The Benefits of Biographies for Kids

Find out how nonfiction and true stories can help kids learn.
By Maria Minsker
Jul 30, 2014



The Benefits of Biographies for Kids

Jul 30, 2014

True stories can be even more inspiring than fiction. Plus, they provide that all-important background knowledge that help your kids across subjects. Here’s why they work so well:

They’re about real people doing very real things
A factual tale of a courageous person overcoming challenges can inspire kids to face their own obstacles with hope and determination. It can even spark a desire to make the world a better place, says Suzanne Litrel, a social studies teacher from Long Island, NY. More than anything, biographies prove that one person can make a difference, and that small steps can lead to big things — great life lessons for little ones.

They make history come alive
A bunch of names and dates won’t keep anyone’s attention long, but learning about history through the lens of a specific person’s life and accomplishments can help kids see how it matters. Key events become real moments that affect the people living through them instead of empty facts.

There’s one for everyone
Got a kid who loves animals? Give her Me . . . Jane by Patrick McDonnell, a stunning picturebook bio of Jane Goodall. A budding techie? Try Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different by Karen Blumenthal. From accounts of sports superstars to books about presidents and pioneers of change, there are as many types of biographies as there are people! Just hook into your child’s interest to get him going.

Biography Best Bets

I am Rosa Parks by Brad Meltzer
One of the Ordinary People Change the World series, designed for early readers. Look for Amelia Earhart, Abraham Lincoln, and more. Penguin, $13.

A Home for Mr. Emerson by Barbara Kerley
A whimsical, vibrant biography of the prominent American writer-philospher Ralph Waldo Emerson, interwoven with actual quotes. Scholastic, $19.

Thomas Jefferson: President and Philospher by Jon Meacham
Comprehensive and engaging. Written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of TJ's adult bio. Random House, $20.

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Credit: Photo by Aaron Dyer

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