Eleanor by Barbara Cooney
One of my favorite picture book biographies about one of my favorite people. Great introduction to Eleanor Roosevelt, specifically her childhood and growing into a confident, influential woman. This is a great mentor text for it’s fabulous opening paragraph and concise, powerful paragraphs. Such a better choice than the standard biography found more easily in the big stores.
Grades 3 and Up
Picture Book Biography
Used successfully with ESL adult learners, too.
Mesmerized. How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled all of France by Mara Rockliff
Mara Rockliff has an easy, enjoyable reading style which manages to include a good dose of history. I particularly like how this picture book biography of Ben Franklin focuses on his use of the scientific method. The author does a great service here by explaining what this is and how Ben actually used it. The story itself is also weird and thus naturally appealing.
Grumpy gripe: I find the constant changes in font very annoying. Many kids can’t read script and struggle to read with confidence when the words aren’t printed clearly. Stick with a basic font; the writing is strong enough to keep the readers interested and the illustrations are also terrific.
Grade 3 and up
Picture book biography
The Great American Dust Bowl by Don Brown
Don Brown expands into the graphic novel form with great success. There is a plethora of historic and environmental information here. The drawings really add to the reader’s experience of what it was like to be in living with so much dirt and dust.
For a fiction pairing, the graphic novel The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan is part ghost story part historical fiction.
Grade 5 and Up
Used successfully with reluctant reader
Suddenly, there seems to be an abundance of interesting, graphic novel memoirs for kids. I’m fascinated by this trend. I don’t know why it’s happening or why it works. But I’ve read several over the last few months and would enjoy reading more.
Here are five great examples of graphic novel memoirs about girls:
1. Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
2. Relish. My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley
3. El Deafo by Cece Bell
4. Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge
5. To Dance by Siena Cherson Siegel
A good book about space is a must have for a kid’s shelf. Take it up a notch with a book about how we know what we know.
Seymour Simon is an established master of science writing for children.
In Earth. Our Planet in Space, he clearly explains what we know about earth as a planet, setting up the facts and the thrill of the exploration of earth’s place in the universe.
But how do we know what we know?
Dennis Brindell Frandin’s excellent biography, Nicolaus Copernicus. The Earth is a Planet, reminds us all that it takes curiosity and determination to reach new levels of understanding of our world.