The books in this category tell the life stories of real people, some famous and others less well known. In many of these books the focus of the biography is the person's contribution to making a better world; in many there is also the theme of obstacles that had to be overcome in order for the person to succeed.
A World of Knowing: A Story About Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet Andy Russell Bowen (Author), Elaine Wadsworth (Illustrator) This Creative Minds series biography provides a contemporary account of the life of the man who developed American Sign Language. Thomas Gallaudet was driven by the experiences of Alice Cogswell, the nine-year-old deaf daughter of a neighbor, to travel to Europe and study methods for teaching deaf students. Upon returning to the U.S., Gallaudet founded the American School for the Deaf. In 1864, his son, Edward, established the first college for the deaf which in 1986 became Gallaudet University. [Grade Level: 4 - 6]
Books for Children of the World: The Story of Jella Lepman Sydelle Pearl (Author), Danlyn Iantorno (Illustrator) After World War II, Jella Lepman returned to her home country of Germany and realized that in addition to clothing, shelter and food, the children hungered for books. In order to fulfill her dream of using books as a way to promote peace and hope, Lepman solicited donations from publishers around the world and created an exhibition of children's books that traveled throughout Germany. Lepman went on to estbalish the International Youth Library in Munich, which today contains over 500,000 children's books in 130 langauges. [Grade Level: 3 - 6]
Hero and the Holocaust: The Story of Janusz Korczak and His Children David A. Adler (Author), Bill Farnsworth (Illustrator) Janusz Korczak—called “Old Doctor” by the orphans who loved him—was a doctor and promoter of children's rights, who ran a Jewish orphanage in Warsaw, Poland during the years of the Nazi’s rise to power. Korczak bravely sheltered his children from the brutality of the Warsaw Ghetto until the Nazis forced him to lead the orphans to the Treblinka death camp. When a Nazi soldier at Treblinka offered to spare Korczak from extermination, he refused and remained with his children until the end. [Grade Level: 3 - 6]
Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters Stephen Alcorn (Illustrator), Andrea Davis Pinkney (Author) Let It Shine is a collection of short biographies celebrating the contributions of 10 black women who moved forward the cause of civil rights in America. Following a preface that describes her own family roots in the civil rights movement, Pinkney presents her heroines chronologically in verbal portraits that capture the subjects' faith, strength of character, and determination in the face of hardships and racial injustice. The subjects—who are depicted in full-page oil paintings — include Sojourner Truth, Biddy Mason, Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Mary McLeod Bethune, Ella Josephine Baker, Dorothy Irene Height, Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Shirley Chisholm. [Grade Level: 3 - 6]