5 New Picture Book Biographies To Teach Kids Perseverance

5 New Picture Book Biographies To Teach Kids Perseverance

5 Picture Book Biographies To Teach Kids Perseverance

Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Boris Kulikov

young Louis Braille

I never knew that Louis Braille lost his vision as a little boy from an accident with an awl. By the time he was five, he was completely blind. He dreamt of reading books but even the books at the Royal School For the Blind in Paris had large raised letters and very few words. A secret code developed by a French army captain gave him an idea. Using the awl again, he spent years developing a way to simplify the captain’s code. And this code is known today as Braille! [biography picture book, ages 4 and up]

The Darkest Dark by astronaut Chris Hadfield, illustrated by The Fan Brothers

astronaut Chris Hadfield

Being in the dark can feel scary, and young Chris Hadfield was scared to sleep in his own bed. Still, he dreamed of becoming an astronaut. When he watched the moon landing on television, he noticed that outer space was the darkest dark ever. And he made up his mind that while the darkness of space was darker than his room, he was going to explore it one day. And so he did, twenty-three years later after that day. [biography picture book, ages 4 and up]

Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas by Gwendolyn Hooks, illustrated by Colin Bootman

Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas

Did you know that the first successful open-heart surgery on a baby was performed in 1944 at Johns Hopkins? Credit went to Dr. Blalock who performed the operation but the person who actually developed the procedure and instruments was never given credit. He, Vivien Thomas, was a black man without a medical degree. And yet it was Vivien who stood behind Dr. Blalock to give him step-by-step instructions during the operation. It’s taken more than twenty-six years for the medical community to recognize his contribution. With only a high school education, Vivien Thomas overcame racism to become a medical pioneer, saving the lives of countless “blue babies.” [advanced picture book biography, ages 6 and up]

Fannie Never Flinched: One Woman’s Courage in the Struggle for American Labor Union Rights by Mary Cronk Farrell

Fannie Sellins

In 1897, Fannie toiled in a garment shop, and dreamed of organizing a union for seamstresses like ones started in Chicago and New York. In 1902, she helped start Ladies’ Local 67 of the United Garment Workers of America. Her work expanded beyond the garment workers to the coal mines of West Virginia where feudal system was in place, condemning those who worked in the mines to poverty and dangerous work conditions. There was one millionaire mine owner who was worse than the rest, Lewis Hicks. And it was these miners that Fannie helped to organize.

In 1919, police officers in Natrona, Pennsylvania opened fire on Fannie Sellins, just as she was herding a group of children to safety during a riot. Autopsies showed that she died of a crushed skull with three gunshots in her head and back. None of these officers were found guilty.

Pair this book with Brave Girl:Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909. [advanced biography picture book with chapters, ages 9 and up]

Helen Thayer’s Arctic Adventure: A Woman and a Dog Walk to the North Pole by Sally Isaacs, illustrated by Iva Shasheva

Helen Thayer

Helen Thayer’s mid-life crisis at age 50 was to walk around the magnetic North Pole. No woman had done it, and she wanted to accomplish it alone. Luckily she took the advice of a local bear hunter, who insisted that she take at least one dog for protection from polar bears. The dog, Charlie, saved her life from a bear attack. Harsh weather conditions made it difficult to complete the expedition but Helen succeeded. Use this book to inspire your young adventurer! Helen Thayer has a website, Adventure Classroom, to invite students to explore our world. [biography picture book, ages 6 and up]

 To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

5 New Picture Book Biographies To Teach Kids Perseverance

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. I really liked Six Dots and I have Tiny Stitches on my library request list–can’t wait to read that one!! I think PB bios have to be one of my very favorite genres!

    Thanks for introducing me to some new titles, Mia! 🙂

    • Hi Maria,
      I feel the same way. I used to think picture book biographies and nonfiction too were stale and boring (from when I was a kid) but it’s sooo different now. Both genres are more like fiction and beautifully illustrated as a rule. Sometimes I get confused as to where to find the picture books at the library because ours are grouped in opposite ends if it’s poetry or fiction or biography.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…FREE Diversity Book for Multicultural Children’s Book DayMy Profile

  2. Oh, and I LOVE Brave Girl!!! It’s wonderful. If you loved that, then you may also like Audacity, Melanie Crowder’s YA historical fiction verse novel on Clara Lemlich. It’s touching and beautifully written.

  3. As the mother of a Braille- literate teenage girl, thank you, thank you for highlighting this book about the man who invented the method of literacy blind people use across the globe. 🙂

    P.S. Since we’re 4 days from Veterans Day, are you going to do a book list for Veterans Day? If yes please don’t forget the two award-winning Captain Mama books published by this Latina military veteran, in English and Spanish. 🙂 USA Today just featured both in “Diverse Books Need More Visibility.” Thanks for considering the idea. Captain Mama dot com.

  4. Kimberly Lanier

    Awesome list of books! Love it! Thanks for finding such great books. 🙂
    Even though I have teenagers, it would be good to read these together.

  5. Perseverance is a trait we all hope our children will have, but I hadn’t thought of looking for pb biographies that portray it. Thanks for the great list. I just put a hold on Darkest Dark at my library, thanks to your suggestion.

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