Picture Book Biographies

Picture book biographies introduce children to people who did amazing things. These narrative nonfiction books are told like a story and have beautiful illustrations. These books will appeal to children as well as adults.

Updated July 24, 2023
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Above the rim : how Elgin Baylor changed basketball
Bryant, Jen
Halloffamer Elgin Baylor was one of basketball's alltimegreatest players--an innovative athlete, team player, and quiet force for change. One of the first professional AfricanAmerican players, he inspired others on and off the court. But when traveling for away games, many hotels and restaurants...
A river of words : the story of William Carlos Williams
Bryant, Jennifer.
2009 Caldecott Honor Book An ALA Notable Book A New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book A Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book NCTE Notable Children's Book When he wrote poems, he felt as free as the Passaic River as it...
The power of her pen : the story of groundbreaking journalist Ethel L. Payne
Cline-Ransome, Lesa
"A powerful story." --The Horn Book "A worthy addition to children's biography collections." --Booklist "A solid treatment of an important but little-known figure, and it may prompt kids to think about the role and composition of a free press....
The book rescuer : how a mensch from Massachusetts saved Yiddish literature for generations to come
Macy, Sue
Recipient of a Sydney Taylor Book Award for Younger Readers An ALA Notable Book A Bank Street Best Book of the Year "Text and illustration meld beautifully." --The New York Times "Stunning."​ --Kirkus Reviews (starred...
Talkin' about Bessie : the story of aviator Elizabeth Coleman
Grimes, Nikki.
Soar along with Bessie Coleman in this inspirational tale of a woman whose determination reached new heights.Elizabeth "Bessie" Coleman was always being told what she could & couldn't do. In an era when Jim Crow laws and segregation were a way of life, it was not easy to survive. Bessie didn't let...
Bon appetit! : the delicious life of Julia Child
Hartland, Jessie.
Follow Julia Child-chef, author, and television personality-from her childhood in Pasadena, California, to her life as a spy in WWII, to the cooking classes she took in Paris, to the publication of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, to the funny moments of being a chef on TV. This is a...
The boy who loved math : the improbably life of Paul Erdos
Heiligman, Deborah.
Most people think of mathematicians as solitary, working away in isolation. And, it's true, many of them do. But Paul Erdos never followed the usual path. At the age of four, he could ask you when you were born and then calculate the number of seconds you had been alive in his head. But he didn't...
Out of this world : the surreal art of Leonora Carrington
Markel, Michelle
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...
A boy, a mouse, and a spider : the story of E.B. White
Herkert, Barbara
A lyrical biography of E. B. White, beloved author of Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little, written by Barbara Herkert and illustrated by Caldecott honoree Lauren Castillo. When young Elwyn White lay in bed as a sickly child, a bold house mouse befriended him. When...
Carter reads the newspaper
Hopkinson, Deborah
Essential Black History Reading The first-ever picture book biography of Carter G. Woodson, the Father of Black History Month Carter G. Woodson Book Award (Honor Book), NCSS Parents' Choice Silver Honor Award Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book ...
The oldest student : how Mary Walker learned to read
Hubbard, Rita L.
Imagine learning to read at the age of 116! Discover the true story of Mary Walker, the nation's oldest student who did just that, in this picture book from a Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator and a rising star author. In 1848, Mary Walker was born into slavery. At age 15, she...
Shark lady : the true story of how Eugenie Clark became the ocean's most fearless scientist
Keating, Jess.
One of New York Times' Twelve Books for Feminist Boys and Girls! This is the story of a woman who dared to dive, defy, discover, and inspire. This is the story of Shark Lady. One of the best science picture books for children, Shark Lady is a must for both teachers and parents alike! ...
My daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
King, Martin Luther, III.
What was it like growing up as a son of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.' This picture book memoir, My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Martin Luther King III, provides insight into one of history's most fascinating families and into a special bond between father and son. "I have a dream...
The boy on Fairfield Street : how Ted Geisel grew up to become Dr. Seuss
Krull, Kathleen.
Award-winning author Kathleen Krull zeros in on the formative first 22 years of the life of Ted Geisel. This is the first picture book biography of Dr. Seuss, written especially for his young fans who want to know what made him tick. The animals in the zoo that his father ran and his fondness for...
It began with a page : how Gyo Fujikawa drew the way
Maclear, Kyo
* 4 Starred Reviews * * An Indie Next List Pick * "Playful, bold, and, much like its subject, full of grace." --Jillian Tamaki, Caldecott Honor winner for This One Summer "It Began with a Page tells [Gyo Fujikawa's] story beautifully, in picture-book form."...
Planting stories : the life of librarian and storyteller Pura Belpre
Denise, Anika
RECIPIENT OF THE PURA BELPRÉ HONOR  * A Today Show's Best Kids' Books of 2019 * Indie Next List Pick * Junior Library Guild Selection *  "An appealing tribute and successful remedy to the lack of titles about the groundbreaking librarian...a must...
Alice across America : the story of the first women's cross-country road trip
Marsh, Sarah Glenn
Writer Sarah Glenn Marsh and illustrator Gilbert Ford's Alice Across America is a nonfiction picture book account of maverick Alice Ramsey, the first woman to drive a car across America in 1909. When Alice Ramsey was little, she loved to ride horses. As she grew up,...
Through the wardrobe : how C.S. Lewis created Narnia
Maslo, Lina
A lyrical nonfiction picture book about the inspired life of C. S. Lewis, the beloved author of the Chronicles of Narnia--from Free as a Bird author-illustrator Lina Maslo. Perfect for fans of The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown and Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White. As a...
Just like Beverly
Conrad, Vicki
As a young girl, Beverly Cleary struggled to learn to read and found most children's books dull and uninteresting. She often wondered if there were any books about kids just like her. With hard work, and the encouragement of her parents and a special teacher, she learned to read and at a young age...
John Ronald's dragons : the story of J.R.R. Tolkien
McAlister, Caroline
A captivating picture book biography of a boy who imagined a world full of dragons and grew up to be beloved author J. R. R. Tolkien. John Ronald loved dragons. He liked to imagine dragons when he was alone, and with his friends, and especially when life got hard or sad. After...
Thirty minutes over Oregon : a Japanese pilot's World War II story
Nobleman, Marc Tyler
An Orbis Pictus Honor Book for Outstanding Nonfiction 2019 In this important and moving true story of reconciliation after war, beautifully illustrated in watercolor, a Japanese pilot bombs the continental U.S. during WWII--the only enemy ever to do so--and comes...
A poem for Peter : the story of Ezra Jack Keats and the creation of The snowy day
Pinkney, Andrea Davis
A celebration of the extraordinary life of Ezra Jack Keats, creator of The Snowy Day. The story of The Snowy Day begins more than one hundred years ago, when Ezra Jack Keats was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. The family were struggling Polish immigrants, and despite...
Duke Ellington the piano prince and his orchestra
Pinkney, Andrea Davis.
An introduction to the life and biography of African American musician Duke Ellington, who influenced jazz and popular music.
Big machines : the story of Virginia Lee Burton
Rinker, Sherri Duskey
In this loving tribute to Virginia Lee Burton, the New York Times best-selling creators Sherri Duskey Rinker and John Rocco pay homage to the storied life of one of the most beloved creators in children's literature.  Everyone in Folly Cove knows Virginia Lee as "Jinnee." With her magical wands...
Pies from nowhere : how Georgia Gilmore sustained the Montgomery bus boycott
Romito, Dee
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...
Dorothea's eyes : Dorothea Lange photographs the truth
Rosenstock, Barb
USBBY Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities Colonial Dames of America Book Award ALA/Amelia Bloomer Book List NCSS Notable Trade Book Bank Street College of Education Best Book of the Year "An excellent beginner's resource for biography, U.S....
Fight of the century : Alice Paul battles Woodrow Wilson for the vote
Rosenstock, Barb
The fight for women's suffrage between women's rights leader Alice Paul and President Woodrow Wilson is creatively presented as a four-round boxing match in this energetic nonfiction picture book. When Woodrow Wilson was elected President, he didn't know that he would be...
The secret kingdom : Nek Chand, a changing India, and a hidden world of art
Rosenstock, Barb
A 2019 Orbis Pictus Honor Book The incredible story of the world's largest visionary environment: the Rock Garden of Chandigarh, kept secret by outsider artist Nek Chand for fifteen years. After the partition of India in 1947, Nek Chand Saini settled in the...
Prairie boy : Frank Lloyd Wright turns the heartland into a home
Rosenstock, Barb
In this book about Frank Lloyd Wright for kids, young readers will learn all about America's first world-famous architect. Frank Lloyd Wright loved the Wisconsin prairie where he was born. But as his family moved across the United States, young Frank found his own home in shapes:...
The streak : how Joe DiMaggio became America's hero
Rosenstock, Barb
Perfect for every baseball fan, here is the story of New York Yankees baseball great Joe DiMaggio's longest hitting streak in baseball history. In the summer of 1941, Yankee center fielder Joe DiMaggio and his favorite bat, Betsy Ann, begin the longest hitting streak in baseball...
Balloons over Broadway : the true story of the puppeteer of Macy's Parade
Sweet, Melissa
From Caldecott Honor artist Melissa Sweet comes the perfect Thanksgiving Day picture book. Let's have a parade! Meet the master puppeteer who invented the first balloons for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Melissa Sweet brings to life the inspirational story of the puppeteer who...
Emmanuel's dream : the true story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah
Thompson, Laurie Ann.
Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah's inspiring true story-which was turned into a film, Emmanuel's Gift, narrated by Oprah Winfrey-is nothing short of remarkable. Born in Ghana, West Africa, with one deformed leg, he was dismissed by most people-but not by his mother, who taught him to reach...
Schomburg : the man who built a library
Weatherford, Carole Boston
In luminous paintings and arresting poems, two of children's literature's top African-American scholars track Arturo Schomburg's quest to correct history. Where is our historian to give us our side? Arturo asked. Amid the scholars, poets, authors, and artists...
The watcher : Jane Goodall's life with the chimps
Winter, Jeanette.
Acclaimed picture book biographer Jeanette Winter has found her perfect subject: Jane Goodall, the great observer of chimpanzees. Follow Jane from her childhood in London watching a robin on her windowsill, to her years in the African forests of Gombe, Tanzania, invited by brilliant scientist Louis...

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