10 Feb Ten True Stories about the Power of Reading #nf10for10
When thinking about a topic for this year’s nonfiction picture book 10 for 10 event, we searched for texts that show real-life examples of how reading changes lives. Learning to read and having access to books empowers people in so many ways. Here are ten true stories about people who fought for the right to learn and gave others access to books. We hope these picture books inspire young learners to find joy in reading and to foster conversations about the power of reading.
George Moses Horton was enslaved, but that didn’t stop him from learning. George taught himself to read by listening to white children as they studied their books. Once George learned to read, he taught himself to write and became a poet. George Moses Horton’s story gives students a glimpse into the brutality of slavery, shows the power of perseverance, and helps students understand how reading and writing help people reach their goals.
Rain School, James Rumford
Rain School is the story of one community’s determination to give their children access to learning. When the children in Chad, Africa arrived for the first day of school, their first job was to construct the school building. And when the rain and mud destroyed the building, they rebuilt it. This community believed in each student’s right to an education and found a way to turn their belief into a reality.
Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race, Margo Lee Shetterly
We are so happy there is now a picture book about these four amazing women. These mathematicians fought against racial discrimination and sexism for the right to go to school to become engineers. This is a great text to foster conversations about how reading and perseverance help people achieve their dreams.
Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in Brooklyn, Jonah Winter
In this picture book biography, readers learn about the determination of Sonia and her mother. Sonia’s mother worked day and night as a switchboard operator to pay for her children to go to school. Then at night, she read and studied so she could become a nurse. Sonia followed in her mother’s footsteps. She studied year after year to graduate with honors from high school and college. As we know, Sonia went on to become a Supreme Court Justice. A big thank you to Atheneum Books for publishing this text in both English and Spanish. It is so meaningful for readers to see the Spanish and the English words side by side.
The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore, Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
This book was on our nonfiction 10 for 10 picture book list last year, but we just had to include it again this year. This is the story of the author’s great uncle, Lewis Michaux Sr. and the bookstore he created in Harlem. The National Memorial African Bookstore gave people access to books about black people and was a gathering place for politicians, activists, writers, and artists to discuss ideas. Lewis Michaux Sr. believed in the power of reading, and he welcomed people to read books in the store without buying them.
The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq, Jeanette Winter
Alia Muhammad Baker was the chief librarian at Basra’s Central Library during the invasion of Iraq. She loved books so much that she hid 70% of the library’s books so that they would not get destroyed. Nine days after Alia hid the library’s collection, the library burned down. Don’t miss this incredible story about the determination of one woman to save books.
Biblioburro: A True Story from Colombia, Jeanette Winter
Here is another nonfiction picture book by Jeannette Winter about the love of books. This picture book is based on the true story of Luis Sorian who lived in a remote town in northern Columbia. Luis knew the importance of books, so he and two burros create the Biblioburro. They traveled to remote villages in Columbia bringing books to children.
Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library, Carole Boston Weatherford
Carole Boston Weatherford’s newest book tells the life story of Arturo Schomburg – a banker, a historian, and a librarian. Arturo Schomburg wanted children to know black history and it was not being taught in schools. Arturo set out to change this. He researched history and collected texts and primary sources documenting the achievements of blacks throughout history. Today, the Harlem library is named for Arturo Schomburg. As students read this text, they will learn about Arturo Schomburg and the many famous people his research uncovered.
Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille, Jen Bryant
We love how Jen Bryant shares Louis’ emotional journey as a sighted child through his teenage years when he invented braille. Readers can feel Louis’ fear when he became blind, his yearning to read and his determination to develop a system to open up the world of reading to people who are blind. Don’t miss the end pages or the author’s note. Students can see a clear example of the braille alphabet and learn a bit about how to punctuate a sentence in braille.
For the Right to Learn: Malala Yousafzai’s Story, Rebecca Langston-George
This 10 for 10 list wouldn’t be complete without a book about Malala. In this picture book, readers learn about Malala’s fight against the Taliban to give girls the right to an education. The quote on the back of this book says it all, “One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world.”
Thank you, Mandy Robek and Cathy Mere for hosting the Picture Book 10 for 10 Events again this year. We love how each February our TBR stack grows as we read posts from educators about the nonfiction picture books they love. Check out the Google Community Site to explore more lists and to add your own!!