Day 2: Tuesday
Books about Famous People
Written by: Snow
I have to start this segment with a proviso, this list is very gender biased. When thinking about biographies I had read with my sons, I realized that we had focused mainly on men. One reason I know of for this happening is because when selecting biographies part of the thing I focus on is providing material that the kids can connect with, aspire to, be inspired by. Not to say they can't be inspired by famous female people. So why were these mostly famous men? I went to my local library (a hardship, I know) and browsed Amazon to do some research. What I found was that biographies about men out number women biographies by easily 5 to 1 on the shelf. Online, most are about women in politics or "home ec". The topic we (I) were mostly drawn to, the sciences, nature and biology, were lacking, I felt, with books about women. Not that there aren't women in those fields, Jane Goodall, Rachel Carson and Marie Curie are just a few I can think of. But the books that are out about those people did not resonate with me, were not books I turned to again and again, or saw on the shelves and said "oh, I want to read this again". That being said, if you have a favorite book about a Famous Woman for Children's Book Week, please let us know!
1. John Muir and Stickeen : an Alaskan Adventure by Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff - This is a great read for Earth day and one of my all time favorite books about the outdoors. Rendered in icy tones, this is an exciting tale of a morning jaunt Muir takes that nearly ends in his death.
2. Odd Boy Out : Young Albert Einstein by Don Brown - We often think of Albert Einstein as an amazing physicist who was put together enough he could figure out the essence of the universe. Before that though, he was a dorky boy who was teased and pitied. A great example of how people change and the importance of playing to your strengths.
3. Darwin by Alice B. McGinty - This isn't the most elaborately illustrated book about Darwin (Sis's Tree of Life wins that prize), but I enjoyed this one for it's inclusion of primary source (excerpts from Darwin's journals) and the emphasis on how Darwin valued his family life, and the personal struggle he had with publishing his findings.
4. The Wild Boy by Mordicai Gerstein - Could a child survive without parents, without a "house"? I think this is a fascinating topic for both children and parents alike. This book addresses these issues by telling the story of the wild boy of Aveyron. It preserves the beauty and freedom of nature through the wonderful illustrations, and tells the touching, bittersweet tale of the boy "raised by wolves" and brought to "civilization".