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.
When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson Pam Muñoz Ryan (Author), Brian Selznick (Illustrator) Marian Anderson is best known for her historic concert at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939, which drew an integrated crowd of over 75,000 people in pre-Civil Rights America. While this momentous event showcased the uniqueness of her character, and the struggles of the times in which she lived, it is only part of her story. This portrait of Anderson takes us from her childhood, singing in church, to her rejection from a music school that barred "colored" people, to her rise to prominence despite the racial barriers of the times. The book includes evocative illustrations and lyrics from some of Anderson's songs. [Grade Level: 1 - 5]
Wilma Mankiller: Chief of Cherokee Nation Written by Pamela Dell Describes the life of the Native American leader who made history in 1985 when she became the first woman Principal Chief of the Cherokee, and later signed an agreement with the U.S. government granting the Cherokee Nation self-governance. The biography traces Mankiller's birth in rural Oklahoma, her adolescence and early adulthood in San Francisco, and discusses how she overcame many hardships to become an activist and leader of her people. The book, which includes source notes and a timeline, also features Mankiller’s more recent accomplishments since stepping down as Principal Chief, which include working to find jobs, improve education, and preserve the traditions of the Oklahoma Cherokee. [Grade Level: 4 - 8]
A Woman for President: The Story of Victoria Woodhull Kathleen Krull (Author), Jane Dyer (Illustrator) Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to do many things: the first woman to own a newspaper, to speak before Congress, and to have a seat on the stock exchange. But her boldest act was announcing herself as the first female candidate for the presidency of the United States in 1872—before women even had the right to vote. Arguably one of the most revolutionary women in American history, she was breaking boundaries many years ahead of her time. [Grade Level: 2 - 5]
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]