Ohio University Press · Swallow Press ·

Biographies for Young Readers

Biographies for Young Readers is a series of books intended for middle-grade readers age eight and up.

The series was born out of a desire to introduce children to interesting and exciting figures from both past and present and to instill a love of reading from an early age. The series also reflects the growing interest among librarians and parents in biographies and other fact-based works for school-age children, as well as the emphasis on literary nonfiction.

The press is looking for life stories of exceptional individuals—especially those who may have been overlooked in mainstream biographies—written in a fresh narrative style. For example, the first book in the series, Kammie on First: Baseball’s Dottie Kamenshek by Michelle Houts, traces the life and career of a pioneer in women’s professional sports. More recent titles explore the lives of Virginia Hamilton, an award-winning African American children's literature author, Dolores Huerta, a Chicana activist and cofounder of the National Farmworkers Association and winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and Cy Young, one of the hardest throwing pitchers of all time.

Potential authors wishing to submit a proposal should send the following to acquisitions editor Ricky S. Huard at

  • a brief cover letter introducing yourself and the proposed subject
  • an outline of the book
  • a sample opening chapter

Please include the cover letter in the body of the e-mail and attach the outline and sample chapter as Microsoft Word documents. The full manuscript should be 15,000 to 20,000 words with 30 to 40 photo illustrations related to the subject of the biography and the historical context. The finished books are 100–125 pages in length.

The press especially welcomes submissions by and about Black, Indigenous, and other persons of color (BIPOC) whose work, art, music, talent, or leadership contributed to the betterment of the world around them.


Michelle Houts

Cover of 'Thomas H. Begay and the Navajo Code Talkers'

Thomas H. Begay and the Navajo Code Talkers
By Alysa Landry

Through Thomas H. Begay’s singular story, this richly illustrated biography for young readers describes aspects of Navajo history and culture and shows how a select group of Navajo soldiers used their native Diné language to invent and operate a secret communications system that was crucial to a US victory in the Pacific during World War II.

Juvenile Nonfiction | People & Places | United States | Native American · Juvenile Nonfiction | History | Military & Wars

Cover of 'The Many Lives of Eddie Rickenbacker'

The Many Lives of Eddie Rickenbacker
By Andrew Speno

Eddie Rickenbacker survived personal tragedies and dozens of close calls as a mechanic, a race car driver, a fighter pilot, and airline executive. This biography invites young readers to consider the difference between recklessness and courage, even if both present dangers, and the enduring value of hard work and personal responsibility.

Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Historical · Juvenile Nonfiction | History | Military & Wars · Juvenile Nonfiction | Transportation | Aviation · Ohio · Young Readers

Cover of 'Cy Young'

Cy Young
An American Baseball Hero
By Scott H. Longert

Cy Young: American Baseball Hero tells the life story of Cy Young, the hardest-throwing pitcher in baseball history, and introduces middle-grade readers to America’s favorite pastime, explaining balls, strikes, and outs in an exciting and easy-to-understand way.

Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Historical · Baseball History · Ohio

Cover of 'Eye to Eye'

Eye to Eye
Sports Journalist Christine Brennan
By Julie K. Rubini

From knocking down barriers in NFL locker rooms to covering every Olympics since 1984, Christine Brennan has done it all, while knocking barriers of her own as a female sports journalist. Eye to Eye invites young readers to learn more and nurture their own dreams of investigating and telling important stories.

Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography | Sports & Recreation · Biography & Autobiography | Women · Biography, Journalists · Young Readers

Cover of 'Smoky, the Dog That Saved My Life'

Smoky, the Dog That Saved My Life
The Bill Wynne Story
By Nancy Roe Pimm

World War II soldier Bill Wynne met Smoky while serving in New Guinea, where the dog, who was smaller than Wynne’s army boot, was found trying to scratch her way out of a foxhole. After he adopted her, she served as the squadron mascot and is credited as being the first therapy dog for the emotional support she provided the soldiers. When they weren’t fighting, Bill taught Smoky hundreds of tricks to entertain the troops.

Juvenile Nonfiction | History | Military & Wars · Juvenile Nonfiction | Animals | Dogs · Young Readers

Cover of 'Dolores Huerta Stands Strong'

Dolores Huerta Stands Strong
The Woman Who Demanded Justice
By Marlene Targ Brill

Dolores Huerta Stands Strong follows Huerta’s life from the mining communities of the Southwest where her father toiled, to the fields of California, to the present day. As she advocated for farmworkers, Mexican American immigrants, women, and LGBTQ population rights, Dolores earned the nation’s highest honors and found her voice.

Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography | Social Activists · Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography | Women · Young Readers

Cover of 'Count the Wings'

Count the Wings
The Life and Art of Charley Harper
By Michelle Houts

When you look at a bird, do you see feathers and a beak? Or do you see circles and triangles? Artist Charley Harper spent his life reducing subjects to their simplest forms, their basic lines and shapes. This resulted in what he called minimal realism and the style that would become easily recognized as Charley Harper’s. Art fans and nature lovers around the world fell in love with Harper’s paintings, which often featured bright colors and intriguing nature subjects.Harper’s

Biography, Artists (Juvenile Nonfiction) · Ohio · Young Readers · West Virginia

Cover of 'Virginia Hamilton'

Virginia Hamilton
America’s Storyteller
By Julie K. Rubini

Long before she wrote The House of Dies Drear, M. C. Higgins, the Great, and many other children’s classics, Virginia Hamilton grew up among her extended family near Yellow Springs, Ohio, where her grandfather had been brought as a baby through the Underground Railroad. The family stories she heard as a child fueled her imagination, and the freedom to roam the farms and woods nearby trained her to be a great observer.

Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography | Women · Young Readers · Ohio · Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography | Literary

Cover of 'The Jerrie Mock Story'

The Jerrie Mock Story
The First Woman to Fly Solo around the World
By Nancy Roe Pimm

In the third installment of our series Biographies for Young Readers, Nancy Roe Pimm gives us the life of Jerrie Mock, who in 1964 became the first woman to fly solo around the world. Mock, born in Newark, Ohio, received little attention for her feat, despite accomplishing what her childhood heroine Amelia Earhart died trying. Meticulously researched, Mock’s story as presented by Pimm is engaging, accessible, and packed with inspiration for middle-grade readers aspiring to adventure.

Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography | Women · Juvenile Nonfiction | Transportation | Aviation · Young Readers · Ohio

Cover of 'Missing Millie Benson'

Missing Millie Benson
The Secret Case of the Nancy Drew Ghostwriter and Journalist
By Julie K. Rubini

Growing up in Ladora, Iowa, Mildred “Millie” Benson had ample time to develop her imagination, sense of adventure, and independence. Millie left her small hometown to attend the University of Iowa, where she became the first person to earn a master’s degree from the school of journalism. While still a graduate student, Millie began writing for the Stratemeyer Syndicate, which published the phenomenally popular Hardy Boys series, among many others.

Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography | Women · Young Readers · Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography | Literary · Ohio

Cover of 'Kammie on First'

Kammie on First
Baseball’s Dottie Kamenshek
By Michelle Houts

Dorothy Mary Kamenshek was born to immigrant parents in Norwood, Ohio. As a young girl, she played pickup games of sandlot baseball with neighborhood children; no one, however, would have suspected that at the age of seventeen she would become a star athlete at the national level. The outbreak of World War II and the ensuing draft of able-bodied young men severely depleted the ranks of professional baseball players.

Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography | Women · Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography | Sports & Recreation · Ohio · Young Readers