Biography books for kids in kindergarten on up teach children about history, important voices, and our great big world. Check out some of our favorite picture book biographies right here!
Biography Books for Kids Give Children Phenomenal Role Models to Emulate
There is something magical about watching a child fall into a captivating picture book biography, only to suddenly realize the person they’re reading about is REAL.
It’s like a light bulb goes off. It’s a moment where children remember that the story they’re reading is true and that maybe they, too, can one day conquer their wildest dreams.
That’s what I love about biography books for kids They show children that through grit and perseverance, they can change the world in ways big and small.
RELATED: We’ve got more than 100 children’s book lists on Happily Ever Elephants. Be sure to check out this link!
Reading picture book biographies enables kids to see the world through someone else’s eyes
These stories, of course, not only give children a closer look at history, but they also help to foster empathy and create a greater understanding of people who may have very different lived experiences than they do. Biography books for kids also help children learn about fascinating heroes both past and present. Picture book biographies bring heroes to life. They offer glimpses into different careers, movements, and cultures that help shape their worldview.
So much wisdom and knowledge can be gathered from reading others’ stories, and these books are not just inspiring, but enriching, too.
We simply adore biography books for kids, and these are some of our very favorites for kids in kindergarten on up!
Happily Ever Elephants participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read more about these links in my disclosure policy.
Frequently Asked Questions
A biography is a true story about someone’s life, thus, biographies are a type of nonfiction. The subject of the biography may be someone famous that you have already heard of, or it may be someone ordinary who did something extraordinary! There are many outstanding picture book biographies, and these stories are perfect for children of all ages.
Biography books for kids are wonderful tools to help children recognize they can be anyone – and do anything – they set their minds to. These stories about real people who have changed the world in ways big and small are remarkable examples of perseverance and the importance of a growth mindset. They bring heroes to life, while simultaneously offering glimpses into different careers, movements, and cultures.
Without a doubt, my favorite biography book for kids is I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark, by Debbie Levy and illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley. RBG grew up at a time when women were encouraged to be homemakers, not lawyers. Yet despite this, she pursued her goals and dissented widely in the face of injustice. Her story is inspiring and powerful, teaching kids we can always stand up for what’s right, even when it seems the whole world is against us.
Our Favorite Biography Books for Kids
Ruth Bader Ginsburg grew up at a time when women were encouraged to be homemakers, not lawyers. But this never dissuaded RBG from following her aspirations and dissenting widely in the face of injustice. As a child who dissented from being forced to write with her right hand (when she was truly a lefty) and as a Supreme Court Justice who continually disagreed with the unequal treatment of all people, this is an inspiring and powerful biography book for kids about how we can always stand up for what’s right, even when it seems the whole world is against us.
Kamala Harris was a fighter for justice even as a little girl when she accompanied her parents to civil rights marches in her stroller. As Harris grew from a young girl in Oakland to a law student to a U.S. Senator and then to the Vice President of the United States, she learned a thing about persistence — and justice — along the way. This is one of our favorite new biography books for kids celebrating the fascinating life of our first female, South Asian Vice President!
Joe Biden, the 47th President of the United States, was once just a little boy growing up in Scranton, the oldest of four kids. A risk taker and always a leader, Biden learned to overcome a stutter by reading out loud frequently. Growing up in humble beginnings, he was a compassionate boy and a deep thinker, always committed to his family. As a young man, Biden was elected one of the youngest United States Senators ever, eventually becoming Vice President to Barack Obama, and President in 2021. Written by his spouse, this tender story celebrates Biden as a child, a man, and a leader in American politics.
I have so many gymnastics-obsessed students, and let’s face it: they love Simone Biles! Though my students thought they knew all about her, there was so much they did not know — like the fact that she grew up in foster care, or that her grandparents actually adopted Simone and her sister and became their parents. This story is about remarkable dedication, sacrifice, devotion, and love from family. This is one of the most sought biography books for kids in our school library and an especially great one for very young readers!
This beauty of a book tells the story of Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman to travel to space! With her mother’s words of encouragement continually whispered in her ears, Mae’s intelligence and drive led her to conquer insurmountable odds until she found herself at NASA. “If you believe it, and work hard for it, anything is possible.” You can even touch the stars. This is one of my favorites to read with pre-K and kindergarten students!
Before he became the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci was a curious and inquisitive boy from Brooklyn. He asked lots of questions, loved to interpret data, and he persisted in all of his endeavors, no matter how hard. Fauci went to college and medical school, and he eventually worked for seven different presidents to tackle some of the world’s most precarious health challenges, including AIDS, the West Nile virus, and, most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a wonderful introduction to the man who rose up to meet some our country’s biggest and most pressing challenges, conveying to children that we must keep our minds open and learn as much as we can, each and every day.
Troy Andrews did not have money to buy an instrument as a kid, but he did have a huge talent and love for music. When he was lifted into the air and onto the stage to play with the famous Bo Diddley, he found his calling. Known as “Trombone Shorty” because he was a small boy with a trombone twice his size, this is the captivating story of a boy from the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans and how he made his dreams come true. From Grammy nominations to shows before President Obama, Andrews’ story will inspire young musicians everywhere!
If there is one thing kids adore, it’s reading about mischievous children who learn to walk to the beat of their own drum despite people trying to get them to follow the same path everyone else has taken. As a child, young Jane loved telling stories to make others laugh, poking fun at popular novels with their silly damsels in distress and absurd plots. Jane wanted to tell stories her way, and so she did. Using details from her own community, she wrote with wit and humor well ahead of her time. When faced with grief, however, she debated whether she would ever write again. Jane eventually picked up her pen once more, writing stories that have captured readers’ hearts for hundreds of years.
It’s no secret that Albert Einstein offered some of the most revolutionary ideas of all time. He has one of the most brilliant minds in our world’s history, and his imagination soared even as a young child. Readers will marvel at Einstein’s curiosity and scientific discovery, but they will also fall in love with his spirit and innate sense of wonder as he discovered everything from atoms to the speed of light.
Wow, this was a powerful biography book for kids! I was captivated by the story of American-born Wong Kim Ark and his fight to become an American citizen. After a trip to China, Wong Kim Ark is detained on his way back to San Francisco and told he is not allowed back into the United States because he is not American. What follows is Wong Kim Ark’s battle for citizenship and the defining Supreme Court opinion declaring that any person born in the United States is deemed an American citizen. Wong Kim Ark’s victory changed the conversation surrounding this body of law, and his harrowing and ultimately celebratory story resonates tremendously today in conversations about immigration and what it means to be a U.S. citizen. An important and fascinating story.
This is the fabulous story of a young man who had a talent for art and wanted to pursue it. But instead of following his dreams, he became an engineer at his dad’s prodding, quickly growing dissatisfied with this unfulfilling path. Goldberg eventually quit, got a low-level job at a newspaper, and set out to prove himself as a cartoonist. With persistence and perseverance, he eventually became well known for imaginative and zany comics that made his audience laugh, especially his drawings of elaborate machines that performed simple tasks in totally far-fetched ways. To top off his sweet success? Goldberg won the coveted Pulitzer Prize — and even an adjective in the dictionary! This book is pure magic and will be sure to ignite some great STEM challenges for all readers!
Edwin Binney was the head of a carbon black factory – and he was determined to bring the glorious colors of the outside world inside. He wanted to create a product that was not just colorful, but also safe and inexpensive so that children from all types of homes and families could afford them. Children will be mesmerized by the man who invented a product they use in their classrooms daily, and by the close of the book, they will be thankful to Binney for allowing them to draw their beautiful worlds and stories in color.
BUY THIS BOOK FROM:
When she was just a little girl, Megan found her home on the soccer field. The sport called to her, and she was a star on the field. Off the field, however, Megan didn’t fit in among her peers. Yet with her soccer team, she knew she always belonged. Megan eventually earned a coveted spot on Team USA and led her team to not only an Olympic gold medal but a World Cup medal as well. Off the field, Megan continues to inspire both kids and adults alike, worldwide, as she champions both women’s and LGBTQ rights and fights for representation in sports. She is a true champion!
This book was a hit with my students who couldn’t get over the fact that when many of their parents were young, women couldn’t hold certain jobs. This fascinating story about Brenda Berkman tells what happened when the New York Fire Department finally allowed women to become firefighters in the 1970s. Yet, even upon passing grueling tests, the ill will towards female firefighters was all too real. From the physical strength required to fight fires and save lives, to the inner strength required to combat brutal discrimination from those who believed firefighters should only be fireMEN, this captivating book shares the story of one woman who was determined to pave the way for girls who didn’t just dream of becoming firewomen but could actually become them, too. For more books about community helpers, click the link!
This gorgeous and inspiring book tells the story of Zion Clark, an elite wheelchair racer currently seeking to medal in the Paralympics. With an indomitable spirit and a refusal to see his body as anything less than whole, Zion’s story — from his early childhood years spent lost in the foster care system, to his rise as a high school wrestler, to his current quest for a gold medal — is moving, motivating and incredibly powerful. Zion imparts a beautiful message to follow our dreams and pursue our passions no matter what obstacles are in the way, and this book has become an immediate favorite in our home, with Zion becoming an instant role model for my boys.
There’s no doubt about it: your kids have heard of — and probably played with — the super soaker. But do they know the story behind this iconic invention? Enter Lonnie Johnson and this fabulously fun Black history biography that tells about how the super soaker came to be – by accident! Though he always had a penchant for problem-solving and engineering, it wasn’t his work with NASA that was Lonnie’s claim to fame, but his invention of the super soaker instead!
Born into slavery in 1848, Mary Walker became a free woman at fifteen years old. Mary always wanted to learn to read, yet she was married shortly upon gaining her freedom, and then she became pregnant with her first child — followed by several more. There always seemed to be something standing in her way. Even at the age of 68, Mary continued to work, raising money for her church and always believing that one day she would learn the alphabet. That day finally came — when Mary was not only 116 years old, but also the last remaining member of her family. Proving that perseverance will forever empower you to conquer any goal you set your mind to, this is the remarkable true story of the world’s oldest student.
This is a stunning picture book about Pura Belpre, her arrival in the United States in the early 1920s, and her job at a neighborhood library as a bilingual assistant. While working at the library, Belpre was surprised at the lack of any stories from her native Puerto Rico on the shelves. She thus began to spin unique tales for the children based on her home in Puerto Rico, infusing the neighborhood’s library with multicultural tales, diverse storytelling, and puppets! Exquisite in prose and illustration, we simply adore this one!
Would your little girl much rather play baseball than Barbies? If you answered yes, then you NEED this book! This is the true story of Kathryn Johnston, the very first girl to play little league baseball. She’s got spunk, perseverance, and a whole lot of grit— and we absolutely loved her inspiring story. Here’s to mighty girls who refuse to be held back by rigid gender constructs. Love this one!
This is an incredible biography of Louis Braille, a boy who lost his sight when he was just five years old. Louis was determined to live his life just like any other child, and he was especially determined to learn how to read. But how does one read without the ability to see? Louis invented his own alphabet, one that was tactile and read through the sense of touch. It was a whole new writing system, and it was so ingenious that it continues to be used widely today. This beautiful picture book biography mesmerizes children by showing them all Louis lost along with his sight, and how he never give ups until he can gain back a love of learning through books.
Mushrooms. Mangoes. Melons. Believe it or not, these weren’t always staples at the market. And it was Frieda Caplan who brought so many exotic foods into play, simply because she didn’t want to compete with all the men selling apples, potatoes, and tomatoes! Always willing to try a new delicacy, Frieda was a groundbreaker who continuously bought exotic foods to the United States. She literally changed the way we eat, and we will all be forever grateful!
Looking at Beyonce on stage today, one would never guess she was a shy little girl. Yet, that’s how most of the world saw her until she opened her mouth to sing. When Beyonce got onto the stage, she was a different person. She was confident, dazzling, and bold, and she knew the stage was where she belonged. Through ups and downs, trials and tribulations, Beyonce became a world-famous superstar, shining her bright light on all who listened
Jackie Robinson loved sports, and he was a fantastic athlete. But he lived before the Civil Rights Movement, and he was not allowed to play on the best teams because of the color of his skin. Jackie was undeterred though, believing in his heart that the best sports teams were those that transcended race and included people of every color playing together. Due to his courage, Jackie became the first black player in Major League Baseball, and his bravery changed the face of African Americans in sports, paving the way for black athletes to play on all teams.
RELATED: Looking for early reader books? Make sure to check out this list!
Leave a Reply