All posts in Biography for Kids

Who Dream of Flying

10 Books for Children Who Dream of Flying

Please welcome my guest blogger today, author Carole Boston Weatherford! Her novel in verse just came out, a stunning perspective of the accomplishments of the Tuskegee Airmen during Jim Crow WWII America. This is a family endeavor, the dramatic scratch board illustrations are by her son, Jeffrey Boston Weatherford.

You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Jeffrey Boston Weatherford

… before 1940, African Americans could not become pilots in the U.S. military.

Carole Boston Weatherford’s novel in verse tells the story of the Tuskegee Airman, the pioneering African-American pilots of World War II and of life for blacks during this time. Jim Crow laws permeated the military during this time; the SS Mariposa actually had a rope to separate black soldiers from white. But it also curtailed training and leadership opportunities for African Americans, both male and female. Top brass claimed that blacks for not fit to fly.

Of the more than 400,000 pilots trained by the Civilian Pilot Training Program, only 2,000 were black; less than half of a percent. With tremendous pressure to prove their worthiness,The Tuskegee Airmen earned 900 plus medals including Distinguished Crossed, Bronze Stars and Purple Hearts. Their accomplishments paved the way for full integration of the U.S. military. [novel in verse, ages 9 and up]

She created a list of books for children who dream of taking to the skies … not unlike the pioneering aviators of the Tuskegee Institute. Need more books about flying? I have a list of female aviators: Fabulous Flying Females. What books about flying did we leave out? Thanks for sharing! Read more…

Top 10: Best Picture Books for Spring

Top 10: Best Picture Books for Spring

You wouldn’t guess that it’s spring here in Boston given the snow we’ve been getting in April! Still, I am dreaming of spring and getting my little garden going.

These are my favorite picture books for garden inspiration. These books demonstrate that gardens can transform an environment, bring neighbors closer, and even become a political touchpoint. Ideas for Earth Day include starting a compost pile, planting a tree, or even just germinate seeds.

 

What are your favorite spring picture books? Are you planting a garden this year of any size? Please share! Read more…

African-American Pioneering Female Musicians

African-American Pioneering Female Musicians

March is Women’s History Month so I’ve started off with a video of a musician that is new to me, Hazel Dorothy Scott, a jazz prodigy who was prominent during the 1930s and 1940s. I could not find a picture book biography on her (yet) but here’s hoping that someone will write out. In the meantime, below the video I’ve rounded up picture book biographies of other women who paved the way in music. Have I missed any? Please let me know and I’ll add! Thank you!

Read more…

Jane Goodall: Women's History Month

Jane Goodall: Women’s History Month

In July 1960, at the age of 26, Jane Goodall traveled from England to what is today Tanzania and bravely entered the little-known world of wild chimpanzees.

Today, Jane’s work revolves around inspiring action on behalf of endangered species, particularly chimpanzees, and encouraging people to do their part to make the world a better place for people, animals, and the environment we all share. National Geographic

Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall was the first to discover that wild chimpanzees were capable of making and using tools, a revelation that turned the scientific world upside down. What’s amazing to me is that she didn’t have a background in science. Fifty years later, Jane Goodall’s work is more important than ever.

Gombe Forest in Tanzania

 Map from Betchart Expeditions.

60 Minutes goes with Jane Goodall back to the Gombe Forest in Tanzania for an intimate look at her chimpanzees. Join them for this inside look. Read more…

Gordon Parks: Black History Month

Gordon Parks: Black History Month

Parks at the Civil Rights March on Washington, 1963

Parks at the Civil Rights March on Washington, 1963 from Wikipedia

I had seen a photography exhibit at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts last year and had taken a few photos of Gordon Parks photos because they seemed really important somehow. I knew nothing about Gordon Parks then. In researching female pioneering musicians, I came across Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America and I remembered his photographs. What I didn’t realize at that time was that Gordon Parks’ exhibit was for a Life magazine story about segregation in the schools but it never ran in the magazine. He’s a fascinating person. I hope you enjoy learning about him if he’s new to you too. Read more…

Civil Rights Movement Books for 4th Grade and MLK Day

Civil Rights Movement Books for 4th Grade and MLK Day

Civil Rights Movement Unit for 4th Grade

In honor of Martin Luther King, Junior day, I wanted to share my son’s 4th grade Civil Rights Movement project. His teacher created a really great time line that I hope will be helpful as well.

I am Jackie Robinson (Ordinary People Change the World) by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos

I’m not sure if I would consider Jackie Robinson “ordinary.” He was, after all, the first UCLA student ever to letter in four sports in the same season! His family’s backstory of how they shared extra food with everyone in the neighborhood, regardless of color helps to give insight into how he had the inner strength to withstand the pressure as the first African American major league baseball player. This picture book uses cartoons as well as text to tell his story and skillfully draws the reader into his extraordinary life. [picture book, ages 5 and up]

Civil Rights Movement Books for 4th Grade Read more…

Top 10 Hispanic American Heritage Books For Kids

Top 10 Hispanic American Heritage Books For Kids

I was confused on the nomenclature of Hispanic American versus Latino American so I looked it up:

Hispanic: a person of Latin American or Iberian ancestry, fluent in Spanish. It is primarily used along the Eastern seaboard, and favored by those of Caribbean and South American ancestry or origin.  English or Spanish can be their “native” language.

Latino: a U.S.-born Hispanic who is not fluent in Spanish and is engaged in social empowerment through Identity Politics. “Latino” is principally used west of the Mississippi, where it has displaced “Chicano” and “Mexican American.” English is probably their “native” language. “Empowerment” refers to increasing the political, social, and spiritual strength of an individual or a community, and it is associated with the development of confidence of that individual or community in their own abilities.

A simple way of remembering the difference is this: though every Latino is a Hispanic, not every Hispanic is a Latino. Hispanic is the more inclusive term.

from Hispanic Economics

And now I’m ready to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with some of my favorite books for kids! How about you? What books am I missing? Thanks for sharing!

National Hispanic Heritage Month is the period from September 15 to October 15 in the United States, when people recognize the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and celebrate the group’s heritage and culture.

Read more…

Picture Books for Kids Who Like To Build

Picture Books for Kids Who Like To Build

I’m glad that PickyKidPix knows how to use power tools. It started with woodshop in middle school, and then she progressed to assembling her own furniture from Ikea. The Ikea projects included a bed, desk, desk hutch, TV console and bed side table.

books for kids who like to build

This is the Mesopotamia Throne Project Inspiration Photo.

When it came time for her to figure out a school project, she and her partner decided to build a throne from Mesopotamia. They had to figure out how much wood and what size pieces of wood they needed. All my husband did was help them cut the wood to their specifications and drive the wood to school. After that, it was all them and some choice power tools.

Books for Kids Who Like To Build

This is the Mesopotamia Throne my daughter and her partner built. Power tools were expertly wielded. Read more…

Best Multicultural Chapter Books and Kid Lit Blog Hop

Best Multicultural Chapter Books and Kid Lit Blog Hop

This is Part 2 of the 2015 Notable Books for a Global Society Award, for middle grade readers ages 8 and up. I haven’t read them all so I’ll use book jacket blurbs with age range to make this list more helpful for parents and teachers looking for books for kids.

Many of these chapter books deal with difficult themes like genocide, racism, and violent civil wars. Will kids and parents actually put themselves through these kinds of experiences where the protagonist goes through unimaginable hell? I hope so. These are important stories that haven’t received the attention they deserve and if kids are aware of the mistakes made by their elders in the past, perhaps this is our best hope they will not be repeated in the future.

Part I from the list of picture books are here. I will post on the best young adult books from this list at the next Kid Lit Blog Hop. Read more…