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Picture Book Biographies

Learn about amazing awe-inspiring people!

Cover of Love Is Loud: How Diane Na
Sandra Neil
Bryan Collier

A picture book biography of Diane Nash, a Civil Rights Movement leader at the side of Martin Luther King and John Lewis. Born in the 1940s in Chicago, Diane went on to take command of the Nashville Movement, leading lunch counter sit-ins and peaceful marches. Diane decides to fight not with anger or violence, but with love. With her strong words of truth and actions, she works to stop segregation.

Cover of Jovita Wore Pants: The Sto
Molly Mendoza

Jovita didn't want to cook and clean like her sisters, and she especially didn't want to wear the skirts her abuela gave her. She wanted to race her brothers and climb the tallest mesquite trees in Rancho Palos Blancos, ride horses, and wear pants! When her father and brothers joined the Cristeros War to fight for the right to practice religion, she wanted to help. She wasn't allowed to fight, but that didn't stop her from observing how her father strategized and familiarizing herself with the terrain. When tragedy struck, she did the only thing that felt right to her--cut her hair, donned a pair of pants, and continued the fight, commanding a battalion who followed her without question.

Cover of Rock, Rosetta, Rock! Roll,
R. Gregory

Before there was Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Johnny Cash, there was Sister Rosetta Tharpe. The godmother of rock & roll started as a little girl from Arkansas with music in her air, in her hair, in her bones, wiggling her toes. With a big guitar in hand and a big voice in her soul, she grew into a rock & roll trailblazer in a time when women were rarely seen rocking out. Her guitar picking was like nobody else's!

Cover of Desert Queen
Jyoti Rajan
Svabhu Kohli

This picture book biography in verse follows the life of beloved Rajasthani drag performer Queen Harish, known as the Whirling Desert Queen of Rajasthan. Lit by an inner fire and propelled by a family tragedy, Harish defied the gender conventions of middle class Indian life, battled discrimination and intimidation, and eventually grew up to dance with Bollywood movie stars and on stages across the world.

Cover of Ketanji: Justice Jackson's
Laura Freeman

Ketanji Brown Jackson is no stranger to overcoming obstacles. When a high school guidance counselor told her she should set her sights lower than Harvard, she decided to go to Harvard for college and law school. When she became a public defender and saw inequalities in the justice system, she used her legal skills to advocate for people who needed help, but couldn't afford an attorney. Ketanji's path to the Supreme Court was unique: She's the only current Justice to have been a public defender and one of a few who went to public school. Her story is powerful and heartening, and it's a lesson in overcoming adversity by being true to yourself.

Cover of Queen of Chess, The: How J
Stevie Lewis

The queen of chess, Judit Polgar, dazzled the world as a prodigy, winning tournaments, gold medals, and defeating eleven world champions, including Garry Kasparov and Magnus Carlsen. At her peak, Judit was rated the eighth best chess player in the world.

Cover of Beautiful Noise: The Music
Lisa Jean
Il Sung Na

A picture book biography about pioneering composer, John Cage.

Cover of Masked Hero: How Wu Lien-T
Shan Woo
Lisa Wee

More than a hundred years before Covid, a deadly pneumonic plague threatened to sweep through Northeast China. Medical experts were summoned to help contain it--among them Wu Lien-teh, who had overcome hurdles to be a doctor since his boyhood in Malaysia. Unlike others, Dr. Wu deduced the disease was spread through airborne bacteria and advocated for quarantines and other measures familiar to readers today, including the use of a face covering he designed from layers of cloth and gauze: the first version of the N95 mask. Wu Lien-teh faced ridicule and discrimination, but his trailblazing methods prevailed: the 1910 Manchurian plague was vanquished in four months, and his invention continues to keep us safe now. 

Cover of Tenacious: Fifteen Adventu
Patty Cisneros
Dion MBD

An introduction to fifteen fascinating disabled athletes and their many achievements, daily challenges, and joys. Includes an Author's Note, glossary, and history of the Paralympics.

Cover of Loud and Proud: The Life o
Kaylani Juanita

Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005) is a hero and trailblazer. She was the first African American woman in Congress (1968) and the first woman and African American to seek the nomination for president of the United States from one of the two major political parties (1972). 

Cover of Virginia Wouldn't Slow Dow
Carrie A
Nancy Carpenter

Recounts the story of Dr. Apgar, who invented the eponymous test, used worldwide, for evaluating newborn health.

Cover of I'm Gonna Paint: Ralph Fas
Victoria Tentler-Krylov

A picture book biography of American folk artist and labor organizer Ralph Fasanella.

Cover of Kati's Tiny Messengers: Dr
Vivien Mildenberger

When she was young, Katalin Karikó decided she would study science--even though she had never even met a scientist! But she was determined to learn as much as she could about the human body, and once she made a decision, she stuck with it. Katalin had to learn English while attending university, but she worked hard until she became a doctor. After facing many challenges, including lack of research funding and harsh immigration policies, Kati and her family uprooted from Hungary and moved to America, where she became a top researcher. She knew that, with work, she could teach one of the building blocks of life, messenger RNA, to fight off harmful viruses. There was just one problem--no one else believed her. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and Kati and her work were thrust into the spotlight. But with her unshakable will, she was ready to face the challenge. 

Cover of On the Line: My Story of B
Jennifer Jones
and Lissette Norman
Robert Paul Jr.

In this inspiring picture book autobiography, the first Black Radio City Rockette shares how she proved that everything is possible when you believe you belong.