Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Bookmarks: Picture Biographies of Scientists

One of my favorite trends in children's publishing the last few years is the picture book biography. This genre has exploded, and I think it is fabulous. I've read numerous of these short biographies of people I would have never encountered otherwise. Often they include further information in the back of the book for the older child or parent whose interest in the character has been piqued by the picture book. 

With this list of books you can introduce your children to some of the brilliant minds throughout history. These men (and women) studied stars, calculus, bugs, peas, and much more. They made discoveries that changed our world. 

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. 

A fascinating story of Eratosthenes and his creative genius which allowed him to figure out the size of the earth with surprising accuracy more than two thousand years ago.

Nicolaus Copernicus: The Earth Is a Planet by Dennis B. Fradin, illustrated by Cynthia Von Buhler
Without even the help of a telescope, Copernicus made discoveries that changed the way people thought of the earth's place in the universe. An excellent children's biography with richly painted illustrations about an important man from the 1400's.

I, Galileo, written and illustrated by Bonnie Christensen
Bright paintings share the story of Galileo's life in the 1500's in a way younger readers can enjoy. Learn about Galileo's many contributions to science and astronomy.

Newton's Rainbow: The Revolutionary Discoveries of a Young Scientist by Kathryn Lasky, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
A curious boy to a world renowned scientist – this book shares the story of one of the best scientists in history. Discover how a terrible plague impacted the studies of this incredible man. Newton's discoveries of the laws of motion continue to impact the world today.

Come See the Earth Turn: The Story of Leon Foucault by Lori Mortensen, illustrated by Raul Allen
We know that the earth turns, but how can it be proven? Many smart men had failed but one man, who had been a sickly child and poor student, discovered a simple experiment that would amaze the world.

Maria's Comet by Deborah Hopkinson, illusrated by Doborah Lanino
Inspired by the life of Maria Mitchell, this story tells of a young girl who dreams of new discoveries in the sky. Warm paintings show life in a Quaker home in Nantucket, Massachusetts.

Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas by Cheryl Bardoe, illustrated by Jos. A. Smith
How are traits of parents past down to their children? This question sent Mendel on a life-long quest to overcome ignorance and poverty to become the world first geneticist. Bright paintings tell his life story for children.

Small Wonder: Jean-Henri Fabre and His World of Insects by Matthew Clark Smith, illustrated by Giuliano Ferri
Not much was known about insects when Henri was a boy, but he spent a lifetime watching his beloved bugs and writing about their habits. Bright paintings introduce a remarkable man who changed how the world viewed beetles, wasps, and other small wonders.

Odd Boy Out: Young Albert Einstein written and illustrated by Don Brown
An unusual baby, a curious childhood, and a brilliant mind are shared in a quiet picture book about one of the most famous thinker of the 1900's.

The Boy Who Dreamed of Rockets: How Robert H. Goddard Became the Father of the Space Age written and illustrated by Robert Quackenbush
Child-friendly illustrations tell the story of a young man who dared to dream big. He spent his life designing rockets that would change space travel. (I think this is out of print so check your library.)
For a book about Goddard for older students read Rocket: How A Toy Launched the Space Age by Richard Maurer

Solving the Puzzle Under theSea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Raul Colon
Marie spent her childhood traveling with her dad and watching him draw maps. Marie wanted to be a scientist and an explorer but she had to find something that had not been discovered. The ocean floor was the perfect place to study. Gorgeous illustrations share Marie's story and her contribution to science.

Watch for more lists of picture book biographies in future weeks.


  1. Thanks for sharing Gina. They look very interesting! Enjoy your day:)

  2. What a wonderful list! So many scientists labor quietly on. On a light note, there is a quote by French Physicist Marie Curie, “One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done.” I’m not sure she meant housework or self-improvement, but it certainly applies...

  3. Makes me want to go back and homeschool all over again. Biographies were a favorite back then and now so many more....

  4. Thanks for this book list. I live in the NL and will trie to find them here. My 8 yr old is quite picky when in comes to books; must be non fiction and rather in English than Dutch. These might just get him to read more :)

  5. Lovely list! I love science when it's at the kid level, like this. ;)


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