Subscribe to The Horn Book

FLOTUS booklist

Here are some books for children and young adults about First Ladies of the United States. The titles below were reviewed and recommended by The Horn Book Magazine and The Horn Book Guide at the time of their publication; reviews (with dates) reprinted below. Click here for more recent Hillary Clinton books — there are a lot of them!

Picture Books

smart_aboutSmart about the First Ladies
48 pp. Grosset 2005. LE ISBN 0-448-43725-2 PE ISBN 0-448-43724-4

Smart about History series. As in the other titles in this excellent series, this book is ostensibly a child’s school assignment, in this case focusing on the first ladies. Each woman speaks for herself in a short profile illustrated with improbably dignified cartoony art and brimming with kid-pleasing tidbits — e.g., who knew that Lucy Webb Hayes hosted the first White House Easter Egg Roll?

gourley_first gardenGourley, Robbin First Garden: The White House Garden and How It Grew
48 pp. Clarion 2011. ISBN 978-0-547-48224-8

Gourley’s discussion of Michelle Obama’s creation of a vegetable garden on the White House lawn is framed by a brief history of other gardens at the White House. Loose-handed watercolor illustrations depict a place that’s full of life. A foreword by chef Alice Waters and a series of recipes are included. Reading list, websites.

rappaport_eleanor quiet no moreRappaport, Doreen Eleanor, Quiet No More
40 pp. Hyperion 2009. ISBN 978-0-7868-5141-6

Illustrated by Gary Kelley. Rappaport (Martin’s Big Words, Abe’s Honest Words) uses Roosevelt’s own quotes to define her growth from insecure, unloved child to reluctant but forceful political voice to respected citizen of the world. The text outlines Eleanor’s developing concern for others and lessening self-consciousness. A triple-frame illustration of Eleanor addressing an audience convincingly conveys her metamorphosis and increasing confidence. Reading list, timeline, websites. Bib.


bausum_ourcountryBausum, Ann Our Country’s First Ladies
128 pp. National Geographic Books 2007. ISBN 978-1-4263-0006-6 LE ISBN 978-1-4263-0007-3

This volume profiles forty-four wives of U.S. presidents — women fulfilling a job for which there is neither a description nor a paycheck — and reveals how their roles reflect their times. Each profile is accompanied by a full-page portrait and boxed sidebars, some entertaining (e.g., a photo of Mamie and Dwight Eisenhower salt and pepper shakers). Reading list, websites. Ind.

brophy_michelleBrophy, David Bergen Michelle Obama: Meet the First Lady
114 pp. HarperCollins/Collins 2009. ISBN 978-0-06-177991-6 PE ISBN 978-0-06-177990-9

“Barack’s rock” is given an evenhanded treatment in this accessible biography of the First Lady. The text highlights Michelle’s close-knit, working-class family; her staunch work ethic; and her unwavering dedication to her husband and daughters. Readers will come away with an appreciation of the woman herself above and beyond her official role.

colbert_michelleColbert, David Michelle Obama: An American Story
151 pp. Houghton 2009. ISBN 978-0-547-24941-4 PE ISBN 978-0-547-24770-0

Following an account of Michelle Obama’s great-great-grandfather, a slave, Colbert describes her childhood, Ivy League education, relationship with her husband, and support of his political career, always emphasizing her commitment to hard work. This is a readable and informative biography of the first African American First Lady. A color photo insert is included.

fleming_eleanorFleming, Candace Our Eleanor: A Scrapbook Look at Eleanor Roosevelt’s Remarkable Life
176 pp. Atheneum 2005. ISBN 0-689-86544-9

This richly rendered account of the life and accomplishments of Eleanor Roosevelt is both unabashed tribute and absorbing history. Fleming draws on numerous scrapbooks and diaries as well as copious primary and secondary sources in developing her text and selecting the accompanying photographs, organizing her material in “a loose chronological fashion.” Family tree, reading list, timeline. Bib., ind.

freedman eleanorFreedman, Russell Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery
198 pp. Clarion 1993. ISBN 0-89919-862-7

Freedman has created a sensitive biography of Eleanor Roosevelt — certainly sympathetic but not overly adulatory; it captures her spirit. The beautifully crafted text flows smoothly and is accompanied by over one hundred black-and-white photographs portraying Roosevelt at every age. Young readers will find inspiration, hope, and guidance in the life of the outstanding woman. Bib., ind.

guernsey_hillaryGuernsey, JoAnn Bren Hillary Rodham Clinton: A New Kind of First Lady
80 pp. Lerner 1993. LE ISBN 0-8225-9650-4 PE ISBN 0-8225-2875-4

Achievers series. The overview, illustrated with black-and-white and color photographs, discusses Hillary Rodham Clinton‘s schooling, family background, and marriage, her impressive contributions to the law and the rights of children, and the public’s perception of her as a “radical feminist.” The narrative skillfully provides an understanding of the influences that shaped the first lady, as well as her remarkable accomplishments.

Young Adult

women's hist_blumenthal_hillary rodham clinton_170x250Blumenthal, Karen Hillary Rodham Clinton: A Woman Living History
433 pp. Feiwel 2016. ISBN 978-1-250-06014-3 Ebook ISBN 978-1-250-08029-5

In this frank yet positive account of Clinton’s life through the 2015 announcement of her presidential candidacy, Blumenthal chronicles Clinton’s youth, marriage, and career (including various scandals). Acknowledging that Clinton’s public story has been “carefully controlled and crafted,” Blumenthal allows Clinton’s accomplishments (and sometimes her foibles) to take center stage and suggest the woman behind the pantsuit. Timeline. Bib., ind.

smithsonianMayo, Edith P. The Smithsonian Book of the First Ladies: Their Lives, Times, and Issues
302 pp. Holt 1996. ISBN 0-8050-1751-8

Foreword by Hillary Rodham Clinton. In addition to the brief, well-written portrait of each woman, the book provides an in-depth look at various aspects of American women’s lives, from what it meant to be a presidential hostess to how and why women fought against slavery. Accompanied by black-and-white and color reproductions, this handsome book will help improve the visibility of women in the country’s political life and history. Bib., ind.

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind