Early Elementary Books

Theme: Personal Makeovers

A Picture Book of Louis Braille - (ISBN: 978-0823414130)

by David A. Adler

Despite having become blind in an accident during his childhood, Louis Braille went on to invent the definitive alphabet for blind readers. The book helps you understand the atmosphere of France at the time he was living there as well as explaining other touch alphabets. Enjoy feeling the raised alphabetical symbols and numbers at the end of the book.

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things - (ISBN: 978-0375849305)

by Lenore Look

Although Alvin is so nervous he cannot open his mouth at school, in his imagination (and at home!), he is a super hero. Plus, he is interested in everything. The humor in this chapter book helps dissipate some of the angst of Alvin’s phobias, but the best thing comes toward the end of the book when he makes a real friend, despite his selective mutism. Draw two self-portrait sketches, one of the person you believe you are today and one of the person you would like to be.

Dizzy - (ISBN: 978-0439507370)

by Jonah Winter

Dizzy Gillespie overcomes being picked on by his peers and becoming angry by allowing his interest in music grow. His family life was also tough. He maintained his delight with the piano and the musical world to become one of the world’s greatest jazz musicians. Talk to one of your music teachers to see if he or she knows any more about Dizzy Gillespie.

Harry and Willy and Carrothead - (ISBN: 978-0688094928)

by Judith Caseley

Despite being born with only one hand, Harry views himself as “normal,” but with a prosthesis. He is surprised when the kids at school tease him, but his self-confidence soon helps him make friends. He does not mind talking about his disability, and he becomes a good enough baseball player as well! What small personal problems have you overcome to become your present self?

The Story of Ruby Bridges - (ISBN: 978-0439472265)

by Robert Coles

Ruby Bridges was a 6 year-old-girl who was the first African American child to integrate her New Orleans classroom. Despite the fact that the other parents kept their children home, and people yelled and screamed as the federal marshals accompanied her to the classroom, Ruby sat at her desk and learned to read and write. Her ordeal went on for months, but she persevered, strengthened by her family’s support and her faith. Write a poem using adjectives that describe Ruby.

Here Come the Girl Scouts: The Amazing All-True Story of Juliette ‘Daisy’ Gordon Low and Her Great Adventure - (ISBN: 978-0545342780)

by Shana Corey

One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference - (ISBN: 978-1554530281)

by Kate Smith Milway

Ruth the Sleuth and the Messy Room - (ISBN: 978-0983935513)

by Carol Ekster

Stand Tall Mary Lou Melon - (ISBN: 978-0399234163)

by Patty Lovell

The Brave Little Parrot - (ISBN: 978-0399228254)

by Rafe Martin

Wangari’s Trees of Peace - (ISBN: 0152065458)

by Jeannette Winter

Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman - (ISBN: 978-0152020989)

by Kathleen Krull

Activities for this Theme

Listen to some of Dizzy Gillespie’s music while you are reading together as a family.


Combine a list of adjectives that describe the determined people in these books and create a randomly generated poem.


Tie one of your arms or legs to your body so you can get an idea of how it feels to have an artificial limb.