Let me come clean with y’all: I LOVE reading nonfiction. In fact, if you were to look at the 200 titles on my Kindle, you’d find about 12 that are fiction.
More importantly, I think we do students a disservice when we fail to introduce great nonfiction reads to middle schoolers.
The fact of the matter is that the majority of reading students will do to prepare for careers will be nonfiction. That means they’ve GOT to learn to love it — and that’s why I think biographies are so important.
Because biographies resemble the stories that kids have spent their whole lives reading, they are the PERFECT gateway into the world of nonfiction.
That’s the theme of this week’s Minute for Change podcast:
Here’s three biographies that your students are likely to love:
The Great and Only Barnum : Not only will kids chuckle at the hilarity in Barnum’s life story, they’ll love wrestling with the morals behind a man who made money hand-over-fist by putting bearded ladies, Siamese twins, and crippled old women on display for the entire world to gawk at.
Escape – The Story of the Great Houdini : There’s something magical about magic, isn’t there?! And even today, there’s something magical about the life of America’s greatest magician. Even in an era where seeing it is believing it, the stories of a long-forgotten Houdini will capture your kids’ imaginations.
Mao’s Last Dancer : Let’s face it – Middle schoolers are passionate about wrestling with what’s fair and what’s unfair. That makes any book connected to life in Communist China — a place of almost incomprehensible injustice — an interesting read.
This title — which details the life story of a poor Chinese boy who grew up hating America only to discover that everything he’d been taught was nothing but a lie — gives students the chance to think about the role that governments play in keeping people down.
So when ARE you going to start taking practical steps to introduce students to interesting biographies?
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