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Biography

Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today we honor the life of Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights leader who would have turned 84 this year. A federal holiday to honor King, who was assassinated in April 1968, was first observed in 1986. Congress also designated it a national day of service in 1994.

Books

April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King Jr.'s death and transformation of America by Michael Eric Dyson

At Canaan's edge: America in the King years 1965-68 by Taylor Branch

Biographies for First Graders

Looking for true stories about real people? Try some of these. Suggestions are geared toward first graders.

The little plant doctor: a story about George Washington Carver by Jean Marzollo  An introduction to the life of George Washington Carver.

Annie Jump Cannon, astronomer by Carole Gerber  A biography about an early female astronomer.

New Books on the Biography Shelf

Ambition and desire: the dangerous life of Josephine Bonaparte by Kate Williams


Seven letters from Paris: a memoir by Samantha Vérant


The art of Neil Gaiman by Hayley Campbell ; foreword by Audrey Niffenegger


Victoria: a life by A.N. Wilson


I must say: my life as a humble comedy legend by Martin Short ; with David Kamp


So anyway... by John Cleese


The wild truth by Carine McCandless

100 Page Biographies

Searching for a biography that's just the right size? The following biographies have between 100 and 200 pages. Additional 100-page biographies can be found in the Who Was series and the Sterling Biographies series.

John Adams, the writer: a treasury of letters, diaries, and public documents by compiled and edited by Carolyn P. Yoder

John & Abigail Adams: an American love story by Judith St. George

Ansel Adams: America's photographer ; a biography for young people by Beverly Gherman

The voice that challenged a nation: Marian Anderson and the struggle for equal rights by Russell Freedman

Failure is impossible: the story of Susan B. Anthony by Lisa Frederiksen Bohannon

Biographies for Kindergarteners

Do you have a child in Kindergarten who loves to read about people? Use this list to find books to share, or to pique your own interest about famous people.

Mali under the night sky: a Lao story of home by Youme  An artist must leave her home because of war. 

The watcher: Jane Goodall's life with the chimps by Jeanette Winter  Find out more about this chimpanzee-loving woman. 

Native American Biographies

In honor of Native American Heritage Month check out some of the biographies of notable First Americans from the Library's collection, or go to this list for more information.

Tecumseh: a life by John Sugden

Sacajawea by [by] Harold P. Howard

Chief Joseph & the flight of the Nez Perce: the untold story of an American tragedy by Kent Nerburn

Crazy Horse: a Lakota life by Kingsley M. Bray

Pocahontas by Grace Steele Woodward

Biography Suggestions by Grade

Looking for fascinating stories about real people? Explore the following list for some suggestions.

Kindergarten

Henri's scissors by Jeanette Winter — The story of how Henri Matisse changed from sketching to making cut-out creations.

Harlem's little blackbird by Renée Watson ; illustrated by Christian Robinson — A lesser-known singer from the Harlem Renaissance, Florence Mills' story is told here.

Daredevil: the daring life of Betty Skelton by Meghan McCarthy — Looking for more variety in your stories about achievements in aviation?

The quite contrary man: a true American tale by Patricia Rusch Hyatt ; illustrated by Kathryn Brown — Breaking the law by growing a beard? A contrary (and interesting) man, indeed!

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin ; illustrated by Mary Azarian — A Caldecott-winning biography about a curious nature photographer.

New Books on the Biography Shelf

Augustus: first emperor of Rome by Adrian Goldsworthy


The Roosevelts: an intimate history by Geoffrey C. Ward ; based on a documentary film by Ken Burns ; with a preface by Ken Burns ; picture research by Susanna Steisel ; design by Maggie Hinders


Tennessee Williams: mad pilgrimage of the flesh by John Lahr


Cosby: his life and times by Mark Whitaker


Death of a king: the real story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s final year by Tavis Smiley with David Ritz

Thorndyke Thoughts

Hey Kids,

Because of my superior location near the New Book shelves, I get first crack at the new items that come in, including the chapter books, the picture books, even nonfiction and biographies. Did you know that a biography is a book about a real person? Today I snuck a new biography about Peter Roget, the person who made Roget’s Thesaurus. Guess what? A thesaurus is not a dinosaur. It’s a list of words, and the ones that mean the same thing are all grouped together. Peter Roget always made lists of things, from when he was a very little boy, and one day those lists became his first thesaurus. 

You can even browse a version of Roget’s Thesaurus online.

The right word: Roget and his thesaurus by Jen Bryant, author ; Melissa Sweet, illustrator


Find other fascinating stories about real people in the J Biography section at the back of the Children’s Department, or ask a Children's Librarian.

 

Italian-American Heritage Month

About 5.5 million Italians immigrated to the United States between 1820 and 2004. The greatest surge occurred between 1880 and 1920 when more than 4 million Italians came to America. October is the time to celebrate the many achievements and contributions of Americans of Italian descent in all walks of life.