Tuesday, November 12, 2013

CYBILS: Picture Book Biographies

I love being part of the CYBILS! It is always so wonderful to learn about and read so many books in a single category.  This year, I am part of the Elementary and Middle Grade Nonfiction Committee. I have loved discovering new books and am excited to share some on the blog.  Today, I want to share two new-to-me picture book biographies.

The thing I love about recent picture book biographies is that so many of them tell the stories of people whose impact has been lost or forgotten somehow. Or their impact has certainly not been written in a way that is accessible to children. These two are new picture book biographies that will give readers info as well as maybe spark some new interest connected with the difference each person made in the world.

When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop by Laban Carrick Hill is the story of DJ Kool Herc and how he became a DJ.  The story begins with his childhood and how his love of music impacted all that he did.  DJ Kool Herc was responsible for extending breaks so listeners had more time to dance  (break-dancers).  His DJ-ing was quite the party and made people everywhere happy.  The author's note and timeline in the back add more interesting info to the story and the author's journey toward writing this story.

There are so many great books about the ways in which women in history changed the ideas around what was expected of them. Flying Solo: How Ruth Elder Soared into America's Heart by Julie Cummins is one of those books.  This is the story of Ruth Elder, a woman who was determined to become the "female Lindbergh" and to fly across the Atlantic.  She spent much of her life showing that women could be pilots and we learn about things like the 1929 all women's cross-country air race in which Ruth participated.  I love these stories that show determined people showing what is possible and changing perceptions throughout history. 


  1. As a school librarian in an inner city elementary/middle school, I am always looking for books from various genre to promote reading and literacy among my students. Thank you for sharing these picture book biography titles. I will look into acquiring these books for my school library.

  2. I've seen the first one reviewed, but managed to get a copy of Flying Solo-very good book, & you're right, it is terrific that some of these bios are about little known people who made a difference. Thanks, Franki!


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