Biographies for Children

Lori Soard
The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia
The Family Romanov

Biographies for children are great resources for learning about important historical figures. While you can find a biography on just about anyone, great biographies not only impart information but are interesting to read. The following eight biographies fit the bill - covering interesting people in a fascinating way.

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia, by Candace Fleming, covers the story of Russian royalty and the fall of the House of Romanov. There are many legends surrounding the fall of Imperial Russia, including rumors of Princess Anastasia surviving the rebellion.

Appropriate for ages 14 and up, the book has been highly praised. Kirkus reviews said the story was "told with clarity and confidence" and Publisher's Weekly added that it was a "wonderful introduction to this era in Russian history".

Escape!: The Story of the Great Houdini

Escape!: The Story of the Great Houdini, by award-winning author, Sid Fleischman is a biography about Houdini, who was a famous magician. Any child who enjoys magic tricks or circus acts will enjoy hearing about Houdini and his great feats. What makes this biography stand out is that it was written by a fellow magician who understands the topic matter. Hints on how tricks are performed, are given throught he vivid photographs and illustrations.

The book received four out of five stars Amazon with readers praising it as entertaining and a great fit for magic lovers. It is geared towards kids ages 8 to 12.

Bard of Avon: The Story of William Shakespeare

Bard of Avon: The Story of William Shakespeare, written by Diane Stanley, is a biography about the famed playwrite. Shakespeare's writing has had a huge impact on other literary works and many of his unique phrases have made their way into everyday speech. This book includes a guide at the back of the book to some of the phrases from Shakespeare plays that have made it into the vernacular.

Appropriate for readers ages 4 to 8, the book received four out of five stars on Goodreads, while Publisher's Weekly said, "These seasoned raconteurs...neatly piece together the puzzle of Shakespeare's life."

Who Was Walt Disney?

Who Was Walt Disney?, by Whitney Stewart, introduces children to the man behind their beloved Disney theme parks and movies. This book would be good to read before a family vacation to Disney World or Disney Land, but is fascinating if you want to learn more about how the company was started. It's geared towards kids ages 8 to 11, and is especially appealing to those who are prone to daydreaming.

The book received four out of five stars on Barnes & Noble with more than 100 reviews that are five-star reviews.

Me...Jane

Me...Jane, by Patrick McDonnel starts off telling about a young girl who has a stuffed animal that is a chimpanzee. That young girl grows up to be the famed scientist Jane Goodall, who goes into the apes' environment and studies them. This entertaining book includes anecdotes that come directly out of Jane Goodall's own autobiography.

It appeals to kids ages 5 to 8 and gets 4.15 starts out of 5 on Goodreads.

I Am Abraham Lincoln

I Am Abraham Lincoln, by Brad Meltzer, is the story of the sixteenth president of the United States. It is told told in first person from the viewpoint of Abraham Lincoln as a child. As a result, children find him relatable. Ideal for kids ages 5 to 8, the book gets a glowing 4.5 starts out of 5 starts from Amazon reviews.

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, Mordicai Gerstein by tells the story of Phillipe Petit. Petit was a Frenchman who walked between the two towers of the World Trade Center while they were still standing.

Appropriate for kids ages 4 to 8, this book won the prestigious Caldecott Medal in 2004 from the Association for Library Service to Children.

Salt in His Shoes

Salt in His Shoes is the story of basketball great Michael Jordan. The story is told by some of those who know him best, his mother and his sister, Deloris Jordan and Roslyn M. Jordan. The book appeals especially to basketball fans, ages 5 to 9 and earns four out of five stars at Google Books.

This is an inspiring story about where determination and perseverance can take you.

Great People to Read About

Some excellent choices can offer great insight into history, art, and countless other subjects. The following figures offer fascinating stories that can help children learn while developing a love for reading. Some biographies to consider include but are not limited to:

United States Presidents

  • George Washington
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Teddy Roosevelt
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • John F. Kennedy

British Monarchs

  • Henry VIII
  • Elizabeth I
  • Prince Charles

Civil Rights

  • Rosa Parks
  • Martin Luther King
  • Malcolm X
  • Susan B. Anthony

Native Americans

  • Pocahontas
  • Black Hawk
  • Sitting Bull
  • Tecumseh

Poets and Authors

  • Shakespeare
  • W.B. Yeats
  • Maya Angelou
  • Charles Dickens

Artists

  • Michelangelo
  • Da Vinci
  • Edgar Degas
  • Mary Cassat

Composers

  • Mozart
  • Beethoven
  • Duke Ellington
  • George Gershwin

Inventors

  • Eli Whitney
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Alfred Nobel
  • Thomas Edison

Philosophers

  • Confucius
  • Socrates
  • Plato
  • Rene Descartes

Astronauts

  • Neil Armstrong
  • James A. Lovell
  • Ellen Ochoa
  • John Glen

Explorers

  • Amerigo Vespucci
  • Marco Polo
  • Ferdinand Magellan
  • Lewis and Clark

Athletes

  • Tony Hawke
  • Jesse Owens
  • Babe Ruth

Modern Biographies

Many kids are enthralled with some of today's famous figures. Some modern biographies for students can build interest in reading through a resource that is relevant to everyday life. Some great figures include:

  • The Jonas Brothers
  • Miley Cyrus
  • Susan Boyle
  • Bill Gates
  • One Direction

Many people have had a profound impact on the world. Countless biographies for children offer inspiration, motivation and many opportunities for learning.

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Biographies for Children