Themed Books

20+ Picture Book Biographies

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Are you looking for biographies for kids to read? If so, make sure to check out these 15+ Biography Book Series for Kids (With Hundreds of Book Biographies to Choose From), along with this post that includes 25+ picture book biographies.

The books I have included here are all labeled as biographies, but some may be better described as “based on the life of . . .” I explained this further in the post with the biography book series for kids list.

Here is what I said there:

Some books are categorized as biographies, but they don’t contain only facts about that person. I attended a picture book meeting with some other authors earlier this year, and we discussed how frustrating this can be. Sometimes, there may be just a small note in the beginning or at the end of the book that says something about the author taking liberties with the story.

This is especially true when it comes to dialogue since there may not be any documentation showing exactly what someone had said in specific situations. In one book that was categorized as a biography, we learned there wasn’t much known about the subject’s childhood, so the author invented that entire portion (which happened to be the majority of the book). So, with that in mind, the books listed here are categorized as biographies, but there may be some that would be better described as “based on the life of . . .”

From 15+ Biography Book Series for Kids (With Hundreds of Book Biographies to Choose From)

Let’s begin our list of 20+ picture book biographies for kids.

20+ Picture Book Biographies

A Super Sticky Mistake: The Story of How Harry Coover Accidentally Invented Super Glue! by Alison Donald and illustrated by Rea Zhai, 2020

Yaba daba! Read about chemist Harry Coover’s accidental creation of cy-an-o-ac-ryl-ate (AKA “sticky stuff”), which he was able to perfect into something very useful called super glue.

Follow this book with a reading of Too Much Glue by Jason Lefebvre and illustrated by Zac Ret, published in 2013.

All the Way to the Top: How One Girl’s Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything by Annette Bay Pimentel and illustrated by Nabi H. Ali, 2020

Read about Jennifer Keelan, who stood up for herself and others with disabilities as a young girl. She decided to not let anything STOP her from climbing the stairs of the U.S. Capitol on hands and knees (since she couldn’t use her wheelchair to ascend the steps). Reporters and bystanders watch as “tiny bits of dirt and rock dig into her skin” and “she drags herself up another step” and then another, all the way to the top!

Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet, 2011

Read about puppeteer Tony Sarg and “the upside-down puppets” that are seen each year in the Macy’s parade.

Before She was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome and illustrated by James E. Ransome, 2019

Read about Harriet Tubman before she was “Harriet”. (You can listen to author Lesa Cline-Ransome read this book on YouTube here if you would like.)

Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World’s Coral Reefs: The Story of Ken Nedimyer and the Coral Restoration Foundation by Kate Messner and illustrated by Matthew Forsythe, 2018

“It starts with one.” Read about one man named Ken Nedimeyer who used his passion to rebuild coral reefs and start the Coral Restoration Foundation. (According to the book, he once had 30 aquariums in his bedroom!)

Counting the Stars: The Story of Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician by Lesa Cline-Ransome and illustrated by Raul Colon, 2019

Read about a “human computer” named Katherine Johnson who used her love of math to become a NASA mathematician.

Digging for Words: Jose Alberto Gutierrez and the Library He Built by Angela Burke Kunkel and illustrated by Paola Escobar, 2020

Read about a garbage collector named Jose Alberto Gutierres who searches for discarded books and starts a library for others to enjoy.

Dinosaur Lady: The Daring Discoveries of Mary Anning, The First Paleontologist by Linda Skeers and illusrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens, 2020

Read about Mary Anning whose curiosity and determination helped her to become a paleontologist, even when others didn’t believe women could be scientists.

(Note: This book does mention millions of years.)

Fauja Signh Keeps Going: The Oldest Person to Ever Run a Marathon by Simran Jeet Singh and illustrated by Baljinder Kaur, 2020

Read about Fauja Signh who ran his first marathon at the age of 81. And he kept going and became the first person to run a marathon at 100 years of age.

Hello Neighbor: The Kind and Caring World of Mr. Rogers by Matthew Cordell, 2020

“Let’s make the most of this beautiful day” and read about the life of Fred McFeely Rogers, who is more commonly known as Mr. Rogers, and the creation of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

Jonas Hanway’s Scurrilous, Scandalous, Shockingly Sensational Umbrella by Josh Cruite and Eileen Ryan, 2020

Read about Jonas Hanway who introduced the idea of using an umbrella to the people of London. A scurrilous, scandalous, and shocking idea at the time!

Just Like Rube Goldberg: The Incredible True Story of the Man Behind the Machines by Sarah Aronson and illustrated by Robert Neubecker, 2019

Read about Rube Goldberg who drew cartoons of complex creations to perform simple tasks in exaggerated ways.

Even though Rube Goldberg never actually built one of his creations, people today build what has become known as Rube Goldberg machines. Here is a video of the largest Rube Goldberg machine according to the Guinness World Records.

Little Libraries, Big Heroes by Miranda Paul and illustrated by John Parra, 2019

Read about Todd Bol who started the Little Free Library movement and became a literacy superhero.

Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando by Andrea Wang and illustrated by Kana Urbanowicz, 2019

Read about Momofuku Ando who had a desire to create a quick and convenient bowl of noodles to feed hungry communities. His passion, desire, and determination led to the creation of ramen noodle soup.

Noah Webster’s Fighting Words by Tracy Nelson Maurer and illustrated by Mircea Catusanu, 2017

Read about Noah Webster, the man who wrote the first dictionary in the English language. Even though Noah Webster lived from 1758–1843, he supposedly corrected, commented, and edited the text throughout this book. Of course, he didn’t really do that, but it does make the text more interesting and engaging.

On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky, 2016

Read some interesting facts about Albert Einstein, such as he didn’t like to wear socks and he started talking at a later age than most children.

(Note: This does mention a smoking pipe.)

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon, 2015

Read about the inspirational true story of a woman named Isatou Ceesay who creatively solves the problem of plastic bags piling up in her community.

Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist by Jess Keating and illustrated by Mara Alvrez Miguens, 2017

Read about Eugenie Clark, a woman who devoted her life to learning about sharks.

(Note: This book does mention millions of years.)

Sisters and Champions: The True Story of Venus and Serena Williams by Howard Bryant and illustrated by Floyd Cooper, 2018

Read about Venus and Serena Williams, two sisters who became female tennis player champions.

Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Raul Colon

Read about Marie Tharp who created the first map of the Atlantic Ocean floor.

The Boy Whose Head was Filled with Stars: A Life of Edwin Hubble by Isabelle Marnov and illustrated by Devorah Marcero, 2021

Read about Edwin Hubble who pursued seeking answers to his questions about the universe, such as how the universe began and where it came from.

The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons by Natascha Biebow and illustrated by Steven Salreno, 2019

Read about Edwin Binney, the inventor of Crayola crayons, and learn how crayons are made.

The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art by Brb Rosenstock and illustrated by Mary Grandpre, 2014

Read about Vasya Kandinsky who didn’t paint like a “proper artist.” He heard colors and became one of the first painters of abstract art.

The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard and illustrated by Oge Mora, 2020

Read about a woman named Mary Walker who learned to read at the age of 116.

The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps by Jeanette Winter, 2011

Read about Jane Goodall and her life of observing chimpanzees in the wild.

The World is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid by Jeanette Winter, 2017

Read about a Muslim woman named Zaha Hadid who became an architect and designed buildings all over the world.

Make sure to check out these 15+ Biography Book Series for Kids (With Hundreds of Book Biographies to Choose From) for additional picture book biographies that are part of a series.

What is your favorite picture book biography? Are there any you like that I didn’t include? Please let me know in the comments below.

Happy Reading!

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