget.

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#6
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Coco Chanel
Written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara & illustrated by Ana Albero
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
I think this darling board book is a great introduction to Coco Chanel. I love that it talks about her being herself and living her dreams. It also does a good job of telling the story of her journey to becoming a fashion designer.
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

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

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#7
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Malala's Magic Pencil
Written by Malala Yousafzai & illustrated by Kerascoet
Thoughts from Mom of Boys
This shows magic in a whole new light. It is a true story of a young girl from Pakistan. She watched a show of a young boy that had a magic pencil. Whatever he drew with his magic pencil appeared. She wished she had one so she could draw things like a new ball for her and her brothers to play with. She wished for beautiful dresses for her mother and buildings for her father. She was very selfless in her wishes. Then one day she saw some very poor children and it changed her outlook on life. She realized how blessed she was to get to go to school. She wanted this for other children and started to write about it. This became magic to her and to others as people started listening to her story.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Malala’s first picture book will inspire young readers everywhere to find the magic all around them. As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil. She would use it to make everyone happy, to erase the smell of garbage from her city, to sleep an extra hour in the morning. But as she grew older, Malala saw that there were more important things to wish for. She saw a world that needed fixing. And even if she never found a magic pencil, Malala realized that she could still work hard every day to make her wishes come true. This beautifully illustrated volume tells Malala’s story for a younger audience and shows them the worldview that allowed Malala to hold on to hope even in the most difficult of times.

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#8
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I Am Helen Keller
Written by Brad Meltzer & illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos and Brad Meltzer
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
I thought this was a fantastic biography of the life of Helen Keller--her hardships and accomplishments. There are a lot of fun facts in the story, and it's a little longer of a picture book, but I thought it was engaging and a fun, inspiring read.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

“The story of Helen Keller, who learned to read and write despite being deaf and blind, and became an activist who fought for the rights of disabled people”

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#9
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This Little Scientist: A Discovery Primer
Written by Joan Holub & illustrated by Daniel Roode
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
The whole "This Little..." series so far has been excellent, and this is no exception. Jam-packed with famous scientists and innovators, This Little Scientist does a great job of featuring a broad spectrum of great minds of diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise all throughout history. One of my favorite things about this book is that it teaches real science and history with cadence and rhyme that makes it easy to learn and since it's enjoyable to read again and again... it starts to stick! Another big plus of this book for me is that depending on a child's current attention level you can choose to read just the left-hand pages, just the right-hand pages, or both, and the flow is great any way you do it!
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Learn all about scientists who changed history in this engaging and colorful board book perfect for inventors-in-training! Asking why. Then making a guess. Asking how. Then proving with tests. Little scientists make great big discoveries. In this follow up to This Little President, This Little Explorer, and This Little Trailblazer now even the youngest readers can learn all about great and empowering scientists in history! Highlighting ten memorable scientists who paved the way, parents and little ones alike will love this discovery primer full of fun, age-appropriate facts and bold illustrations.

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#10
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Dream Big, Little One
Written & illustrated by Vashti Harrison
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

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

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Table of Contents
Scroll to books about Famous People and...

Books About Famous People and Activism

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I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark
Written by Debbie Levy & 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.

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Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls
Written by Elena Favilli & illustrated by Francesca Cavallo
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book! It is a bit more expensive than others, but in my opinion, it's completely worth it to have in my library. I think everyone should read this book and learn about the amazing women who have stood up for their rights and changed the world! With each women highlighted, there's a stunning illustration of the woman along with a short story about her, who she is/was, and what she accomplished. This book is so inspiring and I learned about so many women I hadn't heard of before that have been so influential. I seriously cannot say enough good things about this book, it is one of my absolute favorites.
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

A children’s book that reinvents fairy tales, inspiring girls with the stories of 100 great women from Elizabeth I to Serena Williams.

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$35.00
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$29.75
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$16.11
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This Little Trailblazer: A Girl Power Primer
Written by Joan Holub & illustrated by Daniel Roode
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-5

Learn all about influential women who changed history in this engaging and colorful board book perfect for trailblazers-in-training!

Paving the way to a future that’s bright. Helping the world with their skills, smarts, and might.

Little trailblazers cause great big changes.

In this follow up to This Little President and This Little Explorer, now even the youngest readers can learn all about great and empowering female trailblazers in history! Highlighting ten memorable women leaders who paved the way, parents and little ones alike will love this girl power primer full of fun, age-appropriate facts and bold illustrations.

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$6.79
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$4.99
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Honorable Mentions
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  1. She Persisted - B is for Bookworm -

    I love reading this book to my daughters for its history and the overarching message--that they can achieve great things by being persistent in following their dreams. I also love that we have found so many different ways to read it. Sometimes, we start at the beginning and read it straight through. Usually, though, we just pick one or two individual stories, or we read just the names and quotes on each page. My pre-schooler who is learning to read likes to sound out the names (in all capital letters) on each page. I like that each page gives us a concise introduction to a historical figure, so it's not too lengthy to read in one sitting, but it is a great starting point for learning more.

  2. Malala's Magic Pencil - Mom of Boys -

    This shows magic in a whole new light. It is a true story of a young girl from Pakistan. She watched a show of a young boy that had a magic pencil. Whatever he drew with his magic pencil appeared. She wished she had one so she could draw things like a new ball for her and her brothers to play with. She wished for beautiful dresses for her mother and buildings for her father. She was very selfless in her wishes. Then one day she saw some very poor children and it changed her outlook on life. She realized how blessed she was to get to go to school. She wanted this for other children and started to write about it. This became magic to her and to others as people started listening to her story.

  3. I Am Helen Keller - B is for Bookworm -

    I thought this was a fantastic biography of the life of Helen Keller--her hardships and accomplishments. There are a lot of fun facts in the story, and it's a little longer of a picture book, but I thought it was engaging and a fun, inspiring read.

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

Want to see books about activism?

Books About Famous People and Technology

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

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

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Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race
Written by Margot Lee Shetterly & illustrated by Laura Freeman
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
This is a great introduction for little readers to the four true stories of how African American women helped the space program, overcoming gender and racial biases. I like how it exposes civil rights and women's rights issues at a level that is appropriate and understandable for children and focuses on how each of these four women worked hard and persevered to overcome those challenges.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Based on the New York Times bestselling book and the Academy Award–nominated movie, author Margot Lee Shetterly and illustrator Laura Freeman bring the incredibly inspiring true story of four black women who helped NASA launch men into space to picture book readers! Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden were good at math…really good. They participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes, like providing the calculations for America’s first journeys into space. And they did so during a time when being black and a woman limited what they could do. But they worked hard. They persisted. And they used their genius minds to change the world. In this beautifully illustrated picture book edition, we explore the story of four female African American mathematicians at NASA, known as “colored computers,” and how they overcame gender and racial barriers to succeed in a highly challenging STEM-based career. “Finally, the extraordinary lives of four African American women who helped NASA put the first men in space is available for picture book readers,” proclaims Brightly in their article “18 Must-Read Picture Books of 2018.” “Will inspire girls and boys alike to love math, believe in themselves, and reach for the stars.”

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Neo Leo
Written & illustrated by Gene Barretta
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Cleverly shows how Leonardo’s ideas foreshadowed modern inventions. At once an artist, inventor, engineer, and scientist, Leonardo da Vinci wrote and drew detailed descriptions of what would later become hang gliders, automobiles, robots, and much more.

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  1. Hedy Lamarr's Double Life - 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.

  2. Just Like Rube Goldberg - Discover how Rube Goldberg followed his dreams to become an award-winning cartoonist, inventor, and even an adjective in the dictionary in this inspiring and funny biographical picture book. Want to become an award-winning cartoonist and inventor? Follow your dreams, just like Rube Goldberg! From a young age, Rube Goldberg had a talent for art. But his father, a German immigrant, wanted Rube to have a secure job. So, Rube went to college and became an engineer. But Rube didn’t want to spend his life mapping sewer pipes. He wanted to follow his passion, so Rube got a low-level job at a newspaper, and from there, he worked his way up, creating cartoons that made people laugh and tickled the imagination. He became known for his fantastic Rube Goldberg machines—complicated contraptions with many parts that performed a simple task in an elaborate and farfetched way. Eventually, his cartoons earned him a Pulitzer Prize and his own adjective in the dictionary. This moving biography is sure to encourage young artists and inventors to pursue their passions.

  3. Fly High, John Glenn: The Story of an American Hero - 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.

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

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Books About Famous People and Culture

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Coco Chanel
Written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara & illustrated by Ana Albero
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
I think this darling board book is a great introduction to Coco Chanel. I love that it talks about her being herself and living her dreams. It also does a good job of telling the story of her journey to becoming a fashion designer.
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

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

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Henri's Scissors
Written & illustrated by Jeanette Winter
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
A fun, creative biography about Henri Matisse. This book shows how Henri began painting and using scissors for his art in later years. I especially loved the beautiful ending of the story. The illustrations are great and in the style of Matisse, though parents may want to know that one of the illustrations shows paintings done by this literary Matisse, and one of them contains nude subjects.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

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

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

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

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Honorable Mentions
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  1. Saving the Countryside: The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit - “An exceptionally accurate portrait of Beatrix Potter told with humor and surprise. Beautifully done.” Linda Lear, author of Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature Through she’s universally known as the creator of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter did so much more. This is the true story about how she helped save the English countryside! Growing up in London, Beatrix Potter felt the restraints of Victorian times. Girls didn’t go to school and weren’t expected to work. But she longed to do something important, something that truly mattered. As Beatrix spent her summers in the country and found inspiration in nature, it was through this passion that her creativity flourished. There, she crafted The Tale of Peter Rabbit. She would eventually move to the countryside full-time, but developers sought to change the land. To save it, Beatrix used the money from the success of her books and bought acres and acres of land and farms to prevent the development of the countryside that both she and Peter Rabbit so cherished. Because of her efforts, it’s been preserved just as she left it. This beautiful picture book shines a light on Beatrix Potter’s lesser-known history and her desire to do something for the greater good.

  2. 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.

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Books About Famous People and Female Role Models

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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  1. Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment - When Parker Curry came face-to-face with Amy Sherald’s transcendent portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama at the National Portrait Gallery, she didn’t just see the First Lady of the United States. She saw a queen—one with dynamic self-assurance, regality, beauty, and truth who captured this young girl’s imagination. When a nearby museum-goer snapped a photo of a mesmerized Parker, it became an internet sensation. Inspired by this visit, Parker, and her mother, Jessica Curry, tell the story of a young girl and her family, whose trip to a museum becomes an extraordinary moment, in a moving picture book. Parker Looks Up follows Parker, along with her baby sister and her mother, and her best friend Gia and Gia’s mother, as they walk the halls of a museum, seeing paintings of everyone and everything from George Washington Carver to Frida Kahlo, exotic flowers to graceful ballerinas. Then, Parker walks by Sherald’s portrait of Michelle Obama…and almost passes it. But she stops…and looks up! Parker saw the possibility and promise, the hopes and dreams of herself in this powerful painting of Michelle Obama. An everyday moment became an extraordinary one…that continues to resonate its power, inspiration, and indelible impact. Because, as Jessica Curry said, “anything is possible regardless of race, class, or gender.” FOREWORD BY ARTIST AMY SHERALD

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

Books About Famous People and History

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Twenty-one Elephants and Still Standing
Written by April Jones Prince & illustrated by Francois Roca
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

After fourteen years of construction, the Brooklyn Bridge was completed, much to the delight of the sister cities it connected: Brooklyn and New York City.

Fireworks and top hats filled the air in celebration when the magnificent bridge opened in 1883. But some wondered just how much weight the new bridge could hold. Was it truly safe?

One man seized the opportunity to show people in Brooklyn, New York and the world that the Brooklyn Bridge was in fact strong enough to hold even the heaviest of passengers. P. T. Barnum, creator of “The Greatest Show on Earth,” would present a show too big for the Big Top and too wondrous to forget.

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Looking at Lincoln
Written & illustrated by Maira Kalman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Abraham Lincoln is one of the first giants of history children are introduced to, and now Maira Kalman brings him to life with her trademark style and enthusiasm. Lincoln’s legacy is everywhere – there he is on your penny and five-dollar bill. And we are still the United States because Lincoln helped hold them together.

But who was he, really? The little girl in this book wants to find out. Among the many other things, she discovers our sixteenth president was a man who believed in freedom for all, had a dog named Fido, loved Mozart, apples, and his wife’s vanilla cake, and kept his notes in his hat. From his boyhood in a log cabin to his famous presidency and untimely death, Kalman shares Lincoln’s remarkable life with young readers in a fresh and exciting way.

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

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

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  1. Hard Work, but It's Worth It: The Life of Jimmy Carter - 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.

  2. Becoming Kareem - In his first memoir written especially for young readers, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will focus on his relationships with several important coaches in his life - including his father, his high-school coach and Coach Wooden - as he tells the story of his life and career. Like many kids in elementary school, Kareem (then Lew Alcindor) struggled with fitting in, pleasing a strict father, and severe shyness that made him socially awkward. Unlike most kids, he also had to grapple with a sudden growth spurt that shot him up taller than pretty much everyone around him, including students, teachers, and even his own father. His increasing fame as a basketball player throughout high school brought new challenges as this shy boy was shoved into the national spotlight. At the same time, social unrest in the country, particularly involving the growing civil rights movement, tugged at his conscience as he tried to find his place in it. After all, he was just a kid. What could he do? Recruited to UCLA, his fame as an unstoppable center made him a college superstar. But as his fame rose, so did the social turmoil in the country: Vietnam War protests, Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., large-scale riots, the Women’s Movement. He could have hidden from all the turmoil as a sports celebrity, but he chose to join in the social evolution. The result was converting to Islam and changing his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The public backlash was blistering, but he didn’t waver.

Books About Famous People and Inventions

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This Little Scientist: A Discovery Primer
Written by Joan Holub & illustrated by Daniel Roode
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
The whole "This Little..." series so far has been excellent, and this is no exception. Jam-packed with famous scientists and innovators, This Little Scientist does a great job of featuring a broad spectrum of great minds of diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise all throughout history. One of my favorite things about this book is that it teaches real science and history with cadence and rhyme that makes it easy to learn and since it's enjoyable to read again and again... it starts to stick! Another big plus of this book for me is that depending on a child's current attention level you can choose to read just the left-hand pages, just the right-hand pages, or both, and the flow is great any way you do it!
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Learn all about scientists who changed history in this engaging and colorful board book perfect for inventors-in-training! Asking why. Then making a guess. Asking how. Then proving with tests. Little scientists make great big discoveries. In this follow up to This Little President, This Little Explorer, and This Little Trailblazer now even the youngest readers can learn all about great and empowering scientists in history! Highlighting ten memorable scientists who paved the way, parents and little ones alike will love this discovery primer full of fun, age-appropriate facts and bold illustrations.

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The Boy who Invented TV
Written by Kathleen Krull & illustrated by Greg Couch
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

This picture-book biography explains how Farnsworth held on to his dream to develop television and the scientific concepts behind it.

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When Bill Gates Memorized an Encyclopedia
Written by Mark Andrew Weakland & illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-11

Bill Gates is known as the richest man in the world. But do you know what he was like as a child? From selling peanuts to memorizing entire encyclopedias, Bill used his brain. This playful story of his childhood will help young readers connect with a historic figure and will inspire them to want to achieve greatness.

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  1. I Am Albert Einstein - 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.

  2. Fantastic Failures - Even the most well-known people have struggled to succeed! Find out what they learned and how they turned their failures into triumphs with this engaging and youthful guide on how to succeed long term. There is a lot of pressure in today’s society to succeed, but failing is a part of learning how to be a successful person. In his teaching career, Luke Reynolds saw the stress and anxiety his students suffered over grades, fitting in, and getting things right the first time. Fantastic Failures helps students learn that their mistakes and failures do not define their whole lives, but help them grow into their potential. Kids will love learning about some of the well-known people who failed before succeeding and will come to understand that failure is a large component of success. With stories from people like J. K. Rowling, Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks, Sonia Sotomayor, Vincent Van Gogh, Julia Child, Steven Spielberg, and Betsy Johnson, each profile proves that the greatest mistakes and flops can turn into something amazing. Intermixed throughout the fun profiles, Reynolds spotlights great inventors and scientists who discovered and created some of the most important medicines, devices, and concepts of all time, including lifesaving vaccines and medicines that were stumbled upon by mistake.

Want to see books about inventions?

Books About Famous People and Jesus Christ

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The Nativity
Written by & illustrated by Julie Vivas
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

The biblical story of the Nativity is one about faith, love–and a miracle. With illustrations that are enchanting and unexpected, Julie Vivas reveals the human side to Mary’s story, beautifully imagining the Angel Gabriel delivering the news to her, the exhausting journey with Joseph to Bethlehem, and at last the deliverance of the baby Jesus.

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Refuge
Written by Anne Booth & illustrated by Sam Usher
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A timely rendition of the nativity follows Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus as they travel in a strange land, hoping to find refuge in the kindness of strangers. $1 from the sale of each print book sold until October 2017 will go to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR. Everyone knows the story of how Jesus was humbly born in a manger when was no room at the inn. But here is a lyrical depiction of what came next: the new family’s travels through the desert, fleeing Herod’s soldiers in order to find a safe place to welcome their son into the world. A refreshing look at the classic Christmas story that’s never been more relevant, Refuge asks readers to consider the modern day implications of being forced to flee your home country.

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The Night of His Birth
Written by Katherine Paterson & illustrated by Lisa Aisato
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Sing out, my soul, the wonder . . .

Mary’s baby has arrived, and she can’t contain her joy! As Joseph sleeps, she examines her newborn’s tiny mouth, his wild hair, his little hands. Yet what’s most wondrous is that this child is not just Mary’s own but a gift that God has shared with everyone.

Poetic text by Newbery Medalist Katherine Paterson and striking images by Lisa Aisato reveal the intimacy of that unforgettable night long ago, when the mother of Jesus was the first to welcome him into a world he would change forever.

The Night of His Birth is a Junior Library Guild Selection.

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  1. The Tale of Three Trees - Once upon a mountaintop, three little trees stood and dreamed of what they wanted to become when they grew up. Each of their dreams come true in an unexpected way in this lovely retelling of an old folk tale. This Lion classic, beloved by young and old, is now retold in simpler text for younger readers.

  2. Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale - That cold winter’s night, beneath the star’s light… …a Little One came for the world.

  3. Christmas in the Manger - The gentle beauty of the story of the first Christmas is now available as a board book. With a simple, lyrical text and radiant artwork, this book is perfect for the youngest child to be a part of the wonder of the Nativity.

  4. Who Is Coming to Our House? - A modern Christmas classic about how the animals prepare a cozy welcome for the baby Jesus. “Who is coming to our house? Someone, someone,” says Mouse. As Pig makes room, Lamb cleans up, Goose stacks the hay, and Duck lines the crib with eiderdown, Mary and Joseph are on their way by donkey. All the animals are eager to welcome the baby Jesus to their home.

Books About Famous People and Girls And Women

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

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

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Selena: Queen of Tejano Music
Written by Silvia Lopez & illustrated by Paola Escobar
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

This is a moving and impassioned picture book about the iconic Queen of Tejano music, Selena Quintanilla, that will embolden young readers to find their passion and make the impossible, possible!

Selena Quintanilla’s music career began at the age of nine when she started singing in her family’s band. She went from using a hairbrush as a microphone to traveling from town to town to play gigs. But Selena faced a challenge: People said that she would never make it in Tejano music, which was dominated by male performers. Selena was determined to prove them wrong.

Born and raised in Texas, Selena didn’t know how to speak Spanish, but with the help of her dad, she learned to sing it. With songs written and composed by her older brother and the fun dance steps Selena created, her band, Selena Y Los Dinos, rose to stardom! A true trailblazer, her success in Tejano music and her crossover into mainstream American music opened the door for other Latinx entertainers, and she became an inspiration for Latina girls everywhere.

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Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe
Written by Vivian Kirkfield & illustrated by Alleanna Harris
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe. On the outside, you couldn’t find two girls who looked more different. But on the inside, they were alike–full of hopes and dreams and plans of what might be.

Ella Fitzgerald’s velvety tones and shube-doobie-doos captivated audiences. Jazz greats like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington couldn’t wait to share the stage with her, but still, Ella could not book a performance at one of the biggest clubs in town–one she knew would give her career its biggest break yet.

Marilyn Monroe dazzled on the silver screen with her baby blue eyes and breathy boo-boo-be-doos. But when she asked for better scripts, a choice in who she worked with, and a higher salary, studio bosses refused.

Two women whose voices weren’t being heard. Two women chasing after their dreams and each helping the other to achieve them. This is the inspiring, true story of two incredibly talented women who came together to help each other shine like the stars that they are.

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  1. Flying High - A lyrical picture book biography of Simone Biles, gymnastics champion and Olympic superstar. Before she was a record-breaking gymnast competing on the world stage, Simone Biles spent time in foster care as a young child. Nimble and boundlessly energetic, she cherished every playground and each new backyard. When she was six years old, Simone’s family took shape in a different way. Her grandparents Ron and Nellie Biles adopted Simone and her sister Adria. Ron and Nellie became their parents. Simone was also introduced to gymnastics that same year, launching a lifelong passion fueled by remarkable talent, sacrifice, and the undying support of her family. From her athletic early childhood to the height of her success as an Olympic champion, Flying High is the story of the world’s greatest gymnast from author Michelle Meadows and illustrator Ebony Glenn.

  2. Joni: The Lyrical Life of Joni Mitchell - “Colors burst across each page, with layers of collage-work emphasizing the richness of Mitchell’s influences and imagination. Will speak to readers just starting their own exploration of artistic expression.” —Booklist (starred review) Celebrate the captivating life of Joni Mitchell, the world-famous songbird who used her music to ignite and inspire an entire generation, in this stunning picture book biography from award-winning author and illustrator Selina Alko. Joni Mitchell painted with words. Sitting at her piano or strumming the guitar, she turned the words into songs. The songs were like brushstrokes on a canvas, saying things that were not only happy or sad but true. But before composing more than two hundred songs, Joni was a young girl from a town on the Canadian prairie, where she learned to love dancing, painting, birdsong, and piano. As she grew up into an artist, Joni took her strong feelings—feelings of love and frustration, and the turbulence that came with being a young woman—and wrote them into vivid songs. Brought to life by Selina Alko’s rainbow collages and lyrical language, this heartfelt portrait of a feminist and folk icon is perfect for parents, children, and music lovers everywhere. Back matter includes a letter from the author and Joni’s full discography. “An inspired and creative ode to the inimitable Joni Mitchell.” —Kirkus “Layered mixed-media collages featuring cut paper, found images, and colorful smears of paint effectively evoke the richly rendered emotional landscapes of Mitchell’s songwriting.” —Publishers Weekly

Books About Famous People and Martin Luther King, Jr.

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

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

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

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

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Let the Children March
Written by Monica Clark-Robinson & illustrated by Frank Morrison
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
This book is so inspirational. I love that it talks about the children who march for their rights! This book is so important, as it really brought this historical event to life, especially through the different perspective of children. This is an amazing story of love, perseverance, determination, courage, bravery, and activism. Even when the children faced danger, they knew that they were helping bring about a change and that together, they could help change the world. Also, I thought the illustrations were wonderful.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

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

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

  2. A Sweet Smell of Roses - The Fun Uncle -

    I love the way Angela Johnson presents such an emotional and important piece of history in a way that conveys the importance of what was happening, while keeping it child appropriate. It's thought provoking and is sure to help our little ones be curious about the civil rights movement, leading to great opportunities of acceptance and friendship to all. The illustrations by Eric Velazquez are so life-like and well done.

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

  4. Love Will See You Through - The niece of Martin Luther King, Jr. reveals six timeless and universal principles that encompass the civil rights leader’s greatest legacy: Love will see you through. Growing up as the niece of Martin Luther King Jr., Angela Farris Watkins witnessed firsthand the principles and values that “Uncle M.L.” practiced and lived by throughout his fight for equality. Drawing from experiences and episodes both personal and well-known, Dr. Watkins artfully details the guiding beliefs of one of the greatest men in history. Including “have courage” and “love your enemies,” these six hallmarks of virtue and nonviolence reinforce the truth that “the universe honors love” and will inspire readers of all ages.

Books About Famous People and Benjamin Franklin

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An Inconvenient Alphabet
Written by Beth Anderson & illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

Do you ever wish English was eez-ee-yer to spell? Ben Franklin and Noah Webster did! Debut author Beth Anderson and the New York Times bestselling illustrator of I Dissent, Elizabeth Baddeley, tell the story of two patriots and their attempt to revolutionize the English alphabet. Once upon a revolutionary time, two great American patriots tried to make life easier. They knew how hard it was to spell words in English. They knew that sounds didn’t match letters. They knew that the problem was an inconvenient English alphabet. In 1786, Ben Franklin, at age eighty, and Noah Webster, twenty-eight, teamed up. Their goal? Make English easier to read and write. But even for great thinkers, what seems easy can turn out to be hard. Children today will be delighted to learn that when they “sound out” words, they are doing eg-zakt-lee what Ben and Noah wanted.

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A Ben of All Trades: The Most Inventive Boyhood of Benjamin Franklin
Written by Michael J. Rosen & illustrated by Matt Tavares
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

A rousing biography from Michael J. Rosen and Matt Tavares reveals how Benjamin Franklin’s boyhood shaped his amazingly multifaceted life.

Young Benjamin Franklin wants to be a sailor, but his father won’t hear of it. The other trades he tries – candle maker, joiner, boot closer, turner – bore him through and through. Curious and inventive, Ben prefers to read, swim, fly his kite, and fly his kite while swimming. But each time he fails to find a profession, he takes some important bit of knowledge with him. That tendency is exactly what leads him to become the astonishingly versatile genius we remember today. Inspired by The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Michael J. Rosen’s wry tale captures Ben’s spirit in evocative yet playful language, while illustrations by Matt Tavares follow Ben from the workbench to the water in vivid detail. A love story to the value of variety, A Ben of All Trades sheds light on an unconventional path to greatness and humanizes a towering figure in American history.

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To the Future, Ben Franklin
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

Track the facts about the great printer, inventor, and Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin!

When Jack and Annie came back from their adventure in Magic Tree House #32: To the Future, Ben Franklin! they had lots of questions. What was Ben Franklin’s first job? How did a kite teach him about electricity? What are some of Ben’s most famous inventions? Why did he have so many nicknames? Find out the answers to these questions and more as Jack and Annie track the facts about Benjamin Franklin.

Filled with up-to-date information, photographs, illustrations, and fun tidbits from Jack and Annie, the Fact Trackers are the perfect way for kids to find out more about the topics they discover in their favorite Magic Tree House adventures.

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  1. Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery That Baffled All of France - Discover how Benjamin Franklin's scientific method challenged a certain Dr. Mesmer's mysterious powers in a whimsical look at a true moment in history.

  2. Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin - What would you do if you lived in a community without a library, hospital, post office, or fire department? If you were Benjamin Franklin, you’d set up these organizations yourself. Franklin also designed the lightning rod, suggested the idea of daylight savings time, and invented bifocals-all inspired by his common sense and intelligence. In this informative book, Gene Barretta brings Benjamin Franklin’s genius to life, deepening our appreciation for one of the most influential figures in American history.

  3. Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin - A true Renaissance man, Benjamin Franklin was the first American celebrity. In pictures and text, master artist Robert Byrd documents Franklin’s numerous and diverse accomplishments, from framing the Constitution to creating bifocals. The witty, wise, and endlessly curious Franklin is the perfect subject for Byrd’s lively style and vibrant art. The pages pulse with facts, quotes, and captions, while the inventive design and intricately detailed illustrations make a striking tribute to the brilliant American.

  4. Hatmaker's Sign: A Story by Benjamin Franklin -

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