Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Nonfiction Wednesday-Lou Gehrig: the Luckiest Man

Please visit the host of this weekly event: Kid Lit Frenzy

Picture book biographies are still a real interest for me.  Here is one from this week.

 Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man by David A. Adler Illustrated by Terry Widener

Published in 1997 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Format: Picture book
Genre: Nonfiction Biography
32 pages
Disclosure:Book obtained from the Windham Public Library
I rated this book 4 out of 5 stars.

I am not much of a sports fan, but of course I had heard of Lou Gehrig.  However, beyond knowing that he had ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig Disease) I knew very little.  This book takes the reader on a journey through Gehrig's life starting with his childhood.  
 In 1903 Henry Ford sold his first automobile, the Wright Brothers made their successful flight, the first baseball World Series was played and Lou Gehrig was born. Although his mother thought it was a waste of time, Lou loved playing sports and, of course, he excelled at baseball. He attended Columbia University where he was on the baseball team. After a scout offered him a good salary and a signing bonus, much to his mother's dismay, Gehrig quit college and began playing baseball for the NY Yankees.  Lou had a great work ethic and never missed a single game. He played though injuries and illnesses earning him the nickname, Iron Horse. The book goes on to chronicle the beginnings of Gehrig's disease where he stopped being able to hit the ball in his usual way to his diagnosis and of course, his famous speech.  After retiring, Gehrig still wanted to give back to the city he loved so he tried to inspire some troubled youths by working on the NYC parole Commission.

My Thoughts
I learned a lot about this important and inspiring man who showed great courage and strength throughout his life.  Gehrig is a great example of perseverance, a trait I feel children really need to learn. The book has big illustrations with muted colors that lend an historical feel to the book. I like how the focus is on his life, his work ethic and his strength, and not on the disease and the end of his life. 

Who Would Enjoy This Book
Students who love non-fiction and, of course, any baseball fan would likely appreciate Lou Gehrig's story. 

Use this book...
As a read aloud during a unit on biographies, or baseball unit.
Use it as a mentor text to discuss character traits, summarizing and fact vs opinion.  
Show students Lou Gehrig's famous "Luckiest Man" Speech.

Info about ALS from Kids Health

Author David A. Adler has written many books including the Cam Jansen series and the Bone Mystery Series.  To learn more about Adler and his books, visit his website
Visit illustrator Terry Widener's site here.


  1. I think I am going to have to check out all of the David Adler biographies I can find. This one looks good too.

  2. I am so excited about this post! I love this story and have a hard time not getting choked up at the end. It is in our reading book, so I may have to get the "whole" book with the whole story and read it to them. Also thank you so much for the resources. Shame on me for not looking for those five years ago when I first taught the story!

  3. I'm so glad you have read this book. I really enjoyed it a lot. I think everyone should watch his speech just once. Very powerful.