Biographies

Sometimes the best stories are the true ones. Our list of the best biographies for young readers includes inspiring stories about people standing up for their rights, profiles of overlooked witnesses to history, anthologies that offer capsule bios of people who've done great things, and more. For tales of other outstanding leaders and people who made a difference, check out these lists: Civil Rights Books and Books About Racism and Social Justice.

Browse Biographies

Jazz Age Josephine Book Poster Image
Jazzy bio of Josephine Baker inspiring, bittersweet.
By Jonah Winter
(2012)
(2012)
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Mahalia Jackson: Walking with Kings and Queens Book Poster Image
Gorgeous, uplifting picture-book bio of the Queen of Gospel.
By Nina Nolan
(2015)
(2015)
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Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters Book Poster Image
Picture book bio of blues great has dazzling art.
By Michael James Mahin
(2017)
(2017)
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Rosa Book Poster Image
Spectacular illustrations spotlight Parks' historic protest.
By Nikki Giovanni
(2006)
(2006)
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She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World Book Poster Image
Short, inspiring profiles of groundbreaking women.
By Chelsea Clinton
(2017)
(2017)
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Turning Pages: My Life Story Book Poster Image
Inspiring life story of first Latina Supreme Court Justice.
By Sonia Sotomayor
(2018)
(2018)
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Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine Book Poster Image
Fascinating bio of remarkable 19th-century female inventor.
By Laurie Wallmark
(2016)
(2015)
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Antsy Ansel: Ansel Adams, a Life in Nature Book Poster Image
Artful, relatable bio offers intro to photographer's work.
By Cindy Jenson-Elliott
(2016)
(2016)
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Balderdash!: John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children's Books Book Poster Image
Lively biography of the man who gave birth to kids' books.
By Michelle Markel
(2017)
(2017)
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A Boy, a Mouse, and a Spider: The Story of E.B. White Book Poster Image
Gentle bio of "Charlotte's Web" author is full of charm.
By Barbara Herkert
(2017)
(2017)
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The Girl Who Ran: Bobbi Gibb, the First Woman to Run the Boston Marathon Book Poster Image
Suspense, drama in tale of runner who helped break barrier.
By Frances Poletti, Kristina Yee
(2018)
(2017)
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I Am Gandhi : Ordinary People Change the World Book Poster Image
Engaging picture bio of Indian hero, nonviolence pioneer.
By Brad Meltzer
(2017)
(2017)
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I Am Harriet Tubman: Ordinary People Change the World Book Poster Image
Courage, doing the right thing are themes in thrilling bio.
By Brad Meltzer
(2018)
(2018)
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I Am Jane Goodall: Ordinary People Change the World Book Poster Image
Endearing, lively illustrated bio packs positive messages.
By Brad Meltzer
(2017)
(2016)
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I Am Sacagawea: Ordinary People Change the World Book Poster Image
Strong Native American teen guide shines in lively history.
By Brad Meltzer
(2017)
(2017)
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JFK Book Poster Image
JFK
Inspiring biography has bold, realistic artwork.
By Jonah Winter
(2013)
(2013)
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Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom Book Poster Image
Award-winning picture-book treatment of Tubman.
By Carole Boston Weatherford
(2007)
(2006)
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Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell Book Poster Image
Lively, inspiring bio of America's first female doctor.
By Tanya Lee Stone
(2013)
(2013)
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Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing Book Poster Image
Joyous biography of artist celebrates creativity.
By Kay A. Haring
(2017)
(2017)
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Abraham Book Poster Image
Powerful bio of Abraham Lincoln uses his own words.
By Frank Keating
(2016)
(2017)
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Gandhi: A March to the Sea Book Poster Image
Lovely, poignant look at key moment in Indian history.
By Alice B. McGinty
(2013)
(2013)
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Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls Book Poster Image
Inspiring, kid-friendly tales of extraordinary women.
By Elena Favilli, Francesca Cavallo
(2017)
(2016)
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I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark Book Poster Image
Inspiring bio of Supreme Court justice empowers girls.
By Debbie Levy
(2016)
(2016)
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Libba: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten Book Poster Image
Charming, artful bio celebrates singer, music, kindness.
By Laura Veirs
(2018)
(2018)
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Little Melba and Her Big Trombone Book Poster Image
Engaging, inspiring bio of jazz great has superb art.
By Katheryn Russell-Brown
(2015)
(2014)
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Nelson Mandela Book Poster Image
Stellar art portrays key aspects of Mandela's life for kids.
By Kadir Nelson
(2013)
(2013)
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Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat Book Poster Image
Exuberant bio celebrates artist who had success when young.
By Javaka Steptoe
(2017)
(2016)
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Who Says Women Can't Be Computer Programmers?: The Story of Ada Lovelace Book Poster Image
Playful bio of female who pioneered programming in 1800s.
By Tanya Lee Stone
(2018)
(2018)
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Elvis:  The Story of the Rock and Roll King Book Poster Image
Charming pictures, story make the King relatable to kids.
By Bonnie Christensen
(2015)
(2015)
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Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History Book Poster Image
Beautifully illustrated bio of abolition's greatest hero.
By Walter Dean Myers
(2017)
(2017)
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I Am George Washington: Ordinary People Change the World Book Poster Image
Cute, engaging bio applauds having the courage to be first.
By Brad Meltzer
(2017)
(2016)
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I Am Martin Luther King, Jr.: Ordinary People Change the World Book Poster Image
Kid-friendly bio a strong, accessible intro to King's life.
By Brad Meltzer
(2016)
(2016)
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The Legendary Miss Lena Horne Book Poster Image
Solid intro to singer, movie star, civil rights activist.
By Carole Boston Weatherford
(2017)
(2017)
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No Truth Without Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg Book Poster Image
Meaty bio of RBG shows how she fought for women's rights.
By Kathleen Krull
(2018)
(2018)
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The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus Book Poster Image
Engaging picture-book intro to word-loving thesaurus author.
By Jen Bryant
(2014)
(2014)
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Soar, Elinor! Book Poster Image
Exciting bio of '20s female pilot who found fame with stunt.
By Tami Lewis Brown
(2012)
(2010)
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Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas Book Poster Image
Compelling bio of African-American heart surgery innovator.
By Gwendolyn Hooks
(2016)
(2016)
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Chasing Freedom: The Life Journeys of Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony, Inspired by Historical Facts Book Poster Image
Fact-filled look at rights leaders' intertwined lives.
By Nikki Grimes
(2015)
(2015)
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Escape! The Story of the Great Houdini Book Poster Image
Engrossing Houdini bio by kids' author/magician.
By Sid Fleischman
(2007)
(2006)
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Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World Book Poster Image
Inspiring bios of female artists and scientists worldwide.
By Vashti Harrison
(2018)
(2018)
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Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History Book Poster Image
Inspirational bios of trailblazing African American women.
By Vashti Harrison
(2017)
(2017)
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My Name Is Truth: The Life of Sojourner Truth Book Poster Image
Inspirational and informative intro to an American hero.
By Ann Turner
(2015)
(2015)
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Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes Book Poster Image
Picture book offers inspiring bios of Latino Americans.
By Juan Felipe Herrera
(2014)
(2014)
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Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries Who Shaped Our History ... and Our Future! Book Poster Image
Artful profiles of groundbreakers are fresh, inspiring.
By Kate Schatz
(2015)
(2015)
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Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White Book Poster Image
Enchanting illustrated bio of "Charlotte's Web" author.
By Melissa Sweet
(2016)
(2016)
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Women Who Broke The Rules: Coretta Scott King Book Poster Image
A detailed, accessible biography of a civil rights icon.
By Kathleen Krull
(2016)
(2016)
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Charles A. Lindbergh: A Human Hero Book Poster Image
An evenly presented Lindbergh biography.
By James Cross Giblin
(2003)
(1997)
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Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America Book Poster Image
Captivating storytelling makes these heroes relatable.
By Andrea Davis Pinkney
(2013)
(2012)
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Legends, Icons & Rebels: Music That Changed the World Book Poster Image
Wonderful intro to 27 musicians and their unique styles.
By Robbie Robertson, Jim Guerinot, Sebastian Robertson, Jared Levine
(2013)
(2013)
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Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement Book Poster Image
Frank, poetic picture book bio has dazzling art.
By Carole Boston Weatherford
(2016)
(2015)
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Abraham Lincoln: The Making of America Book Poster Image
Compelling, engaging, and nuanced biography of Honest Abe.
By Teri Kanefield
(2018)
(2018)
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Alexander Hamilton: The Making of America Book Poster Image
Succinct, kid-friendly bio of America's trendiest founder.
By Teri Kanefield
(2017)
(2017)
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Betty Before X Book Poster Image
Inspiring, intimate story of activist's early years.
By Ilyasah Shabazz, Renee Watson
(2018)
(2018)
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Best Shot in the West: The Adventures of Nat Love Book Poster Image
Gripping nonfiction graphic novel brings Old West to life.
By Patricia C. McKissack, Frederick L. McKissack
(2012)
(2012)
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The Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill: Growing Up Billy Cody in Bleeding Kansas Book Poster Image
Captivating biography of legendary showman Buffalo Bill.
By Andrea Warren
(2015)
(2015)
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Facing Frederick: The Life of Frederick Douglass, a Monumental American Man Book Poster Image
Compelling, fact-filled bio of the abolitionist icon.
By Tonya Bolden
(2018)
(2018)
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Let Your Voice Be Heard: The Life And Times of Pete Seeger Book Poster Image
Riveting biography of beloved folk singer, activist.
By Anita Silvey
(2016)
(2016)
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The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary Book Poster Image
The way biographies for children ought to be done.
By Candace Fleming
(2008)
(2008)
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Presenting Buffalo Bill: The Man Who Invented the Wild West Book Poster Image
Lively, thought-provoking look at showman and his era.
By Candace Fleming
(2016)
(2016)
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Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team Book Poster Image
Thrilling account of early gridiron history.
By Steve Sheinkin
(2017)
(2017)
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Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World Book Poster Image
Lively, illustrated bios encourage girls to pursue STEM.
By Rachel Ignotofsky
(2016)
(2016)
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The Dreamer Book Poster Image
Lyrical, ficionalized biography of famed poet Pablo Neruda.
By Pam Munoz Ryan
(2010)
(2010)
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Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery Book Poster Image
Thoughtful, moving biography of Eleanor Roosevelt.
By Russell Freedman
(2003)
(1993)
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Rad Women Worldwide: Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and Other Revolutionaries Who Shaped History Book Poster Image
Engaging profiles of 40 amazing women in 31 countries.
By Kate Schatz
(2016)
(2016)
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The Family Romanov:  Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia Book Poster Image
Vivid, sometimes violent tale of Russia's last royal family.
By Candace Fleming
(2014)
(2014)
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In The Shadow of Liberty: The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents, and Five Black Lives Book Poster Image
Incredible history of five slaves of the Founding Fathers.
By Kenneth C. Davis
(2016)
(2016)
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Unbroken (The Young Adult Adaptation): An Olympian's Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive Book Poster Image
YA version of POW bio is a poignant tale of perseverance.
By Laura Hillenbrand
(2015)
(2014)
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Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers Book Poster Image
Riveting story of art, mental illness, brotherly devotion.
By Deborah Heiligman
(2017)
(2017)
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Alexander Hamilton, Revolutionary Book Poster Image
Challenging but engaging bio of the complex Founding Father.
By Martha Brockenbrough
(2017)
(2017)
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Caravaggio:  Painter on the Run Book Poster Image
Vivid bio of genius painter has mature content, violence.
By Marissa Moss
(2017)
(2016)
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Your Own, Sylvia Book Poster Image
Fictionalized bio in verse a great intro to Plath's poetry.
By Stephanie Hemphill
(2008)
(2007)
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The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano Book Poster Image
Brutal but moving bio in verse is best for teens.
By Margarita Engle
(2008)
(2006)
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