Teach Children to Change the World with Biographies

a bright pink mug sits on a stack of three books

Sometimes the news is scary. There are things happening in our world right now that are near to impossible to discuss with children without leaving them fearful. As parents, we want to protect our kids from hatred and hurt. We want them to remain children and enjoy every drop of childhood magic for as long as possible. And yet, we want our children to grow into adults who will make a difference in this world. We want to raise compassionate, thoughtful men and women who will put an end to the hatred and hurt.

So, how can we start the process? How can we talk about difficult topics without making it too scaryHow can we protect our children and yet show them how to be upstanders?

One way is through stories, specifically biographies. Everyone has a story, and we can all learn and grow by listening to one another.  

The Benefits of Biographies

Teach Children to Change the World with BiographiesWhat better way to show children that they can make a positive difference on this earth than by reading about real people who have? I love to share quality biographies with my kids and talk about how ordinary people can grow up to do extraordinary things.

Biographies help children learn about so many things:

  • how to overcome great obstacles
  • compassion and empathy for people of different backgrounds
  • how to persevere in the face of failure
  • the power of a dream
  • the importance of believing in a cause

A Suggested Biography Series

My children's favorite biography series is Ordinary People Change the World. Written by Brad Meltzer and illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos, Ordinary People Change the World is an uplifting and inspiring group of biographies for children. Each book highlights an American icon and shows how that person changed the world.

These books make for the perfect family read-aloud or supplement to your American history curriculum! These are not the dry, fact-laden biographies of old. Written in an easy, engaging tone and paired with colorful and often humorous illustrations, Ordinary People Change the World is engaging for all ages.

Meltzer and Eliopoulos make each character relatable to children. Kids will identify with each character's struggles and understand that one person can change the world. Currently, Ordinary People Change the World includes books about these famous individuals:

biographies teach these things

  • Lucille Ball
  • Amelia Earhart
  • Albert Einstein
  • Jane Goodall
  • Helen Keller
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Rosa Parks
  • Jackie Robinson
  • George Washington

The series is growing quickly, but not quickly enough for my children who count the books among our family's favorites. This series has sparked the most fantastic family conversations. I love each book's simple message: You can change the world.

Isn't that what we want our children to understand? They may be ordinary, but they are capable of the extraordinary by through perseverance and passion.

It is by sharing biographies such as these that our children will grow in empathy and understanding and go on to change this world for the better so that the news is not quite so scary for their own children.

See BookShark Reading with History Programs

About the Author

Caitlin Curley

Cait is a school psychologist, mom to three amazing children, and an unexpected homeschooler. She loves nature, good books, board games, strong coffee, and dancing in her kitchen. You can read about all of these things and more at My Little Poppies.