Sometimes a book that tells a true story of a fantastic adventure or a monumental idea that changed the world can overshadow any picture book or work of fiction, simply because the story is true. There is something very powerful about telling a child, this story actually happened. Done well, children’s books can bring events in history to life and show children the immense possibilities that exist in our world, the challenges that can be overcome, and that dreams can come true.
Our libraries are packed full of biographies, but today I want to share a few great ones available for the younger set. Much like a picture book, these biographies include beautiful illustrations, an engaging story, and the ability to excite children about history and people’s impact on the world.
Dare the Wind: the Record-Breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud by Tracy Fern
“A true navigator must have the caution to read the sea, as well as the courage to dare the wind.”
Eleanor Prentiss was born with “salt water in her veins,” and in this stunning book Dare the Wind, her maiden voyage from New York, around Cape Horn, and to the port of San Francisco is told through exquisitely detailed watercolor illustrations and prose that is both informative and exciting. Aboard the Flying Cloud with her sea captain husband, Prentiss not only completed a frightfully challenging journey, but she set a world record for speed in the process. Her courage to “dare the wind” sets the stage for an incredible story.
On A Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne
Jennifer Berne’s take on Albert Einstein in On a Beam of Light is simple yet thought provoking. The book reflects more on Albert Einstein the person and not so much on his ideas. Einstein was a curious fellow, and this original take on his life talks about his meekness as a child, his insatiable curiosity, his endless questions, and his eccentric style. What makes this book so special in my eyes is that children get a glimpse of Einstein both as a genius and as human being with his own quirks and peculiarities. Children see that Einstein’s genius stems from asking questions, reading, and constantly wondering about the world. Playful pen and ink illustrations bring a distinct charm to this exceptional book.
Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell
Some books offer information, and others offer inspiration. Me…Jane offers both. In this story, we meet a young Jane Goodall who loves to be outside, loves to study animals and plants, and dreams of a life in Africa surrounded by the animals she loves. Kids need to know that dreams do come true, and this a great little book to share that message. Following the story is a great informative summary of Jane Goodall’s work and contributions to her field of study.
But perhaps most impactful is Jane Goodall’s personal letter to readers about how we all make a difference in the world.
“I encourage everyone, especially young people, to make the world a better place for people, animals, and the environment.” –Jane Goodall
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