Early Elementary Books

Theme: People Just Like You?

A River of Words - (ISBN: 978-0802853028)

by Jen Bryant

This picture-book-style story of William Carlos Williams’ life shows readers how his love of nature and his profession as a doctor led to astute observations about nature and people. The fact that he often had little free time may have led to his production of shorter poems, in some cases. After reading quotes from some of Williams’ poetry, try finding one of his poetry books in the library. What are your favorites among the poems he wrote about everyday objects, like plums or wheelbarrows?

Barack Obama: United States President - (ISBN: 978-0448452340)

by Roberta Edwards

This introductory biography of our previous president shows how important his early years in Hawaii and Indonesia were to his development as a man concerned with people’s needs and also with political action. What things does your early life have in common with this great man?

John Muir: My Life With Nature - (ISBN: 978-1584690092 )

by John Muir Joseph Cornell

Famous naturalist John Muir offers a diary-style children’s book that describes the natural world as only he could see it. After reading his original words, readers and listeners will have heightened senses and more acute powers of observation. Take your children to a park or forest preserve and stand silently, taking note of all that there is to be seen, heard, smelled, and touched.

Priscilla and the Hollyhocks - (ISBN: 978-1570916755)

by Anne Broyles

After Priscilla’s slave mother is sold, Priscilla tries to keep her memory alive by raising hollyhocks from the seeds she has left. Priscilla herself, owned by another family, takes the Western journey to her new home along the route of the “trail of tears” where she eventually meets someone who helps her gain her freedom. Think about special flowers you have in your garden or your city. What memories do they bring when you smell them?

The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon - (ISBN: 978-0618243433)

by Jacqueline Davies

This brief biography of Audubon focuses on the period when he first came to the U.S. and honed his acute observation and naturalist skills by watching and banding groups of birds to learn their habits. The young Audubon, before he was famous, learned to draw and paint at this young age; his powers of detailed observation served him well in all parts of the work he eventually did, painting and cataloguing so many birds. Watch the birds in your area and attempt to identify what they are in a bird book from the library. Or make your own “bird book” with digital pictures you take.

Bill Pickett, Rodeo Ridin' Cowboy - (ISBN: 978-0152021030)

by Andrea Davis Pinkney

The Man Who Made Time Travel - (ISBN: 978-0374347888)

by Kathryn Lasky

Activities for this Theme

If you like using computers, upload photos and have your child narrate them using Voicethread.


After saving pennies and nickels with your family, purchase and plant a rosebush or other perennial plant in memory of a favorite relative or friend.


Trace your child’s outline on a large piece of butcher paper. Have the child fill in the details and write his/her name.