Do you find it hard to choose books about Real People for kids?
You’ve had this happen: Your child has a school assignment to learn about a president, a judge, or a famous person. They have to read a biography at home. Or they’re curious and want to learn more on their own. And you want to read a book with them about someone particular.
How do you help them find the right book? Choosing nonfiction books for kids doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you use the “Five Rs: Reader, Research, Readability, Rendering, and Reviews.” I’ve shared different versions of it with readers of all ages.
First, after checking what they’re (or you’re!) interested in, go ahead and select a book that interests your children. Next, ask yourself the following “5 Rs” to see if it’s the right book for them. And, finally, come up with a logical conclusion of your own. Suddenly, finding books about presidents or judges or anyone else isn’t so stressful!
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The 5 Rs:
These five guiding questions will help you find great nonfiction books for the kids in your life. Keep reading for my recommended books about Presidents and Supreme Court judges for kids!
- The Reader: What’s the child’s age? Reading skill level? Interests? Is this a book you’d want to read and discuss with your child?
- Research: What are the writer’s qualifications? Does an author’s or illustrator’s note or other information include the research process, endorsements from experts, or back matter (e.g., links to primary resources, timelines, historical notes, bibliography for further research)?
- Readability: What’s its style? Straight-forward prose? Journalistic with sidebars? Poetic? A combination? Is it understandable? Does it tell a story? Will it “pull” your child in? Hint: Look for a suggested grade/reading level in the book. Note: One of the books in this column is labeled “Ready to Read, Level 3”—for beginning independent readers.
- Rendering: Are the visuals (illustrations, cartoons, photos, charts, timelines, and other graphics) eye-catching and work with the text to explain or extend information? Is the book enjoyable to look at? Note: One of the books in this blog is a graphic novel, which kids usually enjoy!
- Reviews: What do others say? Check Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, and other review platforms. And trust your own instincts and those of your child because you’re the readers–and that counts most of all!
Books about Presidents
Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln. Margarita Engle. Ill. Rafael López. 2019. Atheneum.
Teresa Carreño was a musical child prodigy. After a revolution in Venezuela, her family fled to the United States for safety, and she was invited to play the piano for Abraham Lincoln.
Books for Kids about Supreme Court Judges
Becoming RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Journey to Justice. Debbie Levy. Ill. Whitney Gardner. 2019. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
With RG’s death on September 18, 2020, children (and their adults) will want to refresh their knowledge about her life. This graphic novel, with its visual format, tells the journey of this famous woman, “RBG,” from her childhood through her important role on the Supreme Court.
Thurgood. Jonah Winter. Ill. Bryan Collier. 2019 Schwartz and Wade.
Inspirational Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993) was the first black justice on the Supreme Court and a giant of the civil rights movement. Follow him from his childhood through his celebrated career on the Court.
You Should Meet Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Laurie Calkhoven. Ill. Elizabet Vukovic. (Ready to Read, Level Three.) 2019. Simon Spotlight/Simon & Schuster’s Children’s Division.
As part of a fun, biographical series of “people you should meet,” learn about the legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court justice, in a ready-to-read format, just right for newly-independent readers. Only the second woman to serve on this court, her contributions were immense! We miss you, RBG!