Not too long ago, I had the luck to stumble onto the Who Was...? series in the Children's Section. These brief biographies highlight the lives of important figures from around the world, some well-known, but many that aren't nearly well-known enough.
What makes these books so great? For one thing, each is written in a casual style that adults and kids alike can enjoy. Another thing I love about them is how they dramatize the lives of each subject without ever straying from the facts. Each Who Was...? biography has all the excitement and unpredictability of a good novel. Finally, the authors take the time to include asides that flesh out the unique times and societies in which these figures lived.
I got the chance to read about people I was already fascinated by like Marie Curie and Frederick Douglass. But I also discovered people I knew little or nothing about except their name. Then there are people like Frida Kahlo, Maria Tallchief, and Cesar Chavez - I had the most fun reading the books about them but, I have to admit (somewhat guiltily) that I knew extremely little about them before (I had never even heard of Maria Tallchief and her story was one of the most inspiring!).
This is an excellent series that is perfect for kids who like history or biographies. But it's also perfect for kids who might be interested in a subject but aren't quite sure where to begin. For instance, I knew who Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso were before reading the Who Was...? books about them, but now I know so much more about their lives and I want to learn even more about art history. Other readers are sure to have similar experiences, perhaps with science after reading about Marie Curie, labor history after reading about Cesar Chavez, or something else entirely.
So check these great books out, along with the Where Was...? and What Was...? companion series (a complete list of available volumes can be here). You and your kids are sure to love them.
Oh, and be sure to check out the new series based on the books appearing on Netflix!