Good Memoirs For High School Students - 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders don't automatically grab stories and autobiographies from their classroom shelves. But the inspired stories below will keep elementary school students coming back for more!
In my school, I often found biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs a bit of a hard sell. Besides picking only the best non-fiction books for my class to start with, here's how I got the job done...
Good Memoirs For High School Students
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When students are looking for a new book to read, I go to the shelves and select a stack of books to read. I will start the process by asking them what they have read recently and what they like about these books. This strategy works because it is based on choice and trust. I am passionate about books and I never impose a book on a child. Read them to choose it.
It's also a solid strategy that allows my students to read the "right" book faster. Full disclosure, I learned from the Book Whisperer first, then made some tweaks on my end. Donalyn Miller has some great strategies for reading to children. You can see it from here. After explaining this part of my plan, you will know how easy it is to slip a really good biography, autobiography, or memoir into that pile of books. It excites me when I see a child venture out of their "difficult" classroom and introduce them to the often mind-blowing experience of reading the true stories of some pretty amazing people.
I happen to have a conversation with one of my loves that goes like this: "Mrs. K. Did this really happen? Is it like a story, for real?"
The truth is this: no matter who we are or how old we are, we are always looking for someone to guide us on this dark road that is life.
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Even the most curious tend to dislike stories of people surviving and thriving.
And that's why it's so essential to give our students the gift of excellent non-fiction and allow them to peer into other worlds. Seeing how other people navigate the sizable obstacles in their personal path gives us hope.
So here you will find a well-rounded list of excellent non-fiction books that have proven successful for upper elementary students. A wide variety calls this office. I've included books written about creatures, pioneers, and a few so-called "ordinary" people who didn't back down from the call of fate. They had to face the challenges head-on and triumphantly.
These people found themselves in a difficult situation, and in some life situations, a hiccup. The stories are unique, multifaceted and very... true!
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Sometimes I just hook up some of my slower students as readers, taking a minute of our precious teaching time. I don't like it too much, I just introduce a new book and read the first page or two with anticipation.
If I'm with a class, I've been known to be particularly lazy to get on the chair and use a lot of hand gestures. Hey! All it takes, right?
However, I never regret taking the time because there is absolutely nothing more exciting than hearing several excited kids beam, "I want to read one!"
These books are good. Many of these books are popular slip-and-tear shows at my fifth grade school. Others checked carefully before making this list and now they want it on Amazon until I find a few nickels to rub together. You and your students will find them very satisfying to read. Get ready to go to the cupcake shop in a moment, because you won't know which one to choose!
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It is July 6, 1942, Amsterdam, and Anne Frank receives her diary on her birthday. The rest is history.
Every year I have at least one student who loves Laurie Halse Anderson's historical fiction books. If you have such students in your class, then Anne Frank will completely blow them away. Read on to introduce them to this classic, then share a link to the feature.
Some books are presented to students as gifts that they will remember for the rest of their lives. Be the teacher who gives this gift. I just want to say thank you to Mrs. Barclay. I still have the original copy.
This book begins with a poignant description of three men floating on a raft in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Suffice it to say that sharks dominate the narrative of the first chapter. Is it a fifth grade boy? I got you. Add to the shark stuff that the main character, Ludovici Zabarelli, is a former Olympian, and you'll soon have the hook.
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This is a recommended young adult adaptation of Ludovico Zabarelli's play, but that shouldn't be a reason to doubt it. This book graces the shelf of my school library, but isn't there very often. This and the broken condition attest to the appeal of Ludovicus Zabarelli's story for upper elementary students. A video clip is included for you in case you want more information.
Computers. Math. Square. This biography hits all the right buttons for science-oriented students. Hidden Figures is the story of three unlikely heroes, AKA "the masterminds", behind some pretty amazing things at NASA. Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson were the first computer scientists.
This is another book that ended up in my class library. In fact, three codes for this reason.
You can find resources here if you're a busy teacher trying to incorporate certain disciplines into your writing. If you haven't seen the movie released a few years ago, you can watch the trailer here.
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Spend time in school this year with these non-fiction reading response activities that can be used over and over again throughout the school year with any non-fiction text.
Students in grades 3, 4 and 5 will respond by reading, writing, poetics, speaking, listening, drawing, interviewing, etc. It's a must for any upper primary teacher who doesn't want to constantly reinvent the wheel.
The Boy Harnessed by the Wind tells the story of William Kamkwamba's village in Malawi and how he dove deep in search of a solution to the biggest problems facing his village. Ingenuity and perseverance are life lessons that children of this generation need to hear more about and this biography provides the same lessons.
You want to watch a movie on Netflix, but it's not available to your students until they read the book. (And you can use some of these questions and activity ideas to compare the movies with the books.) Another recommendation from our class.
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Look up the word inspiring in the dictionary and you will find a picture of Malala Yousafzai. Malala Yousafzai is known around the world for resisting the Taliban edict banning girls from getting an education. Malala's father taught her not to back down from what she believed in. Even though she knew she was in danger, Malala continued to attend school. As a result, Malala nearly lost her life when she was dropped off on the bus home from school.
Here is a short video of how Malala, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate at the age of 17, continues her mission to make a difference in the lives of young women around the world.
Do we have a choice of what we allow to define ourselves? Robert Hoge's commentary answers that resounding question, "Yes!"
Robert Hoge teaches us to live wholeheartedly and without fear of how we might be judged and treated by this world. It's the best kind of story, told honestly and simply by someone who's been through it all.
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Robert was born cruelly as a child who could only love his mother, unless his own mother did not want him and yet she did. I know I have students who need to hear his story and you certainly do too.
I was even more moved when I realized that Tracey Kidder's book about Dr. Paul Farmer and his work with Partners in Health is suitable for children who read.
Tracey Kidder eclipses Dr. Paul Farmer whose mission is to provide quality health care to the economically poor among the world's poorest populations. Dr. Farmer Dad modeled altruism and expected his children to participate emotionally.
Although the family had no money, Dr. Farmer made the decision to go to college and pursue a medical degree. He was a high school guidance counselor.
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