Between the time I spent working at the UCLA Lab School, volunteering with Reading to Kids and taking my Materials for Children course, I have developed a love of and respect for biographies for younger readers. I’ve learned about Jackie Mitchell, the girl who struck out Babe Ruth, the Mercury 13, Elizabeth Keckley, and about a group of women in rural India in the 1970s who saved trees from over development. These books are a few of my suggestions for readers of any age. I’ve tried to match my favorite children’s biography with the adult version. If you see an unmatched book or can suggested another one please let me know in the comments.
Almost Astronauts: 13 women who dared to dream by Tanya Lee Stone
I picked this one up from the LAPL a few years ago as an audiobook and enjoyed it very much. When I was younger I was fascinated by space, NASA, astronomy and anything vaguely related to the topic. I’d never heard of the Mercury 13 before reading this book and I had a hard time putting it down. I had the opportunity to read this book again (this time in hard copy) for my materials for children class last year. The pictures are amazing, not to be missed.
The Mercury 13: the untold story of thirteen American women and the dream of space flight by Martha Ackmann
This is an adult version of Almost Astronauts. I have not had the chance to read it yet but it is on my to read list as soon as I have time to walk over to the science library and pick it up. 🙂
Mighty Jackie: the strike out queen by Marissa Moss
Prior to working at the UCLA Lab School I had never heard of Jackie Mitchell, a 17 year old girl who struck out Babe Ruth in a minor league exhibition game. My dad is a big baseball fan and I while I have missed my shot at baseball I’m great at wiffle ball! This would be a great read for anyone who’s playing T-ball or has a favorite team
I haven’t been able to find an adult audience biography for Jackie Mitchell, please let me know if you can recommend one.
Mary Lincoln’s dressmaker by Becky Rutberg
I was first introduced to this book when I was pulling books for a black history month display. I think it’s fascinating to read about historical figures, particularly when there is enough information about them to make an entire book from their story. We learn about Mary Lincoln but I can’t believe I did not learn about Elizabeth Keckley until I was an adult.
Behind the scenes, or 30 years a slave by Elizabeth Keckley
A chance to learn more about an amazing woman from her own pen.
Aani and the tree huggers by Jeannine Atkins
Okay, I picked this up for the pictures but the story about a small community of women banding together to save their homes is a wonderful one. The pictures are vibrant and it is a great story to read if your child is interested in learning more about what a small group of caring individuals can do to save something they believe in. This book is based on true events of a 1970s Indian village. Sadly I couldn’t find the adult counterpart book for this group of women.
The librarian of Basra by Jeanette Winter
The true story of librarian Alia Muhammad Baker in Basra, Iraq who saved much of her library by smuggling home a handful of books at a time. There is another version of her story by Mark Alan Stamaty which is in graphic novel format. Another woman I could not find an adult biography of, does anyone know if there is one in the works?
I will leave you with my top 5 (and available counterparts) I have enough recommendations for another list at a different date. I hope you will share your favorite biographies in either juvenile or adult literature in the comments section.
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