Do your kids like to read about Real Actual People? Mine do. We find that the lives of extraordinary people doing interesting things, or interesting people doing extraordinary things, make for inspiring stories. (And sometimes we read about hobbits instead. Just so you know. It’s not all real-life drama around these parts.)
Here are a few series and favorite authors that we turn to again and again. They’re all good for elementary-aged kids, or for reading aloud to younger ones.
Series are great for the obvious reason: if you like one, there are more to explore. These three have been fun for us.
Childhood of Great Americans
The series focuses on the youth of all sorts of U.S. historical figures: Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln, Helen Keller and Rosa Parks, Wilma Rudolph, Elizabeth Blackwell, and Frederick Douglass, among others.
I Can Read series
Lives of Interesting People (and what the neighbors thought)
Okay, so I made that series name up, but the book titles are all similar to that. Each book is a collection of short bios, and they tie in nicely to interests your kids might already have: Lives of the Musicians: Good Times, Bad Times (and What the Neighbors Thought), for example.
I love when we stumble upon an author who makes history enticing, intriguing, engaging, and even sometimes… winsome. Winsome wins, at our house. Here are a few of our faves.
Of course. Get started with picture books like You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton?, Where Was Patrick Henry on the 29th of May?, Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George?, or George Washington’s Mother.
One of our favorite authors of all kinds of books for kids. Her oversize, scrapbook-like biographies are just so cool. They’re collections of facts, stories, and photos about The Lincolns, Eleanor Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, P.T. Barnum, Benjamin Franklin… And ooh, we haven’t seen this one yet–the Romanovs!
Another favorite author! These biographies are picture books with lots of interesting text, and would be especially good for families with an interest in the classics: try Shakespeare, Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, Elizabeth I, Michaelangelo, or da Vinci.
There are so many great biographies out there — so many people to learn about, so many people to learn from. Tweet me your own favorites, won’t you? (Or tell me on FB or Pinterest…) We’re especially on the lookout for less well-known figures, or less-U.S.-centric volumes. Have any suggestions?