Central Wisconsin History Collaborative

A Teaching American History Grant Project    

                                                                                                                                                                  

 
Biographies
 

Print Media

Electronic Media

Lesson Plans & Misc.

 

 
Adler, David.  A Picture Book of Eleanor Roosevelt.  Holiday House, 1991.   
A brief account of the life and accomplishments of Eleanor Roosevelt.  Rd Lvl: 5.2 A brief account of the life and accomplishments of Eleanor Roosevelt. A crisply written biography enhanced by realistic watercolors. Key events are highlighted, from Roosevelt's early childhood to her role as representative to the United Nations. A list of important dates is included. The few flaws are worth noting. The sentence, ``Eleanor's mother was beautiful, but Eleanor was not a pretty child,'' is contradicted by the illustration. The text also states, ``In 1921 Franklin was stricken with polio. He couldn't walk after that.'' More accurately, he couldn't stand or walk unassisted (without braces, cane, or help from another person). The summary table of important dates is more about Franklin than Eleanor until 1945. And an opinion is stated as fact: ``She was the most important, most loved woman of her time.'' Despite these problems, the book is enjoyable.
 
Brenner, M, (1994). Abe Lincolnís hat.  Random House. R L: 2.9  GL: M   A far cry from the reverent tone of most children's books on Lincoln, this short, anecdotal biography actually humanizes him. Lincoln is shown as a struggling and somewhat disorganized lawyer who makes his way through goodwill and good sense. The book begins with his purchase of a tall black hat. Later, a group of boys rig up a high wire and knock it off his head, scattering the important papers he kept inside. Courtroom stories include Lincoln proving which man owned a young horse by letting the colt loose to go to its mother and his defense of a slave's right to be granted freedom in Illinois, a free state. Although Brenner includes no source notes, she states that all the stories she relates are true. The humor, lively lines, and soft, shaded colors of Cook's illustrations add to the book's appeal.
 
Brewster, Hugh.  Anastasia's Album.  Scholastic Inc., 1997.  Photographs and excerpts from personal letters tell the story of Anastasia, daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, who is believed to have been executed along with the rest of her family during the Russian revolution in 1918.  Rd Lvl: 5.9
Burleigh, Robert.  Flight : the journey of Charles Lindbergh. Philomel Books, 1991.  Describes how Charles Lindbergh achieved the remarkable feat of flying nonstop and solo from New York to Paris in 1927. Rd Lvl: 5.4
 Cooney, Barbara.  Eleanor.  Viking, 1996.  Presents the life of Eleanor Roosevelt, who married a president of the United States and became a great humanitarian.  Rd Lvl: 4.2
 
Davidson, M. (1986).  I have a dream : the story of Martin Luther King .   Scholastic Inc.  RL 3.0, IL 3-6. A brief biography detailing the major achievements of the leader who worked for equal rights for African-Americans.
 
 
Douglass, F.(1994). Escape from slavery:  The Boyhood of Frederick Douglass in his own words. Illustrated by Michael McCurdy ; foreword by Coretta Scott King. Alfred A. Knopf.  RL 6.9   With the power of his words and the truth of his own experience, Frederick Douglass dramatized the abomination of slavery and the struggle of a young man to break free. In this shortened version of Douglass' 1845 autobiography, McCurdy has done a splendid job of bringing the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass to middle-grade readers. There are brief introductory notes about what's been left out in each chapter; otherwise, the voice is Douglass' own, in all its simplicity, lyricism, and fury. Read this aloud; discuss it in the classroom. Many kids will go from here to more of Douglass' writing and to other slave narratives.
 
 
Fradin, D.(2003). Bound for the North Star. Clarion Books.  RL 6.9 This collective biography is an inspiring history of those who escaped slavery and their rescuers. It is also a horrifying, detailed account of what the people escaped. Fradin draws on more than 16 slaves' personal experiences to show what slavery was like: the unrelenting racism; the physical brutality, including rape and flogging; the anguish of family separation. The accounts of reunions, often after years apart, are almost unbearable to read. The escapes and rescues show incredible courage, sacrifice, luck, and determination, but Fradin is clear that many slaves didn't make it, including Margaret Garner (the inspiration for Toni Morrison's 1987 novel Beloved, who slit her baby's throat so that her child would not be a slave. Like Holocaust narratives, this is painful reading about legal racist cruelty and those who resisted it.
 
 
Freedman, R. (1987).  Lincoln: A Photobiography. Clarion Books. RL: 7.4  GL: V   More than 80 photographs and prints illustrate the crisp and informative text. The pictures have been well-placed to coordinate with the text; captions have been written with care as well. While many of the photographs are well-known, many less familiar pictures are also included. Freedman begins by contrasting the Lincoln of legend to the Lincoln of fact. His childhood, self-education, early business ventures, and entry into politics comprise the first half of the book, with the rest of the text covering his presidency and assassination. Freedman's extensive research is apparent in the liberal use he makes of quotations from original sources (letters, contemporary newspaper articles, etc. A listing of historic sites open to the public and a sampler of wise and witty excerpts from Lincoln's writings complete the book. Well-organized and well-written, this is an outstanding example of what (juvenile) biography can be.
 
 
Giblin, J.(1992).  George Washington: A Picture book biography.  Scholastic.  Includes bibliographical references (p. 4) and index. Examines the family life and career of the first American president, also discussing myths and legends, monuments to Washington, and Mount Vernon  RL 4.6  GL: R
 
Greenfield, Eloise.  Mary McLeod Bethune.  Harper Collins, 1997.  Biography of Mary Jane McLeod Bethune who made numerous contributions to education for African-Americans.  Rd Lvl: 3.5
 
Hearne, B.(1995).  Seven brave women. Greenwillow Brooks. RL: 2.8   In a world where history is often seen through the prism of war, Hearne introduces seven women of peace who also shaped history--through their creativeness, imagination, and, yes, bravery.  The text is strong and sure, with a cadence that makes it easy to read aloud. History units and genealogy projects are just a few of the places where this innovative piece will be integrated into the curriculum. 
 
Jerome, Kate Boehm.  Who Was Amelia Earhart?  Grosset & Dunlap, 2002.  Includes bibliographical references (p. 106). Examines the life of Amelia Earhart, a pioneer female aviator who mysteriously disappeared during an around-the-world flight in 1937.  Rd Lvl: 5.8
 
McClanahan (1998).  50 Great Americans: Every Kid Should Know. McClanahan Book Co.
 
 
Miller, W.(1995).  Frederick Douglass:  The last day of slavery.  RL: 4.1  GL:  M  An illustrated account of Frederick Douglass's life as a slave, which tells the story of how he refused to let an overseer break his spirit, determining never to think nor act like a slave. 
 
Parlin, John.  Amelia Earhart, Pioneer of the Sky.  Bantam Double Dell Books for Young Readers, 1991.  Describes the life of one of the first women air pilots, including her flight records, her trip across the Atlantic Ocean, and her disappearance during her last trip. Rd Lvl: 3.9
Polacco, Patricia.  The Keeping Quilt.  Simon & Schuster, 1998. A homemade quilt ties together the lives of four generations of an immigrant Jewish family, remaining a symbol of their enduring love and faith. Rd Lvl: 5.3
 
   
Quakenbush, Robert.  Clear the cow pasture, I'm coming in for a landing! : a story of Amelia Earhart . Simon & Schuster, 1990.  A biography of the courageous aviatrix who became the first woman to cross the Atlantic by air.  Rd Lvl: 4.9 
 
 
Rappaport, D. (2001).  Martinís big words:  The life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Hyperion Books.  I. L. Ages 4-9  RL: 6.1  Weaving in Dr. King's own "big words," this inspiring picture-book biography celebrates the great leader as preacher and politician. With powerful art and pulsing words ("He walked with them and talked with them and sang with them and prayed with them"), this is a fine book to share and read aloud many times. 
 
 
Reiss, J. (1990) The Upstairs Room. Harper Trophy.  RL 5.9 A Dutch Jewish girl describes the two-and-one-half years she spent in hiding in the upstairs bedroom of a farmer's house during World War II.
 
 
Savin, F. (2000) Amelia Earhart: Adventure in the Sky GR 3-6
 
 
Troy, D.(1999).  Booker T. Washington.  The Childís World.  RL: 7.6 Includes bibliographical                   references (p. 40) and index. Describes the life of Booker T. Washington, his accomplishments as an educator, and his impact on the fight for equality.  
 
 
Turner, Robyn Montana.  Georgia O'Keefe.  Little Brown & Company, 1977. A biography of the prominent American artist renowned for her images of gigantic flowers, cityscapes, and distinctive desert scenes.  Rd Lvl: 5.9
 
 
Eleanor Roosevelt Papers
www.gwu.edu/~erpapers
 
Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum
www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu
 
Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute
www.feri.org
 
Robert Cohen, ed., Dear Mrs. Roosevelt: Letters from Children of the Great  
         Depression (University of North Carolina Press, 2002).
 
Robert S. McElvaine, ed. Down and Out in the Great Oppression: Letters from the  
         Forgotten Man (University of North Carolina Press, 1983).
 
 
 
Jeremy Bird's (Port Wing School District) 
           American Heroes Unit
 Allida Black's (The George Washington U.) 
           Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Recommended Books and Websites
 Joann Fox's (Ball State University) 
           Recommended Biographies for Children
           Bingo -Noteworthy People -Quiz
 Recommendations by Sue Kreibich (Winona, Minnesota School District):                                                      
           McClanahan. (1998) 50 Great Americans every kid should Know. McClanahan Book Co.
 Mary Beth Plauche's recommendations:
 
Picture Books
Brenner, Martha, Abe Lincolnís Hat, Random House: 1994.
Coles, Robert, The Story of Ruby Bridges, Scholastic: 1995.
Feldman, Eve B., They Fought for Freedom: Children in the Civil Right Movement, 
       McGraw Hill School Division.
Giblin, James Cross, George Washington: A Picture Book Biography,
       A Picture Book Biography, Scholastic: 1992.
Hearne, Betsy, Seven Brave Women, Greenwillow Books: 1997.
   Miller, William, Frederick Douglas: The Last Day of Slavery, Lee and Loew Books: 1995.
Rappaport, Doreen, Martinís Big Words: the Life of Dr. Martian Luther King, Jr.,  
      Hyperion Books For Children: 2001.
Troy, Don, Booker T. Washington, The Childís World: 1999.
Waters, Kate, Sarah Mortonís Day, Scholastic: 1989.
Non-Picture Books
Douglas, Frederick, Escape from Slavery: The Boyhood of Frederick Douglas in His Own   Words,        
     Alfred A. Knopf: 1994.
Fradin, Denis Brindell, Bound for the North Star, Clarion Books: 2003.
Freedman, Russell, Lincoln, a Photobiography, Clarion Books: 1987.
Hamilton, Virginia,  Many Thousand Gone: African Americans from Slavery to Freedom,   
      Alfred A. Knopf: 1993.
Marrin, Albert, Commander in Chief, Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War,
      Dutton   Childrenís Books: 1997.
Murphy, Jim, The Boysí War; Confederate and Union Solders Talk About the Civil War,
      Clarion Books: 1990.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Revised 08/25/2008  

 

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