Books For Kids — Ben Franklin

Benjamin Franklin’s Wise Words

by K.M. Koystal and Benjamin Franklin, Illustrated by Fred Harper

Discover history through the eyes of one of the smartest, funniest, and coolest figures from America’s past. Ben gives sage advice on everything from good citizenship, manners,  friendship, and being happy. 

Ben Franklin & the Magic Squares

By Frank Murphy, Illustrated by Richard Walz

A funny, entertaining introduction to Ben Franklin and his many inventions, including the story of how he created the “magic square.” A magic square is a box of nine numbers. They are arranged so that any line of three adds up to the same number, even on the diagonal. 

What’s the Big Idea Ben Franklin

By Jean Fritz, Illustrated by Margaret Tomes

A fun historic tale by Newbery Honor-winning author, Jean Fritz! No matter how busy he was, Ben Franklin always found time to try out new ideas. A man of many talents, he was an ambassador, a printer, an almanac maker, a politician, and even a vegetarian (for a time.)

When I Grow Up: Benjamin Franklin

By Annmarie Anderson, Illustrated by Gerald Kelley

Benjamin Franklin is one of America’s most beloved Founding Fathers and a man of many talents. He is most well-known for discovering electricity. But he was also an author, and editor, a printer, and a diplomat. And he invented many things we still use today. This book takes the reader on an exciting journey from Ben’s childhood to his adulthood as a famous American.

Who Was Ben Franklin

By Dennis Brindell Fradin, Illustrated by John O’Brien

Ben Franklin was the scientist who, with the help of a kite, discovered that lightning is electricity. He was also a statesman, an inventor, a printer, and an an author. He was a man of such amazingly varied talents that some people claimed he had magical powers. 

Now and Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin

By Gene Barretta

What would you do if you lived in a community without a library, hospital, post office, or fire department? If you were Ben Franklin, you’d set these up yourself. Franklin also designed the lightning rod. He suggested the idea of daylight savings time. And he invented bifocals. All were inspired by his common sense and intelligence. 

Benjamin Franklin (Giants of Science)

By Kathleen Krull, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Benjamin Franklin was a famous inventor and multitasker. He’s best remembered as one of America’s Founding Fathers. But he was also a scientist. And his experiments led to important discoveries about the nature of electricity. He famously demonstrated that electricity and lightning are one in the same. 

John, Paul, George & Ben

By Lane Smith

Once there were four lads…John [Hancock], Paul [Revere], George [Washington], and Ben [Franklin]. Oh yes, there was also Tom [Jefferson], but he was annoyingly independent and hardly ever around. These lads were always getting into trouble for one reason or another. In other words, they took a few…liberties. And to be honest, they were not always appreciated. This is the story of five little lads before they became five really big Founding Fathers.

You may also like: Ben Franklin Invented Swim Fins at https://www.barbaralowell.com/ben-franklin-invented-swim-fins

Ben Franklin Runs Away

https://www.barbaralowell.com/ben-franklin-runs-away

The book descriptions used are primarily from the publishers.

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Emma Lazarus, Liberty’s Voice

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

Poet Emma Lazarus wrote these famous words as part of a sonnet for an auction.

Emma wrote poetry and translated poems from German and French into English as a girl. Her father, recognizing her talent, published her first book of poems, Poems and translations by Emma Lazarus, written between the ages of Fourteen and Seventeen.

Emma met and then wrote to one of America’s best known poets, Ralph Waldo Emerson, when she was nineteen. She and Emerson worked together as student and mentor. Emma continued to write and publish books of poetry.

Emma also dedicated herself to helping Russian Jewish refugees escaping persecution in their homeland. The refugees lived in poor conditions on Ward’s Island in New York Harbor. Emma brought them clothing and food, set up English classes, and a trade school. She wrote about their plight hoping they would be accepted into American society.

In 1883,  a committee invited Emma to participate in a fundraising campaign to provide a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty. The committee asked her to write a sonnet to be auctioned to help raise money for the pedestal.

The statue, a gift from France, sat disassembled in crates on Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbor. The people of France paid for the statue. Now Americans raised money to pay for the pedestal to support it. But an economic depression made fundraising difficult.

At first, Emma declined the invitation to write a sonnet. Not only was the auction a week away, but as she told a pedestal committee member, Ms. Harrison, “A poem written to order would be flat.” Ms. Harrison asked Emma to think about the Russian Jewish refugees she had been helping. They could inspire her poem.

Emma thought it over. It seemed to her that the statue would light the way for newcomers entering New York Harbor. The Statue of Liberty would welcome them to their new home. She decided to write the poem and called it “The New Colossus.”

Joseph Pulitzer, the publisher of The New York World, asked people around the country to contribute money to build the pedestal. To help with the cause, he published Emma’s poem in his newspaper.

Pulitzer raised over $100,000. Most of the contributions were less than $1.00. The pedestal was built and the statue reassembled. President Grover Cleveland dedicated the Statue of Liberty on October 28, 1886.

In 1903, words from Emma’s “The New Colossus” were inscribed on a plague placed in the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal. Unfortunately, Emma died in 1887. She never knew that her words, inspired by refugees, welcomed generations of new immigrants seeking freedom in America.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”

Books For Kids:

The Story of Emma Lazarus: Liberty’s Voice

By Erica Silverman, Illustrated by Stacey Schuett

Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty

By Linda Glaser, Illustrated by Claire A. Nivola

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Louis Braille — The Boy Who Invented the Braille Alphabet

Louis Braille lived in the French village of Coupvray. Born in 1809, he was the fourth child of a harness maker and his wife. Louis was a bright and curious child. He especially enjoyed watching his father at work.

One day, three-year-old Louis decided to try out his father’s awl, a very sharp tool. Unfortunately, he injured his eye. It became infected and when Louis touched the uninjured eye, the infection spread, blinding him.

Louis Braille House, Coupvray, France

Louis’s family and a village priest helped him. His father made a cane so that Louis could walk without assistance. His sisters made an alphabet from straw so that he could learn letters. And the priest read to Louis and taught him to listen to the sounds of birds to recognize them.

Louis later went to school with sighted children and listened to and remembered the lessons. But for Louis, that wasn’t enough. He wanted to read books.

When he was ten-years-old, he traveled to Paris to attend the Royal Institution for Blind Youth. The school’s founder had created books with raised letters. But the letters were enormous with only a few sentences or less on a page. The books were not practical.

Then a French army captain named Charles Barbier invented a system of sending messages to soldiers on the field. His system used raised dots so that the soldiers could read the messages without light and not give away their location to the enemy.

The army seemed unimpressed, so Barbier sent his system to the Royal Institution for Blind Youth. Louis and the other students recognized right away that this system was not practical. The dots represented sounds not letters. They were difficult for the students to read.

Louis Braille’s Six-Dot Braille System

Louis Braille decided to adapt Barbier’s system and make it practical. He worked for three years to perfect it. By the age of fifteen, he had developed the six-dot Braille System we know today. Each letter of the alphabet uses a different pattern of raised dots. Louis’s system is used in every country in the world.

Braille


Books for Kids:

Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille

By Jen Bryant, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Who Was Louis Braille?

By Margaret Frith

Illustrated by Robert Squier and Scott Anderson

Out of Darkness: The Story of Louis Braille

By Russell Freedman, Illustrated by Kate Kiesler

To Learn More Visit: https://www.nbp/braillehttp://www.nbp/braille

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Books For Kids — Jazz

Jazz

By Walter Dean Myers

Illustrated by Christopher Myers

There’s a crazy syncopation/and it’s tearing through the nation/and it’s bringing sweet elation/to every single tune. It’s Jazz. From bebop to New Orleans, from ragtime to boogie, and every style in between, this collection of Walter Dean Myers energetic and engaging poems takes readers on a musical journey from jazz’s beginnings to the present day.

Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald

by Roxane Orgill, Illustrated by Sean Qualls

When Ella Fitzgerald danced the Lindy Hop on the streets of 1930s Yonkers, people passing by said goodbye to their loose change. For a girl who was orphaned and hungry, with raggedy clothes and often no place to spend the night, small change was not enough. One amateur night at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, Ella made a discovery: the dancing beat in her feet could travel up and out of her mouth in powerful song — and the feeling of being listened to was like a salve to her heart.

Little Melba and Her Big Trombone

By Katheryn Russell-Brown

Illustrated by Frank Morrison

Melba Doretta Liston loved the sounds of music from as far back as she could remember. As a child she daydreamed about beats and lyrics, and hummed along with the music from her family’s Majestic radio. At the age of seven, Melba fell in love with a big, shiny trombone, and soon taught herself to play the instrument. By the time she was a teenager, Melba’s extraordinary gift for music led her to the world of jazz. She joined a band led by trumpet player Gerald Wilson, toured the country, and became famous.

Trombone Shorty

By Troy Andrews, Illustrated by Bryan Collier

Hailing from the Treme neighborhood in New Orleans, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews got his nickname by wielding a trombone twice as long as he was tall. A prodigy, he was leading his own band by age six, and today he headlines the legendary New Orleans Jazz Fest.

Before John Was a Jazz Giant:

A Song of John Coltrane

By Carol Boston Weatherford

Illustrated by Sean Qualls

Young John Coltrane was all ears. And there was a lot to hear growing up in the South in the 1930s. There were preachers praying, music on the radio, and the bustling sounds of the household. These vivid noises shaped John’s own sound as a musician. This picture book is a rich hymn to the childhood of jazz legend John Coltrane.

Who Was Louis Armstrong?

By Yona Zeldis McDonough

Illustrated by John O’Brien

If not for a stint in reform school, young Louis Armstrong might never have become a musician. A teacher at Colored Waifs Home gave him a cornet, promoted him to band leader, and recognized talent in this tough kids from the even tougher New Orleans neighborhood of Storyville. It was Louis’s own passion and genius that pushed jazz into new and exciting realms.

This Jazz Man

By Karen Ehrhardt, Illustrated by R.G. Roth

SNAP! BOMP! BEEDLE-DI-BOP! In this toe-tapping jazz tribute, the traditional “This Old Man” gets a swinging makeover, and some of the era’s best musicians take center stage. The tuneful text and vibrant illustrations bop, slide, and shimmy across the page as Satchmo plays one, Bojangeles plays two…right on down the line to Charles Mingus, who plays nine, plucking the strings that sound divine.

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker

By Patricia Hruby Powell

Illustrated by Christian Robinson

Josephine Baker worked her way up from the slums of St. Louis to the grandest stages in the world. Her powerful story is one of struggle and triumph and is an inspiration.

How Jelly Roll Morton Invented Jazz

By Jonah Winter, Illustrated by Keith Mallett

This unusual and inventive picture book riffs on the language and rhythms of old New Orleans and turns its focus to one of America’s early jazz heroes, Jelly Roll Morton.

The book descriptions used are primarily from the publishers.

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Ada Lovelace — First Computer Programmer

Ada Lovelace is considered to be the world’s first computer programmer.

Ada was born in England on December 10, 1815, the daughter of the famous and reckless poet Lord Byron. Soon after she was born, her parent’s marriage ended. Ada never saw her father again.

Her mother, Anne Isabella Milbanke had a great interest  in mathematics. Byron called her the Princess of Parallelograms. Anne Isabella steered her daughter away from poetry and into mathematics and science.

Ada Lovelace

Ada’s mother discouraged her imagination fearing that she might end up like her father. But Ada had a wonderful imagination. She decided that she would learn how to fly by studying birds’ anatomy. Ada made a set of wings. She wrote and illustrated her own book called Flyology and designed a flying mechanical horse.

Lord Byron

In 1829, Ada became temporarily paralyzed after having measles. She improved her math and science skills while bedridden. At age sixteen, restored to health, Ada was introduced to English society. She met famous scientists and became friends with the engineer Charles Babbage.

Babbage invented a machine called the Difference Engine. It worked like a giant calculator. He then designed a more complex machine he called the Analytical Engine. Babbage thought that the Analytical Engine would solve difficult mathematical calculations. The machine would then store these calculations. And it would also print them.

The Analytical Engine

Ada translated an article written about the Analytical Engine into English. She added her own notes. These notes contained an algorithm that would allow the machine to work. Ada’s algorithm is considered to be the first computer program.

The Analytical Engine was too expensive to build. But it is considered to be the first computer. And Charles Babbage is acknowledged as the “father of the computer.”

Charles Babbage designed his Analytical Engine to be capable of working with numbers. But Ada thought the machine had much greater possibilities. She envisioned it producing music, art, and writing, like modern computers.

Sadly, Ada died at age 36. Although she never met her father, she requested to be buried next to his grave in England.

To Learn More About Babbage’s Engines, Visit: http://www.computerhistory.org/babbage/engines/

Books For Kids About Ada Lovelace:

Ada’s Ideas: The Story of Ada Lovelace,

the World’s First Computer Programmer

by Fiona Robinson

Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine

by Laurie Wallmark, Illustrated by April Chu

Ada Lovelace Poet of Science

by Diane Stanley, Illustrated by Jessie Hartland

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Books For Kids — Jackie Robinson

Who Was Jackie Robinson?

By Gail Herman, Illustrated by John O’Brien

As a kid, Jackie Robinson loved sports. And why not? He was a natural at football, basketball, and, of course, baseball. But beyond athletic skill, it was his strength of character that secured his place in sports history. In 1947 Jackie joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking the long-time color barrier in Major League Baseball. It was tough being the first, not only did “fans” send hate mail but some of his own teammates refused to accept him.

Stealing Home

Jackie Robinson Against All Odds

By Robert Burleigh and Mike Wimmer

Man on third. Two outs. The pitcher eyes the base runner, checks for the signs. The fans in the jammed stadium hold their breath. Flapping his outstretched arms like wings, number 42 leads off again. It is September 1955, game one of the World Series, the Yankees versus the Dodgers, and Jackie Robinson is about to do the unbelievable, attempt to steal home in a World Series game. Is it possible? Yes, it is, if you are Jackie Robinson.

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson

By Bette Bao Lord

Shirley Temple Wong sails from China to America with a heart full of dreams. Her new home is Brooklyn, New York. America is indeed a land full of wonders, but Shirley doesn’t know any English so it’s hard to make friends. Then a miracle happens: baseball! It’s 1947 and Jackie Robinson star of the Brooklyn Dodgers is everyone’s hero. He proves that a black man, the grandson of a slave, can make a difference in America. By watching Jackie, Shirley begins to truly feel at home in her new country, and that America really is the land of opportunity — both on and off the field.

The Hero Two Doors Down:

Based on the True Story of Friendship Between a Boy and a Baseball Legend

By Sharon Robinson

Eight year old Stephen Satlow lives in Brooklyn, New York, which means he only cares about one thing, the Dodgers. Steve hears a rumor that an African-America family is moving to his neighborhood. It’s 1948 and some of his neighbors are against it. Steve knows this is wrong. His hero, Jackie Robinson, broke the color barrier in baseball the year before. And as it turns out, Steve’s new neighbor is Jackie Robinson. Written by Jackie Robinson’s daughter Sharon.

Jackie Robinson He Led the Way

By April Jones Prince

Illustrated by Robert Casilla

Jackie Robinson became the first black Major League Baseball player of the modern era when he stepped onto the field as a Brooklyn Dodger in 1947. This book follows Jackie from childhood through his career as an award winning baseball player and a hero of the civil rights movement.

When Jackie and Hank Met

by Cathy Goldberg Fishman

Illustrated by Mark Elliott

Jackie Robinson and Hank Greenberg were two very different people. But they both became Major League Baseball players and they both faced a lot of the same challenges in their lives and careers. For Jackie, it was his skin color, for Hank, his religion. On May 17, 1947, these two men met for the first time colliding at first base in a close play. While the crowd urged them to fight, Jackie and Hank chose a different path. This is the story of two men who went on to break the barriers of race and religion in America sports and became baseball legends in the process.

Teammates

by Peter Golenbock, Illustrated by Paul Bacon

This is the moving story of how Jackie Robinson became the first black player on a Major League baseball team when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1940s, and how on a fateful day in Cincinnati, Pee Wee Reese took a stand and declared Jackie his teammate. 

I am Jackie Robinson

By Brad Meltzer

Illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos

Jackie Robinson always loved sports, especially baseball. But he lived at a time before the Civil Rights Movement. Even though Jackie was a great athlete, he wasn’t allowed on the best teams just because of the color of his skin. Jackie knew that sports were best when everyone, of every color, played together. He became the first black player in Major League Baseball, and his bravery changed history and led the way to equality in all American sports.

The book descriptions used are primarily from the publishers.

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Books For Kids — Amelia Earhart

Who Was Amelia Earhart?

By Kate Boehm Jerome, Illustrated by David Cain

Amelia Earhart was a woman of many firsts. In 1932, she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. In 1935, she became the first woman to fly across the Pacific. From her early years to her mysterious 1937 disappearance while attempting a flight around the world, readers will find her life a fascinating story. 8-12 years.

Daring Amelia

By Barbara Lowell, Illustrated by Jez Tuya

Even as a kid, Amelia Earhart was always looking for adventures. She had mud ball fights, explored caves, and even built a roller coaster in her backyard. The adventures continued as she grew up.

Amelia took flying lessons and was soon performing stunts in the sky. She became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. Still, Amelia wanted to achieve more. She set out to fly around the world. Tragedy struck when Amelia was unable to find the small island in the Pacific Ocean she needed to land on. Amelia Earhart is remembered today as a daring explorer who loved to fly. 6-8 years.

 

Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride

By Pam Munoz Ryan

Illustrated by Brian Selznick

Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt were birds of a feather. Not only were they two of the most admired and respected women of all time, they were also good friends. 

On a brisk and cloudless evening in April 1933, Amelia and Eleanor did the unprecedented: They stole away from a White House dinner, commandeered an Eastern Air Transport jet, and took off on a glorious adventure, while still dressed in their glamorous evening gowns. 7-10 years

Amelia Earhart: The Legend of the Lost Aviator

By Shelley Tanaka, Illustrated by David Craig

Ever since Amelia Earhart and her plane disappeared on July 2, 1937, people have wanted to know more about this remarkable woman. Amelia Earhart follows the charismatic aviator from her first sight of an airplane at the age of ten to the last radio transmission she made before she vanished. 8-12 years.

Night Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic

By Robert Burleigh

Illustrated by Wendell Minor

Robert Burleigh has captured Amelia Earhart’s first solo flight across the Atlantic in 1932. She was the first woman and only the second person to do this. 4-8 years.

When Amelia Earhart Build a Roller Coaster

By Mark Weakland

Illustrated by Oksana Griviana

Amelia Earhart was one of America’s most famous aviators. But do you know what she was like as a child? From running on the river bluffs and playing football to building a roller coaster, Amelia was an active and confident child. Her childhood story will help young readers connect to this historic figure and inspire them. 6-12 years.

Amelia Lost

By Candace Fleming

In alternating chapters, Candace Fleming deftly moves readers back and forth between Amelia’s life, from childhood to her last flight, and the exhaustive search for Amelia and her missing plane. With photos, maps, and handwritten notes from Amelia, this book tackles everything from the history of flight to what Amelia liked to eat while flying. 8-12 Middle Grade.

Amelia Earhart: A Photographic Story of a Life

By Tanya Lee Stone

With more than 100 full-color photographs, illustrations, and detailed sidebars, this book celebrates an aviation pioneer who changed how the world is viewed: aviatrix Amelia Earhart. 10 years and up

The descriptions used are primarily from the publishers.

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Leonardo da Vinci Invented…

Leonardo da Vinci painted two of the best known paintings in the world: Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. In addition to his magnificent work as an artist, Leonardo designed inventions that are familiar to us today, almost 400 years later.

He sketched and wrote about his inventions in notebooks. Most of his ideas could not be made into working objects during his lifetime. Engineering was a new science and many of his designs were technically complicated.

These are six of Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions:

In the Air:

Glider — Leonardo’s glider design looks similar to both a bird in flight and a modern hang glider. Leonardo studied birds as he worked on his design.

Helical Screw — This is Leonardo’s design for an early type of helicopter. Four men inside operated the screw. It would compress air to fly just like helicopters do today. 

Parachute — Leonardo imagined floating through the air using a parachute. Designed to be made of linen and wood, his parachute had a triangular shape.

Anemometer — Leonardo designed this instrument to measure wind speed. Anemometers are used at weather stations today.

Under Water:

Scuba Gear — Leonardo designed a leather suit with a head covering attached to two tubes. The tubes connected to an above water diving bell. The diver would breathe air from the water’s surface through the tubes. Today, scuba divers breathe air from the tanks they carry underwater. Early divers used Leonardo’s method.

On Land:

Tank — Leonardo turned again to the natural world for this design. A turtle shell inspired it. The tank’s design provided for a 360 degree rotation.  Four men inside would operate the tank with hand cranks while other men would fire the weapons. Modern tanks first appeared in World War I.

 

To see these and more of Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions visit: http://www.da-vinci-inventions.com/

Books For Kids:

Neo Leo: The Ageless Ideas of Leonardo da Vinci

by Gene Barretta

Who Was Leonardo da Vinci?

by Roberta Edwards, Illustrated by True Kelley

Leonardo da Vinci

by Diane Stanley

To Learn More:

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Books For Kids — Artists

Lives of Artists: Masterpieces, Messes (and What the Neighbors Thought)

By Kathleen Krull, Illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt

Most people can name some famous artists and recognize their best-known works. But what’s behind all the painting, drawing, and sculpting? What was Leonardo da Vinci’s snack of choice while he painted Mona Lisa’s mysterious smile? Why did Georgia O’Keeffe find bones so appealing? Who called Diego Rivera “Frog-Face”? And what is it about artists that makes both their work and their lives so fascinating?

The Fantastic Jungle of Henri Rousseau

By Michelle Markel, Illustrated by Amanda Hall

Henri Rousseau wanted to be an artist. But he had no formal training. Instead, he taught himself to paint. He painted until the jungles and animals and distant lands in his head came alive on his canvases. He endured the harsh critics of his day and created the brilliant paintings that now hang in museums around the world. 

Matisse’s Garden

By Samantha Friedman, Illustrated by Christina Amodeo

One day, the French artist Henri Matisse cut a small bird out of a piece of paper. It looked lonely all by itself, so he cut out more shapes to join it. Before he knew it, Matisse had transformed his walls into larger-than-life gardens, filled with brightly colored plants, animals, and shapes of all sizes.

My Name is Georgia

A Portrait by Jeanette Winter

From the time she was just a young girl, Georgia O’Keeffe viewed the world in her own way. While other girls played with toys and braided their hair, Georgia practiced her drawing and let her hair fly free. As an adult, Georgia followed her love of art from the steel canyons of New York City to the vast plains of New Mexico. There she painted all day, and slept beneath the stars at night. Throughout her life Georgia O’Keeffe followed her dreams and so found her way to become a great American artist.

Rembrandt and the Boy Who Drew Dogs: A Story About Rembrandt van Rijn

By Molly Blaisdell and Nancy Lane

Author Molly Blaisdell transports young readers to the city of Amsterdam in the 1650s. It is a time when world-renowned artist Rembrandt van Rijn is at the height of fame among his patrons — and when his young son Titus longs to imitate him father and become a great painter. At first, Rembrandt rebuffs Titus’s attempts at drawing, but gradually is won over by his son’s enthusiasm and persistence, and he begins to teach Titus the basic techniques of drawing from life.

 A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin

By Jen Bryant, Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

As a child in the late 1800s, Horace Pippin loved to draw. He drew pictures for his sisters, his classmates, his co-workers. Even during WWI, Horace filled his notebooks with drawings from the trenches…until he was shot. Upon his return home, Horace couldn’t lift his right arm. He couldn’t make any art. Slowly, with lots of practice, he regained use of his arm, until once again, he was able to paint, and paint, and paint. Before long, his paintings were displayed in galleries and museums across the country.

Who Was Frieda Kahlo?

By Sarah Fabiny, Illustrated by Jerry Hoare

You can always recognize a painting by Frieda Kahlo because she is in nearly all — with her black braided hair and colorful Mexican outfits. A brave woman who was an invalid most of her life, she transformed herself into a living work of art. As famous for her self-portraits and haunting imagery as she was for her marriage to another famous artist, Diego Rivera, this strong and courageous painter was inspired by the ancient culture and history of her beloved homeland, Mexico. 

The Noisy Paint Box

By Barb Rosenstock, Illustrated by Mary GrandPre

Vasya Kandinsky was a proper little boy: he studied math and history, he practiced the piano, he sat up straight and was perfectly polite. And when his family sent him to art classes, they expected him to paint pretty houses and flowers — like a proper artist. 

But as Vasya opened his paint box and began mixing the reds, the yellows, the blues, he heard a strange sound — the swirling colors trilled like an orchestra tuning up for a symphony. And as he grew older, Vasya continued to hear brilliant colors singing and to see sounds dancing. But was Vasya brave enough to put aside his proper still lifes and portraits and paint…music?

Just Behave, Pablo Picasso

By Jonah Winter, Pictures by Kevin Hawkes

“One day the world is peaceful, lovely landscape painting…The next day — BLAM! — Pablo bursts through the canvas, paintbrush in hand, ready to paint something fresh and new.”

Pablo Picasso may have been one of the most famous artists of the 20th century, but that doesn’t mean he painted what people wanted him to paint. Some people hated his paintings and called them ugly and terrible. But Picasso didn’t listen to all those people. He kept on working the way he wanted to, until he created something new, so different, that people didn’t know what to say.

Action Jackson

By Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan

Illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker

One late spring morning the American artist Jackson Pollock began work on the canvas that would ultimately come to be known as Number 1. The authors use this moment as the departure point for a picture book about a great painter and the way in which he worked. 

The book descriptions used are the publisher’s.

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Books For Kids — Writers

Some Writer! The Story of E.B.White

by Melissa Sweet

This beautifully written biography tells the story of E.B. White, the author of Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little. Caldecott Honor winner Melissa Sweet mixes White’s personal letters, photos, and family keepsakes with her own artwork to tell the story of this American literary icon. E.B White was a journalist, New Yorker contributor, and children’s book author who loved words his whole life. 

The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Suzy)

by Barbara Kerley, Illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham

Suzy Clemens thought the world was wrong about her papa. They saw Mark Twain as “a humorist joking at everything.” But he was so much more, and Susy was determined to set the record straight. In a journal she kept under her pillow, Susy documented her world-famous father from his habits (good and bad) to his writing routine to their family’s colorful home life. Her frank, funny, tender biography (which came to be one of Twain’s most prized possessions) gives rare insight and an unforgettable perspective on an American icon. 

Pioneer Girl: The Story of Laura Ingalls Wilder

by William Anderson, Illustrated by Dan Andreasen

This picture book biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder tells the remarkable story of the pioneer girl who would one day immortalize her adventures in the beloved Little House books. This biography captures the essence of the little girl called “Half-pint,” whose classic books and pioneer adventures have made her one of the most popular literary figures in America.

Will’s Words: How William Shakespeare Changed the Way You Talk

by Jane Sutcliffe, Illustrated by John Shelley

When Jane Sutcliffe set out to write a book about William Shakespeare and the Globe Theatre, she ran into a problem: Will’s words keep popping up all over the place. What’s an author to do? After all, Will is responsible for such familiar phrases as “what’s done is done” and “too much of a good thing.” He even helped turn “household words” into household words. But — what better words are there to use to write about the greatest writer in the English language than his very own?

A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams

by Jen Bryant, Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

When he wrote poems, William Carlos Williams felt as free as the Passaic River rushing to the falls. His notebooks filled up, one after another. His words gave him freedom and peace, but he also knew he needed to earn a living. He became a doctor yet never stopped writing poetry. This biography celebrates the amazing man who found a way to earn a living and to honor his calling to be a poet. 

Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People

By Monica Brown, Illustrated by Julie Paschkis

Once there was a little boy named Neftalí who loved wild things wildly and quiet things quietly. From the moment he could talk, he surrounded himself with words. Neftalí discovered the magic between the pages of books. When he was sixteen, he began publishing his poems as Pablo Neruda.

Pablo wrote poems about the things he loved―things made by his friends in the café, things found at the marketplace, and things he saw in nature. He wrote about the people of Chile and their stories of struggle. Because above all things and above all words, Pablo Neruda loved people.

Enormous Smallness: A Story of E.E. Cummings

by Matthew Burgess, Illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo

Some of E.E. Cummings’s wonderful poems are integrating  into a story that gives readers the music of his voice and a spirited, sensitive introduction to his poetry. This book emphasizes the bravery it takes to follow one’s own vision and the encouragement E.E. received to do just that.

 

The book descriptions used were for the most part written by the publishers.

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