Wolfner :: Recommended Readings :: Youth Bibliographies :: Biographies for Children

Biographies for Children


January 2015

This recommended reading list provides a broad list of biographies. This list is recommended for those reading at a kindergarten through 3rd grade reading level up to a 4th through 7th grade reading level.
To order any of these titles, contact the library by email, mail or phone. You may also request these titles online through WolfPAC. Identification numbers for braille books begin with BR, large print books begin with LP, and audiobooks begin with DB. All audiobooks and available braille books listed are linked to the Braille and Audio Reading Download site (BARD) for downloading.

Kindergarten to Grade 3

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel
BR 20036
Biography of Clara Lemlich, a young girl who came to America with her parents and was hired to sew women's clothing. But the horrible working conditions in the clothing factories prompted Clara to demand change--and inspire a strike in 1909. PRINT/BRAILLE. 2013.

Flying Solo: How Ruth Elder Soared into America's Heart by Julie Cummins
Download Flying Solo, DB 77844
Read by Margaret Strom. Reading time: 18 minutes.
Biography of Ruth Elder (1902-1977), who wanted to be the first female to fly across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927. Recounts Elder's first attempt that ended in a crash and the cross-country race that Ruth and nineteen other women entered. 2013.

My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Martin Luther King, III
LP 2341
What was it like growing up as a son of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? This picture book memoir provides insight into one of history's most fascinating families and into a special bond between father and son. Illustrated by AG Ford. 2013.

A Picture Book of Daniel Boone by David A. Adler
LP 2295
As a boy, Daniel Boone would disappear for days, returning home with enough meat to feed his family for a week. He was already an adventurer! Before the thirteen American colonies had freed themselves from Britain's rule, Boone was blazing trails westward. He cleared a trail to Kentucky, called the Wilderness Road, and helped establish one of the first American settlements west of the Appalachian Mountains. Illustrated by Matt Collins. 2013.

A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jennifer Bryant
Download A Splash of Red, DB 78033
Read by Jill Fox. Reading time: 28 minutes.
Biography of self-taught African American folk artist Horace Pippin (1888-1946). Describes Pippin's childhood in Pennsylvania and New York, the combat injury that threatened to end his career, his struggle to learn to paint again, and the widespread fame he achieved. Schneider Family Award. 2013.

Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library by Barb Rosenstock
Download Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library, DB 77680
Read by Mary Kane. Reading time: 27 minutes.
A celebration of Thomas Jefferson's lifelong love of reading. Describes Jefferson gobbling up books "the way a starving man eats" and selling more than 6,500 of his to the Library of Congress after its original collection was destroyed during the War of 1812. 2013.

Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors? The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell by Tanya Lee Stone
Download Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors, DB 78311
Read by Abigail Maupin. Reading time: 13 minutes.
Short biography of the first female American doctor, Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910). Explains society's limitations on women's occupations during the 1800s. Describes Elizabeth's determination to break down those barriers--even after receiving twenty-eight rejection letters from medical schools. 2013.

Grades 2 to 4

Benny Goodman & Teddy Wilson: Taking the Stage as the First Black-and-White Jazz Band in History by Lesa Cline-Ransome
LP 2541
Celebrates the 1936 debut of the Benny Goodman quartet with Teddy Wilson in Chicago, considered to be the first widely seen integrated jazz performance. Illustrated by James E. Ransome. 2014.

Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington by Jabari Asim
Download Fifty Cents and a Dream, DB 75924
Read by Patrick Downer. Reading time: 27 minutes.
Biography focuses on the younger years of African American educator Booker T. Washington (1856-1915). Highlights his desire to learn to read when that was forbidden for slaves. Covers Washington's struggles and his ambition to study at the Hampton Institute--a place where black people could learn freely. 2012.

Hanging Off Jefferson's Nose: Growing Up on Mount Rushmore by Tina Nichols Coury
Download Hanging Off Jefferson's Nose, DB 75049
Read by Margaret Strom. Reading time: 20 minutes.
Biography of Lincoln Borglum (1912-1986), who succeeded his father Gutzon Borglum (1867-1941) in designing and sculpting the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in Black Hills, South Dakota. 2012.

Jean Laffite: The Pirate Who Saved America by Susan Goldman Rubin
Download Jean Laffite, DB 74749
Read by Gregory Maupin. Reading time: 31 minutes.
Biography of gentlemen pirate Jean Laffite. Describes his adventures as a privateer capturing Spanish ships and his use of pirating skills to help the Americans win the Battle of New Orleans against the British during the War of 1812 . 2012.

Look Up! Henrietta Leavitt, Pioneering Woman Astronomer by Robert Burleigh
BR 20035
Biography of Henrietta Swan Leavitt (1868-1921), an astronomer who helped discover the first method to correctly measure distances in space during a time when women were not allowed to use the telescope in observatories. PRINT/BRAILLE. 2013.

There Goes Ted Williams: The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived by Matt Tavares
Download There Goes Ted Williams, BR 19746
Biography of Ted Williams, the Boston Red Sox slugger. Recounts his early years as an awkward youth, his rise to All-Star status in 1941, and his military service during World War II and the Korean War. Covers his return to baseball as Player of the Decade. 2012.

Twice as Good: The Story of William Powell and Clearview, The Only Golf Course Designed, Built and Owned by an African American by Richard Michelson
Download Twice as Good, BR 19666
Short biography of William Powell (1916-2009), who in 1948 was the first African American to build, own, and open a golf course--the Clearview Golf Club--for everyone, regardless of race. Discusses his childhood ambitions, hard work, service in the U.S. Army, and family life. 2012.

Grades 3 to 6

The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos by Deborah Heiligman
Download The Boy Who Loved Math, DB 78173
Read by Margaret Strom. Reading time: 48 minutes.
Biography of Hungarian mathematician Paul Erds (1913-1996), who loved numbers--especially prime numbers--but didn't like school or following rules. Describes Erds's practice of staying with friends all over the world who took care of him so he could concentrate on just math. 2013.

Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
Download Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table, DB 78380
Read by Ken Jackson. Reading time: 23 minutes.
Biography of Will Allen, a former professional basketball player who became an urban farmer. Recounts Allen's purchase of an abandoned lot in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that he turned into a thriving farm and the lessons he learned and spread worldwide. Includes resources for future farmers. 2013.

So You Want to Be President? by Judith St. George
Download So You Want to Be President, DB 75382
Read by Jason Griffith. Reading time: 37 minutes.
Revised edition offers unusual and interesting facts about the forty-three men who served as presidents of the United States. Points out the variety of personalities, backgrounds, and interests of these individuals, as well as their similarities. Caldecott Medal. 2012.

What Was Your Dream, Dr. King?: And Other Questions about Martin Luther King Jr. by Mary Kay Carson
Download What Was Your Dream, Dr. King, DB 77508
Read by Todd Fox. Reading time: 33 minutes.
Discussion of Martin Luther King Jr.'s role in the civil rights movement in a question-and-answer format. Covers segregation, peaceful protests, voting rights, and more. 2013.

Grades 4 to 7

The Chimpanzees I Love: Saving Their World and Ours by Jane Goodall
BR 52034
A pioneer in field research on African jungle chimpanzees discusses her discoveries about their behavior and ways of living and communicating. Includes information on chimpanzees in captivity and actions people can take to protect them. 2001.

Paiute Princess: The Story of Sarah Winnemucca by Deborah Kogan Ray
Download Paiute Princess, BR 19870
Biography of Sarah Winnemucca (ca. 1844-1891), originally named Thocmetony, a Paiute Indian from Nevada. Discusses her unease growing up around white people and her later advocacy for her tribe, which included delivering speeches across America and publishing an autobiographical account of the Paiutes. 2012.

Women Explorers: Perils, Pistols, and Petticoats by Julie Cummins
Download Women Explorers, DB 74727
Read by Kerry Dukin. Reading time: 1 hour, 7 minutes.
Profiles ten female explorers born before 1900. One explorer, Louise Arner Boyd (1887-1972), was an heiress who planned, led, and financed seven expeditions to the Arctic. Another, Nellie Cashman (1850-1925), drove a dogsled over 750 miles of ice and snow at age seventy. 2012.