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In the past few years, many literacy experts and readers have noted the improved quality of children’s literature, notably in nonfiction in general, and biography in particular. There are many reasons for the improvement in biographies for children and teens. Authors of biographies in earlier periods were part of a trend that glorified their subjects to present individuals worthy of emulation without sharing their foibles and shortcomings. Such writing is a form of stereotyping that alienates young readers from the subjects of biographies rather than helping them to know those subjects as real people (Tunnell & Jacobs, 2008). In addition, earlier nonfiction “was of mediocre quality. It was often characterized by inaccuracy, pedestrian writing, and minimal visual appeal” (Moss, 1995, p. 122). This certainly is not true about the best biography available for today’s children and teens.

Books reviewed for Grades K-2:
Dray, Philip. (2008). Yours for justice, Ida B. Wells: The daring life of a crusading Journalist
Kerley, Barbara. (2008). What to do about Alice?
Nivola, Claire A. (2008). Planting the trees of Kenya: The story of Wangari Maatha
Stone, Tonya Lee. (2008). Elizabeth leads the way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the right to vote
Weatherford, Carole Boston. (2008). Before John was a jazz giant: A song of John Coltrane

Grades 3-5:
Alexander, Sally Hobart, & Alexander, Robert. (2008). She touched the world: Laura Bridgman, deaf-blind pioneer
Bolden, Tonya. (2008). George Washington Carver
Brimmer, Larry Dane. (2007). We are one: The story of Bayard Rustin
Giovanni, Nikki. (2008). Lincoln and Douglass: An American friendship
St. George, Judith. (2008). Stand tall, Abe Lincoln
Weatherford, Carole Boston. (2008). I, Matthew Henson: Polar explorer

Grades 6-8:
Fleming, Candace. (2008). The Lincolns: A scrapbook look at Abraham and Mary
McClafferty, Carla Killough. (2008). In defiance of Hitler: The secret mission of Varian Fry

Grades 9-12
Bolden, Tonya. (2008). Up close: W. E. B. Du Bois
Shields, Charles J. (2008). I am Scout: The biography of Harper Lee

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