Title: The ValueTale Series
Authors: Spencer and Anne Donegan Johnson
Illustrator: Steve Pileggi
One of my favorites was the ValueTale series. They are out of print now, but when I was a kid, we had the entire set. There were about 40 or so books and I read each and every one of them. Each book was a biography of a historical figure who embodied a particular value, such as courage, kindness, determination. Some that I remember the best are: The Value of Believing in Yourself: The Story of Louis Pasteur, The Value of Determination: The Story of Helen Keller, The Value of Giving: The Story of Beethoven, and The Value of Caring: The Story of Eleanor Roosevelt. I read these over, over and over again.
I think what appealed to me (besides the illustrations and the not very historically accurate anthropomorphic sidekicks) was that I could as a child relate to these individuals as people, not just get rote awareness of their historical accomplishments. And I still enjoy biographies (although these days, it's more television-based) as a way of learning and understanding history. To this day, I credit the series for my first exposure to a number of scientists, philosophers, artists, athletes, activists, humanitarians, politicians and many other backgrounds. Some of these were people of color, or from different countries/cultures, some were women - so it was also an early introduction to recognizing that everyone can contribute, do great things, overcome obstacles, help others, be good people.
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