Inspiring Children Books About Great People in History

Everyone created their list of heroes and inspirational characters we admire and aspire to continue their legacy. Often, ordinary people, are those whose work, passion, motivation, and strength of character become an excellent example for all, especially children. These are real “superheroes” that I want my children to look up to, people who used their talents, resources, and passion for achieving their goals, dreams in spite of difficulties and obstacles. I admire the fact that these talented authors wrote books sharing stories of Maria Montessori, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Wilma Rudolph, Galileo Galilei, and others to inspire children to pursue their dreams and talents.

Maria Montessori and Her Quiet Revolution: A Picture Book about Maria Montessori and Her School Method 
A picture book to help young readers become familiar with Italian educator Maria Montessori. Montessori’s life, work and teaching method are explained with a simple story and with colourful illustrations. 

Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei 
In this amazing new book, Peter Sís employs the artist’s lens to give us an extraordinary view of the life of Galileo Galilei. Sís tells his story in language as simple as a fairy tale, in pictures as rich and tightly woven as a tapestry, and in Galileo’s own words, written more than 350 years ago and still resonant with truth.

Neo Leo: The Ageless Ideas of Leonardo da Vinci
At once an artist, inventor, engineer, and scientist, da Vinci wrote and drew detailed descriptions of what would later become hang gliders, automobiles, robots, and much more. Gene Barretta cleverly shows how Leonardo’s ideas–many inspired by his love of nature–foreshadowed modern inventions, offering a window into the future.
Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library

As soon as Thomas Jefferson learned to read, he found his passion: books, books, and more books! Before, during, and after the American Revolution, Jefferson collected thousands of books on hundreds of subjects

Odd Boy Out: Young Albert Einstein
When he was born, Albert was a peculiar, fat baby with an unusually big and misshaped head. When he was older, he hit his sister, bothered his teachers, and didn’t have many friends. But in the midst of all of this, Albert was fascinated with solving puzzles and fixing scientific problems. The ideas Albert Einstein came up with during his childhood as an odd boy out were destined to change the way we know and understand the world around us

On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein 
A boy rides a bicycle down a dusty road. But in his mind, he envisions himself traveling at a speed beyond imagining, on a beam of light. This brilliant mind will one day offer up some of the most revolutionary ideas ever conceived. From a boy endlessly fascinated by the wonders around him, Albert Einstein ultimately grows into a man of genius recognized the world over for profoundly illuminating our understanding of the universe. Jennifer Berne and Vladimir Radunsky invite the reader to travel along with Einstein on a journey full of curiosity, laughter, and scientific discovery.

A Wizard from the Start: The Incredible Boyhood and Amazing Inventions of Thomas Edison 
A wizard from the start, Thomas Edison had a thirst for knowledge, taste for mischief, and hunger for discovery—but his success was made possible by his boundless energy. At age fourteen he coined his personal motto: “The More to do, the more to be done,” and then went out and did: picking up skills and knowledge at every turn. When learning about things that existed wasn’t enough, he dreamed up new inventions to improve the

The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos 

Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell 

The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps 
Acclaimed picture book biographer Jeanette Winter has found her perfect subject: Jane Goodall, the great observer of chimpanzees. Follow Jane from her childhood in London watching a robin on her windowsill, to her years in the African forests of Gombe, Tanzania, invited by brilliant scientist Louis Leakey to observe chimps, to her worldwide crusade to save these primates who are now in danger of extinction, and their habitat. 


Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman 
Before Wilma Rudolph was five years old, polio had paralyzed her left leg. Everyone said she would never walk again. But Wilma refused to believe it. Not only would she walk again, she vowed, she’d run. And she did run–all the way to the Olympics, where she became the first American woman to earn three gold medals in a single olympiad. 
The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever 
Katherine Olivia Sessions never thought she’d live in a place without trees. After all, Kate grew up among the towering pines and redwoods of Northern California. But after becoming the first woman to graduate from the University of California with a degree in science, she took a job as a teacher far south in the dry desert town of San Diego. Where there were almost no trees.

Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women 
In kitchens and living rooms, in garages and labs and basements, even in converted chicken coops, women and girls have invented ingenious innovations that have made our lives simpler and better. Their creations are some of the most enduring (the windshield wiper) and best loved (the chocolate chip cookie). What inspired these women, and just how did they turn their ideas into realities?

Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream
The mere mention of the name conjures up visions of basketball played at its absolute best. But as a child, Michael almost gave up on his hoop dreams, all because he feared he’d never grow tall enough to play the game that would one day make him famous. That’s when his mother and father stepped in and shared the invaluable lesson of what really goes into the making of a champion — patience, determination, and hard work.
Deloris Jordan, mother of the basketball phenomenon, teams up with his sister Roslyn to tell this heartwarming and inspirational story that only the members of the Jordan family could tell. It’s a tale about faith and hope and how any family working together can help a child make his or her dreams come true
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The Boy on Fairfield Street: How Ted Geisel Grew Up to Become Dr. Seuss

Award-winning author Kathleen Krull zeros in on the formative first 22 years of the life of Ted Geisel. This is the first picture book biography of Dr. Seuss, written especially for his young fans who want to know what made him tick. The animals in the zoo that his father ran and his fondness for drawing them, the injustices he suffered as the child of German immigrants, and his inherent sense of humor all fed into the imagination of this boy. He was a square peg in a round hole until he found that he could make a living doing exactly what he pleased—doodling and writing funny things about the world as he saw it.

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers
In 1974, French aerialist Philippe Petit threw a tightrope between the two towers of the World Trade Center and spent an hour walking, dancing, and performing high-wire tricks a quarter mile in the sky. This picture book captures the poetry and magic of the event with a poetry of its own: lyrical words and lovely paintings that present the detail, daring, and–in two dramatic foldout spreads– the vertiginous drama of Petit’s feat.

The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon 
John James Audubon was a boy who loved the out-of-doors more than the in. He was a boy who believed in studying birds in nature, not just from books. And, in the fall of 1804, he was a boy determined to learn if the small birds nesting near his Pennsylvania home really would return the following spring.

Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau 
Before Jacques Cousteau became an internationally known oceanographer and champion of the seas, he was a curious little boy. In this lovely biography, poetic text and gorgeous paintings combine to create a portrait of Jacques Cousteau that is as magical as it is inspiring.

Alfred Nobel: The Man Behind the Peace Prize 
Almost everyone has heard of the Nobel Prize, a collection of prizes awarded for accomplishments in science, medicine, literature, and peace. But few people know about the man who established the award and for whom it is named, Alfred Nobel. Alfred Nobel was born in Sweden in 1833. A quick and curious mind, combined with a love of science and chemistry, drove him to invent numerous technological devices throughout his long life. But he is perhaps most well known for his invention of dynamite.

Marie Curie: Prize-Winning Scientist 
When most women were not even attending college, Marie Curie earned degrees in physics and mathematics. When she began studying rocks, she soon discovered elements that gave off an invisible energy called radioactivity. Because of her amazing discoveries, in 1903 Marie Curie became the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize for Physics. Today, she is remembered as one of the most important scientists of all time.

Who Was Walt Disney? 
Walt Disney always loved to entertain people. Often it got him into trouble. Once he painted pictures with tar on the side of his family?s white house. His family was poor, and the happiest time of his childhood was spent living on a farm in Missouri. His affection for small-town life is reflected in Disneyland Main Streets around the world. With black-and-white illustrations throughout, this biography reveals the man behind the magic.

Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan
Young Nasreen has not spoken a word to anyone since her parents disappeared.

In despair, her grandmother risks everything to enroll Nasreen in a secret school for girls. Will a devoted teacher, a new friend, and the worlds she discovers in books be enough to draw Nasreen out of her shell of sadness?

Based on a true story from Afghanistan, this inspiring book will touch readers deeply as it affirms both the life-changing power of education and the healing power of love. I hope you found a book or two to share with your child or classroom.

  About Anastasia. Anastasia is the founder of Montessori Nature, a blog about Montessori - inspired and Nature-based explorations. She taught in a Montessori setting for 10 years and has been practicing the Montessori way of learning and living for the last 19 years. She loves designing engaging educational printables for children. Learn more here. 

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