I work for a demanding audience – elementary school children. Thanks to the internet, this generation has seen it all and they can be hard to impress. Take this exchange I had today with John, a second grade boy:
John: I’d like to read a biography. Who do you think I would like?
Me: Well, what about Harry Houdini? He was a magician and an escape artist.
John: Okay, but could he also play the guitar?
Clearly, escaping from an underwater box just doesn’t impress like it used to! Once I convinced John that Houdini might interest him (even without the guitar playing), we had a few books from which to choose. John selected Houdini: World’s Greatest Mystery Man and Escape King by Kathleen Krull. A perfect choice, and I’m sure Krull’s wonderful book will have John looking for others. Luckily, Houdini is a popular biography subject. Because there are so many, I listed them in order of books for the youngest readers first.
A Picture Book of Harry Houdini by David Adler (an introduction for the youngest magicians)
Harry Houdini: Escape Artist by Patricia Lakin (Ready-to-Read, Level 2)
Who Was Harry Houdini? by Tui Sutherland (part of the Who Was series of short biographies – our students love them!)
Harry Houdini: World’s Greatest Mystery Man and Escape King by Kathleen Krull (a picture book biography)
The Houdini Box by Brian Selznick (a novel about a young boy who meets his hero, Houdini)
Houdini: The Handcuff King by Jason Lutes (a biography in graphic form)
Harry Houdini for Kids: His Life and Adventures with 21 Magic Tricks and Illusions by Laurie Carlson (More than a biography, this one includes card tricks!)
Escape! The Story of the Great Houdini by Sid Fleischman (Fleischman started as a magician himself, and this respected biography for older readers is “magical.”)