Tell Me Your Story

History is full of interesting people! Reading about the lives of others is often captivating. Sometimes luck comes into play, but often, it’s what’s inside of a person that compels them to be who they become! We know that our parentage and surroundings play a role in our impetus in life. How enlightening it is to read a true biographical story about a person in history that comes into view with a new lens.

Finding Winnie Case for Loving Child Soldier Terrible Typhoid Mary

Finding Winnie: the True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick and ill. Sophie Blackall. 9780316324908. Gr. K-3.
Bring your mind to the Winnie the Pooh storybook from your youth. The names in the book bring to reality how the world’s most famous bear came to be in our hearts. It just so happens that the author is the great-granddaughter of the veterinarian Harry Coleburn that rescued a baby bear during World War I as he was a soldier heading off to war. This true story is framed by a bedtime story being told to a young child about a bear named Winnie. At a certain point, the soldier had to give the bear to the London Zoo where a boy named Christopher Robin visited often and became true friends. His father, A. A. Milne, wrote books about their dear friendship and the rest is history. It is a heartwarming book that has actual photographs from their lives in the back of the book.

The Case for Loving: Fight for Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko and ill. Sean Qualls. 9780545478533. Gr.1-4.

The compelling story behind the Loving vs. the State of Virginia court case is clearly depicted in this well illustrated picture book. When two people from differing races fell in love and marry during the 1960’s in Virginia, they were not allowed to marry or live together. Thus, the Loving couple (appropriate last name) went to Washington, D.C. to be married, where it was legal. Upon returning home, they were put in prison for unlawful cohabitation. They took their case to the Supreme Court, which soon became history when the justices unanimously voted to allow interracial marriage to occur, and so they lived happily ever after. Upon visiting Virginia recently, I discovered their license plates say Virginia is for lovers. I think there is a tie-in here!

Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War by Jessica Dee Humphreys & Michel Chikwanine and ill. Claudia Davila. 9781771381260. Gr. 6-8.

This graphic novel depicts the terror children from warring nations must endure when they are unwillingly enlisted to be a child soldier. It is the true story in 1993 of Michel Chikwanine in the Democratic Republic of Congo when the military terrifyingly grabbed him from his family and made him become a child soldier. Fighting for the cause of adults does produce killings, which the illustrator approaches cautiously. The emotions and impact on this child’s life after this experience is powerful.

Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America by Susan Campbell Bartoletti. 9780544313675. Gr. 6-9.

Poor Mary! Mary Mallon, an Irish immigrant was hired as a cook for wealthy families in New York, a favorite of her employers due to her culinary delights. When people became ill, it was diagnosed as Typhoid Fever. Detectives couldn’t solve the problem. George Soper, a sanitation engineer, came onto the scene when the cause of the disease was not found by usual means. He deduced the homemade peach ice cream made by a cook was the culprit, so he set out to locate the person. Obviously, it was Mary. Arrested and sentenced in the eyes of the public, branded with the name Typhoid Mary, she was banished to a cottage to be alone for the rest of her life.

Additional resources for high school:

Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx A Memoir by Sonia Manzano. 9780545621847. Gr. 7-12.
The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club by Phillip Hoose. 9780374300227. Gr. 7-12.