Historical Nonfiction Children’s Books I’d Like to See (Based Entirely on Drunk History Episodes)
Recently I did a post where I mentioned several wonderful Hark, A Vagrant webcomics featuring historical figures that I’d love to see turned into picture book biographies. Well, in a similar vein, I’m a big fan of the Drunk History series on Comedy Central too. It’ll be returning soon for a fourth season and has a lovely way of highlighting stories that I think would adapt brilliantly into the children’s nonfiction book format. The real stories, that is. Not the drunk tellers. That would be weird.
Now because this is a post where comedians get drunk and try to tell historical moments in history, I think it’s pretty safe to say that a goodly chunk of the videos embedded here are Not Safe for Work.
A quick note too that this is mostly male, just as the Hark, A Vagrant piece contained mostly women. Kate Beaton’s better at awesome women than Drunk History. Sad but true.
And none of these video clips are complete by the way. They’re just little snippets of the full stories.
Jim Thorpe is named the greatest athlete of the 20th century
The Joseph Bruchac picture book biography Jim Thorpe’s Bright Path and his fiction work Jim Thorpe: Original All-American are pretty much the gold standard on all things children’s-books-about-Jim-Thorpe. Still, considering how amazing the guy was, I bet we could get a lot more books about him out there (though I’d be amiss in not also mentioning Don Brown’s Bright Path: Young Jim Thorpe). You could even do what Drunk History does here and just highlight one amazing moment in his life. This clip doesn’t get to it, but when his shoes get stolen and he competes with a pair he finds in the trash . . . I mean, that’s amazing.
Japanese-American Daniel Inouye fights in World War II
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – We do NOT have enough picture book bios of badass Asian-American heroes. In the Hark, A Vagrant post I made a case for Katherine Sui Fun Cheung. Well considering Daniel Inouye’s life and contributions it is doggone weird that he has so little in the children’s biography realm.
Sybil Ludington takes her midnight ride
Sadly this clip doesn’t really get to the thick of her contributions in the Revolutionary War, but it’s a good start. Very few 16-year-old female war heroes out there. To be fair, this very year (2016) Feiwel and Friends published E.F. Abbot’s fictionalized accounting in Sybil Ludington: Revolutionary War Rider. But a little nonfiction wouldn’t hurt too.
Muhammad Ali refuses to fight in the Vietnam War.
One of my favorites. I know we’ve a fair number of Ali bios for kids. But, again, what about highlighting this moment in his life? It makes for a fascinating story in and of itself (and lord knows we have too few pacifist bios out there on beyond Gandhi).
Despite having only one hand, Jim Abbott proves to be a great baseball players.
Again, I wish we had the full clip here for you to watch. Abbott’s story is amazing in and of itself. The Cuba part is nice but let’s just get into the fact that he could pitch one-handed. How about that, eh?
Thanks for checking them out! And with the fourth seasons of the show at hand (including one told by Lin-Manuel Miranda) more ideas are bound to come up.
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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