Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery

Book review by
Whitney Stewart, Common Sense Media
Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery Book Poster Image
Thoughtful, moving biography of Eleanor Roosevelt.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Roosevelt confronts the sexism and racism of her time. Several people in her life suffer alcoholism and drug addiction and engage in adultery, child negligence, and emotional abuse.


War casualties are described. Young Eleanor is surrounded by untrustworthy adults. Roosevelt and several of her relatives suffer periods of severe emotional suffering.


References to the infidelities of Roosevelt's husband, Franklin.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the details of Roosevelt's life are told in clear, eloquent language and supported by rich historical photographs.

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Teen, 14 years old Written byHappilyEverAfter April 9, 2008

Did a project on Eleanor and this was my main source

I really loved this book! I chose Eleanor Roosevelt to do a project on and my teacher gave me this book. I immeadiately read it and was pleased that it gave me... Continue reading

What's the story?

Raised in a world of privilege and constrained by societal rules, Eleanor Roosevelt was not encouraged to express her true self or to carve out a career. Despite personal tragedies, she did both. This thoughtful, moving biography shows Roosevelt steeling herself against obstacles and opening her mind and heart to better the lives of oppressed people throughout the world.


Is it any good?

Author Freedman neatly balances history and entertainment, descriptive and snappy prose, and fact and ambience. He knows how to engage young readers without sacrificing content or literary style. Freedman does enough research to write a scholarly adult work, but carefully chooses material that will hold a young adult's attention. Eleanor Roosevelt was a complex woman who faced as many emotional challenges as political ones, and Freedman offers readers a well-rounded view of Roosevelt that is not shaded in hero worship. Boys may not be able to identify as easily as girls do with Roosevelt's struggles as a plain-looking girl, a young wife and mother dependent on her husband and his family, and an intelligent woman wanting to break through confining social traditions -- but both girls and boys will come away understanding Roosevelt's strengths (compassion, energy, open-mindedness) and her self-professed weaknesses (emotional intensity, a somber attitude, and no-nonsense mothering).

Despite a few points of history that could use more explanation -- the October 1929 stock market crash, for example -- Freedman presents a lively view of a vivid chapter in U.S. history. This biography is as much an interesting leisure-time book as it is a classroom history text. Source notes for the many quotes are missing, but Freedman does include a discussion of further reading and of historical sites connected to Roosevelt.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what made Eleanor Roosevelt such an admirable person. Which of her qualities or accomplishments impressed you the most, and why?

Book details

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