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Child Books/ages 9-12 Biography



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2021 Schneider Family Book Award Young Children's Honor Book (American Library Association)

Experience the true story of lifelong activist Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins and her participation in the Capitol Crawl in this inspiring autobiographical picture book. This beautifully illustrated story includes a foreword from Jennifer and backmatter detailing her life and the history of the disability rights movement.

This is the story of a little girl who just wanted to go, even when others tried to stop her.

Jennifer Keelan was determined to make a change--even if she was just a kid. She never thought her wheelchair could slow her down, but the way the world around her was built made it hard to do even simple things. Like going to school, or eating lunch in the cafeteria.

Jennifer knew that everyone deserves a voice! Then the Americans with Disabilities Act, a law that would make public spaces much more accessible to people with disabilities, was proposed to Congress. And to make sure it passed, Jennifer went to the steps of the Capitol building in Washington DC to convince them.

And, without her wheelchair, she climbed.


A Rise: A Feminist Book Project Nominee

A Junior Library Guild Selection

All the Way to the Top is perfect for:

  • Elementary school teachers looking for books to supplement disability rights curriculum and the history of the ADA (find a free Common-Core Aligned Educator Guide at
  • Parents looking for social justice picture books, books on activism and for young activists, and inspiring books for girls
  • Parents, teachers, librarians, and guardians looking for beautifully illustrated, inspirational and educational books for young readers in their life


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    A gorgeously illustrated compendium of 30 black luminaries who changed the world.

    Thirty bite-sized biographies of black thinkers, activists, and innovators with beautiful full-color illustrations throughout. Black Trailblazers is an illustrated inspiration for children that gives these important figures their due, highlighting their work to make our world a brighter, better place. An appealing blend of history, quotes from the figures themselves, and gorgeous visuals, this book will educate, entertain, and inspire.

    Including luminaries such as:

  • Madam C. J. Walker
  • James Baldwin
  • Shirley Chisolm
  • Dick Gregory
  • Nina Simone
  • Thurgood Marshall
  • Misty Copeland
  • ...and many more!


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    Sixteen scientists. Protecting our planet. Making science more equitable.

    An Orbis Pictus Recommended Book

    Scientists who collect microbes from surfers' skin, who use radar sensors to gather data miles away, who combat inequality by pushing for cleaner air policies. Each with their own story, all working to make life better for future generations.

    Celebrated author Dana Alison Levy profiles 16 people, all studying different elements of the earth's landscape, animals, and climate, who defy stereotypes of who can be a scientist. From analytical chemists to volcanologists, from global experts to recent graduates, these scientists share what they were like as young people, how they got where they are now, and what they--and the rest of us--can do to help the planet.

    Based on extensive interviews and featuring infographics and personal photos, Breaking the Mold offers a snapshot of the people and organizations fighting to make science more equitable. Back matter includes advice for readers interested in science careers, DIY projects, paths to community involvement, and more.

    Books for a Better Earth are designed to inspire children to become active, knowledgeable participants in caring for the planet they live on.

    A Chicago Public Library 'Best of the Best' Book
    A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year



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    Jacqueline Woodson's National Book Award and Newbery Honor winner is a powerful memoir that tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse.

    A President Obama O Book Club pick

    Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child's soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson's eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.

    Includes 7 additional poems, including Brown Girl Dreaming.

    Praise for Jacqueline Woodson:

    Ms. Woodson writes with a sure understanding of the thoughts of young people, offering a poetic, eloquent narrative that is not simply a story . . . but a mature exploration of grown-up issues and self-discovery."--The New York Times Book Review



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    The bold story of Katherine Johnson, an African-American mathematician who worked for NASA during the space race and was depicted in the film Hidden Figures.

    You've likely heard of the historic Apollo 13 moon landing. But do you know about the mathematical genius who made sure that Apollo 13 returned safely home?

    As a child, Katherine Johnson loved to count. She counted the steps on the road, the number of dishes and spoons she washed in the kitchen sink, everything! Boundless, curious, and excited by calculations, young Katherine longed to know as much as she could about math, about the universe.

    From Katherine's early beginnings as a gifted student to her heroic accomplishments as a prominent mathematician at NASA, Counting on Katherine is the story of a groundbreaking American woman who not only calculated the course of moon landings but, in turn, saved lives and made enormous contributions to history.

    Christy Ottaviano Books

    Hold Fast

    Hold Fast

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    From NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Blue Balliett, the story of a girl who falls into Chicago's shelter system, and from there must solve the mystery of her father's strange disappearance.

    Where is Early's father? He's not the kind of father who would disappear. But he's gone . . . and he's left a whole lot of trouble behind.As danger closes in, Early, her mom, and her brother have to flee their apartment. With nowhere else to go, they are forced to move into a city shelter. Once there, Early starts asking questions and looking for answers. Because her father hasn't disappeared without a trace. There are patterns and rhythms to what's happened, and Early might be the only one who can use them to track him down and make her way out of a very tough place.With her signature, singular love of language and sense of mystery, Blue Balliett weaves a story that takes readers from the cold, snowy Chicago streets to the darkest corner of the public library, on an unforgettable hunt for deep truths and a reunited family.


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    An evocative picture book biography about the prolific life of Jackie Ormes, whose groundbreaking cartoons became some of the first empowering depictions of Black women in America!

    Jackie Ormes made history. She was the first Black woman cartoonist to be nationally syndicated in the United States. She was also a journalist, fashionista, philanthropist, and activist, and she used her incredible talent and artistry to bring joy and hope to people everywhere. But in post-World War II America, Black people were still being denied their civil rights, and Jackie found herself in a dilemma: How could her art stay true to her signature "Jackie joy" while remaining honest about the inequalities Black people had been fighting?

    Rising stars Traci N. Todd, author of the Coretta Scott King Honor Book Nina: A Story of Nina Simone, and Shannon Wright, co-creator of the bestselling graphic novel Twins, have crafted a gorgeous and heartfelt tribute to the indelible legacy of Jackie Ormes, whose life and work still influences illustrators and cartoonists today.



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    The Ivy Hero is the true story of Sergeant William (Bill) Shemin, child of immigrants, an American soldier who fought in World War I. Dedicated, fearless, and brave, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously in 2015 by President Barack Obama.

    Why The Ivy Hero? Sergeant Shemin fought with the U.S. Army's 4th Division, which is known as the "Ivy" Division because the Roman Numeral for 4 is composed of an I before a V--IV--so its nickname is "IVY." The Ivy Division's motto, mirroring the way the ivy plant itself grows, is "steadfast and loyal." After serving in World War I in the Ivy Division, Bill Shemin used the ivy plant as the logo for his tree and plant business. And "steadfast and loyal" was how he lived his life. He passed along his values of patriotism, education, close family ties, and hard work to three children and 14 grandchildren.

    Long after his service in the Army was over, Bill's daughter, Elsie Shemin-Roth, waged her own battle for many years to have the U.S. government award him the Medal of Honor that rightfully should have been awarded at the time of his service in World War I.

    The book also features Henry Johnson, an African American soldier who, like Bill, fought bravely and heroically in World War I--not far away from the battlefields where Bill fought in France in 1918. Like Bill, Henry Johnson's bravery in saving his fellow soldiers' lives went unrecognized with a Medal of Honor in his lifetime, even though his actions certainly called for one. William Shemin was discriminated against because he was a Jewish American, and there was a pronounced mood of anti-Semitism in the United States in 1918. Henry Johnson was discriminated against because he was African American at a time when African Americans were severely discriminated against in the U.S. Army and throughout American life.

    Both Bill Shemin and Henry Johnson were awarded posthumous Medals of Honor by President Obama, due in no small measure to the efforts of their family members.

    Although much progress has been made, racial and religious discrimination have been with American society from the birth of our country to the present day. The struggle for equality and freedom continues, as people try to make the United States a "more perfect union." The pain and suffering of war and discrimination run through this story, but it has a hopeful ending. And much can be learned from the lives and experiences of these heroes!



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    An inspiring memoir of a Caldecott-winning artist and one of the most acclaimed children's book illustrators of all time, sharing the story of a young artist who finds the courage to follow his passion against all odds.

    * "A moving work from a legend of children's literature and a testament to his legacy of visual storytelling." --Kirkus Reviews, starred review

    Jerry Pinkney--creator of Caldecott Medal-winning The Lion & the Mouse and The Little Mermaid--drew everywhere, all the time. Since childhood, it was how he made sense of the world--how he coped with the stress of being a sensitive child growing up in crowded spaces, struggling with a learning disability, in a time when the segregation of Black Americans was the norm. Only drawing could offer him a sense of calm, control, and confidence. When friends and siblings teased him about having the nickname "Jerry" as his only name, his mother always said, "Just 'Jerry' is enough. He'll make something of that name someday." And so he did, eventually becoming one of the most celebrated children's book illustrators of all time and paving the way for countless other Black artists.

    Jerry's vivid recollections and lively sketchbook drawings of his youth in postwar America tell an inspiring story of how a hardworking boy pursued his passion in less-than-ideal circumstances and became a legendary artist against all odds.



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    Meet the little leaders. They're brave. They're bold. They changed the world.

    Featuring 40 trailblazing black women in history, this book educates and inspires as it relates true stories of women who broke boundaries and exceeded all expectations, including:

    Nurse Mary Seacole

    Politician Diane Abbott

    Mathematician Katherine Johnson

    Singer Shirley Bassey

    Bestselling author and artist Vashti Harrison pairs captivating text and beautiful illustrations as she tells the stories of both iconic and lesser-known female figures. Among these biographies, readers will find heroes, role models, and everyday women who did extraordinary things.