Reid Writes Compendium of Biographies for Kids

Emily Albrent

Want to share an exciting true story with the kid in your life? UW-Eau Claire lecturer (and former children’s library) Rob Reid’s latest book, Biographies to Read Aloud, can help. The book, the second in a series by Reid (the first was Silly Books to Read Aloud), highlights the best bios aimed at elementary- and middle school-aged kids. Reid said he searched for biographies that had a storytelling flare rather than those that read like encyclopedia entries. “I read about 500 biographies to come up with 200 that I profile in this book, and so this book is kind of like a parents’ guide to good biographies to read to kids,” Reid said. The variety of books featured range from picture book biographies to longer chapter books. Some can be read in a day, while others may take a couple of days to finish. Reid wanted to use his book to highlight people who wouldn’t normally be found in textbooks, which tend to focus on white male leaders. He says he’s proud that the subjects of the biographies he selected are evenly divided between males and females, while about 40 percent of them are people of color. “I discovered a lot of people I have never heard of before and their amazing stories,” Reid said. He said the hardest part was deciding who to include in the book. He said he constantly made graphs and paid attention to the balance of occupations, genders, and background experiences of the biographical subjects. Reid said it is very inspirational for kids to hear these stories and not just about George Washington all the time. The next book is the series – which Reid is writing for Huron Street Press, an imprint of the American Library Association – is called Animal Stories to Read Aloud. It will be published in 2015.