This non-fiction series is about various people and groups of people from history.  Most of the books focus on people from United States history.  One of the interesting points about this series, written and published in the 1960s, is that two of the people profiled in these books, President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., were assassinated shortly before their books were written and published.  These books were being written during a chaotic period in American history, and they attempt to explain the facts to children in a gentle way so that they will understand what happened.  (Sadly, I don’t have those particular books in the series.  I’ve only read reviews, but I would be interested to know more details of how these deaths were explained to children so soon after they happened.)

The books in the series were later reprinted in the 1990s and 2000s, some of them with additional chapters added. In particular, I know that the book about Martin Luther King, Jr. had an extra chapter added in 1993 about King’s legacy 25 years after his death. I don’t give all of the dates of the reprints except where I know that the content has changed with one of the reprints.

It’s called “Step Up” because that was the division of Random House that published these books. There are other Step Up books on different themes, like animals, and sometimes these books are lumped in with the others as part of a bigger series, but I like to separate them out by subject matter. This series can also be found under the name of Landmark Books.  All of the titles in the biography series begin with the word “Meet.”  The individual books were written by different authors.

Books in the Series:

The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt (1964)

By Elizabeth Payne.

Meet the North American Indians (1965)

By Elizabeth Payne.

Meet Abraham Lincoln (1965)

By Barbara Cary.

Meet John F. Kennedy (1965)

This book was published just two years after Kennedy’s assassination and discusses the assassination as well as his life, trying to help children understand it without frightening them.  By Nancy Bean White.

Meet the Men Who Sailed the Seas (1966)

About early sailors and famous explorers. By John Dyment.

Meet the Pilgrim Fathers (1966)

By Elizabeth Payne.

Meet Thomas Jefferson (1967)

By Marvin Barrett.

Meet George Washington (1967)

By Joan Heilbroner.

Meet Andrew Jackson (1967)

By Ormonde de Kay, Jr.

Meet Theodore Roosevelt (1967)

By Ormonde de Kay, Jr.

Meet Benjamin Franklin (1968)

By Maggi Scarf.

Meet Christopher Columbus (1968)

By James T. de Kay.

Meet Robert E. Lee (1969)

By George Swift Trow.

Meet Martin Luther King, Jr. (1969, 1993)

In a similar way to the book about John F. Kennedy, this book about Martin Luther King’s life was published only the year after his assassination.  On the Amazon page for this book, you can see a selected preview of the contents of the book, and the preview shows that it was republished in 1993 with an additional chapter at the end about King’s legacy 25 years after his death.  By James T. de Kay.