All About Adolescent Literacy

All about adolescent literacy. Resources for parents and educators of kids in grades 4-12.
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Biographies

Biographies are on lots of school booklists, but they can also be popular leisure reading choices for teens. They often feature real-life characters who have overcome adversity—a theme teens are drawn to again and again. This list features biographies of the famous, infamous, and not-so-famous!

Our Eleanor: A Scrapbook Look at Eleanor Roosevelt's Life

Our Eleanor: A Scrapbook Look at Eleanor Roosevelt's Life

Age Level: 9-12

There has hardly been a life in the last century that Eleanor Roosevelt has not affected, in one way or another. This "scrapbook" biography is filled with everything from photographs to her high school report card, as well as fascinating stories about life in and out of the White House. Our Eleanor gives us a remarkable perspective on a remarkable woman, and presents to a new generation an Eleanor to call its own.

High Hopes: A Photobiography of John F. Kennedy

High Hopes: A Photobiography of John F. Kennedy

Age Level: 9-12

On the eve of the 40th anniversary of his assassination, this profile of President John F. Kennedy follows him from his privileged but sickly childhood all the way to the White House.

Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith

Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith

Age Level: 14-16

Deborah Heiligman's new biography of Charles Darwin is a thought-provoking account of the man behind evolutionary theory: how his personal life affected his work and vice versa. The end result is an engaging exploration of history, science, and religion for young readers.

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

Age Level: 16-18

As a 12-year-old growing up in Sierra Leone, Beah lived a life not unlike a typical American pre-teen, listening to hip hop and hanging out with friends. When civil war comes to his country, however, he is surrounded by death and is forced to survive by becoming a soldier, plied with cocaine and sent on killing sprees. The violence is frequent and not for the squeamish — the book was published for the Adult market — but teens love a tale of overcoming long odds.

Greatest Stars of the NBA Series

Greatest Stars of the NBA Series

Age Level: 9-12

In comic-book format, biographical and statistical information is presented about some of today's hottest basketball stars, including Allen Iverson, Kevin Garnett, and Tim Duncan. The comic format conveys the action, while also making this series highly appealing to reluctant readers.

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

Age Level: 14-16

Satrapi tells her story of growing up in Iran in the years before and after the 1979 revolution in this spare yet distinctive graphic novel. She beautifully conveys her ordinary childhood, as well as her growing political awareness.

This Land Was Made for You and Me: The Life and Songs of Woody Guthrie

This Land Was Made for You and Me: The Life and Songs of Woody Guthrie

Age Level: 12-14

This biography brings the legendary artist and activist to life (warts and all).

Andy Warhol: Prince of Pop

Andy Warhol: Prince of Pop

Age Level: 14-16

For teens unfamiliar with Warhol's impact on pop culture, this book connects him to today's art world. The authors detail his Pittsburgh childhood and do not shy away from some of the more sordid details of life at the Factory.

A Strong Right Arm: The Story of Mamie "Peanut" Johnson

A Strong Right Arm: The Story of Mamie "Peanut" Johnson

Age Level: 9-12

In the 1950's, current Marylander Mamie Johnson became one of only a handful of women to play professional baseball when she signed for the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro Leagues. Sports fans and those who like stories about strong young women will find this equally appealing.

Good Brother, Bad Brother: The Story of Edwin Booth and John Wilkes Booth

Good Brother, Bad Brother: The Story of Edwin Booth and John Wilkes Booth

Age Level: 12-14

Many students know of John Wilkes Booth as Abraham Lincoln's assassin, but few know that before he committed this infamous crime, he was a member of a family of accomplished actors, including his well-known brother, Edwin.

Hole in My Life

Hole in My Life

Age Level: 14-16

The emotional honesty of Gantos' fiction for tweens and teens is evident in this nonfiction memoir for older, more sophisticated readers. Here, he shares his low self-esteem as a young person who gets caught up in dealing drugs. This book makes for tough but powerful reading — especially since Gantos is now on the other side of those early, difficult years.

Phineas Gage: A Gruesome But True Story About Brain Science

Phineas Gage: A Gruesome But True Story About Brain Science

Age Level: 12-14

As much a study of brain science as it is a biography, this fascinating books tells the story of Phineas Gage, a railroad worker who miraculously survived an accident in which his brain was pierced by an iron rod in 1848.

Escape: The Story of the Great Houdini

Escape: The Story of the Great Houdini

Age Level: 9-12

How did a poor boy named Ehrich Weiss became the famous escape artist, Harry Houdini? The author, best known for his original tall tales and novels, demonstrates his ability to tell a spellbinding true story and shares his appreciation for the mystery of magic.