Thomas Jefferson Biographies

For Kids of All Ages

Thomas Jefferson is one of my favorite Founding Fathers. He was a brilliant man, with a near insatiable curiosity about nearly everything. Sound familiar? He sounds like so many gifted kids. He played a significant role in the founding of the US, and was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence.

The Story of Thomas Jefferson

The Story of Thomas Jefferson
Photo Courtesy of Amazon.com

It is never too early to get kids learning about history. Learning about Thomas Jefferson, who was without a doubt a highly gifted man and the president whose library was the foundation for the U.S. Library of Congress, is definitely a good place to start. Since this is a board book meant for toddlers, Jefferson's story will be simplified, but it is still going to be interesting for the little ones. Advanced readers will probably want a book for older kids.

Ages 1 to 2

Buy from Amazon

A Picture Book of Thomas Jefferson

A Picture Book of Thomas Jefferson
Photo Courtesy of Amazon.com

For a short picture book, this book packs in a lot of information about Jefferson. Children will learn about Jefferson's early childhood, starting out with his father's death when Jefferson was quite young, which left him with a lot of responsibilities. But they will also learn about how much Jefferson enjoyed reading and how devastated he was when his wife and daughter died. It also covers the puzzling aspect of Jefferson's life: the fact that he favored liberty, opposed slavery, and yet owned slaves. The watercolor illustrations help children understand the daily life of Jefferson's day.

Ages 6 to 8

Buy from Amazon

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson. Photo Courtesy of Pricegrabber

It is hard to condense the life of a man like Jefferson into a single, short children's book of just 48 pages. Book for adults that are much longer have a hard time covering everything about the man. Still, this book provides children with a good overview of Jefferson and his world. One reason it's hard to fit everything about Jefferson into one short book is that Jefferson was not a simple man. He was quite an enigmatic man, and the author tries to present him in all his enigmatic splendor. For example, readers learn how Jefferson struggled with his belief in human equality while being a slave owner. The book even mentions his relationship with Sally Hemings. Children will also get a good sense of his personality, his interests, and his very exceptional skills.

Ages 8 to 12

Buy from Amazon

Thomas Jefferson (DK Biography)

Thomas Jefferson (DK Biography)
Photo Courtesy of Amazon.com

This DK biography of Jefferson is packed with information, photographs, and illustrations that help bring his story to life. Of course, we can't see any photos of Jefferson himself, but we can see photos of Jefferson's portraits, of his home Monticello, and other archival photos to help us understand Jefferson and the times during which he lived. Children will learn about Jefferson's fascinating and full life, as well as some interesting facts of Jefferson's day. For instance, readers will learn that mudslinging during presidential campaigns is nothing new. There was quite a bit even in the earliest campaigns (Jefferson was the 3rd US president). They'll also learn that it was Jefferson who first brought ice cream to America! Throughout the book are quotations from Jefferson himself.

Ages 8 to 13

Buy from Amazon

Thomas Jefferson for Kids: His Life and Times with 21 Activities

Thomas Jefferson for Kids: His Life and Times with 21 Activities
Photo Courtesy of Amazon.com

Hands-on learning activities are great ways for children to learn a topic. With a man like Jefferson, however, you'd really need a much longer book to fully appreciate all there is to know about Jefferson. He was a brilliant man with a wide variety of interests and experiences. He was a lawyer, an architect, a statesman, a farmer, and an inventor. He was an outspoken critic of Great Britain and King George III, and was the prime author of the Declaration of Independence. How many different activities would you need to understand all that? Here are just a few of the 21 activities in the book: create a Declaration of Independence, grow a plant from a cutting, draw a floor plan, dance a reel, make a simple microscope, and build a model solar system.

Ages 9 and up

Buy from Amazon

Sterling Biographies: Thomas Jefferson: Architect of Freedom

Sterling Biographies: Thomas Jefferson: Architect of Freedom
Sterling Biographies: Thomas Jefferson: Architect of Freedom. Photo Courtesy of Pricegrabber

As children get older, they will want to know more and more about Jefferson. This book is a book that relates quite a bit about about Jefferson's life and career in a fun and lively way. It combines facts with brief anecdotes that help bring the facts to life. Some parents may be bothered by the author attributing thoughts and feelings to Jefferson in the anecdotes (i.e. "Jefferson felt as though someone were cutting out his heart"), but that is not unusual in storytelling, even if it's historical. It helps make the story more interesting. It also includes photos of Jefferson's inventions and important documents.

Ages 10 and up

Buy from Amazon

Thomas Jefferson: The Revolution of Ideas

Thomas Jefferson: The Revolution of Ideas
Photo Courtesy of Amazon.com

This biography is for older children who enjoy biographies and want to know more about Thomas Jefferson. It covers his parentage and his early childhood, and his life from then until his death. It covers his relationships with others, even when they were less than ideal. In fact, that's what much of the book is like. It presents Jefferson as a human being, not a perfect being. Readers will learn that Jefferson often was in conflict with some of the other Founders, including George Washington and Alexander Hamilton. They will also learn what was most important to him ( his founding of the University of Virginia) as well as many other facts we don't always hear about him, such as the development of his religious beliefs and his attempt to live like a gentleman without the financial resources required.

Ages 12 and up

Buy from Amazon

American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson

American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson
Photo Courtesy of Amazon.com
Preteens and teens (and adults) should enjoy this book about Jefferson. He was without a doubt a very extraordinary man. Some earlier biographies of Jefferson wrote about him as though he were superhuman, while later biographies seem set on making him a villain. This book does neither. Instead, it sets out to paint a picture of a man. A great man, to be sure, but still a man. Those familiar with gifted traits will no doubt recognize those traits in Jefferson. He was idealistic and sentimental, but also radically liberal, curious, and one of the most influential of the American Founding Fathers.

Buy from Amazon

Continue Reading