Teachers for Teachers | Ten True Stories about the Power of Reading #nf10for10
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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.

The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton: Poet, Don Tate

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!!

6 Comments
  • Linda Baie
    Posted at 16:50h, 10 February Reply

    Wonderful theme. I have loved each one, but especially The Book Itch, all new history to me and The Librarians at Basra. I just read the new pb Hidden figures. You’re right, it’s great that the story is now accessible for younger readers. Thanks!




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  • Lori Sabo
    Posted at 21:39h, 10 February Reply

    What a great list! Adding some of these to my “must read” pile.




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  • Carrie Gelson
    Posted at 22:15h, 10 February Reply

    This is a wonderful theme. I haven’t read this one about Malala. Looks like a must have title. Love the cover of Rain School!




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  • Laura Salas
    Posted at 23:02h, 10 February Reply

    What a powerful group of books! Thanks for this list, as there are a couple of titles new to me on it!




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  • Mandy Robek
    Posted at 02:58h, 11 February Reply

    This day is or can be dangerous. I have three of your ten books and want to read the rest from your list. We like to say reading changes lives and this perfect for concrete examples for our students to hear and learn from. Thank you for supporting, joining, and promoting our event.




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  • Myra from GatheringBooks
    Posted at 12:31h, 13 February Reply

    Oh so many wondrously familiar titles here! We have done a similar feature a few months ago, I believe. Steamboat School would be a great addition to this list too, and the Booker T. Washington PBBs (With Books and Bricks). 🙂




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