This user-friendly book contains inspirational stories of 19 well-known individuals who used education to make better lives for themselves. The biographies trace the learning paths of the featured men and women and emphasize the educational accomplishments that made their later success possible. The stories also highlight the adversity these people faced, the obstacles they overcame, and the positive character traits they demonstrated. Interesting facts, anecdotes, and quotes are included so children understand that these individuals were at one time kids just like themselves.


* Ideal for bedtime or classroom read-alouds
* Engaging "riddle-format" keeps the identity of each individual a secret until the last sentence
* Great source of short Non-Fiction texts you can use to address Common Core standards
* Designed to inspire children 8-12 years of age to become more motivated, more determined, more purposeful learners
* Features a diverse, distinguished group of individuals, including Barack Obama, Susan B. Anthony, Oprah Winfrey, Thomas Edison, Sandra Cisneros, Sally Ride, Dr. Seuss, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

List of Featured Individuals

  • Maya Angelou
  • Susan B. Anthony
  • Elizabeth Blackwell
  • Louis Braille
  • George Washington Carver
  • Sandra Cisneros
  • Bill Clinton
  • Hillary Clinton
  • Tim Duncan
  • Thomas Edison
  • Bill Gates
  • Barbara Jordan
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Barack Obama
  • Condoleeza Rice
  • Sally Ride
  • Dr. Seuss
  • Pat Head Summitt
  • Oprah Winfrey

Sample Biography

She Learned Early in Life to Shoot for the Stars

As a child, she had always been fascinated by planets, stars, and galaxies, but never did she dream of becoming a scientist. She was born in Los Angeles, CA on May 26, 1951 to parents who deeply valued education. Her father Dale was a political science professor at Santa Monica College; her mom was a teacher and voracious reader. Authors Jane and Sue Hurwitz remark that she and her younger sister Karen “were raised in an atmosphere that encouraged individual exploration. Accordingly, {she} believed that she could undertake any activity that she felt capable of or wished to learn about. Being a girl never prevented her from doing anything she wanted.” She loved to read Nancy Drew mysteries, James Bond spy novels, and a fair amount of science fiction. Looking back now, it is fitting that one of her heroes was Superman.

She developed an intense passion for both science and sports. By age five, she was reading the sports section of the newspaper and memorizing baseball statistics. There was an even a time when she dreamed of playing for the hometown Dodgers. She was so good at softball and football that she was often the only girl selected to play in neighborhood games with boys. From these games, she learned two critical lessons: 1) the importance of being a team player and 2) girls can compete in games with boys.

As she grew up, major changes were occurring in the field of space exploration. The Soviet Union had taken the lead over the U.S. in the “Space Race” by launching the first artificial satellite to orbit the earth in 1957 and by sending the first person into space in 1961. Along with thousands of Americans, her interest in space increased during this time.

Tennis soon became her main sport, and her talent, motivation, determination, and perseverance helped her become a top junior player. In 1964, she won a partial scholarship to the all-girls Westlake School, where she met Dr. Elizabeth Mommaerts, a teacher who encouraged her to become a scientist. In high school she continued to progress with her tennis while also studying chemistry, physics, trigonometry, and calculus. After graduation, she attended Swarthmore College, a small liberal arts college just outside Philadelphia, where for two years she excelled at tennis. She then came home so she could play all-year around in the warmer climate.

Eventually, she concluded that she didn’t quite have what it took to become a pro tennis player, so she dedicated herself to becoming a scientist. She went to Stanford University and in 1973 graduated with degrees in English and physics. In the years that followed, she earned her master’s degree and Ph. D in astrophysics, the study of the physical and chemical characteristics of matter in space. In 1977, unsure of what kind of job to get, she came across an advertisement in the university newspaper. NASA was looking for mission specialists to conduct experiments on board the space shuttle, and for the first time women were urged to apply.

Even though there were more than 8,000 applicants for the program, she made it, due to the combination of her science background, athletic ability, scholastic achievement, and reputation as a team player. On June 18, 1983 she served as mission specialist on the space shuttle Challenger. With a crowd estimated at 250,000 watching from Kennedy Space Center, she became America’s first female astronaut and the youngest American to take part in a space mission. Her participation wasn’t simply an outstanding personal achievement; it would help create new opportunities for other American women in a variety of professions. Her courage and commitment to working as part of a team earned her the respect of fellow astronauts, the admiration of millions of Americans, and a place in history. Her name...is Dr. Sally Ride.