The best children’s book biographies about perseverance

Lisa Robinson Author Of Madame Saqui: Revolutionary Rope Dancer
By Lisa Robinson

The Books I Picked & Why

Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando

By Andrea Wang, Kana Urbanowicz

Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando

Why this book?

Who doesn’t love ramen noodles?! Yum! This book tells the story of Momofuku Ando, the inventor of instant ramen noodle soup. When Ando saw long food lines after World War II, he was determined to find a way to make noodles that were quick and convenient. Believing that “peace follows from a full stomach,” he persevered at creating a noodle recipe that has become one of the world’s most popular and easy to prepare foods.


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Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré

By Anika Aldamuy Denise, Paola Escobar

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré

Why this book?

Pura Belpré’s persistence in sharing her stories and belief in her Puerto Rican heritage, one that all children deserve to know about, resulted in a rich legacy of culturally diverse storytelling and published books throughout America. Pura Belpré was the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York City. She championed bilingual literature and spread story seeds across the land. In her honor, the American Library Association annually presents the Pura Belpré Award to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose literary work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience.


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Jump at the Sun: The True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston

By Alicia Williams, Jacqueline Alcántara

Jump at the Sun: The True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston

Why this book?

The gorgeous prose of this book uses dialect that echoes how Hurston used it in her stories. In spite of tremendous obstacles: a racist country, people who discouraged her, and personal tragedy, Hurston was as truly unstoppable as the title conveys. Her courage, persistence, and strength fueled a rich life as a writer, anthropologist, and folklorist. Her invaluable contribution, especially the preservation of African American folktales, enriched the literary world.


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The First Step: How One Girl Put Segregation on Trial

By Susan E. Goodman, E. B. Lewis

The First Step: How One Girl Put Segregation on Trial

Why this book?

The First Step tells an important and lesser-known story about Sarah Roberts, a schoolgirl who was not allowed to attend school in Boston in 1847 because of her skin color. Sarah and her family persisted by fighting this injustice; they took the City of Boston to court! Roberts v. City of Boston was the first case to challenge the United States’ legal system to outlaw segregation in schools. The Roberts family lost the battle, but their case was the first step toward desegregating schools. It’s important for children to learn that even if you don’t win, it’s vital to speak up and fight against injustice and that every step forward counts!


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Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles

By Patricia Valdez, Felicita Sala

Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles

Why this book?

Reptiles and Komodo dragons, oh my! Joan Procter loved reptiles so much she received a crocodile for her sixteenth birthday. In spite of a chronic illness, Procter channeled her passion for reptiles into a career at London’s Natural History Museum and the London Zoo at a time when it was difficult for women to pursue such work. Against the odds of her health and gender, Procter conducted scientific research, published papers, and invented innovative lighting and design for the Zoo’s reptile house. Children will enjoy her story while also absorbing the message about following your passion and persisting through adversity.


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