Picture Book Biographies Instagram Series {undergodsmightyhand.com}

28 Awesome Picture Book Biographies

Back in February, I did an Instagram series of 28 mini-reviews of picture book biographies. I loved reading for that series and sharing those books, and I’m finally getting to list all of the books in one place here!

Picture books are an awesome medium for biographies because they can inform, encourage, tell an amazingly relatable story, and inspire all in 1500 words or less (and usually 1000 words or less). They’re useful for people/social studies in classrooms/homeschool, as well as introductions to special events or topics. Plus, most are written uniquely or beautifully and can be great mentor texts for kid writers and grown-up writers!

Read below for the title/author/illustrator for each book, plus a link to my mini-review on Instagram for each book.

Picture Book Biographies Instagram Series {undergodsmightyhand.com}

28 Awesome Picture Book Biographies

Basketball Belles by Sue Macy, illustrated by Matt Collins

Basketball Belles by Sue Macy, illustrated by Matt Collins (Holiday House, 2011) - My mini-review

Before John was a Jazz Giant - Carole Boston Weatherford, Sean Qualls

Before John was a Jazz Giant by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Sean Qualls (Henry Holt, 2008) – My mini-review

Eleanor, Quiet No More - Doreen Rappaport, Gary Kelley

Eleanor, Quiet No More by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Gary Kelley (Disney-Hyperion, 2009) – My mini-review

Wilma Unlimited - Kathleen Krull, David Diaz

Wilma Unlimited by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by David Diaz (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2000) – My mini-review

Just Behave, Pablo Picasso! - Jonah Winter, Kevin Hawkes

Just Behave, Pablo Picasso! by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes (Arthur A. Levine books, 2012) – My mini-review

Nelson Mandela - Kadir Nelson

Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson (Katherine Tegen Books, 2013) – My mini-review

Ben Franklin's Big Splash - Barb Rosenstock, S.D. Schindler

Ben Franklin’s Big Splash by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by S.D. Schindler (Calkins Creek, 2014) – My mini-review

When Marian Sang - Pam Munoz Ryan, Brian Selznick

When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan, illustrated by Brian Selznick (Scholastic, 2002) – My mini-review

Rosa - Nikki Giovanni, Bryan Collier

Rosa by Nikki Giovanni, illustrated by Bryan Collier (Henry Holt, 2007) – My mini-review

On a Beam of Light - Jennifer Berne, Vladimir Radunsky

On a Beam of Light by Jennifer Berne, illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky (Chronicle, 2013) – My mini-review

The Noisy Paint Box - Barb Rosenstock, Mary GrandPre

The Noisy Paint Box by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mary GrandPré (Knopf, 2014) – My mini-review

The Tree Lady - H. Joseph Hopkins, Jill McElmurry

The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkins, illustrated by Jill McElmurry (Beach Lane Books, 2013) – My mini-review

The Boy Who Loved Math - Deborah Heiligman, LeUyen Pham

The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos by Deborah Heiligman, illustrated by LeUyen Pham (Roaring Book Press, 2013) – My mini-review

Words Set Me Free - Lesa Cline-Ransome, James E. Ransome

Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James E. Ransome (Paula Wiseman Books/Simon and Schuster, 2012) – My mini-review

The Iridescence of Birds - Patricia MacLachlan, Hadley Hooper

The Iridescence of Birds: A Story about Henri Matisse by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Hadley Hooper (Roaring Book Press, 2014) – My mini-review

The Camping Trip that Changed America - Barb Rosenstock, Mordicai Gerstein

The Camping Trip that Changed America by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein (Dial, 2014) – My mini-review

Queen of the Falls - Chris Van Allsburg

Queen of the Falls by Chris Van Allsburg (HMH Books, 2011) – My mini-review

Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library - Barb Rosenstock, John O'Brien

Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by John O’Brien (Calkins Creek, 2013) – My mini-review

Miss Moore Thought Otherwise - Jan Pinborough, Debby Atwell

Miss Moore Thought Otherwise by Jan Pinborough, illustrated by Debby Atwell (HMH Books, 2013) – My mini-review

Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors? - Tanya Lee Stone, Marjorie Priceman

Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell by Tanya Lee Stone, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman (Henry Holt, 2013) – My mini-review

When the Beat was Born - Laban Carrick Hill, Theodore Taylor III

When the Beat was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop by Laban Carrick Hill, illustrated by Theodore Taylor III (Roaring Book Press, 2013) – My mini-review

The Right Word - Jen Bryant, Melissa Sweet

The Right Word by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet (Eerdmans, 2014) – My mini-review

Mama Miti - Donna Jo Napoli, Kadir Nelson

Mama Miti by Donna Jo Napoli, illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Paula Wiseman Books/Simon and Schuster, 2010) – My mini-review

Seeds of Change - Jen Cullerton Johnson, Sonia Lynn Sadler

Seeds of Change by Jen Cullerton Johnson, illustrated by Sonia Lynn Sadler (Lee and Low, 2010) – My mini-review

Sojourner Truth's Step-Stomp Stride - Andrea Davis Pinkney, Brian Pinkney

Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney (Disney, 2009) – My mini-review

Manfish - Jennifer Berne, Eric Puybaret

Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau by Jennifer Berne, illustrated by Eric Puybaret (Chronicle, 2008) – My mini-review

The Streak - Barb Rosenstock, Terry Widener

The Streak: How Joe DiMaggio Became America’s Hero by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Terry Widener (Calkins Creek, 2014) – My mini-review

Emmanuel's Dream - Laurie Ann Thompson, Sean Qualls

Emmanuel’s Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Sean Qualls (Schwartz and Wade, 2015) – My mini-review

Even more great picture book biographies have come out since I did this series, and more are being published in the future! What are some of your family’s favorite picture book biographies?

Disclosure: I either own the books above or checked each out from our library system. I was not given any for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates and GrapeVine Studies. If you click on an Amazon link or a GrapeVine Studies link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Fair Trade Friday - we can redeem consumerism

4 Ways to Teach Kids about Fair Trade

I think a lot about intentional parenting. Maybe sometimes too much. But there are many things I want my kids to learn that took me too long to learn, or things we can know so much about now that we didn’t twenty years ago.

One of those things is the idea of fair trade products.

Without going into arguments about the benefits or negatives from living in a capitalist, commerce-focused society, we live in one. And because we live in one, how and where we spend our money matters.

Fair Trade Friday - we can redeem consumerism

Image courtesy of Fair Trade Friday

But how do we explain that to young kids? How much should they know? How much can teaching them about fair trade make a difference?

Of course, I feel like making fair trade a part of normal discussion along with learning about money goes hand-in-hand. Where we spend our money is like voting; our money shows what we support.

I’m still learning how to approach this topic as I learn more and more about fair trade, but here are four ways I’ve come across so far. I’d love to hear your thoughts and strategies.

4 Ways to Teach Kids about Fair Trade

Discuss with Books – Books always make great learning tools, particularly if written well and with personal perspective. Here are just two books that discuss aspects of fair trade.

One Hen

One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes (Kids Can Press, 2008)

No Monkeys, No Chocolate

No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart and Allen Young, illustrated by Nicole Wong (Charlesbridge, 2013)

Make it Tangible – Start with something kids can relate to and hold in their hands. Chocolate is a great example. (See the related book above.) As are clothes, jewelry, tote bags, soaps, and other physical items. Talk about how the product was made. Then talk about how buying that fair trade product over another product allows the person who made it to support their family in safer working conditions, with more money directly to the artisan, and with access to education, health resources, and more. When you learn about where a product was created, learn about that country and those cultures. It’s all real.

Talk about the People Behind the Products – We, as people, respond to other people’s stories. That’s why movies, books, and songs make us cry and laugh, think and explore, and feel hope and inspiration. Someone made the product you’re wearing, using, eating. That someone could have been in terrible working conditions or forced into a slave trade. Or that person may be working with fair trade companies who purposefully seek out ways to help those in need with meaningful, skilled work. Most fair trade partnerships allow more money to go directly to the artisans themselves, rather than through a company/middleman. We can share with our kids how buying something fairly traded allows a family to have food, pursue education, secure safety, and grow. Buying fair trade items is one way to serve and love other people.

Fair Trade Friday - our purchases matter

Image courtesy of Fair Trade Friday

Incorporate Fair Trade Gifts – When we give gifts, we can give fair trade items and be able to tell someone’s story along with those gifts. Kids can help share these stories. Many fair trade companies share real stories of real artisans to connect buyers with the artisans and make these purchases more meaningful. You can find a list of certified fair trade companies here, as well as read about one of my favorites below.

About Fair Trade Friday

Fair Trade Friday - celebrating one year

Image courtesy of Fair Trade Friday

Fair Trade Friday is one of my favorite online shops that supports fair trade artisans around the world and one of my favorite organizations, Mercy House Kenya. Here is Fair Trade Friday’s mission statement:

“Fair Trade Friday (FTF) exists as an avenue for women to empower women. We are tackling poverty through job opportunity and empowerment rather than enablement. 100% of the proceeds support the artisans, more than 500 women and their children from all over the world. FTF is a ministry of Mercy House Kenya, a non-profit organization.”

Fair Trade Friday recently sent me a sample box with fair trade items so I could learn more and share with you. I’m impressed with everything I read from Fair Trade Friday. They currently partner with 27 faith-based organizations in 18 different countries to help empower women and keep women out of dangerous situations. Fair Trade Friday alone helps provide steady jobs for more than 1,000 women. These jobs don’t just help the women, but also their families, and, in turn, their communities.

Fair Trade Friday - changing lives

Image courtesy of Fair Trade Friday

Fair Trade Friday works as a monthly membership club, where you pay a monthly fee and receive a new box of unique fair trade items each month. (You can sign up here, and if there’s a waitlist, you can join it!) I’ve heard from many folks that they save some of the items for gifts at Christmas, year-end teacher gifts, giveaways, and more. Fair Trade Friday also recently began offering an option for the Earring of the Month club. You can also purchase individual items at the online shop, which are great for gifts, as well.

As I look through my pieces, I can’t help but be in awe of the craftsmanship, as well as pray for these women who made these items with their own hands.

Fair Trade Friday soap from Zambia

This soap (which smells amazing) helps women in Zambia through organic farming techniques.

Fair Trade Friday bag from JOYN in India

This bag was made by three women in India. Three! Fair Trade Friday works with the organization JOYN for these bags. A representative for JOYN says this about the partnership:

“Our items are made by some of the most marginalized and oppressed people in the world – individuals with leprosy, disability, those who have grown up begging on the streets, former prostitutes, former addicts. Just one month of Fair Trade Friday’s purchases employed at least 70 of our artisans for over a month. We need more partners like Fair Trade Friday in order for this work to continue to be sustainable. We pray that this partnership grows.”

Every item from Fair Trade Friday comes with some information about who made that item and how we can pray. Fair Trade Friday FairTradeFriday4

Our purchases matter. These lives matter. Read more on the Fair Trade Friday website about the companies they work with, as well as on Mercy House Kenya’s website about ways you – and your kids – can help.

I'm a member of the Fair Trade Friday blogging team

How have you discussed fair trade with your kids? How does your family get involved? What questions do you have about fair trade?

Disclosure: I was given one free sample box of fair trade items from Fair Trade Friday in exchange for my participation on the Fair Trade Friday Blogging Team. All opinions expressed are my own.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates and GrapeVine Studies. If you click on an Amazon link or a GrapeVine Studies link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Until the Harvest by Sarah Loudin Thomas

Growth and Healing {Book Review – Until the Harvest by Sarah Loudin Thomas}

Until the Harvest by Sarah Loudin Thomas

Until the Harvest by Sarah Loudin Thomas (Bethany House, 2015)

From the back cover:

When family tragedy derails Henry Philips’s college studies, he’s left unmoored and feeling abandoned. The only things that can tamp down his grief are the family farm, his fiddle, and an unexpected friendship with sweet but unusual preteen Mayfair Hoffman.

Unfortunately, Mayfair’s older sister, Margaret, despite her spray of freckles and cute, up-turned nose, has a completely different effect. His grandmother’s caretaker, Margaret, is always around, ready to push his buttons, and it seems at first that she doesn’t care about his troubles.

Henry soon realizes, though, that Margaret’s facing her own struggles. Mayfair’s health and unique gift sit at the heart of those worries. Henry and Margaret soon find themselves relying on each other as potential tragedy collides with growing hope in a warm story of family bonds and the surprising ways healing finds us all.

My thoughts: 

Set in 1976, this novel takes place in a rural setting with an old-country feel. With a wide cast of characters—in ages and in circumstances—the plot remains interesting throughout. There’s a touch of magical realism to this novel, as well, which adds an intriguing component. I also appreciate how this author weaves in some difficult storylines, particularly with marriage, parenthood, and what constitutes as true family.

I found myself remaining a bit disconnected from the two main characters throughout the whole story. I actually came to care more about many of the side characters, like Frank and Angie, Grandma Emily, Perla, Mayfair, and even Clint. These side characters are defined, interesting, and all offer something to the story and/or experience growth during the story. Several of the romantic moments between the main characters seemed a bit forced, but the story also focuses on the impact of truly loving people of all kinds, which helps redeem the story.

The story’s main focus is how genuine care for people makes a difference in our lives, and that just because someone is genetic family doesn’t mean they offer the most love. I found this to be an interesting (and relatable) topic for Christian fiction, so I’m glad the author included it. Even with some character chemistry missing, the plot’s action will keep the reader interested.

What lesser-tackled topics and themes do you love to see in novels?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates and GrapeVine Studies. If you click on an Amazon link or a GrapeVine Studies link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

A book review of What Keeps You Up at Night? by Pete Wilson (Thomas Nelson, 2015)

Fear, Focus, and Trust in our Dreams {Book Review – What Keeps You Up at Night? By Pete Wilson}

I’ve read a few of Pete Wilson’s books now, and they always blend encouragement with conviction, personal stories with biblical ones, and reminders with love.

His newest book, What Keeps You Up at Night? How to Find Peace While Chasing Your Dreams (Thomas Nelson, 2015) keeps up with Pete’s recognizable tone.

A book review of What Keeps You Up at Night? by Pete Wilson (Thomas Nelson, 2015)

This book is really about fear, focus, and trust.

Fear stops most of us from chasing our dreams, even the ones we’re sure God placed in our hearts.

Focus allows us to progress in our dreams. Focus on the tasks at hand, yes, but also constantly renewed focus on God and His heart for our lives.

Trust is a big one. Trust that God understands our hearts (He created them!) and acts for good.

“The faithfulness of God is stronger than whatever fears or challenges are holding you back.” – p. 44

Pete Wilson is a good storyteller, and he hears and experiences a lot of stories as pastor of Cross Point. He uses this skill to both notice powerful stories and then relate them to his readers as examples of biblical truths and wisdom and evidence of a present God.

This book won’t tell you what your ultimate God-given dreams are, but it does help readers see reasons to focus and trust. In a world where we’re often told we have to pave on our paths—totally on our own—Pete reminds us that God is constantly with us and community offers a solid journey.

“What if we were to think of depending on God not as the absence of strength, but, rather, as the presence of courage?” – p. 62

His approachable tone makes this a good read for people of varied situations and backgrounds. While readers may not come away with totally clear steps for their specific dreams, this book reminds us all that we play a part in a much bigger story, which helps reframe and remind us of our focus, no matter what our circumstances and dreams are.

How have you seen God’s presence in your dreams and steps in your life?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher as a part of the BookLook blogger program in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates and GrapeVine Studies. If you click on an Amazon link or a GrapeVine Studies link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

10 Steps to Your FIT - Fit Inspired Transformation by Kim Dolan Leto

Faith and Fitness {Book Review – 10 Steps to Your F.I.T. – Faith Inspired Transformation}

Many people may think fitness is only a physical challenge. But, once in it, we quickly come to realize it’s much more — it requires thought, motivation, perseverance, and change. And change always requires mental and emotional action as much as physical steps.

10 Steps to Your FIT - Fit Inspired Transformation by Kim Dolan Leto

Kim Dolan Leto shares parts of her own wellness journey as well as practical tips and faith-based encouragement in her book, 10 Steps to Your F.I.T. – Faith Inspired Transformation (Fedd Books, 2015). Within the first chapter, readers can see she has the right motivation:

“…our first reason for losing weight should always be to get healthy, not lose weight.” – p. 5

She incorporates solid fitness advice from a faith perspective, encouraging readers to exercise in some form daily (while still following safety guidelines), eat God-made (natural) foods over man-made (processed) foods, and seeking support and strength from God to persevere.

Her writing tone blends encouragement with practicality well. I only found one chapter where I felt her advice to be more restrictive (on an aspect of eating), though she explained more in subsequent pages. The reflections questions at the end of each chapter are fairly predictable, but the “strategies” action steps are solid, helpful, and doable (though that doesn’t mean easy!). She also offers several printables/tips sheets within the book that summarize practical tips or offer other helps in reference-sheet form. The exercise guidelines will be good help to beginner exercisers. Many of her most helpful tips propose ways to fit healthy eating, fitness, and faith-focused time into our society’s busy days.

The author is very focused on emotional and spiritual health alongside the physical, which can help readers focused on either/or to be more comprehensive in their approaches. She perhaps doesn’t offer big revelations in fitness or faith (though all of it is sound advice for beginners!), but combining the two as she does helps clarify need for both in refreshing and doable ways. She also offers a workout DVD to accompany this book (though I did not have the opportunity to obtain it for review at this time).

This book would be most useful for readers beginning their wellness journeys, readers who have tried unsuccessfully to meet fitness goals in the past and needed a more rounded approach, and readers who want faith-focused encouragement to persevere.

How do you incorporate faith into your wellness routine?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book via the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates. If you click on an Amazon link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.