Theme: Life Lessons--Autobiographies, Biographies, and Memoirs


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Theme: Life Lessons--Autobiographies, Biographies, and Memoirs

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“How One Person Sees Another Person”: Focusing on the Author’s Perspective in Picturebook Biographies
Myra Zarnowski
Abstract: How a biographer sees and understands his or her subject influences how that biography is written. This article describes three clues to discovering a biographer’s perspective and suggests how young readers can use these clues when reading or writing biography.

Portraits of Perseverance: Creating Picturebook Biographies with Third Graders
Erika Thulin Dawes, Mary Ann Cappiello, and Lorraine Magee, with Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet
Abstract: Over the course of a six-week genre study in a suburban third-grade classroom, students read and reread four picturebook biographies created by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet and heard a read-aloud of Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White, Melissa Sweet’s (2016) chapter-length biography. They explored a range of Orbis Pictus and Robert F. Sibert Medal-winning biographies of diverse contemporary and historical subjects. Students also interviewed community members and wrote and illustrated original picturebook biographies. An analysis of characterization, context, and theme—as evidenced through visual and written motifs within the students’ writing and back matter—suggests that focused attention to a small group of mentor texts and intentional exploration of the author’s and illustrator’s processes can lead to deeper reader/writer engagement with and understanding of the genre.

Research & Policy: Life Writing and the Language Arts
Elizabeth Marshall
Abstract: In this column, the author takes a critical perspective on life writing and argues that language arts classrooms should incorporate the use of children’s nonfiction and literacy practices that support multiple identities, languages, modes, and histories.

Language Arts Lessons: Inviting and Valuing Children’s Knowledge through Testimonios: Centering “Literacies from Within” in the Language Arts Curriculum
Cinthya M. Saavedra
Abstract: Drawing on perspectives from Chicana feminist theories, this column discusses testimonio as a way to integrate children’s “literacies from within” into the language arts curriculum.

Invited Dialogue: Chronicling Extraordinary Lives through Children’s Biographies: An Interview with Carole Boston Weatherford
Alan R. Bailey
Abstract: In this interview, award-winning author Carole Boston Weatherford discusses why she writes biographies for children and the importance of introducing young readers to significant, yet unrecognized, African Americans.

Children’s Literature Reviews: Biographies and Memoir: Life Lessons and Stories in Literature for Readers in Grades K–8
Grace Enriquez, Mary Ann Cappiello, Katie Egan Cunningham, and Erika Thulin Dawes
Abstract: In this column, we review and recommend several recently published biographies and memoir in the field of children’s literature.

Perspectives on Practice: Latinx Children’s Biographies: Inspiring Transformation and Transcendence
Monica Brown
Abstract: Latinx children’s biographies give young readers a means to imagine their own transformation and transcendence.