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I’ve always been attracted to books that share the life and accomplishments of this world’s unsung heroes and heroines.
I also think it’s important for kids to read about the lives of extraordinary people through biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs. Their stories not only share information but inspire and challenge readers as well. One of the many things I appreciate about biographies is that there are so many to choose from. Here are some of my tops picks-some are newer releases and some are old favorites. Enjoy!
Inspiring Biographies for Young Readers
Ohio University Press has two recent or forthcoming titles in its Biographies for Young Readers series. Dolores Huerta Stands Strong: The Woman Who Demanded Justice (August), about pioneering labor and immigrant rights activist Huerta—whose rallying cry of Si, se puede! directly inspired Obama’s use of its English translation (“Yes, we can!”)—is by veteran children’s author Marlene Targ Brill.
Today, we know Dolores Huerta as the cofounder, with Cesar Chavez, of the National Farmworkers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers of America. We know her as a tireless advocate for the rights of farmworkers, Mexican American immigrants, women, and LGBTQ populations. And we know her as the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama in 2012. Grab your copy on Amazon.
The second book is, Count the Wings: The Life and Art of Charley Harper by Michelle Houts, is about Cincinnati nature artist Harper, who may not be a household name, but his iconic stylized birds and insects will surely be familiar.
When you look at a bird, do you see feathers and a beak? Or do you see circles and triangles? Artist Charley Harper spent his life reducing subjects to their simplest forms, their basic lines, and shapes. This resulted in what he called minimal realism and the style that would become easily recognized as Charley Harper’s. Art fans and nature lovers around the world fell in love with Harper’s paintings, which often featured bright colors and intriguing nature subjects. Grab your copy from Amazon or Ohio Press.
Hidden Women by Rebecca Rissman
Tells the gripping story of four female African-American mathematicians who literally made it possible to launch US rockets–and astronauts–into space. Tells the thrilling tale of how each woman contributed, the struggles and resistance each experienced, and the amazing results. Consultants currently works for NASA.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
What we love about Brown Girl Dreaming is that not only is it an autobiography (written in free verse) but it’s also a tale of the civil rights movement told through the voice of a child. Even the youngest child will understand the meaning of the behaviors described in the book. For example:
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.
In the stores downtown
we’re always followed around
just because we’re brown.
A National Book Award Winner
A Newbery Honor Book
A Coretta Scott King Award Winner
I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World by Malala Yousafzai
When she was 10, Malala’s region was taken over by the Taliban. One of their many rules was that no girls should go to school. Malala disagreed and stood up, fighting for her education. Taliban fighters shot her as she traveled home from school. No one thought she would live, but she did. Now she is a symbol of peace. In fact, she is the youngest person to ever win the Nobel Peace Prize.
Who inspires YOU?
One More Thing..,
Does your heart long to roam? Find new adventures? Maybe even go on a Pilgrimage?
Evans Bowen’s new book, Pilgrimage: A Modern Seeker’s Guide, speaks to those who crave spiritual travel and soul-seeking adventures.
“A pilgrimage creates a sacred space where your physical body and heart can meet and meld into one. As the sacred space opens more light shines in and new vistas, ideas, languages, and experiences bring you to a new place in your life you could never imagine before.”
A tradition of all religions, Pilgrimage is a journey to sacred sites as an act of devotion and dedication. It is time to expand the definition of Pilgrimage to inform modern life. Taking time to visit a place near home or around the globe, to open the mind and heart to the Divine, brings healing and new meaning to life. Pilgrimage is both an external journey to a place longed for and an internal journey to the center of our most authentic self.
Each part of the journey, from the first desire to visit a holy place, to the return home to integrate the experience, becomes the pilgrimage to expand our world, both body and soul. Combining practical steps for the physical journey and 40 days of inspiration for the spirit, this guidebook gives this time-honored journey to the Divine to inform the whole person in our increasingly fragmented world.
Click here to view deeper details on this beautiful new book.