There have been more and more picture books published recently featuring a variety of people who have made a remarkable contribution to society. Dig into these biography books for children to learn more about people who have made a difference.
Biography Books for Kids
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Biographies of Authors/Writers/Illustrators
The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown by Mac Barnett does an amazing job sharing about a great author while also masterfully weaving in little bits of important nuggets to ponder and wrestle with as we read. It is so clever! It’s a book that works for children and a book that works equally well if not more for adults. After reading, you are left with lots to think about on so many different levels.
Pura’s Cuentos by Annette Bay Pimentel introduces us to a storyteller who brings bilingual storytelling to Harlem. Pura Belpré was the first Latina librarian in New York City as well as a storyteller and author. Learn about her and her contribution to young readers as well as breaking rules to include others.
A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day shines the light on an author who brought us so many classics.
I could really put this biography in so many categories. Ida B. Wells was a journalist, civil rights activist, businesswoman, and more. Learn all about her Ida B. Wells, Voice of Truth: Educator, Feminist, and Anti-Lynching Civil Rights Leader by Michelle Duster, Well’s great-grandaughter.
Along Came a Radioactive Spider by Annie Hunter Eriksen is the unauthorized biography of Steve Ditko and the Creation of Spider-Man. It truly must have been a challenge to write about a person who has few published photos, refused interviews, and had a cloud of mystery around him.
Biographies of Chefs or Food Creators
Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando by Andrea Wang and his invention of quick cooking ramen. It took a lot of trial and error, but determination won out and a staple was born.
Born Hungry: Julia Child Becomes “the French Chef” by Alex Prud’homme introduces us to one of the first tv chefs. Her presence was quite the force and she definitely was the first of many things. The book includes a recipe for scrambled eggs.
Niki Nakayama: A Chef’s Tale in 13 Bites by Jamie Michalak introduces us to a chef who had to overcome many obstacles to achieving her dream. Nakayama had to prove that a woman can be a master chef in a male-dominated field. In 2019, her restaurant was awarded two Michelin stars for excellent food. The book will take you to Koreatown, Los Angeles, California to Tokyo, Japan, and back to California again. The book includes a recipe for Wonton Pizzas, a dish Niki made when she was a child.
Biographies of Artists or Creators
When you think colors, you think crayons. Learn all about the inventor of the Crayola crayon in The Crayon Man by Natascha Biebow.
A well-done picture book biography is a gem. And, Traci N. Todd and Christian Robinson do a great job withNina: Story of Nina Simone. Eunice Kathleen Waymon was born in a small town in North Carolina in 1933. Music was in her blood, but the dream of making music was filled with challenges including the biggest one- racism. Waymon gave herself the stage name Nina Simone and her musical talent spanned genres. After tiring of constant racism and injustice, she began to sing powerful music addressing these issues.
Biographies of People in the STEM Field
If there is one doctor you think of through the COVID pandemic it’s Dr. Fauci. Learn all about him and his long career in Dr. Fauci: How a Boy from Brooklyn Became America’s Doctor by Kate Messner.
Masked Hero: How Wu Lien-teh Invented the Mas that Ended an Epidemic by Dr. Shan Woo Liu and Kaili Liu Gormley takes us to the person who invented the first version of the N95 mask in 1910 during a plague.
Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer by Traci Sorell showcases a woman with a passion for math who became Lockheed Aircraft Corporation’s first female engineer.
The Innovation Press has an Amazing Scientist Series featuring women with superpowers that have impacted the world. In The Girl with a Mind for Math by Julia Finley Mosca, we meet Raye Montague. Ms. Montague had to deal with sexism and racism to become an engineer in the US Navy. She became a pioneer who changed the course of ship design forever. This book is a great conversation starter on so many levels from talking about pursuing your dreams, overcoming obstacles, sexism, racism, and so much more.
What words or images come to mind when you think of the color purple? Did you know that purple was pretty hard and smelly to create until 1856? That’s when William Henry Perkin accidentally invented a new way. Read all about him and the chemistry behind purple in Perkin’s Perfect Purple by Tami Lewis Brown and Debbie Loren Dunn.
Evelyn the Adventurous Entomologist: The True Story of a Wold-Traveling Bug Hunter by Christine Evans is the story of Evelyn Cheesman who was born in 1881 (not a time period when girls were encouraged to play in the dirt and explore the wildlife.) Evelyn grew up and became in charge of the London Zoo insect house and her thirst for learning and exploring led her all over the world to collect over 70,000 insect specimens.
It can be challenging to find picture book biographies for the youngest listeners but this one fits the bill. Like most inventors, Garrett Morgan was a creative kid. And that creativity led to a very important invention. Read Saving the Day: Garrett Morgan’s Life-Changing Invention of the Traffic Signalby Karyn Parsons.
Queen of Leaves The Story of Botanist Ynes Mexia by Stephen Briseño is a story of someone who defies the odds. We learn about a fearless Mexican-American adventurer and botanist on her quest to find the wax palm tree. I love that Mexia entered college in her fifties proving it’s never too late to chase your dreams.
Biographies of Record Breakers or Firsts
Girl on a Motorcycle by Amy Novesky is the story of the first woman who rode a motorcycle alone around the world. Each place on the journey was full of beauty, challenges, and learning.
I Am An American: The Wong Kim Ark Story by Martha Brockenbrough with Grace Lin is the story of Wong Kim Ark who had to fight to prove that he was an American and that fight all the way to the Supreme Court. When American-born Wong Kim Ark returns from China to his home in San Francisco, he’s stopped and told he can’t re-enter because he isn’t American. He challenges that statement and changes the course of history.
Send a Girl! : The True Story of How Women Joined the FDNY by Jessica M. Rinker is the story of Brenda Berkman. She became the first woman firefighter in New York after a lot of work and determination. She faced many obstacles and lots of discrimination but, she persevered.
Sanctuary by Christine McDonnell is the story of a woman named Kip Tiernan who started the nation’s first shelter for women.
Biographies of People in Politics
Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson is a gorgeously illustrated books about the first black president in South Africa and his work against apartheid.
After losing RBG, we’ve seen several picture books about the second woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court. Learn more about You Are a Star, Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Dean Robbins.
Books About Presidents is another book list on my site that showcases presidents of the USA.
Biographies of Athletes
Sisters and Champions: The True Story of Venus and Serena Williams by Howard Bryant is the story of sister love and support, lots of hard work, and amazing talent on and off the court.
You can be deaf and be a professional baseball player. Learn all about William Hoy in The William Hoy Story: How a Deaf Baseball Player Changed the GameThe William Hoy Story: How a Deaf Baseball Player Changed the Game by Nancy Churnin.
More Women Firsts
Keep reading about women who have made a difference in history.—> Books About Women
Printable Book List of Biography Books for Kids
Grab a printable list of books above.
Enjoy learning about people with the kids in your life.