100 People Who Made History

100 People Who Made History

By Ben Gilliland

DK Publishing, 2012

ISBN #9780756690038

Grades 3-7 (Publisher lists ages 7-12)


“There are adventurous discoverers who boldly go where no one has gone before, sailing the high seas and finding new lands. Then there are the more stay-at-home types, who toil away in labs and the like and—eureka—discover something that will save millions of lives. Behind every great discovery is a remarkable person, whose courage and determination—and sometime plain luck—made the world the place it is today.”

I opened the book and the page fell to Dimitri Mendeleev, the scientist who developed the first periodic table of the elements. Early pages of the book begin with the great explorers, like Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus, and then moves on to the great early scientists: Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, and Charles Darwin.

Each spread is devoted to a great explorer, philosopher, historian, leader, or inventor in many different fields, including popular culture and the arts. The two pages are presented in a series of sidebars set off by photographs that break the information into small chunks packed with facts. One section details their early life, education, how they arrived at their achievement, and other sets of interesting facts. The bottom text and art on the pages tells of others who came along and used the information to develop further ideas.

The back matter includes a section titled “Let’s Applaud…,” which includes those who didn’t quite make the top 100 of American and Canadian history, a glossary, and index. This book allows readers to “Meet the people who shaped the modern world” and allows them to make their own discoveries of those intrepid explorers who changed the world in some way. 

This book fits easily into elementary and middle school libraries and is well-suited to the Common Core Curriculum. It contains a helpful table of contents grouped by achievements and would be a fascinating read for any age interested in learning more about a specific person. It’s a great jumping off place for biographies and first nonfiction research. I loved the book and I think kids will, too.


Select an explorer from two different categories. List the events in their life. Then make a chart to compare their experiences. 

This site has more information about other people and their achievements.

Here’s another list.

National Science Standard: Core Idea ETS2: Links Among Engineering, Technology, Science, and Society; ETS2.A: Interdependence of Science, Engineering, and Technology

CCSS: I.5.3. Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.

Book provided by DK Publishing

One Response to 100 People Who Made History

  1. Thanks for this recommendation. I can see how it would be a place to start for students doing research.
    Apples with Many Seeds

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