I’m going to start posting here about the books that I acquire for my library. For those of you who don’t know, I have a private subscription library in my home, mostly for homeschoolers, although others who are interested in quality books are welcome to visit or to join. I have a lot of older books that are no longer available from the public library as well as some new books that I think will stand the test of time.
Harry Houdini: Young Magician by Kathryn Kilby Borland. Illustrated by Helen Ross Speicher. Childhood of Famous Americans series.
Albert Einstein: Young Thinker by Marie Hammontree. Illustrated by Robert Dorms. Childhood of Famous Americans series.
Kate Douglas Wiggin: The Little Schoolteacher by Miriam E. Mason. Illustrated by Vance Locke. Childhood of Famous Americans series.
George Eastman: Young Photographer by Joanne Landers Henry. Illustrated Rawson. Childhood of Famous Americans series.
I have a young library patron who devours these Childhood of Famous Americans series books. They are a series of somewhat fictionalized biographies of almost all of the famous Americans you can think of. They’re written on a primary grade/easy chapter book reading level, and the stories are engaging and adventure-filled. The bios focus on the childhood years of the subject, hence the series title, but do give information about each person’s adult life as well. I recommend them for second to fourth graders who want to read about real people. I find them to much more readable and “narrative” than more recent biography series for that age group, which sometimes tend to be dry and factual and focused on the adult lives of the biographical subject.
The War in Korea: 1950-1953 by Robert Leckie. World Landmark series is another great series for children and young adults, this one more middle grade level and usually about historical events or time periods, although some are biographies. I didn’t really have any books in my library about the Korean War or set during the Korean War, so I was glad to pick up this Landmark history book.
The Story of Beethoven by Helen Kaufmann. Another series, Signature Books from Grosset and Dunlap publishers. Excellent biographies written by top-notch authors.
Giants of Invention: Stories of the Men Whose Inventions Remade our World by Edgar Tharp. Illustrated by Frank Vaughn.
History’s 100 Greatest Composers: Life Stories of the Immortals of Music Selected by America’s Top Music Critics by Helen L. Kaufmann.
On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne. I found this more recent title, a picture book biography emphasizing Einstein’s unrelenting curiosity, at a thrift store. It’s a lovely introduction to the great scientist and his work.