Leadership books for early elementary students

View all Recommendations by Age > Recommendations for Age 4-8 book lists; This list was last updated on 7/9/2013
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release date: Oct 01, 2004
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Langston's Train Ride
Robert Burleigh's inspiring text captures the magical moment when Langston Hughes came to believe in himself as a writer, as he first wrote "The Negro Speaks of Rivers."

Clackety clack clack clack...
Can you hear the rhythm of the train?
Langston Hughes did. Traveling to see his father in 1920, as he listened to the sounds of the train -- metal on metal, wheels on rails -- Hughes's imagination took flight. On that ride, he was inspired to write his first famous poem, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers."
This picture book tells the story of Langston Hughes's rise to accomplishing his dream of being a writer. With bold, striking illustrations by Leonard Jenkins, here is a book for any young person with a dream.
release date: Jul 28, 2003
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Leonardo: Beautiful Dreamer
Famous in his time as a painter, prankster, and philosopher, Leonardo da Vinci was also a musician, sculptor, and engineer for dukes, popes, and kings. What remains of his work-from futuristic designs and scientific inquiry to artwork of ethereal beauty-reveals the ambitious, unpredictable brilliance of a visionary, and a timeless dreamer.

Robert Byrd celebrates this passionate, playful genius in a glowing picture book replete with the richness and imagination of Leonardo's own notebooks. Twenty lavish spreads, including side drawings, supplemental texts, and quotes from Leonardo's writings, highlight distinct periods and make the master's art, jokes, explorations, and inventions wonderfully vivid and accessible. A striking tribute to an irrepressible mind and to the potential within all who are curious.

release date: Jan 18, 2007
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Make Your Mark, Franklin Roosevelt (Turning Point Books)
Young Franklin Roosevelt grew up knowing the finer things in life— sailing, horseback riding, and foxhunts on his family's large estate. Growing up wealthy meant he could live a gentleman's life, like his beloved papa. Yet gentlemen weren't supposed to go into politics, right? But why not? As young Franklin learns from a famous uncle and a famous mentor, there is more to the world than he thought. And about politics? Well, maybe there is more to that, too.

Complete with lively illustrations by new illustrator Britt Spencer, this third book in Judith St. George's Turning Point series reveals the turning point for the young man who would become one of America's most honored presidents.

release date: Jun 01, 2003
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Mark Twain at Work!
Level 2: Reading Independently
• More complex stories
• Varied sentence structure
• Paragraphs and short chapters
One day young Sam Clemens, later known as Mark Twain, plays a big prank in school. His mom punishes Sam by asking him to paint the long fence outside. It's a job that would take one boy hours to complete, but clever Sam figures out a way to get the job done without doing any work himself at all!
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Martin's Big Words

This picture-book biography is an excellent and accessible introduction for young readers to learn about one of the world's most influential leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Doreen Rappaport weaves the immortal words of Dr. King into a captivating narrative to tell the story of his life. With stunning art by acclaimed illustrator Bryan Collier, Martin's Big Words is an unforgettable portrait of a man whose dream changed America-and the world-forever.
release date: Jun 16, 2008
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Odd Boy Out: Young Albert Einstein
When he was born, Albert was a peculiar, fat baby with an unusually big and misshaped head. When he was older, he hit his sister, bothered his teachers, and didn't have many friends. But in the midst of all of this, Albert was fascinated with solving puzzles and fixing scientific problems. The ideas Albert Einstein came up with during his childhood as an odd boy out were destined to change the way we know and understand the world around us . . .
release date: Sep 24, 2001
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One Giant Leap
As a young boy, Neil Armstrong had a recurring dream in which he held his breath and floated high in the sky. He spent his free time reading stacks of flying magazines, building model airplanes, and staring through a homemade telescope. As a teenager, Neil worked odd jobs to pay for flying lessons at a nearby airport. He earned his student pilot's license on his sixteenth birthday. But who was to know that this shy boy, who also loved books and music, would become the first person to set foot on the moon, on July 20, 1969.
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Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat
A swinging bio of young Ella Fitzgerald, who pushed through the toughest of times to become one of America's most beloved jazz singers.

When Ella Fitzgerald danced the Lindy Hop on the streets of 1930s Yonkers, passersby said good-bye to their loose change. But for a girl who was orphaned and hungry, with raggedy clothes and often no place to spend the night, small change was not enough. One amateur night at Harlem's Apollo Theater, Ella made a discovery: the dancing beat in her feet could travel up and out of her mouth in a powerful song —and the feeling of being listened to was like a salve to her heart. With lively prose, Roxane Orgill follows the gutsy Ella from school-girl days to a featured spot with Chick Webb's band and all the way to her number-one radio hit "A-Tisket, A-Tasket." Jazzy mixed-media art by illustrator Sean Qualls brings the singer's indomitable spirit to life.
release date: Jan 01, 2010
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So You Want to Be An Inventor?
St. George and Small, the Caldecott Medal-winning team who created So You Want to Be President?, are back with another spirited and witty look at history-this time focusing on the inventors and inventions who have given us lightbulbs, automobiles, and all the other things that keep the world humming.

So You Want to Be an Inventor? features some of the world's best-known inventors-Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Eli Whitney-as well as lesser-known geniuses like Georges de Mestral (inventor of Velcro), Wilhelm Roentgen (inventor of X rays), and Hedy Lamarr (inventor of a system that became the basis for satellite communication-who knew?). Whether you're a dreamer or a loner, a copycat or a daredevil, this book might just inspire readers to invent something that could change the world!
release date: Nov 10, 2009
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Sonia Sotomayor
The inspiring and timely story of Sonia Sotomayor, who rose up from a childhood of poverty and prejudice to become the first Latino to be nominated to the US Supreme Court.

Before Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor took her seat in our nation's highest court, she was just a little girl in the South Bronx. Justice Sotomayor didn't have a lot growing up, but she had what she needed -- her mother's love, a will to learn, and her own determination. With bravery she became the person she wanted to be. With hard work she succeeded. With little sunlight and only a modest plot from which to grow, Justice Sotomayor bloomed for the whole world to see.

Antes de que la magistrada de la Corte Suprema Sonia Sotomayor llegara al máximo tribunal de nuestra nación, no era más que una niñita en el South Bronx. La magistrada Sotomayor no tuvo mucho durante sus primeros años, pero sí tuvo lo que contaba -- el amor de su madre, la voluntad de aprender y su propia determinación. Con valentía se hizo la persona que quería ser. Con trabajo arduo triunfó. Con un poquito de sol en un solarcito donde crecer, la magistrada Sotomayor floreció para que todo el mundo la vea.
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Starry Messenger

"If they had seen what we see, they would have judged as we judge." -- Galileo Galilei

In every age there are courageous people who break with tradition to explore new ideas and challenge accepted truths. Galileo Galilei was just such a man--a genius--and the first to turn the telescope to the skies to map the heavens. In doing so, he offered objective evidence that the earth was not the fixed center of the universe but that it and all the other planets revolved around the sun. Galileo kept careful notes and made beautiful drawings of all that he observed. Through his telescope he brought the starts down to earth for everyone to see.

By changing the way people saw the galaxy, Galileo was also changing the way they saw themselves and their place in the universe. This was very exciting, but to some to some it was deeply disturbing. Galileo has upset the harmonious view of heaven and earth that had been accepted since ancient times. He had turned the world upside down.

In this amazing new book, Peter Sís employs the artist's lens to give us an extraordinary view of the life of Galileo Galilei. Sís tells his story in language as simple as a fairy tale, in pictures as rich and tightly woven as a tapestry, and in Galileo's own words, written more than 350 years ago and still resonant with truth.

Starry Messenger is a 1997 Caldecott Honor Book.

release date: Sep 15, 2003
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Strange Mr. Satie
In Paris, at the turn of the twentieth century, when artists were experimenting with new ways of seeing things, Erik Satie had something new to say about music. Most people didn't understand his pieces; critics called his music surreal. But Erik Satie didn't care. He wanted to make music that followed no rules but its own. Satie's life was strange and wonderful, frenetic and lonely all at the same time. He was friends with Picasso, and with wizards and puppeteers; he scraped himself with a stone instead of bathing, and he once threw his acrobat girlfriend out a window. Now award-winning author M. T. Anderson tells the story of the irreverent French composer in a biography that is witty, accessible, and endlessly surprising, while Petra Mathers' fanciful illustrations capture all the vibrancy that was Erik Satie's topsy-turvy world.

Illustrations by Petra Mathers.

release date: Jan 08, 2008
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Thomas Jefferson and the Ghostriders
Young Thomas Jefferson has been warned about the Native American burial mound near his house. But one night he decides to see it for himself. Tom hides in the bushes and thinks he hears ghosts approaching. It turns out to be a Native American tribe coming to pay its respects, and Tom learns an important lesson.
release date: Dec 04, 2012
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Young Thurgood
Thurgood Marshall was the most important American lawyer of the twentieth century. He transformed the nation's legal landscape by challenging the racial segregation that had relegated millions to second-class citizenship. He won twenty-nine of thirty-three cases before the United States Supreme Court, was a federal appeals court judge, served as the US solicitor general, and, for twenty-four years, sat on the Supreme Court.

Marshall is best known for achievements after he relocated to New York in 1936 to work for the NAACP. But Marshall's personality, attitudes, priorities, and work habits had crystallized during earlier years in Maryland.

This work is the first close examination of the formative period in Marshall's life. As the authorn shows, Thurgood Marshall was a fascinating man of contrasts. He fought for racial justice without becoming a racist. Simultaneously idealistic and pragmatic, Marshall was a passionate advocate, yet he maintained friendly relationships with his opponents.

Young Thurgood reveals how Marshall's distinctive traits were molded by events, people, and circumstances early in his life. Professor Gibson presents fresh information about Marshall's family, youth, and education. He describes Marshall's key mentors, the special impact of his high school and college competitive debating, his struggles to establish a law practice during the Great Depression, and his first civil rights cases. The author sheds new light on the NAACP and its first lawsuits in the campaign that led to the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation decision. He also corrects some of the often-repeated stories about Marshall that are inaccurate.

The only biography of Thurgood Marshall to be endorsed by Marshall's immediate family, Young Thurgood is an exhaustively researched and engagingly written work that everyone interested in law, civil rights, American history, and biography will want to read.
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Woody Guthrie: Poet of the People
A beautiful tribute to America's greatest folksinger.

Woody Guthrie spent his life putting into words and music what the rest of America was thinking. He roamed from coast to coast and captured the despair of those displaced by the Great Depression and the dust bowl, eulogized workers, and celebrated the great natural beauty of America. This is an introductory biography presented as a picture book with a brief lyrical text and powerful, hand-tinted, woodcut-like illustrations. It includes the complete lyrics to “This Land Is Your Land” and excerpts from his other songs. A book for all ages, it makes this talented and tragic man accessible to young children and will please his older folksinging fans with its stunning art.

A Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Book
An ALA Notable Book
A
New York Times Notable Book
A
Parents' Choice Gold Award Winner
An Oklahoma Book Award Finalist
release date: Jan 24, 2012
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What Presidents Are Made Of
In paperback for the 2012 election, this sophisticated and playful look at U.S. presidents includes a new portrait of President Obama.

See America's presidents as never before—made of objects! Using everything from blue jeans to boxing gloves, Hanoch Piven “builds” the characters of eighteen of our nation's leaders. Revealing anecdotes accompany the creative collages and lend insight to the charismatic personalities of prominent presidents from George Washington to Barack Obama, resulting in an irresistible resource that transcends party lines.
release date: Jan 03, 2006
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Jackie Robinson and the Big Game
Young Jackie Robinson looses to his older brother Mack in just about any game they play -- Chase the Fox, running and jumping contests -- you name it. One day Jackie gets so frustrated he runs home, stomps up to his room, and takes his anger out on Mack's stuff. But when Mack invites Jackie to play baseball with his friends, Jackie decides to give it a try -- and that is when the score really starts to change!
release date: Sep 01, 2010
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In the Garden with Dr. Carver
Sally is a young girl living in rural Alabama in the early 1900s, a time when people were struggling to grow food in soil that had been depleted by years of cotton production. One day, Dr. George Washington Carver shows up to help the grownups with their farms and the children with their school garden.



He teaches them how to restore the soil and respect the balance of nature. He even prepares a delicious lunch made of plants, including "chicken" made from peanuts. And Sally never forgets the lessons this wise man leaves in her heart and mind. Susan Grigsby's warm story shines new light on an African American scientist who was ahead of his time.
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I've Seen the Promised Land

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of the most celebrated figures of the twentieth century.

Set against key moments of the civil rights movement, here is the story of the powerful, eloquent spiritual leader and his belief that nonviolence could be used to overcome racial discrimination.

Walter Dean Myers's moving narrative and Leonard Jenkins's compelling paintings convey a vivid and striking image of the man who moved American society closer to the ideals of freedom and fairness. Dr. King's dream that all Americans would be judged by their individual actions and character is one we still cherish today.

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I Could Do That!

Full of humor and spunk – just like Esther!



"I could do that," says six-year-old Esther as she watches her mother making tea. Start her own business at the age of nineteen? Why, she could do that, too. But one thing Esther and other women could NOT do was vote. Only men could do that.

With lively text and humorous illustrations as full of spirit as Esther herself, this striking picture book biography shows how one girl's gumption propels her through a life filled with challenges until, in 1869, she wins the vote for women in Wyoming Territory – the first time ever in the United States!


I Could Do That! is a 2006 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

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The Humblebee Hunter
On a beautiful day, the last thing Etty wants to do is sit inside baking honey cake. She’d much rather be outside exploring with her father, Charles Darwin.

Many are familiar with Darwin’s theory of evolution, but few know Darwin the family man. In writing The Humblebee Hunter, Deborah Hopkinson relied on research to create a lyrical fictional account of Charles Darwin at home with his children, discovering the wonders of their own back yard. Told from the perspective of Darwin's daughter Etty, the story portrays a very human side of one of the most revered figures in the history of science.
release date: Jan 01, 2002
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Helen Keller and the Big Storm
Helen Keller cannot see or hear. But that does not stop her from playing tricks on people, including her new teacher, Annie Sullivan. Still, Annie will not give up on Helen. Can Helen ever learn to trust her teacher?
release date: Jun 01, 2006
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Galileo's Journal, 1609-1610
On his summer vacation, Galileo Galilei hears about the newly invented telescope and decides to build one of his own. Turning his new "spyglass" to the night sky, he sees things that no one has ever seen before. He discovers that the Milky Way is made of stars, and that the moon has mountains. He also notices a strange formation of "stars" that will eventually turn people's understanding of the world upside down. Fictional journal accounts capture the famous Italian scientist's curiosity and wonder as he makes some of the most amazing discoveries in history.
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Frida (Hc)
This long-awaited companion to Jonah Winter's acclaimed DIEGO features the paintings of young Spanish artist, Ana Juan. This stunning picture book is the perfect gift for art enthusiasts of all ages.

When her mother was worn out from caring for her five sisters, her father gave her lessons in brushwork and color. When polio kept her bedridden for nine months, drawing saved her from boredom. When a bus accident left her in unimaginable agony, her paintings expressed her pain and depression - and eventually, her joys and her loves. Over and over again, Frida Kahlo turned the challenges of her life into art. Now Jonah Winter and Ana Juan have drawn on both the art and the life to create a playful, insightful tribute to one of the twentieth century's most influential artists. Viva Frida!
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Fannie in the Kitchen : The Whole Story From Soup to Nuts of How Fannie Farmer Invented Recipes with Precise Measurements
Marcia was trying to help her mama. So maybe balancing on top of a tower of chairs to dip candles wasn't such a good idea. And perhaps her biscuits worked better as doorstops than dessert. Still, does her mama really need to hire a mother's helper?
Then Fannie Farmer steps into their kitchen, and all of a sudden the biscuits are dainty and the griddle cakes aren't quite so...al dente. As Fannie teaches Marcia all about cooking, from how to flip a griddle cake at precisely the right moment to how to determine the freshness of eggs, Marcia makes a wonderful new friend.
Here's the story "from soup to nuts" -- delightfully embellished by Deborah Hopkinson -- of how Fannie Farmer invented the modern recipe and created one of the first and best-loved American cookbooks. Nancy Carpenter seamlessly incorporates vintage engravings into her pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations, deliciously evoking the feeling of a time gone by.
release date: Oct 01, 2000
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Escape North! The Story of Harriet Tubman
An easy-to-read, page-turning account of Harriet Tubman's life--from her childhood in slavery to her years as a conductor on the Underground Railroad to her later work as a suffragette and as a spy in the Civil War. This remarkable true story brings to life one of America's greatest female role models.
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Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa
Ella Fitzgerald began her life as a singer on the stage of the Apollo Theater when she was just seventeen years old. Her rich voice and vocal innovations brought her fame and a remarkable career than spanned half a century and won her generations of fans around the world. Acclaimed author Andrea Davis Pinkney has told Ella's inspiring story in the voice of Scat Cat Monroe, a feline fan whose imagined narrative sings with the infectious rhythms of scat. Two-time Caldecott Honor winner Brian Pinkney's dramatic perspectives and fantastical images offer a jazzy improvisation all their own.
release date: Jan 01, 2004
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Eat My Dust!
It's 1901 and Henry Ford wants to build a car that everyone can own. But first he needs the money to produce it. How will he get it? He enters a car race, of course! Readers will love this fast-paced, fact-based story!
release date: Feb 13, 2007
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Different Like Coco
The rags-to-riches story of Coco Chanel plays out in a wonderful picture-book biography as full of style and spirit as its heroine.

Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel was always different. And she vowed to prove that being different was an advantage! Poor, skinny, and orphaned, Coco stubbornly believed that she was as good as the wealthier girls of Paris. Tapping into her creativity and her sewing skills, she began making clothes that suited her (and her pocketbook) — and soon a new generation of independent working women craved her sleek, comfortable, and practical designs. Now an icon of fashion and culture, Coco Chanel continues to inspire young readers, showing just how far a person can come with spunk, determination, and flair.
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