What’s the best way to introduce your kids to the lives and ideas of those who’ve gone before? In this episode of the Read-Aloud Revival podcast, the RAR Team is talking about using picture book biographies with kids of all ages.

RAR Team L to R: Kara Anderson, Sarah Mackenzie, Kortney Garrison

And of course, we don’t just give you the why… we also share dozens and dozens of excellent picture book biographies in this new booklist!

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • why picture books are for all ages (no really… all ages)
  • what makes pictures books special (Hint: it has to do with being an invitation)
  • how picture books can help us learn history, research a new subject, discuss difficult topics, and more

Scroll down to see our brand new booklist of favorite picture book biographies. You can also grab a FREE printable version to bring with you to the library.

Get the printable booklist

picture book biographies

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Listener Guide

Use the time stamps below to skip to any part of the podcast:

  • 1:18 Bigs and littles
  • 5:17 The team is here!
  • 6:53 Picture books are worthy
  • 11:26 Gather ’round
  • 12:22 Storybooks and picture books
  • 14:35 Jen Bryant’s books
  • 15:33 Exploring difficult topics
  • 18:37 An invitation
  • 19:39 Kara’s picks
  • 21:19 Sarah’s picks
  • 21:58 Kortney’s picks
  • 22:55 Barb Rosenstock’s books
  • 25:45 Let the Kids Speak

Links from this episode:

Quotes to remember:

“What does it feel like to be Louis Braille? What does it feel like to be Abe Lincoln? What does it feel like to be Thomas Jefferson and creating the first library? All those questions are answered in a 32-page picture book in a way that feels a lot more visceral and personal than it could with a longer narrative.” – Sarah Mackenzie

“For the busiest people… you can always squeeze in a picture book. You’re not committing yourself to a big, long novel that’s going to take weeks and weeks to read aloud. You’re committing yourself to maybe ten minutes of good connection with your kids.” – Kortney Garrison

“By stepping into the character’s shoes through a picture book, (kids) really get the idea of what it was like to live during a certain time, so it’s one of our favorite ways to study history.” – Kara Anderson

More free resources and booklists

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(Download the transcript above for more quotes and pull-outs.)

Books from this episode:

(All links are Amazon affiliate links.)

The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon (Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12)
Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909
Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade (Bank Street College of Education Flora Stieglitz Straus Award (Awards))
A Poem for Peter
Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra
Snowflake Bentley
Trombone Shorty
Nothing Stopped Sophie: The Story of Unshakable Mathematician Sophie Germain
Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau
Papa Is a Poet: A Story About Robert Frost
Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World about Kindness
Uncommon Traveler: Mary Kingsley in Africa
Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille
The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus
The Story Of Ruby Bridges: Special Anniversary Edition
Dear Mr. Washington
Abraham Lincoln, 75th Anniversary Edition
Buffalo Bill
Leif the Lucky
Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci
Florence Nightingale
Dare the Wind: The Record-breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud
Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty (Jane Addams Award Book (Awards))
Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child
The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos
A Boy, a Mouse, and a Spider–The Story of E. B. White
The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever
Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen: The Story of Six Novels, Three Notebooks, a Writing Box, and One Clever Girl
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Picture Book Edition
Stand Straight, Ella Kate
The Boy on Fairfield Street: How Ted Geisel Grew Up to Become Dr. Seuss
The Librarian Who Measured the Earth
Balderdash!: John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books
Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear
Caroline’s Comets: A True Story
The Girl Who Thought in Pictures
Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya
Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa
To Dare Mighty Things: The Life of Theodore Roosevelt by Rappaport, Doreen (2013) Hardcover
Big Machines: The Story of Virginia Lee Burton
Ben Franklin’s Big Splash: The Mostly True Story of His First Invention
Dorothea’s Eyes: Dorothea Lange Photographs the Truth
Blue Grass Boy: The Story of Bill Monroe, Father of Bluegrass Music
The Camping Trip that Changed America: Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, and Our National Parks
The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art
Vincent Can’t Sleep: Van Gogh Paints the Night Sky
Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library
Otis and Will Discover the Deep: The Record-Setting Dive of the Bathysphere
The Streak: How Joe DiMaggio Became America’s Hero
Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race
Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah
Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine
Abe Lincoln : The Boy Who Loved Books
Sixteen Years In Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story
The Darkest Dark
Martin’s Big Words (Big Words): The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott
Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad
The Secret Kingdom: Nek Chand, a Changing India, and a Hidden World of Art
So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth’s Long Walk Toward Freedom
From a Small Seed – The Story of Eliza Hamilton
A Race Around the World: The True Story of Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland (She Made History)
Just Like Beverly: A Biography of Beverly Cleary (Growing to Greatness)
Girl Running
Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln
The Book Rescuer: How a Mensch from Massachusetts Saved Yiddish Literature for Generations to Come
Fearless Mary: Mary Fields, American Stagecoach Driver
The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons
It Began with a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way
Out of School and Into Nature: The Anna Comstock Story
John Ronald’s Dragons: The Story of J. R. R. Tolkien
Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova
In Mary’s Garden

You’ll also enjoy:

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picture book biographies

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