Lines, Bars and Circles: How William Playfair Invented Graphs

Written by Helaine Becker, Illustrated by Marie-Eve Tremblay

Born in Scotland more than 250 years ago, William Playfair was a dreamer who “saw the world differently from other people.” Unfortunately, this difference sometimes got in the way of his success. Early on, as he attempted to apply his unique perspective to a series of career opportunities in order to gain “riches! fame! glory!” he instead suffered one failure after another. Then, while writing a book about economics, Will’s innovative vision inspired an idea that would set him apart: he created the first modern line graph. Next came a bar graph and later a pie chart. These infographic inventions provided a way for numbers to be seen as pictures, which made them easier to understand and to remember — and thus changed the way the world would interact with data forever.
A very interesting biography appropriate for many ages. It is short and engaging to hold 1st graders attention and at the same time interesting and applicable for older students also. I like that the author included some of his childhood so that students could relate to William Playfair and that she shows that things do not always work out the way you want them to.

Review by Jessica Riggs, Robert Frost Elementary Media Center
Rating: ★★★★★ (5 stars)
Interest Level: Grades 1-4

Lines, Bars and Circles: How William Playfair Invented Graphs
Written by Helaine Becker, Illustrated by Marie-Eve Tremblay
Kids Can Press
36 pages
Release Date: April 4, 2017
A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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