Barack Obama, leader of the free world and winner of a Nobel Peace Prize, can now add children’s book author to his resume: Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to my Daughters, a picture book penned by the President, hit bookstores yesterday. Written in 2008 after the election but before Obama took office, the book tells the story of 13 American heroes and heroines, including Albert Einstein, Jackie Robinson, Helen Keller, and Martin Luther King, Jr. But he’s hardly the first celebrity who has delved into kiddie lit. Here are 15 more children’s book authors you might know from elsewhere.
The Little Baby Snoogle-Fleejer by Jimmy Carter
Former President Jimmy Carter may take the prize for most creative title with The Little Baby Snoogle-Fleejer. Illustrated by his daughter Amy, the story follows young Jeremy and his befriending a baby sea monster called Snoogle-Fleejar.
America: A Patriotic Primer by Lynne Cheney
Lynne Cheney, wife of former Vice President Dick Cheney, has written a few books, but her first one aimed at children has the educational title America: A Patriotic Primer. The picture book goes though each letter of the alphabet with pages like “N is for Native Americans” and “T is or tolerance.”
The Brand New Kid by Katie Couric
As the title implies, news anchor Katie Couric’s first children’s book is about a new kid in school who finds himself ostracized for his loud, accented voice and ultra-blond hair. Couric later wrote another kid’s book called The Blue Ribbon Day.
When I Was Little: A Four-Year-Old’s Memoir of Her Youth by Jamie Lee Curtis
Who says four-year-olds haven’t had any memorable experiences? Curtis’s first children’s book of many is a first-person memoir from a young child, highlighting big events such as graduating from using “floaties” in the pool. Since its publishing Curtis has gone on to write a number of stories aimed at kids. Her most recent is called My Mommy Hung the Moon: A Love Story .
Sugar Plum Ballerinas Series by Whoopi Goldberg
As a children’s book writer Whoopi Goldberg is best known for a series called Sugar Plum Ballerinas aimed at elementary school kids. In the first book, we meet Alexandrea, who’s just moved from a small town in Georgia to New York City’s Harlem. Her mother quickly enrolls her in a ballet class, and she’s randomly given the lead role of Sugar Plum Fairy. There are now five books in the series.
My Senator and Me: A Dog’s Eye View of Washington, D.C. by Ted Kennedy
Senator Ted Kennedy uses his Portuguese Water Dog Splash to teach kids about America’s political process. After a tour of DC’s famous monuments, Splash runs us through a senator’s typical day, including a tantalizing committee discussion about an education bill.
If Roast Beef Could Fly by Jay Leno
In the Tonight Show host’s children book, a narrator — illustrated by S. B. Whitehead as a young Leno — talks about getting along with his family, by way of a roast beef gone awry. The book includes a CD of Leno reading the book with his distinctive delivery.
The Remarkable Farkle McBride by John Lithgow
Lithgow’s character Farkle McBride mastered the violin at age 3, and has grown bored with every instrument that he has learned ever since. Eventually he settles on becoming a conductor. Lithgow has written a number of kid’s books since 2000’s McBride.
The English Roses by Madonna
More than a decade after releasing the controversial coffee table tome Sex, Madonna wrote her first of many children’s books called The English Roses. The Mean Girls-esque story follows a clique of four 11-year-old girls who attend the same school in London. A fifth girl, Binah, is initially excluded from the group until a fairy godmother teaches them a lesson in compassion and friendship.
The Alphabet from A to Y with Bonus Letter Z by Steve Martin
In 2007 Martin recruited New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast to help him with a kid’s book. The Alphabet goes through each letter, introducing characters such as clingy Clarissa, Horace the hare, and Ollie the owl. He put out a second children’s book this September called Late for School .
High in the Clouds by Paul McCartney
The Beatles bassist’s picture book High in the Clouds follows Wirral the squirrel in his quest to find Animalia, a tropical utopia for animals. His adventure takes him instead to Megatropolis, where animals are kept in cafes and made to work in factories. Wirral eventually leads his friend to a happy ending.
Halloween by Jerry Seinfeld
In Halloween, Seinfeld dives in to the nostalgia of trick-or-treating: getting the most candy possible, dealing with itchy straps and your winter coat covering your costume, and sorting your haul into categories. As one might expect, Seinfeld’s voice comes through clearly in lines like, “Come on lady, let’s go! Halloween, doorbells, candy, let’s pick it up in there.”
Just the Two of Us by Will Smith
Will Smith set the lyrics of his song “Just the Two of Us,” a remake of a Bill Wither’s song, to illustrations by Kadir Nelson to produce this kid’s book back in 2001.
Propeller One-Way Night Coach by John Travolta
Travolta’s foray into children’s literature in 1997 was originally written for his own son. Propeller One-Way Night Coach is about a young boy and his first trip in an airplane which changes his life.
The Hank Zipzer Series by Henry Winkler
Based on his experiences growing up with an undiagnosed case of dyslexia, actor Henry Winkler has co-authored a series of kid’s books called Hank Zipzer: The World’s Greatest Underachiever. The first book, called Niagara Falls, Or Does It?, introduces us to Hank on his first day of fourth grade, where he’s quickly daunted by an assignment to write an essay on his summer vacation. So far there are 17 books in the series.