Biographies: Getting Inspired by Real People Doing Real Things
My students need (and have specifically asked for) books, in varying formats, about real people from a variety of cultures who have overcome adversity, been risk-takers, or opened new doors in their fields.
My students are thinkers, creators, and dreamers. A diverse group of middle school developing readers, they are talkers and questioners. And they are eager to feel that both they and their contributions matter. My classroom library is a great place to start demonstrating this. By simply asking my students what they think is missing from my classroom library, I have learned that they crave books written in different formats as well as books of all genres written about and by people who look like them.
By having a classroom library filled with books that reflect all of their interests, I hope not only to show them that they matter, but also to foster in them a love for reading and empathy for others.
My students love to read about real people doing real things. When we did an inventory of my classroom library, my students quickly let me know that I currently don't have enough biographies.
They love reading about real people who have overcome odds, taken risks, or blazed new trails in their chosen fields.
Reading biographies allows them to learn from historical and contemporary figures, especially people who look like them--something that is very important to middle schoolers. Reading biographies also provides them with mentor texts to reference when they start to write their own stories. Having both novels and picture books is a huge need since some of my students are developing readers.
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