Students in 4th grade, like all children, are very inquisitive but by 4th grade they are also starting to look a little deeper at the world around them. They want to learn why things are the way they are. They want to make sense of people’s actions. And they are starting to develop dreams for their own future, imagining ways that they could make a difference to the world.
So, for those curious and ambitious students, we have listed the best biography books for 4th graders in 2020. These books will satisfy their curiosity, inspire them and teach them many lessons about the ups and downs of real-life.
Manfish is a biography about the life of Jacques Cousteau, a famous explorer best known for his obsession with the ocean. The book contains beautiful illustrations of the underwater world that your 4th graders will dive right into.
French naval officer turned underwater explorer; Jacques co-invented the Aqua-Lung. This is a device which has allowed millions of people across the world to enjoy the delights of what lies beneath the ocean’s surface. His device has allowed many scientists and oceanographers to make important discoveries about ocean life and has transformed the sport of diving.
The text in the book provides challenge and it’s subject if suitable for grade 4 readers. It is poetic in parts and, despite being a non-fiction text, it is told in narrative form. Jacques life becomes a beautifully described story that readers can immerse themselves in.
The vivid language used in the book is an excellent example of descriptive writing, making the book a great choice to study when teaching 4th graders about descriptive techniques.
2. Henri’s Scissors
This is a picture book with few words but that doesn’t mean it’s not suitable for 4th graders. The picture book format is actually a refreshing change from the usual prose-style books that 4th graders are most used to.
The artwork in the book is important because this biography is about the life of artist, Henri Matisse. The book would be an excellent book to share at the start of an art project on the famous artist.
The biography gives an explanation as to why Matisse’s’ style of art changed from painting to collage. Presented in pictures with a few lines of text on each page, the book delicately tells the story of the hardships Matisse faced in his final years. It also holds an important message about overcoming life’s challenges to achieve great things.
The illustrations are a visual treat and are sure to inspire creativity in any 4th grader.
3. Kid Scientists: True Tales of Childhood from Scientist Superstars
This is a collection of biographies about famous scientists. The cool thing is that the biographies start by focusing on the lives of these scientists during their childhood.
For 4th grade readers there is a lot to gain from hearing about the lives of these successful scientists before they were famous. It teaches them that despite coming from humble beginnings, great things can be achieved. And, conveys the message that these great scientists were once regular kids, just like the readers.
With 15 biographies including those of, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Jane Goodall, there are plenty of science greats to capture the attention of students. Ranging from physicists, chemists, biologists, environmentalists, the book covers a wide variety of scientific topics.
The illustrations are also worthy of a mention too. Most of pages contain amusing illustrations which is a big appeal to many 4th grade readers.
4. Who was Anne Frank?
An age appropriate biography for 4th grade, that covers the life of Anne Frank, a young girl famous for the diary she wrote during World War 2. It covers everything from her early childhood, to her time in hiding and the impact her diary has had on the world since the second world war.
The biography gives the reader an insight into what life was like during wartime and shares the unbelievable story of Anne and her family who went into hiding.
Fourth graders will be intrigued, by her secret life and in awe of her strength and resilience.
Amongst the text are illustrations and maps, which give the reader a visual picture of what Anne’s life was like in the attic behind the bookcase where she and her family lived for 2-years.
5. The Boy Who Invented TV
This biography is a challenging read for 4th graders compared to the other books we have suggested so far. So, if you are looking for a biography to stretch and develop the reading skills of fourth grade readers, certainly consider this one.
It is about the life of Philo Farnsworth, the boy who invented TV. The book provides more than enough detail about his life to fully satisfy curious 4th grade students.
Throughout the book readers will come across highlighted words. These highlighted words direct readers to the glossary, where they will find easy to understand definitions. We love this feature in the book as it helps develops vocabulary and aids comprehension.
It’s a detailed book and one that teachers may decide to use as a ‘read-along-text’ in class. The ‘stop checks’ at the bottom of some pages are a useful tool for teachers. They can be used to assess student’s understanding of the text and encourages them to pay attention whilst reading.
A sporting biography about Serena and Venus Williams, the tennis champions. Written by the famous author Jeanette Winter who is renowned for her child biographies, this book is a tale of perseverance and determination.
It is a picture book, but the text gives enough detail and challenge for 4th graders readers. The topics covered are also thought provoking for children of this age.
It follows the lives of the two Williams sisters as they grow-up with a dream of winning trophies and rising to the top of their game.
Brought up in a tough part of California, the girls trained hard and overcame the challenges they faced within the community. Teaching fourth graders that despite everything dreams can be reached.
The book also discusses the problems the sisters had with injuries during their career. A lesson to 4th graders on how to look after their bodies.
This biography is a brilliant choice for budding athletes, sports fans and particularly teaches girls that they can succeed in sport too.
7. Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Martin Luther King
It’s hard not to feel moved when reading about the life of Martin Luther King. This man’s powerful and ever important words have been captured in this wonderful biography all about his life.
Growing up, Martin experienced the negative effect words could have and the divisions they could cause. Making the decision to use words to change the world for the better, Martin Luther King made some of the most powerful and influential speeches in history.
The pages of this book focus on some of his most inspiring moments. They display empowering quotes and illustrations that bring his words to life once again.
The text in the book is not lengthy but everything that is written is important, Martin’s big words.
The illustrations alone are great for stimulating class discussions and debates.
This book holds the potential to teach 4th graders a lot about tolerance, equality, and how our words can affect others, we highly recommend it.
Yes, biographies are a great way to satisfy those inquisitive and curious students that want to know about the lives of others. But more than that, biographies hold the potential to educate and inspire.
We have listed biographies of great people that have achieved great things in a variety of different areas. From artists, scientists, political speakers, sports people, and activists. There is bound to be something in this list of best biography books for 4th graders 2020, that will suit your readers. And if you (or they) really can’t decide then the biography collection books are a handy option.
We hope our list inspires you as much as these biographies will inspire your students!