2023 Children's Books · Children's Book Recommendations

Biography Picture Book Recommendations

Biography picture book recommendation are by Angela Ferraris, The Retired School Librarian.

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Picture Book Biography cover with Sister Rosetta Tharpe playing a guitar

Rock, Rosetta, Rock! Roll, Rosetta, Roll!: Presenting Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the Godmother of Rock & Roll 

by Tonya Bolden (Author), R. Gregory Christie  (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : ‎ HarperCollins. 2023. Grades 1-3. Hardcover. ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0062994387.

Brief summary: Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the Godmother of Rock & Roll, was born in Arkansas in 1915 to two musical parents. Rosetta learns to sing and plays the guitar at an early age. Her family moves to Chicago, where her performance in church begins her career. She marries a preacher. He preaches, and she plays her guitar, where the Sunday service is broadcasted on the radio, thus reaching a broad audience.

Rosetta’s musical career takes off with her playing around the USA and Europe, performing gospel, blues, and rock and roll producing one hit after another.

The timeline at the back of the book lists her notable musical accomplishments and personal life events. Author’s Note and Sources included.

For more details or to buy, click here.

Rating 4/5 📗📗📗📗

The way to really understand the energy and personality of this musician is to hear and see her perform.

ReelinInTheYears66. (2017, December 27). Sister rosetta tharpe- “didn’t it rain?” live 1964 (Reelin’ in the years archive). YouTube. Retrieved March 18, 2023, from https://youtu.be/Y9a49oFalZE
Picture book biography cover of The Green Piano with Roberta Flack as a child playing a green piano

The Green Piano: How Little Me Found Music 

by Roberta Flack (Author), Tonya Bolden  (Author), Hayden Goodman (Illustrator).Publisher ‏ : ‎ Anne Schwartz Books. 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover. ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593479872.

Brief summary: Roberta Flack grew up in a Blue Ridge Mountain town in North Carolina, living in a house with two musical parents. She longed to have a piano of her own. Her father found one in a junkyard and spruced it up by painting it green. Her love of music blossomed forth.

The Author’s Note and Career Highlights are in the back.

For more details or to buy, click here.

Rating: 4/5 📗📗📗📗

I added a 1972 performance of her playing the piano and singing “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” One needs to hear her sing to feel her heart.

OLDTAPES. (2018, January 29). Roberta Flack – First Time ever I saw your face 1972. YouTube. Retrieved March 18, 2023, from https://youtu.be/d8_fLu2yrP4
Picture book biography cover of Mary Anning at a cliff near Lyme Regi holding a chisel out collecting fossils with her father and sister

Mary Anning Breaks New Ground: Courageous Kid of Paleontology (Courageous Kids) 

by Carol Kim  (Author), Mark Simmons (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : ‎ Capstone Pr Inc. 2022. Grades 4-6. Paperback Graphic Novel. ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1666334302.

Brief summary: Mary Anning was only twelve when she discovered an Ichthyosaurus along the cliffs near Lyme Regi, England, in the early 1800s. This area was known as the heart of the Jurassic Coast, where ammonite and belemnite fossils were often found unburied. Her father, a carpenter and cabinet maker, would fossil-seek as a hobby taking his children, Joseph and Mary, along the cliffs to find fossils to sell to tourists.

After their father died, her brother learned the upholstery business while she sold fossils for a living. It wasn’t until 2010 that the Royal Society acknowledged Mary and two other women, Mary Somerville, and Caroline Herschel, for their contributions to paleontology.

This is a narrative nonfiction graphic novel with a glossary, read more, internet sites, and about the author sections in the back.

For more details or to buy, click here.

Rating: 3/5 📗📗📗

Cecilia Payne in a tree looking into the star filled sky

The Fire of Stars: The Life and Brilliance of the Woman Who Discovered What Stars Are Made Of 

by Kirsten W. Larson  (Author), Katherine Roy (Illustrator).Publisher ‏ : ‎ Chronicle Books. 2023. K-3. Hardcover. ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1452172873.

Brief summary: Cecilia Payne moved from the country as a girl to London so her brother, Humfry, could attend a better school. Her school did not teach her the science curriculum that she desired until a new science teacher and friend, Miss Dalglish, was hired. Cecilia wins a University of Cambridge scholarship to study plants but is inspired once she attends a lecture by astronomer Arthur Addigton, whose work created a new field called astrophysics. She moved to America to study astronomy at Harvard, where other women were studying the same subject. Through her work, she discovered what stars are made of, thus building a foundation for astronomers to learn and better understand the stars.

This narrative nonfiction biography picture book has two-page illustrations paralleling Cecilia’s beginning of her career and that of a star’s.

The back sections are: Cecilia Payne: Science Superstar, A Star is Born, and a Timeline.

For more details or to buy, click here.

Rating: 4/5 📗📗📗📗

Picture book biography of Milloo standing with children around herself

Milloo’s Mind: The Story of Maryam Faruqi, Trailblazer for Women’s Education 

by Reem Faruqi (Author, granddaughter of Maryam Faruqi), Hoda Hadadi (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : ‎ HarperCollins. 2023. K-3. Hardcover. ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0063056619.

Brief summary: In 1930, a young Pakistani girl, Milloo, loves to read and study but is told that since she finished fifth grade, she will need to stay home to do housework. Milloo wanted to become a teacher, so her parents only agreed if she learned English. With a lot of hard work and determination, she graduated from high school and college. She is ready to become a teacher. She marries, but her husband wants her to stay home. She makes a school in her house and then opens more and more schools.

There is a glossary and author’s note in the back.

For more details or to buy, click here.

Rating: 3/5 📗📗📗