Biography Poetry Collections: A Fresh Way to Boost Social Studies Curriculum

Studying the contributions different people have made to society is an important part of any classroom curriculum. Traditionally, students learn about significant, change-making individuals by reading prose biographies. But recently, several wonderful poetry collections with a biography focus have been published. Try weaving some poetry into your social studies lessons with these notable poetry biographies:

Cover of No Voice Too Small showing children with megaphones and rally signs.

Meet fourteen young activists who stepped up to make a real difference in the world in No Voice Too Small: Fourteen Young Americans Making History, edited by Lindsay H. Metcalf, Keila V. Dawson, and Jeanette Bradley and illustrated by Jeanette Bradley. This poetry anthology proves that you're never too young to be a change maker. It will inspire readers to use their own voices to make their communities better for everyone. 

Cover of No World Too Big showing three young children of different races holing up a large globe of the earth.
Even more young change-makers are featured in No World Too Big: Young People Fighting Global Climate Change, a companion text by the same team that created No Voice To Small. In No World Too Big, readers meet young activists from all over the world who are stepping up to address climate change. The poems, written in a variety of forms by acclaimed children's poets, are accompanied by side bars that provide more information about each activist. In the back matter, readers will learn tips for how they can help the Earth through simple, everyday actions. 
Cover of Bravo! Poems about Amazing Hispanics showing a collage of thumb nail illustrations of different hispanic men and women reading, playing baseball, painting.

Bravo: Poems About Amazing Hispanics
by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael L√≥pez, celebrates the accomplishments and contributions of Hispanics in a wide range of areas from botany to baseball, aviation to social activism. Each poem shows how the featured individual faced life's challenges in a creative way. Back matter shares more about the lives of the amazing people featured in the poems. 

Cover of The Superlative A. Lincoln showing a full body image of Abraham Lincoln with the White House in the back ground.

Abraham Lincoln is a figure often studied in classrooms. Students may already know that Lincoln was the tallest president who gave one of the greatest speeches, but they might not know he was also the best wrestler or craftiest storyteller.  In The Superlative A. Lincoln: Poems About Our 16th President, by Eileen Meyer, illustrated by Dave Szalay, students learn some surprising ways in which the 16th president of the United States was superlative. Side bars and back matter are packed with even more interesting facts about Abraham Lincoln. The Superlative A. Lincoln is a fresh way to approach a study of the presidents through verse. 
Cover of Have You Heard About Lady Bird showing several first ladies including Michelle Obama and Hilary Clinton.
Speaking of presidents, don't forget the First Ladies! Have You Heard About Lady Bird? Poems About Our First Ladies, by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter, sheds light on lives of the amazing women who left an impact on the United States in their role as First Ladies. This is great mentor text for Women's History Month! 

I hope you and your students like learning about the fascinating people in these books while enjoying an extra dose of poetry too! 

Montage image showing a headshot of children's author and poet Michelle Schaub and four covers of her picture books Dream Big Little Scientists, Fresh-Picked Poetry A Day at the Farmers Market, Finding Treasure A Collection of Collections, and Kindness is a Kite String

About Michelle Schaub

Michelle Schaub is a language arts teacher and award-winning children's poet. She is the author of the picture book poetry collections Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market and Finding Treasure: A Collection of Collections. She is also the author of two picture books in verse, Dream Big, Little Scientists and Kindness is a Kite String: The Uplifting Power of Empathy. Her poems appear in several anthologies, including  Great Morning! Poems for School Leaders to Read Aloud.  Michelle loves visiting schools and speaking at conferences on the power of poetry to boost literacy. Find out more at: