Biographies - Children's Books Famous People
I Learned About Her In School
When children think about biographies, especially if they are in the upper grades in school, their minds go to the scholastic biographies that are required reading, and their eyes sort of glaze over. Scholastic biographies, while not dull, when part of a school curriculum, can become dull. Yet, when you consider that some of the most interesting and incredible people are featured in scholastic biographies, you have to wonder how the kids become bored. Helen Keller, Rosa Parks, George Washington Carver, and Martin Luther King, are but a few of history's greats who are featured in biographies.
The term biography comes from two Greek words, "bios" (life) and "graphein" (write). This genre is generally considered to be non-fiction and deals with the published facts of the lives of individuals. The primary focus of a biography is to emphasize the viewpoints of the individual's experience. Kid's books of biographies are generally written simply and in a comprehensive way, often exposing a specific segment of the person's life. The idea is to raise a child's conscience and inspire them, especially in the area of striving against adversity.
Some of the more recent kids books of biographies that are well known include the following titles: Rembrandt and Titus: Artist and Son by Thomas Locker, Christopher Columbus: Young Explorer by Kathleen Kudlinski, who also wrote Gandhi: Young Nation Builder, The Story of Joan of Arc by E.M. Wilmot-Buxton, and Journal of James Edmond Pease: A Civil War Union Soldier by Jim Murphy.
And Not-So-Recent Biographies
Perhaps one of the most familiar and best loved writer of kids' books that are biographies, is Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House On the Prairie and Little House In the Woods series. Children love her books and love to learn about her life growing up in the prairies. Another favorite for children is Farley Mowat who wrote about his experiences in the Arctic in a book called Never Cry Wolf. Children's books of famous people who have written about their lives include The Story of Helen Keller, Anne Frank-Diary of a Young Girl, Tallchief which is the story of Maria Tallchief a professional ballerina, and Ruby Bridges who wrote about her experiences in the Deep South during segregation in the US.
Picture book biographies are a fun way to learn about a person's life and have a photo gallery to accompany the story. Sports heroes, like Pele and Beckham, as well as movie stars and political figures are often written about in picture book biographies. They introduce children to fascinating people who have made contributions, overcome obstacles, or have a quality in their character we admire and aspire to ourselves. The coupling of great illustrations and brief text makes reading aloud a joy. These books introduce children to the lives of historical figures and people living today.
Autobiographies: About Me, By Me
An autobiography is a book about the life of a person that is written by the person themselves. Under the heading of children's books, autobiographies, we will find such authors as Anne Frank, Hellen Keller, Truman Capote, Bill Peet, and actress Miley Cyrus (Hannah Montana). Many biographies were written about people by other people, however, some authors wrote their own stories, as those above did. Many of today's children's books that are autobiographies and biographies can be investigated online under the name of the author. Most children's authors of biographies have their own websites and you can learn about them there. Barnes & Noble Booksellers have a great site where you can discover many biographies and autobiographies for sale. Just type in barnes noble children biography into the search engine and dream away.
What's A Bibliography?
Unlike a biography, a bibliography is a list of writing that shares a common factor. It could be a topic, language, a time period, or a specific theme - like wind. A bibliography is also a list of sources used or considered in the preparation of a work of some sort. This type of bibliography is also called a reference list. You would use children's books bibliographies if you were teaching about a specific subject. Perhaps the choice is a time period in history - let's say the Civil War. At the library or online, you would look under the heading of Civil War and a large number of books would become available that deal with the topic. Teachers often use children's books bibliographies in their teaching in order to provide a number of different books related to the same subject for the children to read.
Since biographies and autobiographies can sometimes have some disturbing or graphic content, they may not make the best bedtime stories, but they certainly can transport children to another time or place, and can take children inside the lives of the people they are reading about.
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