There were so many biographies in my library that were never touched by the kids. Mostly those were the ones that were at least an inch thick and contained very few pictures. Although I had based my purchases on the respected reviews that I had read in a variety of library sources, these books were ignored. The
kids taught me very early in my career which biographies I should be buying or the books would simply sit on the shelf! They liked the to read the ones which gave them lots of facts, but not using too many words to relay the information. They liked indexes and table of contents. And most importantly they liked pictures!
BIOGRAPHIES FOR YOUNG READERS
In the Common Core Curriculum, which is now found in schools across the country, children are being exposed to many more biographies. I found when I shared biographies with first and second graders, they were fascinated and rushed to check them out. A series that is great for this is First Biographies from Capstone Press.These books are available in public and school libraries, as well as from Capstone Press. The books are 32 pages in length, contain many pictures, as well as an index and table of contents. They are perfect for pleasure reading or research.
BIOGRAPHIES FOR oLDER rEADERS
Another publisher I really like for nonfiction is Bellwether Media and their Blastoff Readers. A great series for older readers, third grade reading level and above, who are looking for biographies about authors, is the Children’s Storytellers Series. These books are 24 pages in length and contain a table of contents, index, glossary, timeline and fun facts about the authors. They are perfect for both pleasure reading or research.
JANE GOODALL BIOGRAPHIES for home and school
A new biography that I recently discovered is Untamed The Wild Life of Jane Goodall by Anita Silvey, with a foreword by Jane Goodall. Lexile Level 1100, Accelerated Reader 7.4
I was initially drawn to this book when I read a review on the site, The Nonfiction Detectives. I have been an admirer of Jane Goodall for many years. When my son was a freshman at Beloit College, he had the opportunity to attend a lecture given by Ms. Goodall. Immediately afterwards, he called me to tell me all about it. If you have ever been a mother of a college boy, you may recognize the importance of this call! First of all, he actually called me immediately after hearing the lecture and was extremely excited! He was very impressed and motivated after hearing about her work in Africa and her mission to make the world a better place for animals. He wanted to buy some of her books for me! His enthusiasm led me to read many books about her and to share picture biographies with the children in my elementary library every year to introduce the biography section of the library. This included early reader biographies, as well as Me, Jane by Patrick McDonnell and The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps by Jeanette Winter.
However, I never had a Jane Goodall biography to offer to the older students. Untamed is that book! It reinforces the stories the children learned in the previous biographies, and then expands on that. It follows Ms. Goodall from childhood through the present as she travels the world to teach about conservation. It includes many photographs on every page with very descriptive captions. The vibrancy of these photographs and the engaging text will appeal to children and inspire them to continue reading.
What are some of your favorite biographies? Is your child looking for biographies about a particular person? Please let me know in the comments and I’ll try to help them find that “perfect book”!