Additional June Book Recommendations for Grades K-3
Adler, David. A Picture Book of Eleanor Roosevelt.
Illustrated by Robert Casilla. Holiday, 1991. (Lives to Learn From, K-3)
Excellent biography for young children of one of America’s most active and intelligent first ladies.
Adler, David A. A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Illustrated by Robert Casilla. Holiday House, 1989. (Lives to Learn From, K-2)
A good introductory biography of Martin Luther King for younger students.
Aliki. William Penn.
S&S Trade, 1994. (Lives to Learn From, K-3)
Simple picture book biography of the founder of Pennsylvania, his determined efforts to establish
a safe haven for Quakers, and his respect for the Native American people he encountered.
Armstrong, Carole. Lives and Legends of the Saints.
Simon and Schuster, 1995. (Lives to Learn From, 3-6)
Features paintings from the great art museums of the world.
Bedard, Michael. Emily.
Illustrated by Barbara Cooney. Doubleday, 1992 (Lives to Learn From, K-2)
Lovely picture book of Emily Dickinson, the quiet, gracious poet who wove beauty with her words.
Brighton, Catherine. The Brontes: Scenes from the Childhood of Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne. Chronicle Books, 1994. (Lives to Learn From, 2-4)
This delightful childhood biography of the Bronte sisters captures their wonder at the richness of life and their unique gifts of imagination. Calling themselves the four genii, they begin to create fantasy kingdoms in their minds and on paper.
Brighton, Catherine. Mozart: Scenes from the Childhood of the Great Composer.
Doubleday, 1990. (Lives to Learn From, 2-4)
Told through the eyes of Mozart’s older sister, Nannerl, this is a fictional recreation of the extraordinary life of young Mozart. His early musical genius and unwavering devotion to his art took him to royal palaces and allowed him to meet the most important people of his time. Mozart composed his first symphony at nine. His colorful life and times are chronicled in rich and vibrant watercolors.
Cary, Barbara. Meet Abraham Lincoln. Random, 1989. (Lives to Learn From, 2-4)
Excellent summary of Lincoln’s life from log cabin childhood to his first encounter with slavery to his life-long striving on behalf of his country.
Crew, Gary. Bright Star.
Illustrated by Anne Spudvilas. Kane Miller Book Publishers, 1997. (Lives to Learn From, 1-3)
Set in Australia in the 1880s, Bright Star is the story of a young girl who longs to study the stars. Bright in math but not enthusiastic about needlepoint she is raised by parents who do not celebrate her accomplishments in school. Alicia nonetheless receives the encouragement of Australian astronomer, John Tebbutt who discovered the “Great Comet” of 1861. He teaches her not just to follow her dreams, but that she alone must choose the path that she will follow.
Demarest, Chris L. Lindbergh.
Crown, 1993. (Lives to Learn From, K-3) OP
Picture book biography of a man whose determination and courage made him the first pilot to cross the Atlantic Ocean by plane.
Fritz, Jean. The Double Life of Pocahontas.
Puffin, 1987. (2-4)
Fritz retells the story of the heroine of two worlds.
Graves, Charles P. Annie Oakley: The Shooting Star.
Illustrated by Louis F. Cary. Chelsea House, 1991. (Lives to Learn From, 2-4)
A delightful read-aloud about a woman eager and determined to use her talents, even when those talents were not the “womanly” variety. This is a marvelous story of young Annie, who worked diligently and followed her heart. Her ability with a rifle won her a husband, a career, and ultimately international fame.
Greene, Carol. Christina Rosetti: Poet. Rookie Biography.
Children’s Press, 1994. (Lives to Learn From, K-3)
Introduction to the woman who wove magic with her words, one of the best loved children’s poets of all time.
Greene, Carol. Albert Schweitzer, Friend of All Life. Rookie Biography.
Children’s Press, 1993. (Lives to Learn From, K-3)
An inspiring introductory biography of the distinguished German physician who dedicated his life to attending the poor and sick in Africa. Greene shows that young Albert came from a privileged background and had many interests, but had a life-long concern for those in need. First as a pastor, then as a physician, he reached out to the less fortunate. His reverence for life won him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952.
Greene, Carol. Margaret Steiff: Toymaker.
Children’s Press, 1993. (Lives to Learn From, K-3)
This Rookie Biography provides the inspiring true story of Margaret Steiff. Crippled by polio at 18 months of age, she never walked. Her parents worry about how she will take care of herself when they are gone. From a wheelchair in the 1800s she began the world famous toy factory we know today and ended up providing jobs for all her family.
Greene, Carol. John Muir: Man of the Wild Places.
Children’s Press, 1991. (Lives to Learn From, K-3)
Muir actually walked from Canada to South America: a man of patience, perseverance and great love of the outdoors.
Greene, Carol. Ludwig Van Beethoven.
Children’s Press, 1993. (Lives to Learn From, K-3)
In this simple, but uplifting introduction to the life of Beethoven, Greene portrays a man who faces many hardships in youth and adulthood, including the loss of his hearing, but all the while renders beauty in the music he composes.
Guarnieri, Paolo. A Boy Named Giotto.
Illustrated by Bimba Landmann. Translated by Jonathan Galassi. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1998. (Lives to Learn From, 1-3)
With a piece of charcoal, a shepherd boy sketches sheep on rocks and longs for the day when his drawings won’t be washed away by the rain. This is a rich historical dramatization of the boyhood of early Renaissance artist, Giotto. His wonder and curiosity allow him to discover his own talent and find the man who would be his mentor, Cimabue. Text is written at a 1-3 level, but the subject fits nicely with 5th grade study of the Renaissance.
Isidora, Rachel. Young Mozart.
Viking, 1997. (Lives to Learn From, K-3)
Mozart was a child prodigy, completing over 300 compositions before he was 21. In this charming and at times humorous text, we discover young Mozart in Salzburg and see him both as genius and driven artist. His commitment to realizing his immense talent led to a life of extraordinary creativity.
Kroll, Steven. Robert Fulton: From Submarine to Steamboat.
Illustrated by Bill Farnsworth. Holiday House, 1999. (Lives to Learn From, 2-4)
Ingenuity, restlessness, and perseverance all combine in the life of one of America’s consummate inventors. Famous for his invention of the steamboat, Fulton’s early life shows radical openness to the many paths before him and a keen desire to find the best use of his own gifts. He made his home in the United States, Europe, and America again. Among the many avenues he pursued were painting, jewelry making, canal design, submarine design (which he imagined would end warfare), and finally steamboat design. He suffered derision and scoffing (his steamboat was nick-named “Fulton’s Folly”), but lived to see the success of his work. He died helping a friend. Because of the relative complexity of the chronicle, 4th grade is probably a better placement than 2nd, but Fulton is featured in both grades.
LeTord, Bijou. A Blue Butterfly: A Story about Claude Monet.
Doubleday, 1995. (Lives to Learn From, K-2)
Celebrating the wonder and beauty of life with his art, Monet painted “with rich colors of vermil- ion, emerald, apricot and violet . . . painted flowers like tiny jewels or little stars leaping from the sky.” This is a lovely presentation of Claude Monet for the very young. Strangely, there is not a single painting of Monet’s in the book (make sure to have one on hand), but the paintings are cre- ated with his pallet of eight clear colors.
Quackenbush, Robert. Don’t You Dare Shoot that Bear: A Life of Theodore Roosevelt.
Simon and Schuster, 1990.(Lives to Learn From, 2-6)
Humorous but accurate presentation of the life of a man who gave himself with gusto and
conviction to the service of his country.
Rumford, James. Seeker of Knowledge. The Man Who Deciphered Egyptian Hieroglyphics Houghton Mifflin, 2000. (Lives to Learn From, 1-4)
In this fascinating volume Rumford describes the untiring efforts of nineteenth century Frenchman, Jean-Francois Champollion to decode Egyptian hieroglyphics or picture writing. The scholar’s interest in Egypt was awakened as a boy when Napoleon marched into Egypt. The childhood fascination grew to an adult passion, as Champollion learned of the discovery of the Rosetta stone, and eventually cracked the code. Rumford’s illustrations and story are a complete delight. The book can be used with CK First Grade unit on Ancient Egypt.
Ryan, Pam Munoz. When Marian Sang.
Illustrated by Brian Selznick. Scholastic Press, 2002. (Lives to Learn From, 2-5)
This is a splendid picture book biography of Marian Anderson, the early twentieth century African-American singer whose “range of notes caused all the commotion. With one breath she sounded like rain, sprinkling high notes in the morning sun. And with the next she was thunder resounding deep in a dark sky.” This is the story of her gifts and her quest to sing professionally in the face of prejudice in 1920s America. She went overseas, where she became a sensation. Returning to the United States in 1939, her performance was blocked (ironically) at Constitution Hall, which had a “white performers only” policy. Eleanor Roosevelt intervened, and Marian Anderson sang “My Country ‘tis of Thee” to 75,000 people at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial instead. This is a story of triumph and ultimately happy endings. In the lyrics of her songs, reprinted throughout, the themes of faith and courage are never far from the surface.
Tompert, Ann. St. Patrick.
Illustrated by Michael Garland. Boyds Mills, 1998. (Lives to Learn From, K-3)
St. Patrick’s Day offers every school the opportunity to learn about the courageous man who, as a young British shepherd, was sold into slavery in Ireland. This handsome volume chronicles the drama of his kidnapping, life in slavery, and the richness of his decision to return and preach to the Irish.
Venezia, Mike. George Gershwin.
Children’s Press, 1994. (Lives to Learn From, K-4)
Amusing and accurate biography of a dynamic American composer who blended a love of symphonic music with a drive to innovate. The energizing results: “Rhapsody in Blue,” Porgy and Bess and more.
Venezia, Mike. Mary Cassatt.
Children’s Press, 1990. (Lives to Learn From, K-4)
This extraordinary artist of the family sought to bring the tenderest human emotions to life in her work.
Wallner, Alexandra. Beatrix Potter.
Holiday House, 1995. (Lives to Learn From, K-3)
“If I have done anything—even a little—to help small children on the road to enjoy...honest, simple pleasures, I have done a bit of good.” The life story of the lonely young woman writer who learned to share herself and life’s beauty in her famous Tales of Peter Rabbit.
Weiss, Jim. “Galileo and the Stargazers.”
CD. Greathall Productions, 1999. (Lives to Learn From, 2-6)
Retold in Weiss’s golden voice are six inspiring stories of early scientists (Archimedes, Ptolemy, Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler, and Galileo) whose enormous speculative courage and imagination helped them understand our physical world in new ways.
Winter, Jeanette. Sebastian: A Book about Bach.
Harcourt, 1999. (Lives to Learn From, K-3)
With spare text but vibrant illustrations, Winter dramatizes for young children the creative and fruitful life of Johann Sebastian Bach. An orphan at nine, but the father of a boisterous family of 20 children, Bach never stopped hearing music. He put the voices of the instruments on paper and they sounded “like good friends talking together.” This book captures his joy in composing and his delight in sound, as it chronicles his childhood, his creative adult years, his time in a jail cell, and his love of music even on his deathbed.