Saturday, February 8, 2020

Biographies of People Who Love to Learn

I think that a visit to the library is the perfect cure for the February slump. 

And I love taking a book list to the library to increase my chances of bringing home great books. I hope this list will give you some great books to enjoy with your children.

I love the explosion of wonderful picture-book biographies that have hit the shelves of my library. I have learned about so many little-known people - so don't think these picture books are just for young children. 

Prejudice, disabilities, and discouragement didn’t keep these people from learning about their world. These picture books might help you out of your winter slump.

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Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark, illustrated by April Chu
Ada loved numbers and wrote about machines which would do jobs that no one else imagined possible. Today we call them computers. Realistic paintings show us Ada’s world.

Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau by Jennifer Berne, illustrated by Eric Puybaret
Jacques loved the sea and wanted to learn its secrets and share them with the world. Through his inventions, explorations, and photographs, he helped protect the creatures of the sea.

Caroline’s Comets by Emily Arnold McCully
Caroline Herschel joined her brother in the studying the stars and became the first woman to discover a comet. With bold water-colors and excerpts from Caroline’s diary, this book brings her story to life.
Blockhead: the Life of Fibonacci by Joseph D’Agnese, illustrated by John O’Brien
Leonardo thought about numbers night and day, which got him into trouble. But as an adult, Leonardo traveled the world and discovered what is now known as the Fibonacci Sequence. Whimsical illustrations tell the story of this mostly unknown mathematician.

The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos by Deborah Heiligman, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
A misfit in school, Paul loved to play with numbers, especially prime numbers. He spent his life studying numbers and sharing what he learned with others.

Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles by Patricia Valdez, illustrated by Felicita Sala
Lizards, turtles, and even crocodiles were Joan’s friends when she was a girl. Joan’s passion for reptiles took her to the London Zoo, where she designed a new Reptile House.

Nothing Stopped Sophie by Cheryl Bardoe, illustrated by Barbara McClintock
Life was hard for all girls growing up in Paris during the French Revolution, but the challenges increased for a girl who loved numbers. As an adult Sophie would tackle math problems that experts said were impossible to solve. The water-color illustrations show the jubilation of Sophie’s endeavors.

Annie and Helen by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Raul Colonial
How would you teach a wild child who could neither hear nor see? This is a lovely picture book depicts the relationship between Helen Keller and her teacher and includes excerpts from Annie’s letters.
Look Up! Henrietta Leavitt, Pioneering Woman Astronomer by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Raul Colonial
Henrietta knew only a few girls were allowed to study astronomy in college but she was determined to learn how to measure the solar system.

Marie Curie, written and illustrated by Demi
Marie's quiet beginning in Poland did not give hint to the great scientist she would become. Sparkling illustrations tell the life story of this amazing woman.

Two brothers from Yorkshire became the first to photograph all the bird nests and eggs of England in their natural habitat.

The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkins, illustrated by Jill McElmurry
Katherine went to San Diego to teach school, but the barren landscape drove her to try something radical—plant trees. A short biography that shows that even one person can make a difference.

Swimming with Sharks: The Daring Discoveries of Eugenie Clark by Heather Lang, illustrated by Jordi Solano
The first person to study sharks in their native habitat, Genie helped change what we know about sharks.

ToFly: The Story of the Wright Brothers by Wendie Old, illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker
Two brothers, bicycle parts, and a homemade engine – humble beginnings for the first controlled, motorized aircraft. This book gives fun details about the Wright brothers and their first airplanes.

If you want more book lists, check this lists of lists.


  1. hello Gina- aren't we so thankful for good books?! I say that there is always a new book out there just waiting to be discovered. (although it's usually an old book) I recently came across an author I wasn't familiar with, but have read 3 of his books now, and could hardly put them down. Michael Morpurgo writes historical fiction; aimed at middle school age readers. I first read Farm Boy, then Kensuke's Kingdom, and An Eagle in the Snow. They are hard to put down. I've been recording myself reading some books these last couple years to give as gifts to my grandchildren. I want to encourage the love of reading! Lana

  2. I would like to check out some books for black history month.I like that our library puts relevant/seasonal books on display making it easy for us to pick up and enjoy.

  3. Thank you for this lovely list! My library has most of them, and I've reserved them all! Looking forward to this, as well as to working through your "list of lists." You make wonderful lists! :)

  4. Always glad to see a new book list from you! Thanks.


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